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HISTORY IS COOL: 60 years ago

Nov. 24, 1960

Devlin’s motel sign signals ski retirement

When a doctor or a lawyer hangs out his shingle, it marks a big change in his life. When a man goes into business and puts up a sign announcing it, that’s a big day in his life, too.

A short time ago, a Lake Placid motel owner who has been in business several years put up a new sign … and it marked both a big day and a big change in his life.

The sign reads “Art Devlin’s Olympic Motel.”

The day that sign was raised, Art Devlin, one of Lake Placid’s all-time great athletes (a ski jumper), became a professional.

“I hate to quit,” Devlin said. “I’m not quitting because I’m decrepit … it’s that the ‘old guard’ is gone … guys like (Art) Tokle, Mezzy (Barber) and the others. … I just don’t get the kick out of it that I used to.

“As far as American competition is concerned, I can hold my own. In fact, I can go out and knock any of the American youth right off their pins. But there isn’t the same satisfaction in competing that there was with the old gang when the old fight was there.”

Devlin makes no bones of his opinion of the amateur rules in this country, which turn him “pro” just by hanging that sign.

“If they think the electoral college system is archaic,” he said, “the whole system of amateurism makes that look modern.

“European amateur rules are much more modern. By that I mean sensible. Over there, you remain an amateur until you compete for a monetary prize. In many countries, you can still endorse products and keep your amateur standing.”

When questioned about Toni Sailer, the Austrian skier who was declared professional when he became involved in movie work and a textile business, Devlin said, “I think a lot of pressure was brought to bear on Sailer because of his movie work. He was skiing in the movies and being identified as a champion. If you remember, he won the World’s title in ’58 after he became affiliated with the Sailer-Tex clothing business.”

Devlin has been dogged by top brass in the ski organizations from his early days on the “amateur” problem.

“In fact, when I was just a kid … 14 or 15 … I had a job at Thaire’s Ski Shop ironing on wax and working on skis,” he said. “The Eastern Amateur Ski Association said I couldn’t keep the job and remain amateur. They said Thaire was just hiring me because I was an up-and-coming young skier. … I was getting three bucks a week … and that was a lot to me, or to any kid, at that time.”

Parking meters back

The Lake Placid Village Board decided last night to re-install parking meters along the east side of Main Street, the business side, from the post office to Saranac Avenue. The move was suggested by the Merchants’ Association to alleviate the parking problem. Association representatives pointed out that as soon as the meters are taken out in the fall, employees in the businesses on Main Street start parking all day once again in front of their places of work.

“We owe it to our tourists and guests, and the people of this town, to provide space for them to park near the stores where they want to shop,” said Otis Macy of the Lake Placid Electric Co.