by John Hagen, Many Glacier 1970-1980
The hotel corridor extends far into the distance, duskily illuminated by overhead globes, with steam pipes and sprinkler pipes snaking overhead. Many yards away, one sees a tall man striding purposefully through the shadows, in suit pants, a dress shirt immaculately ironed, and a regimental tie. He moves at a great pace, as if with the aid of seven league boots; two or three employees, following after him on some errand, are nearly jogging to keep up. It is Ian B. Tippet, of Devonshire, England, manager of Many Glacier Hotel.
The scene shifts in memory. Ian Tippet stands in a spotlight near a tree trunk pillar in the darkened lobby, his shoulders squared and his long arms extended, grasping the edges of a podium. He is presiding at the Thursday Serenade, showpiece of the nightly employee entertainment program which is his personal creation. Around him are microphones, stage lights, amplifiers, a grand piano equipment purchased in part out of his own pocket, in part from the contributions of guests.
The Serenade performers compete with a constant intrusion of lobby noises. The old cash register at the front desk
jingles noisily, a bellman's cart goes rumbling over the tile, tourists laugh as they issue out of the hall all blending in whimsically with the elegant harmonies of a string quartet. Mr. Tippet admonishes the noisemakers "kindly to maintain pleasant silence." He introduces each performer with a wealth of colorful detail; his tenacious memory holds the biographies of thousands of employees. Later on in the program, he sits at the grand piano, arms working briskly, playing accompaniment as a chorus sings his old school song, Blake's "Jerusalem."
The scene shifts once again. The hotel staff is seated in the Lucerne Room on the night before Opening Day. Mr. Tippet is giving his annual orientation speech to the employees. His words and his manner project the esprit de corps so distinctive of his era the spirit of teamwork and volunteerism, cheerful service and good nature. Longtime employees savor the well remembered, uniquely personal diction which graces this speech year after year the descriptions of "instrumentalists practicing in the linen closets," the dubbing of Many Glacier as "this old barn," the affectionate references to our aged visitors as "old dears."
As the orientation speech progresses, the staff waits expectantly for one legendary and utterly wonderful line. Mr. Tippet (speaking now in his capacity as Personnel Director) exhorts us to earn good performance records.
"They follow you all your life!" he says earnestly. "People come constantly to us for references. Corporations come to us; graduate schools come to us. The F.B.I. comes to us " At this the staff always roars with laughter, and Mr. Tippet always stares out quizzically at us over his spectacles. The F.B.I. seems to him the very epitome of a prestigious employer; he always is mystified when this line sends his listeners into transports of mirth.
The Omnipresence of Mr. Tippet
Among the most memorable of Mr. Tippet's traits was his uncanny knack for appearing at any given spot in the vast and rambling hotel where mischief was starting to break out. In a building staffed by collegians, horseplay was irrepressible (although generally it was carried on behind the scenes in discreet forms which were not unduly disturbing to the guests). Mr. Tippet used to appear on these scenes in the manner of an Olympian deity, precisely at the most embarrassing or compromising point.
A typical episode occurred in the summer of 1979. The bellmen and housekeeping were engaged in one of their frolicsome little rivalries. Two bellmen just had soaked a houseman with a fivegallon bucket of water in the discreetest possible manner, lying in ambush north of Stagger Alley, a distant corner of the hotel where Mr. Tippet was rarely seen. On this occasion, however, the water had no sooner left the bucket than Mr. Tippet strode past down the hall. The culprits, as well as their dripping victim, stared at the manager aghast, expecting that they would be instantly fired. But Mr. Tippet merely remarked in passing, "Who are you slaughtering now? We don't carry manslaughter insurance!" and vanished as quickly as he had come.
Many stories grew out of the surreptitious consumption of "guest food," a practice forbidden by company policy but inevitably engaged in by food service workers. One day very early in the 1970 season, a veteran waiter was enjoying a bowl of blueberries at a sidestand in the dining room during a lull in the breakfast meal. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Mr. Tippet come striding into the room about thirty yards away. The waiter immediately slipped the bowl into a drawer in the sidestand. A few minutes later, Mr. Tippet came strolling through the waiter's station. He casually opened the drawer, pulled out the bowl, and commented, "Dear me! Who can have left these blueberries here? They can't be from last year; they're quite fresh!"
Ray Kinley, the elderly hotel gardener, was warier than anyone of such apparitions. Prior to perpetrating his famous practical jokes or engaging in horseplay, Ray always carefully scouted the area for signs of "Mr. Tibbets." [Ray was convinced, for mysterious reasons, that "Tibbets" was the correct pronunciation of the manager's name.]
For all his precautions, however, Ray sometimes was caught like everybody else. One day in 1975, the bellmen convinced Ray to climb into a bellman's lederhosen and knee socks and pose as a member of the crew. Ray warily scouted for "Mr. Tibbets,' (who was nowhere to be seen) then slipped into the bellmen's closet to change. At precisely the moment when Ray had reached the state of maximum undress, the closet door opened and in walked the manager. He was taken aback to discover his bandylegged 83yearold gardener, wearing nothing at all but boxer shorts and a thunderstruck expression. "Why, Mr. Kinley, what are you doing?" Mr. Tippet inquired gravely, fearing that Ray might be out of his senses. "Hello, Mr. Tibbets," Ray giggled sheepishly, as the bellmen rushed in to explain.
The Legendary British Accent
One summer day in the 1970's, the ''Beetle Bailey'' comic strip showed the soldiers of Camp Swampy all mysteriously speaking in British accents. In one panel, Sergeant Snorkel barked at his troops, ''The whole lot of you must stop this frightful mucking about!" Beetle, Zero and the other privates all responded in unison, "Frightfully sorry!" The final panel showed someone explaining to a befuddled onlooker, "British film festival on TV this weekend."
This strip immediately was posted on the Employee Cafeteria bulletin board at Many Glacier, Ian Tippet and I both happened to notice it as we were passing through the cafeteria at lunch. Mr. Tippet immediately discerned why the strip had been posted, and laughed heartily. "They don't miss a trick, do they?" he said.
The comic strip captured one of the most delightful features of life at Many Glacier during those storied days. British accents incessantly were employed by everybody from the crusty maintenance hands to the downy room clerks. This imitation was carried out with enormous affection for Mr. Tippet, as a salute to his absolutely Dickensian expressive powers.
It was marvelous to hear employees from every point of the compass melding their own distinctive dialects with Mr. Tippet's phrases. One might hear a Texas maid drawling "This is not a country club for employees!" to a couple of loitering housemen. Or one might hear a Montana bellman exhorting his colleagues to clean up the lobby, exclaiming: "Not businesslike, not good! This looks like the lobby at St. Mary Lodge!" Or one might find the Hootenanny host band, dressed in patched and faded overalls, fantastically singing a bluegrass ballad ("Fox on the Run," for example) in impeccable British accents. Or one might hear a Bronx room clerk growling through clenched teeth: "If Mr. SoandSo [an obnoxious guest] complains once more, he's going down the road!"
"down the road!" was probably the most famous of the colorful turns of phrase which fell from Mr. Tippet's lips and passed into Many Glacier lore. The phrase was incessantly applied as a goodnatured jibe or mock threat of eviction directed at anyone who was troublesome, employees and guests alike. Mr. Tippet himself, well aware of how this offhand expression had caught on, often used it in a tongueincheek manner. The phrase was classically delivered with a sweeping wave of the hand (indicating the open road to Babb), and with elaborate cheery politeness (e.g., "Down the road, please; thank you!").
Most of Mr. Tippet's immortal figures of speech grew out of some colorful episode at Many Glacier. One of these was the infamous "Johnny B. Goode" Hootenanny during the summer of 1979.
Hootenannies, of course, were the Monday evening folk singing performances in the lobby. This particular Monday had been an unusually aggravating day. The garbage truck had broken down, and malodorous garbage bags were piled around the hotel awaiting collection. The hot water system had broken down, and the guests were annoyed that they could not bathe. On top of all this, Don Hummel, the president of the company, had come to spend the night at Many Glacier, which often betokened unpleasant events.
On this night of all nights, the host of the Hootenanny allowed several young employees to perform the song "Johnny B. Goode." The song itself was a rockandroll song, well outside the authorized genre, and to make matters worse the performers came equipped with two complete rock drum sets and several electric guitars.
I happened to enter the lobby that night just as "Johnny B. Goode'' was building into one of its mightiest crescendos. The drummers were hammering maniacally, flexing the drumsticks above their heads, and elderly guests were streaming out of the lobby as if it were on fire. Mr. Hummel himself made an ominous telephone call from his suite of rooms in the Annex, more than a hundred yards away, demanding to know what was going on.
As this bedlam unfolded, Mr. Tippet swept through the lobby like an avenging angel coming to cleave the head of the Hootenanny host with a flaming sword. Confronting the hapless host, he commanded him, in an authoritative voice distinctly audible above the din, "Pull the plug, Gary! Pull the plug!" Thereafter, "Pull the plug!" became a watchword among the employees in circumstances of hubbub or disorder.
A similar episode rose out of the illfated "New Year's Eve" costume party which was held in the St. Moritz Room in July 1971. Toward the end of the evening, the band performed the song "Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog" at an imprudently high volume, accompanied by uproarious singing. The hotel switchboard lit up with complaints. Mr. Tippet imposed a perpetual ban on such parties and on the offending song, declaring emphatically, "No more 'Bullfrog!"'
Employee hijinks were not the only source of disorder at Many Glacier which called for a firm managerial hand. At one famous Hootenanny, a frightful stomping broke out above the front desk, as if a herd of wild horses had been turned loose on the second floor balcony. Mr. Tippet rushed up to investigate, with a number of sturdy employees. On the balcony, we found a group of hippies from the campground engaged in a sort of gypsy dance caracoling about in colorful skirts, leaping into the air and clicking their heels. Mr. Tippet instantly and decisively put a stop to these proceedings. Then, leading his minions back toward the lobby, he waved an arm at the chastened dancers and demanded, "Are they cannibals?!"
A Dip in Swiftcurrent Lake
No tribute to Mr. Tippet would be complete without recalling his legendary birthday dip in Swiftcurrent Lake. It was customary during those years to toss employees off the boat dock on birthdays and other important occasions. No one, however, ever dreamed of extending this treatment to the manager until 1976.
1976 was supposed to be Mr. Tippet's final summer in Glacier (he had agreed to join a major global hotel firm, but later declined the job when the firm assigned him to work for five years in South Africa). The gift shop manager that summer, a retired Air Force colonel, took it into his head that Ian should be tossed in the lake on his birthday as a sort of parting tribute.
At 3 P.M. on July 27, the entire hotel staff gathered by prearrangement in the lobby. The atmosphere was electric with tension. Mr. Tippet walked into the lobby in the course of his daily rounds and was astonished by the crowd. Colonel Booth, the ringleader, cordially wished him a happy birthday and invited him to take a dip in the lake.
The staff escorted Mr. Tippet onto the portico, where a decorated jammer bus was waiting and a band played "God Save the Queen." The jammer bus drove him in state to the boat dock. There he cheerfully doffed his glasses, coat and tie, marched onto the dock and was tossed in the water to loud applause. The tossers (mostly bellmen in lederhosen) also jumped in for good measure.
This episode showed Mr. Tippet's unpretentious character. Although dignified by nature, he was a good sport, willing to join in a little skylarking for the sake of community spirit. He did this on other occasions, running out the "torch" for Olympic ceremonies, presiding at mock beheadings, allowing the dining room chorus to wrap him in monarchical robe and sing to him, "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown."
Ian Tippet set the tone for the Many Glacier community. He led by example, working harder than anyone, pitching in on menial chores, making cheery remarks and warmly offering his thanks for jobs well done, taking pride in a wellrun operation and at the same time finding fun in the endless oddities of the ''old barn."
The employees followed Ian's lead, and built an imperishable community. The spirit of friendship, teamwork, volunteerism, good humor and shared adventure which permeated out lives at Many profoundly shaped what we are today.
Many Glacier Hotel, its music program, and its community of employees have been Ian Tippet's life's work. A magnificent, fruitful life's work it has been. I join with countless other Many Glacier alumni in extending my thanks and best wishes to Mr. Tippet at the conclusion of his career.
by Tessie Bundick, Many Glacier 1972-1973, 1976-1980
It would be hard to imagine life without Glacier Park and it would be equally as difficult to imagine Glacier Park without Ian B. Tippet.
To me, he is as much a part of that beautiful place as Mt. Wilbur or Stoney Indian Pass.
I first met Mr. Tippet in his colorful office at Many Glacier in the summer of 1972. I had arrived, fresh from a jammer ride, out of East Glacier, to take up my post as a Many Maid. He welcomed me, handed me the key to my dorm room, looked out over the top of his glasses, and asked if I had brought white, hospital type shoes to wear on the job. I assured him that I had not forgotten this seemingly indispensable bit of uniform attire and went up to meet my roommate thinking all the while what an interesting gentleman was the manager of this lovely, old hotel.
And, indeed, he turned out to most interesting boss. I don't believe I've had the opportunity since to work with anyone who cared as much about doing a good job as much as Mr. Tippet.
Trained at the finest schools in Europe, he was really the best in the business. And it certainly was to his credit that he took young college students as raw and as green as a Dining Room salad, and turned us into a passably good staff. It could not have been easy. There must have been times when he wanted to throw up his hands in despair.
We worked hard at our hotel duties and rehearsed long, unpaid hours to entertain the guests but we also played with bursting energy as well with all the unbridled enthusiasm of youth. We pulled many pranks on each other and participated in parties until the wee, small hours like there was no tomorrow. I'm sure there were moments when Mr. Tippet thought we considered Many Glacier and environs our private summer camp and the guests incidental to our fun. Most of the time, he graciously looked the other way when some employee breech of conduct reached his ears and eyes. How often his impeccable British sense of the rightness of things must have been upset by the roughhouse hijinks of American university students!
It must have been a bit disconcerting to wake up one morning to find a bellman cart resting placidly up near South America on the side of Mt. Altyn, deposited by jocular kitchen assistants bent on some prankish revenge in the dead of night. Or to realize, with justifiable anger, that several of his most highly prized employees had discovered a level spot up on the roof of the hotel and had been slipping up there for weeks, admiring the Big Dipper and risking life and limb in the process.
I'll never forget how we, the annex maids of 1972, would decide to indulge in an extended break during the morning work hours and enjoy a giant cookie and soda brunch at the snack counter operations. Laughing and talking in our uniforms as the minutes ticked by and beds went unmade, we would shamefacedly return to our dust mops after Mr. Tippet, who would show up at the most inopportune moments, would sweep through the St. Moritz Room, spy our party, and say, in passing, "This is not a country club for employees!"
But when all was said and done, I think we all tried very hard to please him. It probably did not seem always apparent to him, but his staunch work ethic, sense of pride, and his notion of "aggressively doing one's job" did wear off on us. Everyone admired him and was affected by him in one way or another.
by Malcolm R. Campbell, Many Glacier 1963-1964
Before first light on the morning it begins, Ray Kinley is shouting like a banshee down the hall of the dorm. "The hotel is flooding. Get your lazy selves out of dreamland, gentlemen."
We step outside into the cold rain, pull our coats around us, and follow him down the long steps to the main door of Many Glacier Hotel.
Ian B. Tippet and the professional staff are in the lobby already, haggard and barely recognizable in old clothes, bathed in the unreal glow of flames from the stone fireplace.
The power is out, the phones are out, the water is out, except for the lake which is ina living creature from the Lucerne and St. Moritz rooms "act the lake level guest rooms, down stagger alley to the laundry room.
There aren't many of us, the skeleton crew that arrived several weeks ago to shake out the winter cobwebs before opening day. The work was ahead of schedule. Until now.
We rescue braided rugs, heavy when wet, and beds, mattresses, chests of drawers, pictures off the walls, the piano from the St. Moritz Room stage. We move slowly and methodically in the cold and the wet and the grey light.
Hypothermia is a real danger. Tippet is everywhere at once, moving purposefully and quickly, as is his custom, and in spite of the protests, he regularly sends us upstairs into the great lobby to be wrapped in blankets and forcefed coffee.
We are constructing history already. Reports are coming in, wellintentioned and mostly true, that conditions at Lake McDonald, Two Medicine, and St. Mary's are worse than those here in the Swiftcurrent Valley, and that through a wide, 14county area, towns, bridges, livestock, dams, the Great Northern mainline, and families whose faces we'll see later in the newspapers are down, out, broken, undercut, missing, ruined, and swept away.
As June 8th flows into June 9th and June 9th flows into June 10th, a discovery is made, and that is that mortal men have no words left for describing the scope of events such as these, for they have already spent their words on small things.
"NATURE TURNS OUTLAW," the Missoulian headline says.
The lake level rooms are explosions of mud. Tippet wastes no time mobilizing cleanup and repair crews that often work past meals and sleep. He looks tired but attacks each task with single-minded precision and no complaint. He keeps asking us if we're all right.
The road between Many Glacier and Babb is out, cut by a washout above Lake Sherburne. The only uncontaminated water available comes from the artesian well down at the caretaker's cabin. The lakes are brown and high. The county health department flies a nurse into our isolated compound with enough typhoid serum for everyone. Most of the staff is at East Glacier waiting for the roads to open and wondering, as we are wondering, if there will be a 1964 season.
At night, we sit on the front porch of the dorm talking to Ray while he tells fishing stories and ties flies. He remembers other floods, but this is the worst.
"Tippet will get us open," Ray says. "He's the one who can do it, don't you know."
When the hotel opens with a bankers' convention on June 18, I exchange my sodden, mud-caked dungarees for Lederhosen and a white shirt, and prepare to carry luggage, clean ashtrays and pronounce the names of glaciers and mountains on demand.
I walk into Tippet's office. "The busses are here, sir."
He looks at me over the tops of his glasses and says, "Very good, Mr. Campbell." Ian B. Tippet is tall and lanky and when he sits at his desk, he leans out over his work and more or less envelopes it. Today he is impeccably dressed, ready once again to assume his duties as the perfect host.
by Carol J. (Repulski) Dahle, Many Glacier Hotel 19701975, 1979, 1980
I had the privilege to work under the management and guidance of Mr. Tippet for nearly a decade of summers; my fond memories are too numerous to list in a few paragraphs.
Having attended the "Many Glacier Reunion of the 70's," in the summer of 1996, I know I am speaking on behalf of many former employees of Many Glacier Hotel when I say that Mr. Tippet will never know the impact he has had on so many lives. From him we learned a strong work ethic, to do things the right way, not necessarily the easy way; to go beyond what is expected, achieve more; to volunteer when there is extra work to be done, go out of your way to help others; to take pride in all you do, being trustworthy and fair; to share with others; to praise others in even the smallest things; and to value all forms of art. The result is high personal standards, a feeling of accomplishment, a sense of pride, and a life that touches others in positive, meaningful ways.
I met Mr. Tippet 27 years ago, and as I finish my 22nd year of teaching Middle School age students, I know that much of what I do and share with my students beyond the established curriculum is a direct influence from Mr. Tippet. Although it was not his intention when he began his career in hotel management, there has been no greater teacher for me than lan B. Tippet.
Mr. Tippet, you us all so much more than wonderful summers in the mountains of Glacier National Park. With honor and pride, you gave us all you knew to give. You are a part of us now and always. Thank you for touching our lives.
by Mike Leach, Many Glacier 1972, 1974, 1975
I worked at Many Glacier Hotel in the summers 1972, '74, and '75. During the last two summers I was Mr. Tippet's Executive Secretary. During one of the summers, Many Glacier hosted the Bureau of Indian Affairs annual convention. Part of my job was to arrange many of the particulars of the celebration.
One day we were hosting many dignitaries from Washington, D.C. and the tribal heads from the various Indian nations in the West. We arranged a grand luncheon in the Ptarmigan Room, complete with the Many Glacier singers.
As result, the dining room had to be closed to the public until after the luncheon was completed. This necessitated our having to direct guests to the Swiftcurrent Motor Lodge dining room a mile or so away or to the St. Moritz Room below stairs for sandwiches.
I was finished with my welcoming the guests and giving a brief history of the hotel, Mr. Tippet put in an appearance at the Dining Room and then left for his lunch. While he was gone from the office, a couple came in complaining about not being allowed to eat at their desired time. They were not even guests at the hotel. I nicely informed them of the problem we were having. I suggested the alternatives to dining. They refused in not alltooappropriate language. I then told them that I would take their name, save them a table on the first seating, and that they might take a leisurely walk around the perimeter of the hotel and enjoy the beautiful Swiftcurrent Lake. They still were not happy and were mad about the @? @? @? Indians taking over the hotel!!!
They insisted on talking to the "head man''. I informed them that Mr. T was at lunch and would return in about a half hour.
Mr. T. arrived back early. I was working at the Telex machine, with my back to the door. He "glided" past me and inquired if anything noteworthy had transpired during his absence. I quickly informed him about the terrible couple and that I thought they were the worst "bitchers" we had in the office all summer only to turn around and find them standing right there ! ! ! ! Horrors ! Needless to say, I didn't hear a word of their conversation since I typed as fast and as loudly as possible on the Telex. I was certain I would hear a "Down the road, thank you!" from Mr. T. (His usual manner of releasing someone from employment.)
When they left, having not been satisfied by the Englishman, I turned to apologize to Mr. T. for my characterization of them. He immediately put me at ease and said "Oh, but Mr. Leach that is precisely what they are!" What a man ! ! !
by Jim Lees, Many Glacier 19701973
As anyone who has ever lived in the Upper Dorm at Many Glacier can verify, one of the most neglected tasks in the dorm (although it was one of the simplest) was answering the telephone. This was true, despite the fact that close beside the phone was posted a list of all residents of the dorm, complete with their room numbers and their jobs.
The phone was located near the front entrance to the dorm on the first floor, and there were two main reasons why the residents did not like to answer the phone. Invariably, (1) the call would be for someone in a room that was one of the farthest away from the phone, and (2) if the person who answered the phone did take the time to go to the person's room, the person whom the call was for was almost never there. It was easier just to let the phone ring until Ray Kinley (the octogenarian dormitory supervisor, for whom the dorm was named) would shuffle grumbling out of his room and answer with his characteristic two phrases first, "Upper Dorm," and then (irascibly), "What's he do? What's he do?"
One midsummer afternoon in 1973, a few dining room waiters were gathered in one of the rooms on the first floor, relaxing and talking as was customary after we were done serving lunch and before we had to get ready to serve dinner. The phone started to ring and, as usual, was allowed to ring for a couple of minutes without anyone answering it. After the ringing had continued for some time, one of the waiters (who shall remain nameless) decided to answer. He picked the receiver up and jauntily announced, "Ship of Fools; Captain speaking!"
Two seconds later, the jaunty waiter quickly hung the phone again. He returned to the room, his face as white as a waiter's jacket, and said, "Guess what, guys. That was Mr. Tippet calling!" [Mr. Tippet's response to his greeting had been a decidedly icy "Who is this?"] As he spoke, the phone again began to ring ferociously, and this time was allowed to go on ringing until it was answered by Ray Kinley.
After working at Many Glacier for even one summer, everyone knew that Mr. Tippet's birthday was July 27th. I worked at Many as a busboy in 1970 and as a waiter in 1971 and 1973. During the summer of 1974, I stayed home to finish my graduate degree. On July 27th, I thought I would call Mr. Tippet to wish him a happy birthday and ask him how the summer was going. I was lucky enough to find him at the hotel when I called that evening, and we enjoyed a good conversation.
At that time, little did I realize that this was the beginning of a tradition which will continue this summer for its 24th consecutive year. Since 1974, each year (with the help of the switchboard, of the front desk, and in some cases of the night clerk) I have talked to Mr. Tippet on his birthday. I have enjoyed every conversation and have always appreciated the fact that, despite his hectic schedule, he always has had time to talk to me.
I have been in the professional world for over twenty years and have yet to work for someone who is as caring, conscientious, dedicated and enthusiastic as Mr. Tippet. If you are reading this, Mr. Tippet, I hope that the tradition of our annual conversations on your birthday will continue for many years to come.
by Susie Mieras, Many Glacier 1970
I had the very illustrious job at Many Glacier Hotel of being the General Cleaning Maid. I worked by myself, starting at 5:00 AM. But soon after I arrived, so did the lobby porters, so I wasn't working solo for long. And then the front office staff reported for their shifts. Working at Many was one continuous social occasion.
But my job involved a single glaring problem. Every one of the maids received tips. In essence, I too was a maid. The only difference was that I cleaned toilets where the others cleaned rooms. So I decided to put a dish in the ladies' room of the main hallway. Lo and behold, at the end of the first day of my experiment I found $10.00 in that dish! And at the end of the second day, there was money actually spilling over.
My friend, Karen Hudak at the Information Desk, helped me to find a substantially bigger crystal bowl. Together we printed out a lovely sign that said "Thank you very much." For one solid week I was raking in the bucks. It seemed too good to be true ... and it was. The president of Glacier Park, Inc. came to Many Glacier at the end of my profitable week. His wife discovered my moneymaking scheme and went straight to Mr. Tippet.
I was called to the manager's office. Very politely, I was told to kindly remove my bowl and not to place it in any restroom again. But, boy, did I have a good thing going for that one week!
Embarrassed? Yes, I suppose Mr. Tippet might have felt a twinge of that. Disappointed? Not in the least!! He was like the father figure we all craved. I adored the man. My visit for the reunion in August 1996 was complete as soon as I saw him walking down the main hallway not, I might add, too far away from the public restrooms!
by Kathy Stapleton Renno, Many Glacier 1971-1973
The time: the middle of a summer in the early 70's.
The place: the beautiful Many Glacier valley.
The Northern Lights were twinkling nightly and beckoning a few of us adventuresome MGH employees to leave the security of our dorms, rushing by a concerned Mrs. Thompson, our housemother, carrying our sleeping bags to the Pow Wow grounds. Amid her cries of "you're gonna be bear bait, you're gonna be bear bait", we hurried out the door. The Northern Lights were indeed enchanting, and the sounds of the nearby rushing water hypnotizing, giving us all a wonderful night's sleep.
The next morning I woke up with a funny bump on my upper lip. It didn't hurt or itch, so I went to work that morning, making beds in the hotel from 8 12 noon. By midmorning, my upper lip had swelled up so large that I looked like a Ubangi! Other employees actually came by the rooms I was cleaning to gawk at the sight. Someone is reported to have taken a picture. (Its whereabouts have been lost.)
Being a maid/waitress, l was finished with my maid's duties by noon and was scheduled to work in the dining room that evening as a waitress. With my Ubangi lip, this was sure to be a disaster, so I went to see Mr. Tippet. I said, "Mr. Tippet, I don't think I will be able to work dinner this evening." He replied, trying very hard to conceal a chuckle, "Under the circumstances, Miss Stapleton, I think not!"
by Mac Willemssen, Swiftcurrent Motor Inn, 1967; Many Glacier Hotel, 1968 - 1970
I am still trying to get my brain cells to reminisce about other stories involving Mr. Tippett. I suppose if worst came to worst, we could reuse "Cookie the Alligator" from 1970.
I do have a couple of reminisces regarding our Many Glacier football team and Mr. Tippett.
Although Many Glacier Hotel was famous for its musical productions in the 1960's, Mr. Tippett also took great pride in his flag football team. Once each summer, Mr. Tippett's "Choir Boys" would take on Glacier Park Lodge's football team at East Glacier.
Mr. Tippett's status as personnel director of GPI allowed him to stack the deck a little. In 1965, a first year Glacier Park Lodge employee named John Slater led GPL to a convincing victory; the next year he was head bellman at Many Glacier and turned the tables on his former teammates. In 1967, I worked at Swiftcurrent Motor Inn and became the "ringer" on the Many Glacier Team; for the next three summers Swiftcurrent was a pleasant memory as Mr. Tippett deemed it in the best interest of GPI to have me work at Many Glacier.
In 1967, John Slater could not work in the park. The game with GPL was postponed a week because the original date was the Sunday after the "Night of the Grizzlies." Mr. Tippett spent that day contacting and consoling the families of the two girls who were killed and the young man who was badly mauled.
When we finally did have our game, the Choir Boys scored a touchdown on the opening kickoff. Unfortunately, GPL dug in and it was a seesaw battle from there on out. I do not remember the score, but we lost by less than one touchdown and on our final play, Roger Stevens was "tackled" just short of the goal line.
The most vivid memory of that game, however, was the spirited rivalry between the Many Glacier and GPL cheering sections. I must admit that lining up as middle linebacker with your fans yelling "GPL GO TO HELL" got the adrenaline going. More surprisingly, however, was realizing that at least one voice chanting that cheer had a very distinct British accent!
In 1969, I joined the world of entrepreneurs. I brought Glacier Park staff shirts to sell to fellow employees, along with red Many Glacier football jerseys for my teammates. I bought these from a company in Ames, Iowa for $1.25 and sold them for the exorbitant price of $3. Unbridled capitalism sure was great!
When it came time to celebrate Mr. Tippett's birthday, my fellow bellmen and I were at a loss as to what to get him for a present. Finally, one of the bellman said we should probably get him a red football jersey with the number "1" on it. It seemed like a very nice idea and the numbering was quite appropriate. Thus, at a cost of about 15¢ a bellman (I waived my profit on this sale and even suffered a nickel loss), we had our present for Mr. Tippett.
As usual, there was an elaborate party in the employee's cafeteria. Our gift was immediately preceded by the gift from the dining room staff. They had all contributed a significant amount of money and bought Mr. Tippett a desk set that must have cost at least $100.00. He was graciously pleased. The fun began, however, when he unwrapped our red jersey and immediately put it on over his white shirt and tie. He then went around vigorously shaking hands and profusely thanking all the bellmen. The bellmen had stolen the show with their $1.25 red jersey. To say the dining room staff was not pleased and somewhat petulant is probably an understatement.
As a postscript, John Slater (who is now an orthopaedic surgeon but at the time was too cheap to buy his own jersey) wore Mr. Tippett's number 1 and led us to a convincing victory against GPL. As it turned out, that was the last of the Many GlacierGPL football games.
My Many Glacier teammates and I fondly recall the fun we had playing for Mr. Tippett. We also reminisce about the interesting combination of his enthusiasm for and complete ignorance of the game of American football. Our memories of working at Many Glacier thus include not only the beauty of Glacier National Park and the musical productions, but also the fun and adventure of nightly football practices on the asphalt parking lot. Once you have played that sport on pavement and in traffic, anything that happens on a grassy field is both a relief and pleasure.
by Rev. Jim Singleton, Many Glacier 1977, 1979
It was 1977 at the front desk at Many Glacier. Mark Bazan, Tony Settles, Rick Taylor and Jim Singleton were managing the rush. Amid the confusion, Mark became upset with a guest (perhaps it was in defense of a foreign exchange student working with us that summer, who occasionally made the guests impatient, and of whom Mark was protective). In his Utica, New York fashion, Mark told the guest off with notable curtness.
An hour or so later, Mr. Tippet came by the front desk. The unhappy guest had stormed off and reported the incident to him, and we feared for Mark Bazan's future. But Mr. Tippet said, "I've always said that over the course of the summer, each employee may have one freebie with a guest. There are times when we will lose our tempers. One freebie for the summer." For the rest of the shift, Mr. Tippet would walk by, holding up one finger and repeating to us, "One freebie."
Interview by Rolf Larson - Many Glacier, 1975, 1977-1980
Excerpts from interview reprinted with permission of Going-to-the Sun Magazine, Summer, 1981.
Ian B. Tippet, the ubiquitous Manager of Many Glacier Hotel, whose musical programs have entertained countless visitors over the years, talks about the music and his career at Glacier.
It's called many things, Many Glacier Hotel...a monument of wood architecture, rustic, its setting is called awesome, its facilities sometimes called "antique", but to Ian B. Tippet, Many Glacier Hotel Manager since 1961 and presently Vice President of Personnel and Assistant General Manager for Glacier Park, Incorporated, the hotel is affectionately called "the Old Barn". But add to this registered historical building Mr. Tippet's innovative musical and theatrical programming, and you give a very real boost to this building's long held title... printed simply on a wooden plaque which is posted outside the hotel's main entrance - "The Showplace of the Rockies".
Mr. Tippet, a hotel management graduate of London University, Westminster College, came to Glacier in a roundabout manner. It all started with a scholarship winning paper which brought him to the Conrad - Hilton Hotel in Chicago, then to the Nicollet Hotel in Minneapolis, and finally, on the advice of his supervisor, a past Glacier employee himself, to spend one last summer before returning home. He has obviously never left.
Twenty years later he is still coming up with the people to make the magic of Many Glacier come to life. In a world which is dominated by the packaged product, especially in the area of entertainment, Mr. Tippet continues to come up with highly personal programs presented by enthusiastic young people who share their talents for the sheer joy of the performance.
Echoes of music drifted into Mr. Tippet's office the night that we sat down for the informal conversation presented here. It somehow seemed very appropriate. Over the past twenty years, the sounds of music, whether performance or rehearsal, have been as much a part of the Many Glacier scene as the wind, and their sounds have added a dimension of inspiration that has been a source of renewal for many a visitor to majestic Swiftcurrent Valley.
Going-to-the-Sun: You studied hotel management at London University, tell us about that training.
Tippet: When I finished prep school, l thought at that point I wanted to become a chef. I enrolled at London University, Westminster College, which is a four year program in hotel management. The first two years have to be spent in the kitchen preparing for your Bachelor of Science degree. After spending two years at London University, I decided that I wanted to go on to hotel administration and not just remain on the culinary side. That's exactly what I did.
Doing this, you are required to spend your summers as a student on the continent. I was assigned by the Swiss Hotel and Restaurant Association to Zurich, Switzerland and the Hotel Baur Au Lac, which is in the five star category.
The discipline was very high. We were apprentices, or 'stagieres'. My first summer I was a restaurant 'commis', a trainee waiter. Of course this was in Switzerland where they have restaurant managers, head waiters, station waiters and commis waiters. Everyone but a 'commis' waiter was a professional, an older man.
So it was very hard. The first thing I was greeted with from Herr Guttinger, the Maitre D' Hotel Baur Au Lac was, "I don't like Englishmen, the Savoy
in London is no good." That was the greeting I got from the man I was to work with for the summer, a bit of a shock!
Discipline was so great that you didn't talk to your supervisor at all unless you were spoken to. You brushed him down and helped him on with his tailcoat. It was mighty hard... you almost wanted to cry before you got started. You checked in and out at the back door every time you left the premises. You marched to the laundry every day to get your clean jacket.
This was the atmosphere for the two summers that I spent at the Baur Au Lac. It was hard, but also a very good experience. With my second term I worked in the reception office. By then I was better known and got treated with more friendliness.
Going-to-the-Sun: When you graduated from hotel school, what brought you to this corner of Montana?
Tippet: I won a travel award on a thesis that I had written, and I was sponsored by the Hilton Hotel Corporation to come to the United States. I spent my first two years at the Conrad - Hilton in Chicago which was then the largest hotel in the world with 3,000 rooms and 2,000 employees. I also did a similar thing at the 600room Nicollet Hotel in Minneapolis.
I had a summer to spend before I went back to England, and Russ Bracket, who was the hotel's credit manager said, "why don't you go out to Glacier ?" So I came out and became assistant manager at Glacier Park Lodge in 1955, although I didn't become permanent with the Glacier Park Hotels until 1960 when Mr. Hummel took over.
Going-to-the-Sun: When did you first come up with the idea of bringing musical programs into Glacier's hotels ?
Tippet: Well, music has always been one of my hobbies. At Lake McDonald, l thought it would be a nice touch. We had a very nice lobby set up and I thought it would be pleasant to have a "Sunday Night is Concert Night", and that's exactly what we did. Then I thought it would be great to have a Sunday buffet there, so we advertised it on radio in Kalispell and Whitefish. After the buffet, we would go directly into our concert program. We started this in 1957.
We didn't have such wonderful talent then as we have now, but at that time, we did have a nucleus of employees who were employed only to entertain. We had groups like a french horn quartet, a string trio and a few others, so we could always incorporate those into an evening program with the other talented employees that we had. However, no real effort went into it until I came to Many Glacier.
Going-to-the-Sun: What would one of those early programs have been like?
Tippet: We didn't have a PA system, so I hosted the programs from the balcony above the lobby. It was quite informal...more like an employee talent show, but it was dignified and very pleasant. And after a nice buffet, it went very well.
When I assumed year-round employment in 1961, Mr. Hummel gave me the responsibility of the personnel department, since I had done some personnel work for the Great Northern Railway. He gave me the freedom to develop these programs, hiring people with the types of talent that we have.
When I first came to Many Glacier, we had a number of conventions and I thought this would be a fine opportunity to really start the program in earnest. This is when I decided to put on a Broadway Musical as the highlight of the summer. At first, we did not have a formal director, so the directors came from different jobs around the hotel. We had a boat captain direct "Brigadoon", for example, and we didn't do the show in its entirety. We predominantly used vocal scores, doing only the piano/ vocal version plus a few additions. But we then saw the need for going into it properly, getting a contract, and getting the full scripts to do the show in its entirety.
To give you an idea... for our first musical in 1961, "Oklahoma", we used vocal scores with duo pianos. The kids wore western clothes, there were bales of hay on the stage and some backdrops.
Going-to-the-Sun: What other programs did you start ?
Tippet: Well, we also started with the "Monday Night is Hootenanny Night" right away. The Hootenanny in those days was strictly original folk music and nothing but that. We had a format with a group of singers called "The Many Minstrels" and they were the opening group every week.
The format for the Hootenannies has changed and I think it has been for the worse, actually. It's too much like a talent show. There was so much more thought given to the performances back in those days. They'd research original folk songs.
One person whom I remember from those early years is David Durham from Texas Tech University. He started out in the bakery, then became a waiter and later, dining room manager. He was a brilliant folk guitarist. David put a lot of work into the programs. He met a girl from the pantry who was also a wonderful folk guitarist. They did a lot of numbers sitting on two high stools, looking at each other. They became man and wife.
We have also always had the "Wednesday Night SingAlongs", and I have always hosted the "Thursday Night Serenade" series.
Going-to-the-Sun: When did you start offering recitals as a part of your musical programming?
Tippet: It took us until about 1963 to figure out what we could do. We're doing a lot of things these days that weren't there to start with.
Roger Stephens then started up the Many Glacier Singers. At that point, we also started looking for voice majors; good voices for the dining room. Roger Stephens, again, directed the dining room choir. He was a very busy person.
It was at this point that we also decided to put back everything we earned from the musicals into more and better equipment. At this point, we started to rewire for the PA system in the lobby and buy the Shure Vocal Master system for the lobby. We started with one sound column and now have five. We also bought music stands, lights, and things like that.
Going-to-the-Sun: Who are some of the more colorful people that have worked for you over the years?
Tippet: There was George Monseur from Boston Conservatory of Music. He was with me for several summers as a dining room waiter. He has gone on to brilliant things such as guest conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. He lived for music. We did things like Bach's "Magnificat", for choir and orchestra in its entirety. He wasn't happy with the score he had and I remember when he sat up all night in the lobby and hand manuscripted a new score in another key. He was still there when I came down at 7 a.m. He then went to serve breakfast, as a waiter.
He was a fellow of about 110 lbs. and so staid; so dedicated to his craft. The strange thing was that we never thought he had a real sense of humor until he auditioned for our first production of "The Fantasticks" and won the role of the mute. The people couldn't believe how hilarious he was. I couldn't imagine that this was the same person. Yes, he comes to mind; through him, we have had a liaison with Boston Conservatory. Another Boston Conservatory student was also there that year. He came back to conduct the choir. He also did some wonderful things like "The Carnival of Animals", by Saint Sains. It had an orchestra of 30 40 employees, a narrator and a couple of singers.
There are some other wonderful things like that which we haven't done for a long time... really quality stuff. The earlier things we did were of a very high caliber, certainly nothing less than we are doing now, and with some of them, a higher caliber than we are doing now.
And, of course, there is Roger Stephens. Roger was a special person who dedicated himself to Many Glacier Hotel. There will be no one else like him. He was a brilliant director; he had sung with "Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians", "The Johnny Mann Singers", and a couple of other groups like that. He's a very colorful man and very, very talented. He dedicated himself to his job and then coordinated so many things after working a full day. We'd never had a director like him and we never will, because he did just as much for the hotel as he did for the Many Glacier Singers and the musicals directing and starring in many of them. He earned respect from everyone. He was an artist living for his craft and, like me, was living for the Hotel, the Park, and the Company.
Going-to-the-Sun: To what extent is the discipline of your training present in the ways you run Many Glacier Hotel now ?
Tippet: I stress things like good manners. They are important in the hotel business, whether we are professionals or college student hotel workers. Things like employees visiting with employees on duty at the front desk bothers me very much. I sometimes have to swallow my pride. If I ran the place like I felt, I either wouldn't have any employees or it would be a very tense atmosphere here. Mr. Tippet would be continually patrolling the halls and reprimanding. This just doesn't fit into today's attitudes on campus. I guess I'm very easy going now compared to how I used to be. When I first came here, I operated this place just as I had been brought up.
Going-to-the-Sun: Over the years you have continued to keep such close ties with England, yet every year you come back. Why do you keep coming back ?
Tippet: Well, I really don't know. I guess that you ultimately do in life what you enjoy. I could go out and earn much more money with a larger hotel company. Personally, I enjoy working with young people. It is more attractive for me than it would be to oversee professional waiters, for example, in a professional hotel. Being in such a grand atmosphere as Glacier and the relationships I develop with the young people is personally rewarding, and the paycheck is secondary. You have to do in life what you enjoy; you have to be happy in what you are doing. But I am also an Englishman and I appreciate what I was brought up to know. I guess, though, I am happy with what I am and that I could go on with it for the rest of my life.
Terrie Stewart, Many Glacier, 1970-1971
On an early90's visit to Many Glacier with a number of my old Glacier comrades, we encountered Mr. Tippet and began a reminiscence of summers gone by. He allowed as how he regarded the 70's, OUR era, as "the Golden Years." We found this heartwarming, but also amusing, as we had the idea that he had often viewed us as radical leftist reprobates!
He gave an example of how things had deteriorated in the employee corps. "In the linen room, we have two bins: one for linens and one for rags. They're plainly marked that way." He became more and more exercised as he went on, "But what do they do? They put the rags in with the linens and the linens with the rags! CAN'T THEY READ?!"
We had a number of hearty laughs over that one, and I took great pride in the fact that WE had been the authors of those "Golden Years.'' But my experience at the '96 reunion of 1970's MGH employees shed a new light on things. We observed how lackadaisical, even surly the young employees were, and we heard from them that there was nothing equal to the bond we had known, a bond that would bring over a hundred people back with their families to see others they had known for three months over two decades ago. I pondered this. Gould and Wilbur were the same. The hotel was just as beautiful and in better shape than when we served it. And despite all the press about Generation X, I didn't believe that college kids had really changed all that much. What was so different?
It finally came to me. The reason I felt that I already knew folks who had toted trays in the Ptarmigan Room years after I had was that we had had a common experience. We had all enjoyed Hootenannies, Sunday Serenades, and the unforgettable Broadway musicals in the St. Moritz Room. had all been conditioned to take pride in our work and to regard Many Glacier Hotel as a glorious and dignified ediface, worthy of out best efforts. And we knew that if our best efforts weren't forthcoming that we could be sent "down the road."
In short, Many Glacier had Class, and we were to reflect that in our work and our demeanor. Mr. Tippet, despite our authority-flaunting attitudes, gave us an atmosphere that nurtured a lifelong love and respect for the hotel, for Glacier Park, and for each other. Once he was no longer allowed to run Many Glacier as he saw fit, things would never be the same again. And I felt a deep sadness that generations of MGH employees could not understand what we had had in those "Golden Years."
Thank you, Mr. Tippet. You will always be inextricably tied to our memories of The Most Beautiful Place on Earth. And we are the better for that.
by Pasty Wontorski, Many Glacier 1976-1980
It was near the end of the 1977 season, and to spice up another day of room cleaning, we in housekeeping decided to hold a bed-making contest. We found five or six rooms in a row on the third floor balcony all with unmade single beds and rounded up a houseman with a stop watch.
As the reigning bed-making queen (my title was earned during the 1976 MGH Olympics) I was to be the officiating judge. Someone had unearthed the old red fur-trimmed Miss Many Glacier robe from a closet somewhere, and it was decided that I should wear this over my Many Maid uniform. I was also sporting some kind of festive head gear.
To mark the official beginning of the contest a houseman dropped a washcloth off the balcony into the lobby. Perhaps this is what caught Mr. Tippet's attention perhaps the noise level increased as the contest went into full swing. I must have been immersed in my royal role because I didn't hear those familiar footsteps racing up the stairs.
All of a sudden there at my shoulder was Mr. Tippet, demanding to know, "What is going on here?!" Gesturing to my colleagues with a bouquet of plastic roses in my hand, I explained, "We were just having a little bed-making contest, and since I won last year ..." Mr. Tippet stared in the direction I had indicated with an uncomprehending expression. When I turned around, I discovered that all the hotel rooms doors were closed, and that there were no maids or housemen in sight!
There was an uncomfortable silence. Mr. Tippet then inquired, "Why are you wearing that regalia?"
I quickly responded, "I'll take it off!"
He replied, "Then go pack, and be on the next jammer bus out of the valley the season is over!" Nothing like ending the season with a bang ... which I did once again two years later.
In 1979, Mr. Tippet discovered a romantic missive which I had written to a departed employee on a Many Glacier pillowcase. He returned it to me quite matter-of-factly in the Linen Room (where I was employed as Head Housekeeper), commenting dryly, "This must belong to you unless we have another Pasty running around here!"
Suffice it to say that Mr. Tippet and I had some kind of uncanny ESP during our summers together, I hate to think that his last sixteen summers without me have been dull and boring.