Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Blog 10

A village in northeastern Vermont as seen from I-91.

Friday, 17 June
The way back through Vermont took us through some beautiful landscapes and towns. I-91 through northeastern Vermont is quite spectacular. The views are broader than they are further south where the mountains are closer together and the valleys are more narrow and deep and more intimate. US-4 took us through one of the most beautiful cities, architecturally speaking, in Vermont. The many old grand buildings have been well and lovingly preserved.
Farms in Benson, Vermont.
For me, the biggest surprise of the trip thus far was Benson. Benson is a very old town dating back into the 18th century and has some beautiful old buildings in a good state of preservation. But what surprised me the most was the vitality of the farms. The area around Townshend where I grew up has been much altered by the influx of people from Massachusetts, New York and, especially Connecticut who have bought what were often beautiful old farms. But beauty is not just aesthetic, it is function, and these new people were seeking escape from the more industrial cities in the neighboring states and were not seeking to maintain these properties as farms, but country cottages, escapes from the frantic drum beat of the cities. The most positive result of this migration was the preservation of the homes, but the barns and other outbuildings often fell into decay and the fields, no longer cultivated nor mowed soon were overgrown with brushes and trees. And worse, the migrants altered their summer cottages in ways which destroyed their aesthetic function. The house in which I grew up is very much a case in point. While my parents were operating the business manufacturing copperware, they also maintained the integrity of the original builders. Changes since the sale of the house are of a quite different aesthetic.
Bomoseen Lake, VT, turned out to be one of our least favorite campsites, especially when compared with the reception we received at the Langlois' home. But we were not here to have a fun time in the lake but to meet David Wright & Mary Lou Willits. David picked us up at our campsite and immediately began a narrated tour of the area historic, philosophic, the aesthetics, the economics—all rolling off the tongue of this amazing contractor/master builder/historian/businessman/conservator. As we traveled from the park to his home we learned the history of the place, his involvement in the restoration and preservation of historic landmarks that he is personally involved with as well as the efforts of others in the community. We love his home filled with craftsman-style furniture, art, lamps, and other objects including copperware in the craftsman-style, some Vermont Copper Crafters (my parents' company) and some Craftsmen (the company for whom my father worked 1939-1941).

Saturday, 18 June
We set out for Londonderry to meet with Tom Platt to try to work out a plan for the paintings of Arthur Gibbs Burton, AKA “Mr. B” in the McIntoshes when I was growing up. Mr. B was an artist specializing in oil paintings of the Vermont landscape. He lived with the McIntosh family in the last years of his life and left his paintings to my mother when he died. Some years later, Tom Platt, then a client of my mother, (a CPA at that time) became enamored with Mr. B's work and worked out an arrangement to display the paintings in his restaurant and sell them, splitting the proceeds with my mother. My mother died in 1998, and so to bring this much-too-long introduction to a conclusion, Tom and I worked out an agreement to bring the relationship to a final conclusion. By the way if you are ever in or near Londonderry, VT, be sure to stop at the Garden Cafe and Gallery for a delicious lunch or supper surrounded by a collection of wonderful art works.
After saying goodbye to Tom we headed off to nearby Weston to say “Hi” to Jerry Bidlack at Kinhaven, a summer music camp. You may recognize the name “Jerry,” my high school music teacher, from Blog 8. Unfortunately, Jerry was attending a funeral and was not at the camp. However, Michael Finckel and his wife were there which I had not anticipated. Michael is the son of George Finckel, my second, and one of the two most influencial cello teachers I had. It is always a treat to meet good friends unexpectedly, and it helped erase the disappointment of missing Jerry.
VCC #506, Fern Planter, Boiler style.
We couldn't hang around long because with had to get back to Townshend. In Townshend I gave a copy of my book on the Vermont Copper Crafters (VCC) to Carol Melis (see Blog 8) with whom we had a lovely chat. Then we set off one more time to see to see if we could find Otto Tarbel and take a picture of my father's bas relief of a wood cutter. No such luck, but we did find his mother and her husband in the old brick school house. We had a wonderful chat with them. Their turning the old school house into a residence has preserved a piece of history for future generations, and in the words of Martha Stewart, “that's a good thing.” One of the fringe benefits of this visit was getting a picture of a VCC piece that was not included in the Gallery section of my VCC book: #506, Fern Planter, Boiler style.
The Alumni Parade "band"
We then skidded the tires economically and had dinner out at Bootsy's Bar & Grill in Newfane and then it was back to Townshend to join my old classmates in the Leland Gray Seminary Alumni Parade. Now don't get the wrong idea; by the time I attended LGS the word “Seminary” had no significance whatsoever, and it is now known as Leland & Gray Union High School. The parade was fun, and I got to renew old acquaintances, and to find out what happened to them all. And by the way, the float won 1st place! I'm sure my presence there is what made the difference! 
The Class of 1961!
Well, more likely, the sentimental judges were probably swayed by the fact that it was our 50th anniversary.
We spent the night on Carl Steiner's property, and feeling the exhaustion of a rather full day we slept soundly.

Sunday, 19 June
This was to be a day for travelling, but we started with one last attempt to find Otto. But it was not to be, so we headed for I-91. We refilled our propane tank to make sure that the refrigerator would keep what was left of our bison frozen, and in Concord, Massachusetts, we picked up I-84 to begin the final westward leg of our odyssey.
Then the shaking began, and in Brewster, NY, BANG! A blowout! Fortunately, it was one of the rear tires which are dual tires, so Valerie was able to regain her composure quickly and safely move over to the shoulder. We called AAA, and, while waiting for the tow truck, we began considering our options. After being towed to the garage we got a taxi to a nearby motel where we ordered pizza, watched TV, and fell into a much welcomed sleep.

Monday, 20 June
I woke earlyfar earlier than necessarystill considering our options, and then walked the mile or so on a very busy road to the garage. The best of the options in our opinion was to get six new tires and continue our trip pretty much as planned. However, if you recall from our Cheever Tire & Wheel experience in Bellows Falls, our tires are hard to find. What we settled on was a 185R 14D tire to replace the original 185R 14C. The 14D is a bit thicker than the 14C and thus tougher, which is good, but it was chosen because the 14C is not locally available. And, even at that, the 14D tires would not be available the following morning. The good news is that we will be on the road again by noon Tuesday.

Tuesday, 21 Junethe first day of summer, and always my brother's birthday.
Happy Birthday Bob!
As promised, we were on the road pretty close to noon, and as it was a day for travel we just got on the interstates and rolled along in our usual 55 mph and stopped at the KOA in New Columbia, PA, where we hoped to find a wireless internet so I could get this long overdue Blog published.

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