“Brush With Greatness”
Believe it or not there was a time before the internet, cell phones or even CNN. It was Christmas season of 1977. My partner at the time, Casey, my younger brother and I drove from Atlanta to Aspen, Colorado for a ski holiday. One of my older brothers, David, lived near Denver with his new wife and they had rented a chalet on the slopes for us to spend a week.
It’s important for you to know that my older brother was in his mid 30’s, 6′ 4″ tall and built like a brick s**thouse (former marine) who looked very much like Tom Sellek from “Magnum P.I.” – women fell at his feet, LOL. My younger brother was 17 at the time 5′ 10″ and had the body of a Greek God – again all the women within 100 yards (or meters depending on your preference) of him were mesmerized. They were both chick magnets. I was 5′ 10″ and had my own physical attributes (it’s difficult for me to boast about myself – modesty will not permit it, LOL) and I’m not aware of any women that might have been drawn to me because my attention was centered squarely on the men and I must say I could turn some heads, lol.
Casey and I were not expert skiers by any means but both my brothers were. After a couple of days trying to keep up with them on the black diamond runs (near death experiences for us) we decided to take some bunny runs where we could sip wine and indulge in some spliffs as we slowly made our way down the mountain.
Each day we would ski different slopes. On the day we were to ski Aspen Highlands (very intimidating for me and Casey) my brothers took off on their own to spend the day on the sheer cliff trails trying to kill themselves, lol. My sisters, sister-in-law, Casey and I took a different approach. We did a lot of boy-watching and shopping and then took lunch at a slope side restaurant. When we were seated next to a very large table with about 15 or more people who had obviously had too much wine and were in the middle of a lot of laughter and generally having a great time we first thought “Oh Boy” a bunch of loud revelers to watch. As we sat there having a laugh along with the goings on a familiar celebrity face arrived to join the party at the other table – it was Ted Kennedy! That’s when we began to check the other people out more closely. Ethel Kennedy along with some of her children, several other unidentified people plus one other notable – Phil Donahue!
This was turning out to be a great day!!!
We sat there for about an hour eating and watching the American Royal Family – The Kennedy’s – enjoying themselves the same as we were.
This moment was just to good to let end so soon. As they finished and started to leave we decided to sort of “tag along” and see where they went. The teenagers took off in one direction while the adults went another (just like an average family). The youngsters were headed for the death defying black diamond runs while the elders were going to the lifts for the bunny trails. My sisters and sister-in-law stayed at the bottom while Casey and I grabbed our skis from the rack and followed Phil and company to the lift. We stood in line just behind him and within a couple of minutes he turned with a smile on his face and a little laughter in his voice and asked us “Are you guys following me?” we said in unison “YES!”. Of course we didn’t ask for an autograph or to take a picture with him – that was just to crass and common. I think he really appreciated that. We talked about The Kennedy Family briefly and we told him how much we loved his show. After that we only talked about the different runs we had tried on the 4 mountains there. We told him about my brothers and how they had missed the whole adventure in the restaurant. He told us he was only in Aspen for 2 days and had to get back to Chicago the next day. We rode the lift up in the chair behind him chatting off an on. When we got to the top I don’t know what caused me to fall flat on my face as I got of the lift! LOL.
We let Phil go his merry way so as not to pester him on his only day to ski. When we got back down to the bottom my sisters told us they had seen Ethel again and spoke briefly with her – she was very friendly (too much wine, lol) and they too had their own “Brush With Greatness”.
I have a few other stories but they can wait…
ps – for those who might be unfamiliar with Phil Donahue here is a Wikipedia Link about him: