Ramey Past Lives – Jack Garner
Number 2 in a series we’re doing on Ramey “past lives” – about the strange and wonderful places we’ve worked, the forces that brought us here to Ramey, and the experiences that help make us who we are.
Is there a previous job you had that would surprise most folks? Give us your coolest/craziest gig and where and when.
Folks are usually surprised to learn that at one time I was a professional waterskier. I was part of the show at the “World Famous Cypress Gardens” in Winter Haven, Florida.
Tell us a little bit about your position.
Each show was carefully staged and choreographed, and each performer participated in numerous acts. I waved to the crowd from the top of the “Human Pyramid.” I performed the “Death-Defying Helicopter,” a 360-degree, mid-air spin off a 6′ ramp – before landing on the water. I “trick” skied, skiing frontward, then backward, then frontward, then backward with my foot in the handle, then frontward with my foot in the handle, then backward with (you get the idea). And my favorite, and the most crowd-pleasing…..I was pulled directly from the sand beach onto the water – with no skis! Yes, ski fans, I skied on my bare feet!
What would surprise us the most about your job?
While getting to do these things every day and getting paid for it (I think about $200 per month…plus meals and lodging), is somewhat surprising, getting there was a relatively logical process. I grew up on Grenada Lake, and was driving a boat years before I was old enough to get a driver’s license for a car. I started skiing at an early age. By the time I was in jr. high, I was competing in ski tournaments in the state and in the region. When I was in college, I spent my summers skiing competitively, teaching skiing in Miami, and eventually skiing at Cypress Gardens.
What’s your favorite memory?
That summer was full of great experiences, and has provided lifelong memories. One of my favorite movies – as a kid in the ’50s – was “The Greatest Show on Earth.” It was a bigger-than-life Cecil B. DeMille “technicolor” spectacular about the circus. It made me seriously want to join the circus – on the high-flying trapeze! But while I never made it as a circus performer, waterskiing eventually led me to Cypress Gardens, which I do believe connected to that childhood vision of myself, performing those feats of daring for a cheering crowd. And as we said back then, and are saying again now….it was very cool.
Did you learn anything there that you’ve taken with you in life?
Yes, I learned that wearing a very tight spandex swimsuit for long periods of time is not a good idea.