The He-and-She Stick

The cover of New Love Magazine (February 1948) celebrated the intimacy of riding uphill on the relatively new T-bar, famously known as a He-and-She Stick.

The cover of New Love Magazine (February 1948) celebrated the intimacy of riding uphill on the relatively new T-bar, famously known as a He-and-She Stick Artist: Gloria Stoll Karn.

By John Fry

Skiing was a perfect milieu for boy-meets-girl 60 years ago. Four out of seven men and three out of four women were single. Apres-ski they united in in bars redolent with beer and cigarette smoke, or in farmhouse sitting rooms. But during day the prime socializing took place in the lift line. Here skiers routinely waited for 30 minutes and as long as an hour on a holiday weekend -- plenty of time to talk, observed ski writer Morten Lund, “to meet a member of the opposite sex, get infatuated, engaged and plan the wedding.”

The chances of agreeable encounters vastly amplified when ski areas replaced rope tows and J-bars with T-bars, known as “he and she sticks.” Especially desirable was a wobbly track, or one that slanted across the fall line, since it brought the riders into greater physical intimacy.

Even one the T-bar’s drawbacks could be turned to social advantage. If a tall and a short person were paired, their unequal heights would cause one or the other to fall off. Consequently, the lift attendant sought to pair people of equal height, a dimension that also happens to work well in long-term relationships. The notoriously short Dr. Ruth Westheimer, who skied at Belleayre in New York’s Catskill Mountains, was in the liftline one day awaiting a suitable rider to go with. Eventually, a shortish man showed up, and they rode up together. He later became Dr. Ruth’s husband.

The boy-meets-girl opportunities absolutely shot ahead in the 1950s with the switch from single to double-seater chairlifts. Instead of sitting silently alone wondering how to meet the gorgeous gal he’d seen in the liftline, a fellow could now actually sit next to one on the chair. For the skilful Romeo, a 10-minute ride  was more than enough time to inveigle a gal into joining a beer and ski songfest at the end of the day.

Alas, the opportunities for intimate conversation have lessened as lift riding time has shortened, and the number of chair occupants has grown from three to four, to six and even to eight skiers and snowboarders. Not a few of them may have pulled their dating-app equipped IPhones out of their parka pocket, seeking a date.


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