Long-time Olympic Valley plumbing contractor Dale Cox saved several boxes of posters from a dumpster in 1983 after they sat in Squaw Valley Ski Corporation founder Alex Cushing’s attic for 30 years. The posters were created in 1950, just after the opening of the ski resort, to advertise Squaw’s first chairlift. They languished in Cox’s crawl space for another 40 years before he realized the posters were an important part of the history of the ski resort now known as Palisades Tahoe.
“I was good friends with Alex,” said Cox. “I met him in 1978. He hired me to do a remodel on his house. One day I saw two Squaw Valley Ski Corp laborers working in his attic, which was chock-full of all sorts of stuff that Alex had collected. They were throwing stuff out a hole in the wall into the dumpster below. I saw this package of posters of Squaw Valley and crawled into the dumpster and put them in my truck.”
On his drive home, Cox saw Cushing and asked if it was okay if he took the posters. Cushing said, “’Those are the ugliest posters I’ve ever seen. I don’t want to ever see them again,’” Cox recalled. Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The poster design was a 1950s retro look that apparently wasn’t Cushing’s style.
Cox had been collecting pieces of Squaw Valley’s history since he moved to the valley in 1973. “People would sell their houses and I would go do house inspections and I would find vintage posters on the walls, and I would put them into my archives,” said Cox. “Some of the stuff that people left behind included all sorts of great Olympic memorabilia. People don’t understand the historic significance of these Olympics. These were the first to be televised.”
In fact, Cox remembers watching the 1960 Winter Olympics on TV as a child in Michigan.
When Squaw Valley opened on Thanksgiving 1949, there was just one chair, the Sky Chair, which traveled over 8,200 feet up to the top of Squaw Peak. The lift operated in both winter and summer. In the spring of 1950, Cushing commissioned the poster as a way to drum up business for the chairlift in the summer. But when the poster didn’t tickle Cushing’s fancy, it disappeared into the attic for a generation.
Recently, Cox reached out to long-time Olympic Valley friend Tom O’Neill to ask him if he knew about the posters. O’Neill told him, “‘You don’t realize what you have. You should sell them so people can have a chance to have a true piece of vintage Squaw Valley history.’” Since the posters commemorated the brand new ski area, O’Neill thought they would hold special value for avid lovers of the resort.
And so, with a 3-year-old grandson in need of a college fund and a desire to get these 73-year-old posters into the hands of history buffs, Cox decided to put them up for sale. They are in mint condition since they fortunately haven’t left their boxes for all these years. For information on purchasing a poster go to: tinyurl.com/4ebd4wye.
Author’s Note: Because this story is about historical events having to do with a fledgling resort then called Squaw Valley, we used the name that was in effect at the time for accurate references, even though it has since been changed.