24 | Snowmobile VERMONT first single page of information, requesting a meeting in Waitsfield, listing the date for this meeting regarding the state of snowmobiling and what needs to be accomplished, for the good of the sport. Slowly however, they all came around and soon, the lawmakers in Montpelier found out that their jobs may be in serious jeopardy should they vote against this snowmobile bill. On Jan. 30 1968, with the State House packed to the rafters from a standing room only crowd of Vermont snowmobilers, the first bill especially written for the benefit of snowmobiling was passed. A man of French Canadian ancestry, with whom I'm told was possessed of a temperament usually associated with French Canadians, became VAST's first executive director. His name was Carmi Duso, a beloved fellow member by all of those who worked with him. But a good deal of distance it seems, was wisely maintained by those he didn't like. During one recalled incident at the Sixth Annual VAST meeting in the old Radisson Hotel in Burlington, was when then Burlington Mayor Bernie Sanders, who wasn't exactly a huge snowmobile supporter at the time, decided to attend. VAST Memories “We then mailed them out to as many clubs and people that we could think of that were snowmobilers. Whenever he took a road call, Bill would stop his company van each time he spotted a snowmobile sitting in someone's yard and pass out one of our fliers," Mitzi says. "We were very hopeful that we'd have a big turnout. But hardly anyone came to that first meeting." However, there was a person attending that meeting who would become one of their biggest supporters. His name was Amos Colby from Lunenburg. Amos had just won a seat in the Vermont legislature a year earlier and, most importantly, was an avid snowmobiler! “The ink kept freezing, so my young daughter held a heat lamp over the machine while I cranked. Of course, now the ink was getting hot and runny, messing up the pages. So I had my son gently take each paper as it came out and lay them down flat on a table to dry. Soon they were spread out anywhere we could find space!” “Mitzi came up to me at that first meeting with tears in her eyes, saying ‘Well, it’s over. No one showed up and we just can’t afford to keep doing this anymore. It’s too hard. I’m sorry,” Colby remembered, "Now don't you give up," Amos told her with a hug, "There's you and me here, that's a good start. Keep going and don't be discouraged." Bill, Mitzi, Amos and many others worked hard during the next two years. The Oakes, along with friends, were already involved in a local snowmobile club, the Green Mountain Snow Cats. The town of Lunenburg, where Amos is from, had also already formed a club in 1966, the Lunenburg Polar Bears. The sport of snowmobiling in the state of Vermont was quickly becoming a collective force to be reckoned with. Amos and others traveled around the state speaking to as many snowmobilers and existing clubs as he could, explaining how important it was to legitimize the sport through registrations. "This would help bring an end to the outlaws with straight pipes and wire cutters. Those who do harm to landowners and town residents could now be brought to justice. Plus, some of the money from the registrations can be returned to the clubs. It's the only way we can survive as a sport," He told them. Still, there were many who wanted it the old way. To travel anywhere they please, over other people’s land. Bill Oakes, possessing a more passive temperament, was luckily standing right next to Duso and intervened, "No Carmi, you stay here. I'll go tell him." Bill calmly went over to Sanders and was somehow able to get him to leave without embarrassing the poor mayor. He was so tactful in the handling of the situation, that he and Bernie Sanders became good friends after that. Bernie is now a great supporter of VAST and the current Lamoille Valley Rail Trail project. For many years, he endured the chiding nickname “fleahead.” The first secretary of VAST was Corky Lawson. "I had no idea what I was getting myself into," She says chuckling, “What in hell is that flea-headed son of a #%& doing here?!” Carmi Duso screamed, “I’ll throw him out!” “I was given hand-me-down office equipment that worked when it wanted to! They later put me an office at the Masonic Temple, which wasn't bad. Gladly, I received some help when they hired Eleanor Curtis, and we worked well together. Eleanor, her husband Howard, and my husband and I became close friends." She told us of a funny story with Governor Howard Dean. "He showed up at Annual Meeting with three toddlers under his arms and of course couldn't take them into the meeting. He ended up passing them off to Eleanor, who was stuck with watching them for hours while he attended the meeting!" Corky worked as VAST's secretary for 20 years, making many friends along the way. “They stuck me over on Langdon Street in Montpelier on the third floor of an old factory building for seven years, in a room the size of a closet, with no heat and sometimes water when it wasn’t frozen! I only worked during winters back then and I had to bring in my own heater to keep from freezing to death!”