Skier brings hobby home to Barnes Road

Good fences make good neighbors and old skis make good fences. Dave Laikin's fence on Barnes Road in Oak Bluffs is a colorful sight. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

Dave Laikin has added a new twist to the Vineyard’s fondness for recycling by creating one of the Island’s more unusual picket fences. A winter ski instructor and lifelong skiing enthusiast, Mr. Laikin has surrounded his house at the head of Lagoon Pond in Oak Bluffs by a wall of vertical Rossignols, Atomics, and K2 skis, to name just a few of the visible brands.

Mr. Laikin, who mounted skis for the first time when he was three years old, said he has no plans to stop. “I started the ski fence two years ago,” Mr. Laikin said in a telephone conversation with The Times. “I’ve probably got about 100 to 120 pair of skis out there and about 40 more pairs to just keep going around the rest of the fence until I run out of space.”

He makes no claim to an original idea. A construction professional, he first began making furniture and chairs out of skis to give to different people as gifts. “I’m not the first; I’ve seen other people do it,” he said. He’d also seen fences built with skis.

“Then I started saving up a bunch of skis from yard sales, ski shops I knew were selling out,” he said. “I either got them for free or for $2 to $3 a pair, old skis people were getting rid of. Now people see the fence and drop them off.”

People stop for other reasons, too. “People stop by and say, oh, I remember I had those skis,” said Mr. Laikin. “Sometimes people walk around, to see if they can find skis they’ve used. It’s easy to find the house now; I just tell people to look for the skis. It was just a hobby, something to do with a bunch of skis. I thought it’d look cool.”

Mr. Laikin started skiing as soon as he was able to stand. “My parents were basically ski bums,” he said. “I skied all the time. I grew up in New Jersey, and we would go skiing all over New England every weekend.”

He went on to race during his four years studying business at Syracuse University. “After I graduated in ‘81, I drove out to Colorado,” said Mr. Laikin. “The first big mountain I saw I pulled in, got a job at a ski shop, and started to teach.”

After two years, Mr. Laikin returned to the East Coast. He had been visiting the Island for most of his life. Seven years ago, with his wife, Angela Laikin, and two children, he moved to Martha’s Vineyard.

His son, Eli Laikin, is a sophomore at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School and his daughter, Jessica Boyd, is studying for a master’s degree in marine biology at Nova Southeastern University in Florida.

Ms. Laikin is in full support of the fence. “I’m all for it, totally, I love it,” she said in a conversation with The Times. “I can’t remember whether he asked me before or not, honestly, but he must’ve, since he would’ve had a lot of skis lying around. He did a railing in Maryland, and our deck railing, and a bench for his Dad. He’s an excellent skier, he’s been teaching children skiing for 30 years and it’s work, but it’s also vacation for him. I’m glad he can express his love in this way, and I never knew it would be this big, with people stopping to take pictures or leave skis.”

She said the fence helps distinguish the house. “I do a women’s Bible study on Wednesdays and now I just say, come to the house with the skis, and they’ll know what I’m talking about.”

Now 55, Mr. Laikin works as a partner in construction management. His passion, however, remains out west. “I go out three or four times a winter,” he said. “Around the holidays, when it’s busy out there, I go out to teach.”