One of the pleasures of working here has been the opportunity I’ve had to meet and get to know the owners and guests that call the Antlers Hotel their home away from home. For those of you that don’t know me, I’m not shy, and if you should ask me a simple question like “How’s your day going?” it has often taken me a half hour to answer. What I really enjoy is asking people about “their story” and absorbing what they have to say. I have heard some great testimony about success, failure, family and just life in general over the years.
Meet Vlasta Giese, Jack Joseph and his bride Gerda. Each one of them have a story that easily could be put into novel form. I have chosen to keep this at 700 words or less and write the “made for movie” screenplay later. If all three look happy in this photo, it’s because they are. “Don’t sweat the little stuff” is what Vlasta will tell you any day of the week. Jack and Gerda would concur.
Vlasta Giese is 88 years young and came to this country from Czechoslovakia in 1949. She will tell you “I was very fortunate to get out. It was just after the “Ruskiis” occupied my country and this, just after the Germans had left.” I asked her when she started skiing and she said “I remember before the occupation I hiked up to Krkonosky with my friends. We had to walk all the way and it took many hours.” (Fun Fact: That translates to skiing for more than 70 years.) She has been coming to the Antlers to ski and hike for nearly 20 years. She also requests that we open the pool early so she can swim her daily laps.
Gerda Joseph, age 81, left her native Austria in 1948. She also experienced WW II and the un-welcome occupation of Vienna. She will explain “As a child, I don’t remember being frightened as much as I was bewildered. To this day, I don’t believe that anything else has compared to that experience.” She also learned to ski “after taking street cars to the city limits and hiking for miles through the Vienna Woods”. After her migration to the States, she managed to attend Colorado College as an exchange student and returned to the University of Vienna and received her degree in 1952. (Fun Fact: Rob LeVine also attended Colorado College so that means Gerda was there before he was born.)
Jack Joseph was born in 1926 in Chicago and he will tell you “Even if you’ve never picked up a history book, you probably know there were a few things I lived through that were not considered the best of times in American history.” He also admits that “I don’t have as much experience skiing as Gerda. I only started sometime in the early 60’s after I married her. For me, my skiing adventures began at Indian Head Mountain in Upper Michigan”. He thought for a second and continued, “I think they had about 300 acres of terrain back then and 400 feet of vertical. Vail gives us a little more to enjoy” he said with a wink and a smile.
Jack and Gerda purchased a condominium at the Antlers in 2008 and stay for several months during the winter season. You can spot both of them every morning at 8:30 AM heading to the gondola. “We like to get out there before the crowds.”
Vlasta likes to sleep in. “I want it to warm up a bit before I hit the slopes. Besides, the “hunks” don’t get out there until later in the day anyway”.
Trust me….if you have not met these people in your life…be patient…and they will introduce themselves…and just make you happy…because you know them.
Vlasta, Jack and Gerda are wonderful people with lots of enthusiasm. I only hope that I’m still skiing at their age but even more – that I still have their drive and their joy in doing the things that have always mattered. You three are inspirational!
a beautiful true story.