Free spirited and inventive, Martin S. "Charlie" Hanley was the
owner of Golfland near Lake Bomoseen when he went "looking for
winter work" and joined Killington in October of 1960.
Impressed by the success of his snack bar, a local Pepsi Cola
rep had told him, "They could use you up at Killington, so I went,"
Charlie recalled of a time before he skied.
The irony was that although he had built and operated the snack
bar, it was his wife Jane who made it a success. "I couldn't boil
water," Charlie related with a chuckle.
Nevertheless, the Killington venture intrigued him, and he
agreed to design and build the kitchen system for the new base
lodge and run the food service that winter.
How he came to that point and where it led were a product of his
background, practical experience, and delight in solving problems
as well as a measure of serendipity.
Charlie was born and raised near Binghamton, NY, and "at age 12
had begun working summers at a nearby miniature golf course and
winters in their woodworking shop building the obstacles." Having,
been introduced to the Castleton area by a Hamilton College
fraternity brother, he built the Golfland miniature golf course
near Lake Bomoseen in 1957.
Loving the outdoors, Charlie founded Hamilton's Outing Club. In
preparation for winter trips, he took to sleeping outdoors on a
balcony year round!
On a December 1957 club trip that he was a sleeping passenger
when the vehicle got into an accident. It "put the right side of my
face through the windshield," he said. "I was lucky because I had
lost sight in my left eye at age eight, but it didn't affect my
He received $15,000 from the accident, enabling him to buy the
160-acre Pines Pond parcel across the road from Golfland for $9,200
It was at a fraternity party that he had met Jane. "She came
home for vacations (she attended Michigan State U for a degree in
social work), and I was there to pursue her," Charlie recalled.
"He liked my mother's chocolate chip cookies," Jane chimed in,
noting a link between her home in Clinton, where she was raised,
and the fraternity.
In 1958 Charlie added a double-decker driving range at Golfland
and hired Jane to work there, which she did to earn money for a
trip to Europe. He courted her long distance and proposed when she
returned. "I said no, I wasn't ready, but he persisted and I said
yes on New Year's Eve," Jane recalled, noting that they had "gone
out for dinner and dancing, which we loved to do."
They married on June 6, 1959 in Clinton, the day before he
graduated from Hamilton... and a day after he had posted bail.
Charlie had hauled a trailer to the Pines Pond land where they
were to live and, "pushed by an unmarked car," was stopped in his
turquoise convertible for speeding on his return trip. Finding his
license had expired, he was arrested and hauled before a judge who
allowed him to post $20 bail via a check Charlie wrote, warning "If
it bounces, I'll send you …"
Counting on wedding gifts to make that check good," Charlie
related, "It didn't bounce."
So living in Castleton where Golfland was a business success but
needing something to do in winter, Charlie showed up for an
interview with Pres Smith and John Southworth, then Killington's
"They said they wanted to hire me but couldn't until after
Christmas because they were a little short of funds. I said I could
start October 1 and be paid retroactively. They were very much on a
shoestring and jumped at that deal! I got $1.50 an hour," Charlie
"The 'cat's meow' came when they sent me out to look for and
negotiate land on which to put up Killington signs. Driving around
Vermont in foliage season with Jane and getting paid for it was my
idea of fun, not work." With his carpentry skills, he put the signs
together while she dug the holes for the signposts, they recalled
with a laugh.
He also did the kitchen project and some trail work in the
vicinity of the Killington chair. "We could walk up or take the
chair and then jump off it and grab the angle iron on the lift
tower. It looked easy, but as you lunged left for it while standing
on the chair's back, the chair swung out to the right. It was
dangerous, but I never walked up," Charlie said-much to Jane's
horror as she hadn't known about that detail.
That winter he ran the food service with assistance from Jane,
whom he called the "brains of the kitchen operation."
With his penchant for writing reports, Charlie was made a
"systems analyst" with the charge to figure out how to solve any
problem he spotted. "I had free license and could stick my nose in
anywhere to find a better way to do anything-my idea of fun," he
said of overseeing various non-ski departments like rentals, ski
shops, food services, and stock sales.
That led to using a Regiscope-a camera device Charlie had seen
at a Rutland supermarket-in the rental shops. The machine took
simultaneous pictures of the skier and rental slip. "It solved the
ski rental theft problem cold, because a picture is intimidating to
a thief. It worked so well that we never had to develop the film,"
During the summer of 1963, Charlie developed the "Ticket
Wicket," an eight-inch piece of wire used to attach tickets to a
skier's clothing by slipping one leg of the wire through a zipper
talon, belt loop, or button hole before stapling the ticket. "The
first one was made in Ed McCormack's shop in Rutland out of regular
wire, but it rusted, so stainless-steel had to be used," he
In 1964, Killington sold 750,000 Ticket Wickets to 67 ski areas
and applied for a patent (granted March 22, 1966). They eventually
sold the Ticket Wicket business and patent, which Charlie had
allowed to go to the corporation because he had invented it while
working for Killington. "For 41 years the ticket wicket reigned
supreme throughout the world," he noted [today many areas use
Although he didn't financially benefit from the invention, he
and Jane did enjoy their trip promoting the invention. Promised the
trip if he could prove the invention would sell, Hanley had taken
his tall, blond spouse to a ski operator's convention, where she
demonstrated how the wire wicket could be attached to clothing
without damaging the fabric. Her strip tease through many layers
proved it would work with parkas, sweaters, stretch pants, and even
a swimsuit! "Sales were so good they sent us to every ski area in
the West," Charlie gleefully related.
As an assistant vice president, Charlie also worked in
Killington's real estate department, where he was instrumental in
the development of Killington East and helped put together the
purchase and exchange of 1480 acres on Camel's Hump for 400 acres
of leased land on which Killington could develop a village.
Although he enjoyed the challenge of solving problems at the ski
area, Charlie left in 1968 to become a local land developer and to
provide site development services for those who wanted to build
homes in Killington and nearby. Having visited Hilton Head Island
while working in land development for Killington East and having
read Design with Nature by Ian L. McHarg, he felt inspired to "make
the world a better place one lot at a time."
He combined his love of walking in the woods and exploring the
land with the physical work of clearing it for a home site and
views. Using his surveyor skills, he spent 41 years developing a
total of 153 lots in four towns-including Bearly Hi and Floral Park
in Killington and Our World in Stockbridge and Pittsfield.
Although he eventually sold the Castleton land for $460,000, it
wasn't all easy. "The passage of Act 250 in 1970 presented many
challenges that almost bankrupted us before the State decided that
the lots were pre-existing, allowing them to be sold," he
That's when he decided to use his skills to help others obtain
permits and prepare their land for subdivision and building homes,
doing work that included the coordination of clearing home sites
and building utility lines, septic and water systems.
Visiting Charlie and Jane at their home at the end of Bearly Hi
Way atop a knob at 1800 feet with magnificent views of Killington,
one can appreciate how he delighted in working with nature to
create woodland home sites for others.
Although they all skied, the cold weather didn't take with
daughter Jennifer and son Terry who now live in California. Jane
noted that she did appreciate their cooler location when she came
home from work in 90-degree heat in Rutland-she was as a caseworker
and clinician at Rutland Mental Health from 1988 to 2010. Both
still love the peace and beauty of their location.
Retired and enjoying the log home they built in 1971, Charlie
and Jane keep busy with their roles in the Sherburne United Church
of Christ- she as moderator and a deacon and he as a trustee.
Although Charlie has Parkinson's Disease and admits to early
fatigue, he stays active and enjoys walking with friends. He still
skis, noting he hasn't lost his sense of balance.
Nor has he lost his developer's love of a good home site-he's
created three more lots below their house. View of Killington