Party club becomes a family affair|Sandusky Ski Club going strong after 45 years

SANDUSKY It started off as a small club at the YMCA. Now, nearly five decades later, the Sandusky Ski Club is celebrat
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010



It started off as a small club at the YMCA.

Now, nearly five decades later, the Sandusky Ski Club is celebrating its 45th anniversary with more than 130 members.

Trude and Walter Schaufler have been members since 1965. Having moved from Austria to Sandusky, the Schauflers didn't know many people in the area. Introduced to the club by a coworker at Ford Motor Co., Walter Schaufler told his wife about it.

"We immediately took advantage of (the club)," said Trude Schaufler, who was 30 at the time. "That was the first time we met people."

Described as a party club early on, many of the members were single and intheir mid-20s.

"There was a lot of partying going on," said Walter, adding that the original group consisted mostly of single men. Single women began to filter in, and inevitably, dating.

More than 30 couples met their spouses through the club, but for Nora Kaufman, she found her job.

Kaufman had been laid off from work. She went to her first ski club meeting and spoke to Trude, who knew about her situation. Trude's husband had an opening at his place of employment, Sandusky Machine & Tool Inc.

"Oh, it's too bad you're not a secretary," Trude had said to Kaufman, who then replied, "Yes, I can."

Fifteen years later, Kaufman is still working with Walter at Sandusky Machine & Tool.

Over the years, the club has evolved from its early days as a singles, party club into a family-friendly club.

The Schauflers introduced their two children to the sport when they first joined the club.

"Our son was three years old when we took him out for the first time," said Trude, 71. "(He) was a natural."

The Schauflers' son, James, picked up the sport easily and continued skiing with a club at the University of Toledo.

Today, their grandchildren are also members of the Sandusky Ski Club. The teenagers, 16 and 14, have become avid skiers and enjoy competing against one another.

"My son is really getting into it now," said James, 45, adding that he would like to see his children continue the tradition. "It's fun to sit back and see my dad and mom ski with them. Hopefully they'll pass it along and keep things going. It'll be something to look forward to."

For other members, the club has become a second family.

Pat Brown joined the club in 1990.

Newly single, Brown quickly developed friendships that have last more than ten years.

"It's been a good group of friends to have," said Brown.

"It becomes a family thing," said Pat Brown, who joined the club in 1990. "My godson generated out of the ski club."

In 1971, the Sandusky Ski Club was named the "No. 1 Ski Club in the Midwest" by the United States Ski Association and received an engraved silver bowl with the distinction.

"That was an achievement that really made us shine," said Walter, adding that the award was, by far, his favorite memory involving the club.

Many other events have happened over the years, creating memorable moments for the members.

In 1966, the club's first bus trip was scheduled to take the group to Bristol, New York. The bus broke down several times -- once in Vermilion and again in Cleveland -- before reaching its destination at 4 a.m.

"The chance that something like that would happen was pretty frequent," said Walter with a laugh. "But nobody complained. Skiing is like any other sport, if you love it, it doesn't matter what happens."

Busses during those days weren't equipped with toilets, creating havoc among the youthful riders when several stops were requested for bathroom breaks. The "Potty Award" was created in 1968 and given to the person who requested the most stops. Once toilets were installed, other factors were considered.

Kaufman's husband Mark received the award in 1985 after falling asleep on the toilet.

"They had to wake him up," she said.

This is the club's longest-running award.

The club also hosts a number of other awards including the "Most Improved Skier Award," the "Rookie Racer of the Year Award," and the "Sand Bag Award" given to a person who shows up on race day and ends up doing extremely well.

The club hosted a reunion earlier this month with 150 members, from past and present, commemorating the event.

This year's event was only the second time the club has organized a reunion. The first one held was for the club's 25th anniversary. Eager to celebrate once again, members decided to organize a 45th anniversary reunion -- even though the 50th anniversary wasn't too far off.

"I thought it was great that so many people came back," said Kaufman. "Some people haven't changed a bit."

"It really hit me at the banquet the other night ... how neat it is to be associated with these people," James said.