Stories about the Hill
When I put the pictures up from 2006, every once in a while I'd get an e-mail that someone found them. For some reason, in late 2011/early 2012, quite a few people remembered The Pink Panther and hit in google because I've heard from quite a few folks in the last couple months. I spoke to Jeff and Mark Cain, sons of co-owner Roy Cain, and Mark shared a lot of stories from working at the hill during his formative years. These all from Mark unless I indicate otherwise.
His Impressions after First Seeing the 2006 Photos: "It was strange to see how many of the old structures are still there. I helped shingle the A-Frame when I was really young. My dad paid me in matchbox cars. The A-Frame was the original ski lodge until it proved too small. That’s when the “Rathskeller” was built. We were very much a family business, so I had a hand in building all of those structures. I also spent many hours as a “lifty” in those tow shacks and of course countless additional hours on those slopes in summer and winter."
Clearing up the Mystery of the Pond between the Bunny Hill and T-Bar in the 2006 Photos: "The river at the bottom of the Bunny Hill used to run through a culvert so you would not have noticed it, especially in the winter. It was also damned up in the area between the bottom of the headwall and the bottom of the bunny hill to create a pond for snow making, so it wasn’t nearly as wide."
The Rope Tows: I had shared a remembrance of the cords that were supposed to stop them if a skier got caught. I was never sure if they would perform as advertised, but Mark assured me they were on top if it. "That cord was connected to a solenoid that released the brakes if the cord was tripped. I tripped in many times. We used to do it on purpose at the start of each day to test it and at the end of the day to shut everything down. We also used to keep a ladder and a big pair of scissors in each tow shack to cut scarves & mittens, and yes even long hair to free skiers who frequently somehow got caught in the rope. I remember having to untangle one girl’s hair because she refused to let me cut it! She was literally hanging by her hair because on slushy days the rope didn’t stop as quickly. A couple of skiers held her up while I untangled her while standing on the ladder."
On Injuries: "We also got pretty good at splinting broken legs and arms. In the old days of crappy bindings we averaged about a break a week. In fact we would need to run over to Bellin and St. Vincent’s to pick up our splints when we ran low."
The T-Bar: "The T-Bar was from somewhere in Colorado. My dad and uncle somehow borrowed a semi and trucked it back to Wisconsin. I made the T’s in the wood shop at East DePere High, and my brother and I spent a good part of the summer painting all of the I-beams."
The Fourth Run: "In looking at your map, you may be interested to know that there used to be a run that went from the top of the bunny hill to the bottom of the headwall. It was in many ways steeper than the headwall, and there wasn’t a lot of room to stop before landing in the creek. The biggest problem was that it faced south and it was tough to keep snow on it. Once the t-bar was finished that run was abandoned (except by the occasional daredevil)."
The Terrain: I asked Mark if the hill was built on natural terrain or if they had to move a lot of dirt. "The natural terrain was a valley with a small creek running through it. The bunny hill and the T-bar run were cut lengthwise on opposing sides of the valley. The headwall was naturally occurring for the most part, as were the 'trails'."
Here's my favorite: "Have I told you about the night I fell asleep making snow and the rest of the season there was a huge mound on the headwall?" I think I do remember one year when there was a big mound on one side of the headwall!
Winter Carnival: This one is from Eric Smet, a family friend of the Cain's, whose father, Ron helped design and build some of the structures at the hill. "They used to have a winter carnival in the early years once a season. Everyone dressed in costume. Don & Roy would hide florescent painted balls out on the hill to find like a Easter egg hunt. You would bring them in and redeem for trinkets and prizes. They had a caricature artist from the St. Norbert Abbey, a priest I believe, that would sketch you in pastels. Very colorful, very wonderful."
Young Mark Cain at the top of the Bunny Hill.
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