Skier, Farmer, Rancher, Spy (With thanks to John Le Carré)
By Jane Hill
My MAH interview this time sent me to meet an upper valley resident — a legend of a man whom I probably would never otherwise have met, certainly not for conversation. Doug’s story is well-known and told in excellent detail by Karen West on this internet site: Click here to read all about Doug.
You will want to read this article if you haven’t already, to learn all about Doug's interesting life.
And then there’s the book he’s written, Mazama, the Past 125 Years, a who’s who and what’s what of the entire Mazama area. That book is available at Trail’s End Bookstore in Winthrop and the Mazama Store.
So there is little I can add to those works that would shed any light on Doug. May I offer then my first impressions of this remarkable man?
Thoughtful and considerate, Doug was quick to respond to my email so that we could set up a meeting time at his home in Mazama. The morning of the scheduled interview, snow fell fast and loose. My phone rang; Doug thought it unnecessarily dangerous for me to drive clear form Twisp. “Could we meet in Winthrop? Maybe at the bakery?”
An hour later, coffee mug in hand, I was barely seated when this bright-eyed man peeked into the back room of the Rocking Horse Bakery. “Jane? My partner Margie is just getting us coffee,” he offered, as he slid into the chair across from me. Margie Griffin, coffee cups in hand, arrived; introductions all round and we three settled in for a chat.
I’m thinking to myself, “Wasn’t I told that Doug was 91? This is a very fit, very ‘with it’ 91 year old!”
“We try to get in to the gym every day for some exercise,” Doug explains, having read my mind, “so it was easy to meet here.” I’m reminded of Doug’s ready sense of humor, when I had asked on the phone the traditional question, “How are you,” and received the spunky response, “Vertical, thanks!”
As I try out some questions on Doug, he’s shy, self-effacing. Marge offers some gentle prods, teasers. The words CIA and “spy” get my attention! But Doug, reticent, sloughs it off, “Its all in Karen West’s article.”
In fact, both Marge and Doug seem more interested in learning about me, relative newcomer to the valley, than in rehashing their own life stories.
One thing, obvious from the outset, Doug’s life, career and family revolves around his love of skiing. From skiing himself, to owning the premier ski equipment store in Seattle, Doug has promoted the sport. It took him to Austria as a young man determined to live where he could ski. Skiing put both son Steve and daughter Betsy through college; both skied on the U.S. Ski Team.
Doug recalled his early days in Austria where he established a relationship with the foremost maker of fine ski boots. “This was long before plastics and the equipment we have today,” he explained. “But I think Haderer is still making boots, all hand-sewn, one at a time, of supple leather.”
So, my (ski) hat’s off to this one-of-a-kind MAH member: a fascinating man with an intriguing past, who, like so many of us, loves this glorious valley.