TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. — A friendship and more began during the big, big, winter of '52 at Sugar Bowl as Peg, the new roommate, slid on the snow path into her winter accommodations ...
Peg and Ted Lewis
Peg was born in Philadelphia, Pa. and lived on the Main Line in Villanova. Her father was a stock broker. Peg went to school in Radnor, Pa., then moved to Upper Montclair, NJ to live with her aunt and uncle (her mother having died of breast cancer) while her dad went back into the service with the Army Air Corps. At the end of World War II, her father announced they were moving to California. In 1946 they packed up and drove across the country to live in Oakland Hills. Peg graduated from Piedmont High School and attended University of California, Berkeley.
Ted was born in Seattle, Wash. where his dad was stationed in the Navy at Bremerton, having graduated from Annapolis. Ted went to different schools and lived in England where his dad worked for Elizabeth Arden, who was married to Ted's great uncle at the time. Ted moved from the East Coast in 1941 when his dad was stationed at the Naval Net Depot in Tiburon, Calif. Ted graduated from Tamalpais High School in Mill Valley in 1942, then started college at University of Nevada, Reno. In December he enlisted in the Army and entered the ski troops with the 10th Mountain Division.
The big winter of '52
Ted was working at Donner Ski Ranch as a lift operator when Peg arrived for a ski weekend. He was the first person she met at the Greyhound bus depot. That night they danced in the lodge and struck up a friendship. She put in an application at Sugar Bowl, went back home and about 10 days later was hired by Sugar Bowl. Peg met Liz and their other roommate Holly while sliding down (yes down, the snow was that deep) into the front door of the “Green House,” the name of their cabin. Peg and Liz were waitresses in the main dining room and would rush out between shifts to ski.
Ted would ski in on snow piled as high as the phone lines. Dates consisted of going to the Chateau at Sugar Bowl, dancing, and drinking grasshoppers. If they had a day off, Ted and Peg would take in a movie in Reno then walk by the court house, where he would try to drag her in to get married. They were married at Zephyr Cove on Aug. 10, 1952, eloping after a night at Cal Neva seeing Tony Martin and Cyd Charisse.
They lived in Marin County, Calif. for their first six years of marriage; Ted had a tire service business in San Rafael. Daughters Sue and Linda were born in Marin General Hospital. They always wanted to go back to Tahoe, though, so in 1958 they bought a lot in the Highlands and had a house built. Ted operated a Richfield gas station in Kings Beach with a lousy location. He started out with partner Norm Wilson, and bought Norm's share out and tried to make a go of it. In 1964 he learned the Shell Station in Tahoe City was for sale, so that was their way “out!” Peg was a stay-at-home mom until 1967 when she applied for a job at Alpine Meadows and became a ticket seller and was promoted to the ski school booth, working there until 1980. She worked as a bookkeeper at Tom Foolery in Tahoe City, then secretary for Tahoe Termite Control until 1991. Ted sold the Shell in 1977, then worked next door at the Chevron Station for another 10 years.
Liz and Jean Jacques Legras
Liz was born in Alturas, Calif. and grew up in Nevada City. Her dad was a forest ranger and her mom was a school teacher. She spent summers camping at Kings Beach with her family, where her dad patrolled the Tahoe Basin managing cattle ranchers and sheep herders. Winters were spent skiing in the Sierra. She attend college at Wood Berry Junior College in Los Angeles and later moved to New York. After World War II she took a leave of absence from her job in New York City's Cornell Hospital Oral Surgery Department. Returning to her family home in Nevada City, she was able to get a job at Sugar Bowl and ski.
Jean Jacques was born in Megeve, France. His parents owned a small mountain restaurant in Haute Savoir. After World War II, he was drafted into the French Mountain Troops since he was an excellent skier. His sister Nina had lived in Switzerland during the war with her husband and daughter. They immigrated to the United States and through their connection, Jean Jacques came to the U.S. through Ellis Island, Chicago and finally San Francisco not speaking a word of English and $800 in debt. He worked as a gardener and attended English language and citizenship classes. While in San Francisco, a friend took him to Sugar Bowl. Jean Jacques couldn't believe there was snow in California. On a pair of borrowed skis, he impressed the ski school director and was hired on the spot for the season.
Winter work and courting
Liz was a waitress at Sugar Bowl knicknamed “Tizzy Liz.” when she met ski instructor Jean Jacques. Jean Jacques and Liz skied during the day and danced at the employee bar dance hall. The girl's adventures (Liz, Holly and Peg) included walking the train tracks, hugging the tunnel walls if a train came through. Jean Jacques and Liz did not date until she returned from Jackson Hole, Wyo. where she worked the following summer. Jean Jacques had a summer job in the Bay Area. They wrote to each other and he visited the family in Nevada City. He proposed May 1952 and they married Dec. 7, 1952 in Nevada City's Episcopal church. They moved to San Francisco where their daughter Michelle was born, but wanted to return to Tahoe. Jean Jacques got a job in Squaw Valley with Wayne Poulsen at the Papoose ski area. They purchased an original log cabin in Pineland subdivision and their two sons, Jean Pierre and Jean Claude were born at Tahoe Forest Hospital in Truckee. Peg, Holly and Liz remained friends, spending summers with all the kids at Meeks Bay or Sand Harbor. Liz and Jean Jacques' home was the vacation spot for the Bay Area and European family. Summers, with extra tents in the backyard, ping pong ball tables and dinners with crawdads were a tradition. Jean Jacques was hired by Bert Anderson, who built rustic cabin-style cedar homes. They remained life-long friends after Bert's retirement. Jean Jacques continued to build family homes with large decks for summer parties and a commercial building in Tahoe City. He continued to teach skiing and was part of the first group hired at Alpine Meadows in 1961. He later became Alpine Meadows Ski School Director, and managed the race department. Liz worked at Swigard's Hardware, and various gift shops in Tahoe City after her children were grown.
The foursome will celebrate their lifelong friendship and 60th wedding anniversaries this month.