Capital Region Scrapbook: Kathy McGarry Muller braved bobsled ride in 1956, performed varied duties for Gazette

Schenectady Gazette reporter Kathy McGarry Muller had put away her notebook — and her fears — for 40
Schenectady Gazette reporter Kathy McGarry Muller, right, prepares for a swift ride down the ice of Mount Van Hoevenberg’s bobsled run during the winter of 1956.
Schenectady Gazette reporter Kathy McGarry Muller, right, prepares for a swift ride down the ice of Mount Van Hoevenberg’s bobsled run during the winter of 1956.

Kathy McGarry Muller heard the voice, high above the ice of Mount Van Hoevenberg.

“Now approaching the finish curve,” it said, blaring from a public address system near the turns and straightaways of the mountain’s bobsled run.

Muller couldn’t do much more than listen. The Schenectady Gazette reporter had put away her notebook — and her fears — for 40 seconds of thrills and speed inside a fast-moving four-man bobsled. She had vivid memories of her cool trip during the winter of 1956.

“I had the feeling my right shoulder was being pushed toward the ice-packed ground by the force of rounding the curve,” she wrote. “For a fraction of a second, the sled felt as if it were riding upside down. We were 15 feet up.”

Muller didn’t need the complete routine. The 22-foot high bank at “Shady” curve did not appeal to her. So she signed up for just the final half-mile of the bob run. It was quite enough.

“Traveling at least 60 miles an hour, the sled roared into zig at a precarious angle,” Muller wrote. “In a split second, we were rounding zag on the left — 12 to 15 feet above the base. In a flicker, we had rounded the next little curve.”

Seconds later, Muller’s swift sled was on the final straightaway, “breezing under the spectator’s bridge and pulling to a halt with snow sweeping high into the air behind us under the pressure of the brakes.”

Muller gave Gazette readers all they wanted to know about the bullet-shaped bobs and the Van Hoevenberg sled unit. The four-man models weighed 485 pounds, and mountain superintendent Roy Tallman maintained 40 two-man and four-man models. At the time, Van Hoevenberg was the country’s only bob run. Crew members sprayed the curves, banks and straights with 20,000 gallons of water each day to keep the paths slick.

Muller worked at the Gazette during the 1950s, and often wrote pieces that accompanied Charles B. Sellers Jr.’s photos on Saturday full-page feature spreads. She wrote about the people who made Adirondack baseball bats in Dolgeville, Herkimer County; Boy Scouts at Camp Boyhaven; actors at Sacandaga Summer Theater; and bowlers on the lanes, to name just a few topics. She was married to Pete Muller, another Gazette reporter and editor.

The Mullers now live in Venice, Fla.

Categories: Life and Arts

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