Today we’ve got a special post written, photographed and created by Randy and Mickey Short.
It includes several scanned 35mm pictures of a cabin they built in Old Mammoth in 1976. It was a project undertaken by friends and co-workers, all donating labor and equipment during their free time. The construction of their cabin illustrates the way that the Mammoth community evolved. A lot of hard work, friendship and generosity went into creating what is there now and the Short’s cabin is a great example of that idea.
To start with some background, Randy and Mickey were longtime employees at Mammoth Mountain and great friends of the McCoy family.
They moved to Mammoth in 1973 after starting out their ski industry careers as instructors at Big Bear. Randy’s best friend and ski school colleague, Terry Smith, took a job in Mammoth so they followed.
They both took jobs as ski school instructors for Max Good, who was the director of ski school at that time.
Steve Hayward, whose dad Bud started June Mountain, was the mountain manager there. In 1978 he asked Randy and Mickey to come out to June to take over the ski school and race department. They rented out their log cabin and bought a small house at June Lake.
The couple worked between June and Mammoth until 1988 when they were offered a job for Almar Marinas to manage Ventura Isle Marina and Anacapa Isle Marina. They both loved the ocean, sailing and commercial fishing, so it was an offer they couldn’t pass up.
Now, almost 25 years later, Randy is the president of Almar Management and he is in charge of about 17 marinas between San Diego, the Bay Area and Hawaii. He also built the Cabo San Lucas Marina but it has since been sold.
Randy and Mickey started this cabin in Old Mammoth on Halloween Day, 1976. It was much, much later than most construction projects begin but as luck would have it, it was a severe drought year. They moved in that Christmas with only about two inches of snow on the ground.
The cabin is on Owens Street not far off Old Mammoth Road, about a half-mile beyond the Snowcreek Athletic Club.
They wanted to build it like some of the other old cabins in the neighborhood, many of which were built in the 1920s. He didn’t just want to mimic the construction style of the others, but he wanted to use many of the the same tools and processes they went through to ensure its authenticity.
It wasn’t a simple undertaking. In fact they probably could streamlined the process with more modern tools, some research on up-to-date techniques, and a hired crew dedicated to the project. But that wasn’t the idea. The project brought friends together, created a sense of community, and served as an education for several of the characters that shaped the Mammoth that we know today. Most of those involved were full-time mountain employees that came over to lend a hand after work and on weekends.
After construction was complete, they planned on cooking dinner for everybody that contributed to the house and giving everybody a print of themselves at work. The house was only 900 square feet and, in the end, they figured 62 people spent time on the house. They would have had to hold the party outdoors and January wasn’t the time for an outdoor barbeque. The party never happened and the pictures got lost in the shuffle until now. Mickey recently found them in their Bishop home, we scanned them, and the story has been revived. The party is once again in the planning stages but until then, they wanted to tell the story of the community that Mammoth was; both the town and the ski resort.
In their words:
Dave created not only a sense of community but a sense in all of us that we could do anything and that anything is possible.
He allowed and enthusiastically encouraged us to think outside of the box, unconventionally. Then we’d take that to the community and do things together beyond what you could do individually.
Companies have “defined benefits ,” and Dave’s employees had all those and more. What is hard to describe are the undefined benefits. We all had the direction of helping create one of the great ski areas in the world but Dave also provided an environment that helped forge a community where we all helped each other day to day.
This house is just one example. There are so many stories like that.
Dave’s heavy equipment, ladders, dump truck, cement trucks and more were going all the time. They worked 40-50 hours a week at the ski area, and then on evenings and weekends helping employees get personal projects done. They’d also be out during the winter plowing out employees or helping local businesses without charge.
Roger Sorenson sent Clifford Mann down with loaders, backhoes, dump trucks, and all the equipment we needed from the mountain. Dave said I could use anything I found in boneyard (an area at the mountain where used and leftover steel and metal is stored) that I needed. He sent in Ed Schoerner and Peter McAsey to pour foundation.
After we finished, Dave, Roma, Poncho and Bev came over for the first dinner at house. At some point before, Randy McCoy mentioned the idea of powering the house on a wind generator. Dave said go to the boneyard and get a tower. The trees were 70 feet tall so we’d need a pretty tall tower. Dave said if he got to the mountain the next day and there was a gondola tower missing, that he’d know where it went and that was fine.
If CalTrans or the town hadn’t plowed the main roads, Dave’s Mammoth Mountain plows would keep key roads in town open. This sense of pulling together to get anything done was a culture that reaps benefits to this day for all of us that were lucky enough to live in it.
I have built many things since Mammoth, some in remote foreign countries, and all have succeeded because of the lessons I learned from Dave’s approach to management and the community.
Dave always seemed to know when somebody needed help and would jump in and help with any resource he had available without anyone needing to ask.
I think for him, it was that he simply liked to share with others and join in on the fun.
“Great idea, let’s do it,” he said. “And it rubbed off on us all.”
The lumber in Mammoth is tricky to build with. It’s got lots of limbs and a large taper. has so many limbs and big taper. Some sides of logs would be several inches longer in diameter so they’d have to get another that matched to put on the other side.
That’s Poncho and Bev on the left.
We have several more shots to post, so look out for more from the cabin construction soon.