Dwight Peck's nostalgia gallery
Chalet Pollux in
the old days
Here are some poignant pix of Chalet Pollux
in Leysin, Switzerland, during and after its first, and just before
its second major face-lift.
Here's Chalet Pollux
in Leysin, Switzerland, in 1992 -- a short way out on the
Leysin American School road at the southern edge of town, across
from the Solacyre skilift. Built early on as one of two identical,
cheap vacation houses (the other, of course, was Chalet Castor
[left], named after the Gemini twins), Pollux was the home of
many of the great Leysin mountain climbers, even in the then-unfinished
When gobbled off the market by Mr Peck and
Ms Wilson in the mid-1980s, Chalet Pollux did not look like this.
In fact, it required a big face-lift!
Small, but elegant.
Sadly, this is a photo taken in 1992 to be posted in the office
of the real estate agent in order to sell it, displaying neatly
its new roof, supplied by Leysin's Werner Standke, the nice stairs
down the side of the building supplied by Mr Peck himself, and
the shiny resurfacing of the wood, also supplied by Mr Peck, and
just in time, too, since about an inch of outer surface had rotted
to powder since the last maintenance on the house.
Three tiny bedrooms up under the eaves, and
a livingroom, small kitchen, and bath on the main floor, with
a detached studio in the basement, home first of ACS Prof. Erik
Knudsen and later home of our favorite neighbor/hiking partner
But this is not how
we found Chalet Pollux in 1986. In 1986, Chalet Pollux was a Fixer-Upper!
For example, a new terrace on the side -- the
photo on the left shows the Grade 3 dirt being freighted in laboriously
to lay a base for the Grade 2, and then finally the Grade 1 dirt
to make a nice new lawn. The photo on the right shows what's under
the Grade 3 dirt -- yes, that's the old roof.
All smashed up. Those delicate expensive little rooftiles were smashing
themselves up on the roof anyway, many of them having to be
replaced every year, so now they've found a more permanent home
under the Grade 3 dirt. Just as we all will, one day.
Nice new terrace, before the vines have grown
in the planters but with some good grass growth on the shards
of former roof. Taken in 1988.
And, as Marlowe (in 1988) points out, no
more old bathroom. No new bathroom yet either, but that's coming
soon and there's a bucket in the corner.
And a thorough facelift on the outside, crumbly
old walls rotting away to palimpsests. A good sanding down and
then two coats of stain, and some artful renovation of the window
shutters as well. Many homeowners will understand the temporary
but very strong attractions of the home improvement addiction,
and one hopes that they too will get over it eventually.
Mr Peck pauses in his labors to reflect upon
where this is all going. But he didn't guess the worst.
A little more sanding, a little more staining,
a pleasant feeling, toiling away at fortifying the family
nest, so to speak . . .
With suitable refreshment from time to time,
Work work work. Walls back up after a thorough
reinsulating behind the paneling.
After an ACS "crisis meeting", with
Marlowe, Michele, and Allan Rankin
Back to 1992, small house for a family but
too big for one person, so regrettably bye-bye. The successor
family, very nice people from Fribourg, bankers or something,
took the cozy house firmly in hand and tripled its size with add-ons
and big arches and new facilities for the in-laws and a car-port
at the top of the hill, and it really doesn't look the same anymore.
But we hope they're happy there.
And in its heyday, Chalet Pollux was a fine
place to live -- in fact, off to the right there, one can see
the bottom station of the Solacyre ski-lift. How convenient, to
live at the foot of a ski-lift! (Alas, the Solacyre lift has since
been closed down, indirectly due to global warming.)
From Chalet Pollux, Marlowe departed in late
1991 for her mother's house in Vufflens-la-Ville, and Mr Peck
himself moved to Gimel at the end of 1992. To where? To
Views of Chalet Pollux in 2012
We're visiting Leysin in October 2012 with Marlowe and one's grandson William, and Chalet Pollux is holding up very well, it seems.
There were no trees here, however, when we left the scene.
Chalet Pollux in 1965
The famed mountaineer John Harlin and his family lived in Chalet Pollux in the mid-1960s, at the time when he and his colleagues were making Leysin a mecca for English-speaking climbers (note tents on the back patio).
John Harlin died tragically in 1966 on the "Harlin Direct" climb on the Eiger Nordwand, but son John says that they all loved Chalet Pollux and he still remembers it very fondly.
John Harlin and family at home in Chalet Pollux in 1965. (Thanks to the younger John Harlin for permission.)
and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, .
All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 13 March 2002, revised
11 February 2015.