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Water-Skier Delights in Breaking the Age Barrier -- Barefoot

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Skiing in windy conditions also adds to the difficulty, since stability is harder to maintain without skis.

ON the day the Monitor visited the Blair home, gusts made barefoot-skiing iffy, but Banana George was bound and determined to put on a show.

He slipped into his yellow wetsuit, grabbed a banana from the laundry room, and made his way down to the lakefront with his trusty boat driver, wife JoAnne.

''Give me 40,'' he instructed her on the desired boat speed. She gunned the motor, and from a submerged start, Blair began to work his way to his feet inside an explosion of water.

Getting up requires quite an effort, and the finish isn't any lark either, with a layback reentry transforming Blair's body into a virtual skipping stone.

Blair is an irrepressible showman, though, and he hams it up more than one might expect given the small audience. He mugs for the camera, even skis without using his hands, gripping a leather handle flap between his teeth.

Blair loves the notion of breaking the age barrier. He considers himself something of a missionary in this regard, which may explain his eagerness to share his Banana George materials -- copies of published stories about him, a personal newsletter, and TV clips. He uses a borrowed key to the Water Ski Museum/Hall of Fame, where he was enshrined in 1991, to treat his visitors to an after-hours tour.

Symbolically, much in Blair's world is vibrant yellow. Chiquita picked up on this, and though the banana grower doesn't have him under contract, it constantly replenishes his supply of bananas. Better yet, the delivery truck now stops at the Blairs' home before delivering to the local supermarkets.

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