Reflections: The Hampshire County Legends of Snowmobiling (Robert Dodge)
Published on Monday, February 7, 2011 in Guest Columns, News & Updates
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The Hampshire County Legends of Snowmobiling: Charlie Kott of the Burgy Bullets, Ralph Hathaway of the Chesterfield Four Seasons Club  and Horace “Whitey” Whitaker of the Worthington Snowmobile Club. Sometime around the first of the year in 2010, Robert “Bob” Laliberte of The Chesterfield Four Seasons Club went to a few club meetings in the surrounding Hill Towns and presented his idea of having a local event to salute “Snowmobilers Present and Past.” A fundraiser, yes, but Bob’s main focus was to organize something that would let these snowmobilers know that they were of great value for all that they had done and all that they are still doing. But this would be at a club level with more familiar faces. Four clubs, The Burgy Bullets, The Chesterfield Four Seasons, The Goshen Highlanders, and The Worthington Snowmobile Club, came on board. The first meeting was held at the Four Seasons Club House. Shortly thereafter two members from each club came forward to form The Hampshire County Legends of Snowmobiling. Not to try to outdo SAM’s annual awards, like the Snowmobiler of the Year, Trail Worker of the Year and so on. The intention was to try to narrow things down a little. Rather than going statewide, it seemed like a good idea to recognize club members on a local level. Give each club a choice on whom they would select locally, and to get everyone under one roof at one time. To show appreciation for what these “Legends” have done for this great sport of ours. I know I was proud to be part of it.

Hey, c’mon, being a vintage guy, I knew I had be a part of this. The clubs were enthusiastic about it and the people that organized the event had personal ties to the folks that were selected, which made it even more fun. The great day came on May 1st of 2010. Each club had thirty tickets to sell. All but nine were sold. Every club came up with five raffle prizes, too. Gerry Bird of the Goshen Highlanders and a small staff did the cooking. Roast beef with all the fixings, salad, rolls, and dessert. It was good… it was real good! We hired a band and were set and ready to go! The guests of honor were greeted by friends and family as they arrived. Many were surprised to see old acquaintances and more than happy to share some stories, do a little catching up, and just enjoy what was happening.
John Tobin of the Burgy Bullets did the first presentation to Charlie Kott. John spoke of Charlie as being one of the original members to start the club and helped build the current clubhouse. Charlie and his wife Joyce have many years of dedication to the Burgy Bullets.
Dan Burroughs of the Four Seasons was up next to present Ralph Hathaway with his award. Dan noted how Ralph cut a lot of the trails that are still in use today and was out there grooming before SAM had a grooming program. After an ice storm, Ralph was out there cleaning up while everybody else was out riding. Not enough good things could be said about this man.

Robert Dodge of The Goshen Highlanders…yep…that’s me… presented Joel Carr with his award. Joel moved to Massachusetts from Vermont in 1954, started snowmobiling in the 70’s, and was part of the original Goshen Club, then called the Stump Jumpers! Joel belongs to several clubs and is always out there cutting trails, getting landowner permission. He’s just an all around handy guy. Unfortunately, this all around handy guy wasn’t around. He was in Florida! Mike Sarafin gave out the last but not least award to Horace ‘Whitey’ Whitaker. Recognizing him for his part in the early years as a successful dealer, Whitey and his wife Charlene sold Sno*Jets then later Kawasaki snowmobiles out of their dealership in Huntington. Whitey was the mechanic and dealer while Charlene went out to pursue her racing career. They were both good at what they did. When they closed their dealership in 1984, they devoted their time to the Worthington Snowmobile Club. At age 79 Whitey can still be seen out on his sled with his chainsaw in tow.

The Legends were presented a plaque with an inlaid clock. Each of them came forward and shared a short story of their early days of snowmobiling and what it meant and still means to them. A large plaque that has the names of the four hosting clubs and the honorees will hang where the event was held until the following year. Each year one of the four clubs will host the event at their sight. I’m on a lot of different committees and belong to several clubs. I joined this team because I truly want to see this sort of thing move forward. Maybe your club would want to join with other clubs and do something of the same nature. A few hours of your time can put a smile on someone for a long time. Believe me, it’s worth showing these people just how much you appreciate them. A big thank you goes out to Bob Laliberte who had the passion and heart to bring this to the table. Well done! Photo by Lisa Connell, The Country Journal

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