Skiing in Austria in uncertain times

(Photo (C) Beeldtype: 1936: Exterior of hotel Fluchthorn in Galtur, Austria, my mother waving at the photographer and my grandmother sitting in a sun chair next to her)

When I was in primary school I was one of the few in my class who went skiing with my family. It was (and still is) quite expensive. While looking at these old photos it surprised met that in 1936 my grandparents were wealthy enough to go skiing in Austria.

I googled the hotel and it is still in business. Alpenresort Fluchthorn it is called nowadays. At the moment of writing this blog they are reconstructing the hotel. They must have done so in the past after 1936, because the wooden balconies are different and I can’t find the half round glass door entrance anywhere on the present day photographs.

My mother and grandmother having breakfast at the hotel Fluchthorn in 1936

Funnily enough, the seating in the breakfastroom is still the same; bench on the window side, chairs on the other side of the tables. On this photo my mother is looking out the window. It could have been snowing. Or she might have seen this dog:

My mother was kind of a dog whisperer. No matter what breed, size or agressiveness, my mother would only have to talk to them and they would ease up.
Dogs of any size would listen to my mum. This photo was probably developed later than the others in this series: there is no deckled edge to this one.


Note the vintage snow goggles. I find them quite horrifying, but they might have been all the fashion back in 1934. And when googling vintage snow goggles, you will find that they are still being made in this fashion.

My mother used to say: ‘Always wear goggles when skiing.’ I hated these things because they always seem to fog up. I had them tied around my arm most of the time. But she always reminded me of her getting snow blindness or photokeratitis. This eye damage resulted in her having to spend many days in a dark room after a skiing holiday. As long as I can remember my mother always had trouble with bright light. She owned all kinds of shades, for any type of weather.

THE YEAR 1936:

My grandmother’s captions do not state in which month these photos were taken. It might have been in februari when the Olympic Wintergames were opened by Hitler in Garmisch Partenkirchen. Fascists are gaining ground throughout Europe in 1936. In Greece the parliament is sent home and dictator Metaxas settles himself as the new head of state. In july the Spanish civil war starts and dictator Franco reigns. On the other side of the Atlantic Franklin Delano Roosevelt fortunately gets elected as president of the United States.

It scares me to compare those times with the world we now live in. I am glad my mother didn’t have to witness what we are going through now.

Published by Françoise Vaal

My addiction to visuals started with cartoons on tv, comic books, and movies. I dreamt away while looking at my mother’s landscape photographs and imagined going there and capturing the landscapes for myself. For more than twenty years I was a picture editor for newspapers and magazines but my own photography had been limited to snapshots of faraway countries. My wish of dedicating myself to my own photography and art finally came true. My home base is The Netherlands.

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