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Skiing history in a small town
Saturday, June 22, 2002 01:19 AM GMT
by Laurie Puliafico
The small central Massachusetts town of Holden has quite a bit of skiing history. I found this out recently while following up on a "lost" ski area there.
As part of my research, I went to the Holden Public Library to review old newspapers on microfilm. I was hoping to find some information on Winter Hill, an area that I had recently heard about. The staff at the library were most helpful in setting me up to view the films and taking information from me so that they could have the reference librarian look for more information when she returned from a vacation.
While scanning the old papers, I came across another area, one I had never heard of before. I attempted to print the page with the ad on it, but the machine was not working, so I got permission to use my digital camera and took a picture of the screen. I spent several hours looking at film and soon it was time for the library to close so I left, more than satisfied with my find.
A few days later I spoke to my former boss, William Zottoli. Having worked for him for almost ten years, I knew he was an avid skier and had grown up in Holden. Bill was familiar with the Summit Tow Area and had skied there. He had never been to Winter Hill, even though it was near where he lived, but recalls that there was a ski Jump in the 40's and 50's very near to Winter Hill Rd. He believed the owner was a man named Henry Trulson or a member of his family. It was on Newell Rd. at a sharp bend, and near a sand pit, a few 100 feet from Winter Hill. He said there was a huge wooden jump there that he remembers seeing.
Bill went on to tell me about the Chaffins section of Holden, which was, according to him "primarily occupied by Swedes and Finns." They would regularly have cross country ski races down South Main Street(route 122A) and close off the street. That went right by Bill's house and he and his brother used to sit and watch them.
He also told me about a man named Gosta Truedson who was very much into skiing, as many people in the Chaffin section of Holden were. Gosta built a waxed ski ramp in his yard so he could practice skiing in the summer. It was almost like the half-pipes they use for skateboarding and bikes on the x-games.
Bill was friends with Gosta's son Gilbert and spent many summer days watching Gosta on his ramp.
About a week later I received letter from Susannah Price, Reference Librarian at the Gale Free Library in Holden. She confirmed many of the things Bill had told me and gave me some additional information and the names of some contacts, which in turn I passed on to the New England Lost Ski Areas Project (NELSAP, www.nelsap.org).
In addition to talking about Summit Tow, she confirmed information from Bill regarding the ski jump in the Winter Hill/Newell Road Area. She also told me that residents recalled the jump at Newell Road and said it was a high ski jump. There were also cross-country trails in the area.
The Scandinavian Ski Club was in charge of maintaining the area and held various meets there, including the State Ski Championships which were attended by people from all parts of New England.
According to her information, Holden also had ski manufacturing. In the late 30's, Ivan Lundquist and Carl Bringleson decided to start a business making wooden skis. They began in a small barn on Kendall Road, producing many hand-made skis before the building burned down. After the fire, they did not rebuild the business.
One final bit of information Ms. Price shared with me had to do with a person who is very near and dear to my heart, Roger Langley. As I mentioned in my biography ( http://www.nelsap.org/nelsappers.html#lp ) on the NELSAP site, Roger was my elementary school principal. Apparently, years before coming to Barre to be principal, Roger was also a principal in Holden at the Rice School. He conducted ski meets which featured obstacle racing at the school grounds.
After he left Holden, Roger went on to make many important contributions to skiing. I will write about Roger in another article, when I am finished with my research on him.
Time has passed and a lot has changed in Holden. The organized ski activities of the 40's and 50's have disappeared along with their areas. Most of the skiers in Holden now travel about 10 miles to ski at near-by Wachusett Mountain, but the memories of the "good old days" linger on in their hearts and spirits.