SI Vault
Bob Ottum
March 14, 1966
In Los Angeles, Union Pacific loads a 22-car train with skiers, dancers and lovers and then aims the whole shebang at Sun Valley, 1,100 miles away
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March 14, 1966

Wild Watusi Weekend On The Snowball Special

In Los Angeles, Union Pacific loads a 22-car train with skiers, dancers and lovers and then aims the whole shebang at Sun Valley, 1,100 miles away

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Ahead in Car 4, Den Mother Dee Bushman, who runs a ski and trophy shop with her husband in Downey, was busy with Snowball Special activities. The Car 4 people, as Snowball veterans knew, were the ones who often showed up on the train with empty ice buckets on their heads and paper toilet-seat covers around their necks like Mae West lifejackets.

"We started with a snowball fight this morning at San Bernardino," Mrs. Bushman explained. "Except we used ice cubes. All sorts of crazy things always happen to our bunch. On the way home last year one of our skiers got off with his girl friend at Pocatello, Idaho. He wanted a beer, she wanted an apple. And, sure enough, the train pulled out without them.

"They rented a car and drove like the wind to Salt Lake City. And they missed the train there by just one minute. Then they dashed out to the Salt Lake City airport and caught a jet to Los Angeles. Some friends met them there and drove them back to San Bernardino. When the train pulled in they got back aboard, just to ride into Pomona. And what do you think happened? They forgot to get off at Pomona and rode into Los Angeles with us."

The young man was on the train this trip, wearing his U.P. get-acquainted name tag. It said "The Pocatello Kid."

For this year's activity the Bushmans had planned a Snowball king-and-queen contest and had brought along little cardboard crowns for the occasion. "We have real crowns back in our shop," Dee said. "You know, like in the Rose Bowl Parade and like that. But they're too perfect that way. It isn't in keeping with the spirit of this train." For royal coronation robes, Mrs. Bushman explained, "we plan to steal those entry curtains from the men's and women's rooms.

"These Union Pacific people are nice to us," she said. "They don't say anything as long as we don't get too destructive. Gee, sometimes we sleep up there in the overhead suitcase racks. The trick is in knowing the town where a railroad inspector will get on. They always walk all through the train and look at everything. So our members now know when to climb down out of the racks and sit on their seats. When the inspector gets off they go back up into the racks and sleep."

But all through the train there was little sleep in the excitement of the season's first ski trip.

In Car 9, Dick Eastman, 35, and Cheryl Smith, 20, were eloping. "Well, we've been engaged for two months to ourselves," said Eastman, curled up on the coach seat alongside Cheryl. "By that I mean it has been a secret from our families. And I organized this trip for our ski club, and I figured I'd organize my wedding at the same time. That way we can get in some skiing...."

Up ahead, 22-year-old Legal Secretary Joan Kubic, dazzling in slacks and crisp, white blouse, found it all especially romantic for a single girl from Pasadena. Life was never like this at staid, old Brydolf, Gray, Whyte & Harrison, where they pay her $425 a month. She saves her money for ski vacations.

"I came up on the train last year," she said, "and it was so exciting. This year I have three girl friends with me. I told them it was the perfect vacation." All four girls, three secretaries and a dental assistant, were getting a big play from the boys. Dancing. Dining on meat patties by fluorescent overhead light.

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