Emo and Gemütlichkeit
For all that, it was Emo Henrich who epitomized the spirit and style of Stratton in the ’60s. Ski racer, mountaineer, ski teacher, guitarist, singer and artist, Emo was a certified ski god. He had trained with Professor Stefan Kruckenhauser at St. Christoph, Austria, the undisputed epicenter of ski instruction. But it was Emo’s devotion to creating a total mountain experience, with après-ski full of music and dancing, that defined Stratton.
To that end, Emo hired instructors who were also first-rate musicians that first year. They became known as the “Stratton Mountain Boys” and played their oom-pah music Tuesday afternoons and Thursday evenings for ski weekers, as well as Saturday evenings for all comers in the base lodge. They were first-rate musicians and entertainers whose repertoire ran to waltzes and polkas, yodeling songs, playing the saw and folk dancing.
In those halcyon days, many thousands of families had the time and money to take “ski weeks” and learn to ski. For Stratton’s first season, there were just seven instructors, and classes were still small. But the concept took off, as it did all across the East. “If we didn’t have 1,200 in ski school in the late 60s and early 70s, we were hurting,” says longtime Bondville resident and instructor Peter Cornell, the lone American member of the teaching staff in ’62. Ski-weekers came in all ages, and often included 200 to 400 kids.