Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The forgotten story of the ‘Hermoni’

A photo appeared in the Nov. 14 issue of the new/used Zamboni that, according to Mayor Randy Hall, was replacing its anachronistic predecessor, which was “looking like it was from the turn of the century.”

Right you are, Sir Mayor. The old relic of a workhorse, once affectionately referred to as the “Hermoni,” was from the last century. It was lovingly created by the former Ice Capades star and manager of the Sun Valley ice rink, Herman Maricich, who was honored at this fall’s Battle of the Blades for his years of service to the community and to generations of skaters from here and abroad. No international skater of merit could say they'd “been there and done it” unless they had performed in a Sun Valley Saturday night ice show.

A former fighter pilot during World War II and a natural-born engineer and tinkerer, Herman created the Hermoni from the chassis of a cab-over Jeep truck. Drivers cut the ice in a heated cab with a stereo and were protected from the often sub-zero temperatures. With the steering wheels located beneath the seat, it was much easier to see the sides of the ice surface, especially around the comers. We enjoyed seeing its original British racing green machine smooth out the ravages of many child and adult visitors’ first and possibly only attempt at the sport.

For years, the Zamboni company tried unsuccessfully to sue Herman for an infringement of their patent for an ice-cutting machine. Kind of like the owner of a zebra being sued by the owner of a tiger for design infringement.

The Hermoni was donated to the recreation program and continued to expand the ice consciousness of a grateful community. It graced the Ketchum Town Square during the fundraising drive, and with its tan paint job, resembled a relic from Desert Storm. And it is a true veteran.

Rod Tatsuno


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