More than 10 years in the making, Margaret Supplee Smith ’59 has published the first book to ever explore skiing as it pertains to culture, tourism and architecture.
"American Ski Resort: Architecture, Style Experience” features more than 300 pages of photographs, resort-related advertisements and insights from the opening of the first American destination resort, Sun Valley, in the 1930s to the mountain village* resorts of the 1980s.
Smith, an architectural historian, explores the planning—or sometimes lack thereof—of resort facilities and the cultural and environmental impacts of skiing.
Smith first became interested in skiing in the late 1960s when her parents purchased a home near Mount Snow in Vermont. But she didn’t consider the architectural aspect of ski resorts until her first trip to Colorado in 1994. That’s when she first saw a resort that had been designed by an architect rather than a resort made up of haphazardly constructed facilities.
"I realized I didn’t know any architectural historian who was skiing or any skier who was an architectural historian,” she said.
At the time, Smith—now Harold W. Tribble Professor of Art, emerita, at Wake Forest University in North Carolina—was busy working on another project, a women’s history project that became “North Carolina Women: Making History,” the award-winning book she co-authored.
So for years, she had to keep her interest in ski resorts on the back burner.
When the women’s project wrapped up in 2000, she began her research by traveling to investigate ski areas. She then headed to the Library of Congress to sift through ski magazines and collected names of resort architects.
"When I started this, we didn’t have the Internet presence we have now, so I did it the old-fashioned way—letters and telephoning,” she said.
The result is a beautiful bound book that provides not only architectural and historical data but also insight into pop culture, politics and class structure.
Smith has unearthed magazine spreads of those who took to the slopes early, including Gerald Ford who, as a Yale man, enjoyed skiing vacations and later purchased a home at Beaver Creek, and Robert Redford, a skiing enthusiast who purchased his Utah mountain site, Sundance, in 1969.
Despite a “soft launch,” the book has received rave reviews just in time for the holiday gift-buying season.
"Writing with enthusiasm and skill, and keeping her eye on the environment, Margaret Smith takes us from New England’s farmhouse inns to the multimillion-dollar condos of the Rockies, and from the A-frame to Mountain Modern at places like Snowbird,” author E. John B. Allen said in a review. “The author knows her architects and their architecture as thoroughly as she does the skiing world. American Ski Resort is a delight.”
*An earlier version of this article incorrectly described the resorts of the 1980s.
A Stephens legacy and former student was honored earlier this year with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Equity Foundation.
It’s the latest in an extensive list of accomplishments for Susie Shepherd ’68 over the past four decades as she and her parents worked toward equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered individuals. Shepherd, who attended Stephens in 1967 and 1968, is the daughter of Ann Marcotte Shepherd ’38.
Bill and Ann Shepherd weren’t necessarily surprised when their daughter came out in 1971, but they were taken aback when local TV and radio stations would not accept their money to advertise a newly formed support group for parents of gay individuals. The family had hoped to provide support and resources for other families.
They spread their message through other means, though, and the response was mixed. The Shepherds fielded calls from appreciative parents, but they also received death threats for their work.
"What Mom and Dad did was so profound,” Shepard said from her Portland law office. “They just never stopped.”
Together, Shepherd and her family advocated for legislative rights, organized pride rallies and counseled individuals. In the mid 1970s, Shepherd became part of The Portland Town Council, an advocacy group, and wrote “A Legislative Guide to Gay Rights,” a booklet aimed to educate lawmakers about issues confronting the LGBT community.
Bill and Ann Shepherd’s group eventually combined with other support groups to become PFLAG, or Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. Today PFLAG has chapters across the country.
Work continues today with the Bill and Ann Shepherd Legal Scholarship Fund of Equity Foundation, which provides scholarships to law students who are dedicated to fighting bigotry and discrimination.
Polly Lou Simon Livingston ’48 still isn’t used to people wanting her autograph, to take photos with her and to hear her say something—anything.
She doesn’t have the Internet, so she can’t read what people blog about her or when they demand online to see—or rather hear—more of her. In short, she has no idea just how popular she is.
Indeed, Livingston has found fame, albeit in a most unusual way.
Livingston is the unique Southern voice behind Tree Trunks, a tiny yellow elephant that makes sporadic appearances on the award-winning animated show “Adventure Time” on the Cartoon Network.
Hollywood producers send the scripts to her in San Antonio, and she records her lines in a local studio.
"I just read what they send me,” she said, admitting that she’s only seen the show once.
She’s a fan favorite, with at least one fan site declaring her the “best cartoon voice in history.”
As William Jack Sibley of the San Antonio Current describes it, her dialect is “somewhere between a hinge in quest of lubricant and Blanche Dubois as channeled by Olive Oyl.”
"Adventure Time” creator Pen Ward contacted Livingston in 2009 with the idea that she be the voice of an elderly elephant that bakes apple pies for a living. Livingston was a friend of Ward’s mother when he was growing up, and “he remembered my terrible voice,” she said.
Her dialect hasn’t always been in demand, though.
"I’d still like to find that professor who kicked me out of my freshman English class because he hated my voice,” she quipped. “He told me to hold my nose and try to change it.”
Lucky for Livingston and her fans, she didn’t.