Summer Fun

The summer of 1973 was hot and dry in Phoenix, nothing unusual, Al Gore hadn’t invented global warming and a group of fellows (all later to become corporate executives) were celebrating the end of another workday at a local watering hole on Camelback and 24th Street.

One of the group brought up the subject of water skiing, a favorite local pastime in the Salt River lake system northeast of town and Lake Pleasant, a short drive north, off of
I-17. Water in the lakes is cool, most summer days aren’t too windy and, if they aren’t too crowded, the water skiing is enjoyable.

One of the bright guys said, “Why do we have to make such a long drive to water ski?” The group answered, “Because, stupid, that’s where the water is.” He replied, “When I’m out making sales calls, I bet, I cross these irrigation canals 10 or 15 times a day and they are almost always full.” A chorus said, “You’re not talking about water skiing in an irrigation canal? You can’t launch a boat in one! How are you going to pull the skier?”

Much thought and planning ensued and it was decided that one of the group’s, small, 4 wheel drive truck could pull up the berm of a canal, and the one that crossed between Indian School and Camelback, on 40th street was chosen. It was also decided who would ski first and that the owner of the truck would “pull” the skier. Then someone said, “I’m sure it is against the law!” Followed by another chorus, “No problem if we aren’t caught and we’ll ski at night!” Then, all involved, swore a blood oath of secrecy.

A Tuesday night, 10:00 PM, was chosen. Wives were told of a late sales meeting/planning session and their spouses wouldn’t make it home until near midnight. It was still burning hot, and the traffic on 40th Street was light, as the small, 4 wheel drive truck, lights off, crept up the berm of the canal and moved 75 yards in a southeast direction, off of the street. The skier, with his life jacket on, slid down into the water, the rope was paid out, up goes his thumb, the driver turns the lights on low and pulls away and up pops the skier! A new sport was born!

The skiers weren’t caught, it didn’t make the 10:00 PM news and no one ever broke the blood oath of secrecy!