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An Appreciation: Nicolas Courter Osborn

My appreciation of Nic Osborn regards his skiing. The grace with which that brawny little mesomorph descended a hill on skis reminded me of Gabriel arriving at the Annunciation. Nic skied in a helmet painted with Day-Glo to look like a brain, with squidges of caulking compound poking up here and there. In those days, few others were smart enough to wear a helmet.

Once, when we were in Austria, Nic, who had discovered at Hotchkiss Four Corners that he had forgotten his parka, was forced to ski in the clothes he had. I will never forget the supercilious Europeans in the lift line. Decked out in the latest Alpine gear they began to snicker and point, seeing Nic push off the chair not only in a brown Carhartt suit but, to their greatest amusement, a pair of cross-country skis. Didn’t this American workman know you didn’t attempt this piste with these skis? But as Nic floated past them, their sneers turned to astonishment and later they crowded around him in the bar. 

And while I never saw him doodle on a napkin, no one could ever forget what Nic could do with Champagne corks — fashioning them into break dancers with movable parts or Louis Quinze chairs or Irish Setters.

To conclude: I will say one thing I have never said — and will never again — aahoooh, Nic!

Marietta Whittlesey

Gallatin, N.Y.

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