The Family That Skis Together . . .

I grew up in a waterskiing family. For two weeks every summer, we left behind the concrete western suburbs of Chicago and headed to Michigan, to a magical place called “Corey Lake.” They were the best two weeks of the year.

We had a wooden Milocraft boat with first a 35 then a 40 horse Johnson, strong enough to pull us all out of the water. Pictured in the photo along with the boat, the “VO-5,” are (from left to right) Debra, Mary Beth, Tommy, Gayle (who is peeking out from behind my shoulder as I perch on the stern), Dad and, of course, Mom in a stylin’ 1960s swimsuit. Mom always got the first ski.
In our family, skiing was a rite of passage. I started at age three–yes, when I was three year-old. The photo of me at right is from the summer of 1964. We used a device known as a “Flexiboard,” a set of skies connected at the top. It was handmade by a local man named Mr. Bowers, who lived next door to the cottage we always rented. As evident in the photo, my parents made sure I was safe, dressing me in both an orange life jacket and a ski belt.
One summer on the Flexiboard, led to two skis, then to dropping one ski, and finally, graduating to the slalom level. I have fond memories of my Aunt Eddy bribing me each summer with candy rewards:
“If you get up today and go all the way around the bay, I’ll give you a Bubs Daddy Bubblegum,” she said. Such sweet incentive worked every time. I soon became an accomplished skier, leaning so far back my ponytail hit the water. I haven’t skied that hard since I had kids, but every now and again, I’m tempted.
My husband came from a sailing family, so it was I who introduced him to the powerboat and the exciting activity of waterskiing. It didn’t take him long to learn. It never takes anyone I teach long to learn. I’ve lost count of the number of people to whom I’ve supplied the basics, including things like, “let the boat do the work.”
I wanted our girls to start at the age of three, like me; however, neither was all that interested. But they are now. Willow’s been dropping one for a couple summers and then this summer, she decided to try getting up in the deep on one. She did it the first time she tried. And Camille, who suffered a broken arm all last summer and couldn’t ski at all, popped right up her very first time out. “That was fun!” she said. By the end of the summer, she even tried venturing outside the wake.
Fun indeed. Here’s a little video of all four of us enjoying Camille’s last day at Sandy Point earlier this week:

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