Published DateCONWAY — Any good story always has a hero who is aided by his helpers as they battle the archvillain so that the forces of good can prevail over evil.
In his new book, “The History of Cranmore Mountain,” published by The History Press, Conway Daily Sun reporter Tom Eastman writes that he has always felt that the story of Cranmore is a great one to tell, because it has at its core all of those ingredients.
“First,” writes Eastman in the introduction to the 160-page, 70-photograph paperback, “is the compelling tale of Austrian ski great Hannes Schneider (1890-1955), the renowned ‘Father of Modern Skiing,’ and the undisputed leader at the time of the skiing world, who was arrested in the Austrian Anschluss of March 1938 for his anti-Nazi views and held under house arrest in Germany.”
Enter into the plot the supporting roles of the local good guys, Eastern Slope Ski School /ski shop founder Carroll P. Reed (1905-1995), and Cranmore developer, North Conway native, New York banker and world financier Harvey Dow Gibson (1882-1950).
Add such other heroes as Hannes' son, fellow U.S. Ski Hall of Famer and longtime former owner/general manager Herbert Schneider (1920-2012); his best friend, Austrian ski racer and early instructor Toni Matt (1920-1989), winner of the legendary 1939 Mount Washington Inferno; and the quirky mechanical genius of Skimobile inventor George Morton and his son, Parker.
The good guys, writes Eastman, had the Schneiders, Gibson and Reed in the starring roles, versus the bad guys, led by Adolf Hitler (1889-1945), the notorious archvillain of the 20th century.
It's all there in the pages of the new book, along with chapters devoted to the snow trains of old, the now-gone Skimobile, and the Eastern Slope Ski Club's Junior Ski Program.
It also tells about Cranmore's proud Olympic racing history, from 1948 Olympian Paula Kann, 1952 racer Imogene Opton Fish, 1952 teammate and 1956 Olympian Brooks Dodge, 1972 Olympians Tyler and Terry Palmer and David Currier, 1976 and 1980 Olympian Abbi Fisher, and today's Leanne Smith, a 2010 Olympian who was second in a World Cup downhill in Val d'Ise, France, Dec. 15.
The book also has a chapter on then 19-year-old racer Toni Matt and his legendary schuss of the Tuckerman Headwall in the 1939 American Inferno on Mount Washington.
The latter half of the book traces Cranmore's development over the years, and tells of its evolution into a year-round resort since being acquired in June 2010 by the ownership team of Brian and Tyler Fairbank and Joe O'Donnell.
As Eastman writes, “Cranmore is seeing a rebirth under the new ownership, with $8 million invested in both winter and year-round amenities. They are the new heroes in the Cranmore story, carrying the torch first lighted by the Gibsons, Morton, Reed and the Schneiders.”
Fellow ski history author Jeff Leich of North Conway says the book tells the story of Cranmore and local ski history with new insights.
“The thing about Tom Eastman,” notes Leich, who is the New England Ski Museum’s executive director, “is that he gets the history right, which is always interesting, but also he has this uncanny gift of always finding someone who has some terrific piece of the story that no one else has dug up before that sheds even more light on what happened. It always makes for an interesting read, whether in his articles, or in his latest book.”
Eastman, 55, is a longtime journalist in Mount Washington Valley. He and his late brother, Steve Eastman (1949–2008), worked together at The Mountain Ear from 1979 to 2007. He joined the staff at The Conway Daily Sun in 2007 and serves as a reporter as well as co-editor of the paper’s Valley Fun publication.
Eastman also has done radio work as “The Valley Voice” for local radio station WMWV 93.5-FM.
He has written for several publications, including Yankee, The Montreal Gazette, Powder, the Journal of the New England Ski Museum, and Skiing Heritage.
He studied journalism at the University of New Hampshire under late renowned writing instructor Donald Murray, graduating in 1979. Eastman was named a White Mountain Treasure in October 2010 by the Mount Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce for his excellence in journalism and community activism.
A member of the Eastern Ski Writers Association, Eastman won an Excellence in Newspaper Features Writing Award for 2009–10 from the North American Snowsports Journalists Association. He was named Ski NH’s Media Person of the Year in 2001. He received Berwick Academy’s Distinguished Alumni Award for his writing in 2002. He has lectured on ski history both in the United States and Austria, including at the 2002 International Ski History Congress in Park City, Utah, and at a 2005 international forum in St. Anton am Arlberg, Austria, on the 50th anniversary of Hannes Schneider’s death.
He contributed a chapter on Conway history to the 50-essay book, “Beyond the Notches: Stories of Place in New Hampshire's North Country,” which won an “Outstanding Work of Non-Fiction” award from the New Hampshire Writers’ Project in 2011.
“I'm happy,” notes Eastman, “that Cranmore hired me to update a book I wrote in 1989 on Cranmore, which focused on the 50th anniversary of the arrival of Hannes and Herbert Schneider and family from Austria. I feel that the new book has preserved the best from that book, while telling other stories about the valley's rich ski heritage and also updating the modern Cranmore story about its rebirth as a year-round resort.”
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A book signing is scheduled for White Birch Books Dec. 22 from 3 to 5 p.m. A book signing is also scheduled for Sport Thoma at Cranmore Dec. 29 from 2 to 4 p.m.
The book will be featured as part of the ticket price at Cranmore's 75th anniversary gala, set for the Red Jacket Jan. 12.
Eastman has also been asked by host Jonathan Sarty to be the featured guest author at the next Cold River Radio Show, set for the Theater in the Wood (356-9980) in Intervale at 7 p.m. Jan. 13. That show will also feature musical performances and story telling by visiting artists.