Mythic Devotion. Sort of.


It’s come to my attention that folks back at DOC Cabin and Trail are gathering stories surrounding some of the more obscure trip awards. So maybe it’s time to set the record straight on the Pablo Award for Mythical Devotion.

It was back in February of 1991 or ’92 that I was on campus to give a research talk at the CS department. What with that and all the technical discussions that followed, it added up to a pretty intense day, so somewhere around midnight I decided I needed a walk through the woods around Occam Pond to clear my head.

But out of nowhere, a stake truck piled high with snow and freshmen pulled up across the path. The folks in back were singing “La Marseille” at the top of their lungs like it was some sort of anthem, and jumped off to start shoveling snow. The thing is, they were shoveling it off the truck and onto the road. Which seemed a little odd.  I watched their industrious efforts for a couple of minutes before asking, in my best Uh-what’s-up-Doc voice:

“So, um, whatcha doing?”

“We’re trying to cover this section of road with snow.”

“Yeah, I see.”

[long pause]

“Wanna help?”

Who was I to say no?

It was only after the second or third truckload that it occurred to me to ask why we were seeking snow from points unknown to cover the streets of Hanover. I had figured it was some sort of prank, but hey, I’ve always been a joiner.

Anyhow, it was great fun.

But the next evening, I wandered over to the chili feed at the Rock and was perching on the back of a couch when I overheard a couple of heelers talking. One was describing their ordeal preparing for the Citizen’s Classic the previous night. You see, there’d been pathetic snowfall, and the only way the course was going to be runnable was if a bunch of them trucked snow in from hell and back to make berms for the skiers to use when crossing the roads.

And as the young women explained, “We’d been going for hours and were burnt out and ready to give up when this stranger stepped out of the woods. He said in a booming voice: ‘I’m Pablo – give me a shovel and let me help!’ And he started singing and rallied us and gave us the strength to go on and finish the job. It was amaaaaaazing.”

Now, I knew that wasn’t how it went down. And maybe she knew that wasn’t how it really went down. But it sounded like a great story, and there was no way I was going to kill the seed of such a beautiful legend by injecting a little unwelcome reality. After all, devotion can be mythic in more than one way, can’t it?

-pablo (a.k.a. David Pablo Cohn, ’85)