"I'm caretaker for Davis Riverfront Park, and that keeps me busy all summer. We have a picnic shelter and a lot of memorial benches that people can buy and put names on. The town bought five acres on the Blackwater River to develop into a city park.
"We live in Davis where my wife, Nora, was born and raised. Her family was one of the originals. They had the old Worden Hotel.
"I've always said it's a wonderful place to live, but it's hard to make a living. There has always been a real mystique about this valley. It just draws people, and there are certain kinds of people who stay.
"Between Christmas and New Years is one of the major times. We need to do really well then to have a successful season. This year, we had 4 feet of snow at Halloween and nothing more until mid-December. We got 4 feet from Superstorm Sandy, and it stayed for almost a month.
"All in all, I've been pretty lucky and pretty happy. We did have one major tragedy. Our son passed away in 2005 at 32. He was one of the first snowboard instructors at Canaan Valley. Alcoholism got him, liver failure. Alcoholism runs in our family. I'm a recovering alcoholic.
"I've had a couple of relapses. It's still a struggle every day. When my son died, I got really bad and went off the deep end. Three months later to the day, my 47-year-old sister passed away suddenly. She was in West Palm Beach, so I had a double whammy.
"In 1997, my dad was in Florida, and he was sick, and I wanted to help him out, so we moved there after 35 years. We were there nine years. I didn't see snow for five years. The only way I could deal with not skiing was out of sight, out of mind.
"While we were in Florida, my son died. He was our only child. It was rough. David IV. We called him 'LD' for Little David.
"My dad did better, and I stayed and ended up working at a nice country club where I was in charge of outside golf operations, pretty much the same thing I do here only I'm dealing with wannabe golf pros. I played golf every day and surfed. It kept me busy. I could never sit in an office.
"I started going to AA and some of the country club members knew what I was struggling with and took me under their wing and helped me. If I hadn't quit drinking, I would not be here today. I still have cravings every day in this ski environment.
"I'm an open book. I don't hide who I am.
"We came back in 2006. That's when I took this position. The ski school desk is where they talk to the customers and try to match up personalities with the ski instructors.
"Then I organize it. Sometimes we have 200 or 300 people out there. We get them organized in about 20 minutes, so there's still plenty of time to get out there and ski. I've already had four runs today.
"I've skied all over the world. My freshman year at D&E, before Canaan Valley opened, I went to London for six months. I was studying music, theater and art. I loved the theater. That's where I learned my carpentry skills, building sets. Finally, halfway through college, I got tired being behind the scenes and tried out for a play and started getting leads.
"I don't have any trouble with stuttering when I'm acting, or teaching. I got in the college choir, and I don't stutter when I sing. I worked at a radio station as a DJ, and I didn't stutter then either. It's only when I'm tired.
"In the summer, besides being a carpenter and taking care of riverfront park, I'm also an artist and craftsman. I make walking sticks from the striped maples we clear for the ski trails.
"I also do a lot of photography. I took a course at Rochester Institute of Technology years ago. When the digital age hit, I got back into it because I could afford it.
"I have a gallery in Davis, Upper Tucker Inspirations in a store called Grandpa's Attic. I also have my walking sticks there. I also make ski nuts. We have a bunch of ski nuts around here, so I take little peanuts and turn them into skiing and snowboarding and whitewater figures.
"A lot of my photographs are on Facebook under Fauncey Photos. I shoot Tucker County landscapes mostly. Every day there is something new to take a picture of, the same thing in a different light. It's nice seeing all the beauty here through sober eyes.
"Sometimes, it has been a struggle, but overall, it's been a worthwhile life. If I stay healthy, I will work until the day I die."Reach Sandy Wells at san...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5173.