National Geographic : 1961 Jan
Soaring on Skis in the Swiss Alps and restaurants; wine Stuben, or taverns, and little shops called boutiques; sports shops, bootsellers, and banks; pharmacies and groceries; the post office, the Roman Catholic church, and the ski school. The Street Stages Zermatt's Pageant During our sojourn in Zermatt, Kathleen and I saw the Street as a stage with a different play for each hour of the day. The first actor appears in the cold, white light of early morn ing: a lone cleaner who shovels horse drop pings into a sled and moves on. Shortly after, the most dedicated skiers start down toward the Gornergrat railroad station to catch the 7:30 train. This trickle of skier traffic swells to a flood between 8 and 10 o'clock, when nine trains leave for the mountaintop. About midmorning-when the village's guests are high on the ski slopes or competing on the ice rinks -the Zermatters claim their Street. Shopkeepers step outside for confer ences in the sun, horse-drawn sledges make the hotel rounds with supplies, and house wives turn out to shop, carrying string bags for vegetables and plastic buckets for milk. Pushing wooden sleds or buggies mounted on runners, mothers air fat, red-cheeked babies. Grandmothers in black dresses and babush kas shepherd cows and sheep on walks from one barn to another (page 111). The Street drowses through the afternoon, a time of intermission before the carnival that begins with the setting sun. Then, as the day wanes, thousands of skiers sweep down off the mountains, and a booted horde marches into the Street. Traffic clogs as friends stop to exchange greetings and experiences: "The run from Gornergrat through the Kelle was smash ing.... Didn't I see you on the National?... Binding came loose just as I turned.... Martha broke her leg.... Tea, yes, I'm dying of thirst...." Stacking their skis in racks, the crowd pours into the tearooms. The sound of excited talk Sleighs and strollers pre-empt Zermatt's snow-paved main street; automobiles are taboo. Here, in midmorning, most skiers are away on the mountain slopes. Upon their return at twilight, the Street will come alive with shouts and laughter. Fresh snow whitens the station yard, where taxi-sleighs await a trainload of skiers HS EKTACHROME(ABOVE) AND KODACHROMEBY NATIONALGEOGRAPHICPHOTOGRAPHERKATHLEENREVIS N.G.S.