Special Days

By the time this goes to print, Mother’s Day will have passed and Memorial Day and Father’s Day will be on the horizon. Let me say, before I really get going, that I probably have written about the subject before and hopefully you are a bit like me and can’t remember and to those who can, just use it as a reminder, if you remember and have followed my past suggestions, a giant kudos to you!

I have wondered for years why we make such a big deal about what I consider very important certain subjects one day a year. Take Mother’s Day, which has just passed, many people took some time and took Mom out to eat, gave her candy, flowers, jewelry, cards and I’m sure the list would include a huge assortment of things, some of which would have been more appreciated on – well, let’s say a Wednesday. Those things are vacuums, brooms, new dust cloths, ice scraper or maybe a gift certificate to the car wash. Nothing says I love and appreciate you like a gift certificate to the local car wash! Don’t get me wrong, remember I am writing from my prospective and I realize there are women out there that tools would be at the top of their list, I’m just not one of them. Another thing about these days, like Mother’s Day, that I think of is why are those mothers running around and waiting on me. It does create some guilt in me, even though I have worked in a profession which required working on holidays and I certainly didn’t want any (well I won’t say any) one to feel guilty, I was away from my family and hopefully helping them out.

This can apply to all our “special days” such as Father’s Day, Memorial Day, July 4th, Veterans Day, Easter, Christmas, Labor Day, and President’s Day (combo of Washington and Lincoln’s birthdays, for those of you who didn’t know or have forgotten). Some of these days have become just another day off from work with no mail and no banking and no thought to why it is a special day. And of course, some always fall on a Sunday. When I was in grade school (yes, many moons ago) onMemorial Day we marched to the cemetery, sang songs like America, Battle Hyman of the Republic and read a list of veteran’s names ending in a 6th grader (who had been chosen with great honor) to recite the Gettysburg Address. Yes, I said recited from memory. There wasn’t a child in that school that didn’t want that privilege and honor. I am not saying not to have any of these ‘special days’ but I bet mothers, fathers, veterans, workers would really appreciate a little more recognition, hand shake or a smile and a kind word all throughout the year and not just on ‘their day’. And let’s not forget those who don’t get a day, kind and helpful neighbors, door openers, people who let you go first, those who are there if you fall, those who give when something bad or sad happens to you, those who give you a hug when it is most needed, people who push your car when it is stuck or stops running and I remember once trying to fit a dresser into a way too small car (at the entrance of University Mall) where there was an abundance of onlookers) the Salvation Army bell ringer stashed her buck-et in the front seat and spent time and a lot of muscle trying to thread this needle – to no avail, then, a woman from a Fence Company in Orleans, ran back to her truck and produced enough rope to tie the dresser to the trunk, success – looks great in my house!

I guess what I am saying that once a year isn’t enough. Make a pledge to try and do something no matter how small each day. A kind word goes a long way and I bet if you get in the habit of doing this that if by chance a special day gets here and gone without you – you will be forgiven!

Memories from Mary

1939 chevrolet pickupMost folks may not realize it but that is a picture of me (a loooong time ago) in the 2017 Shelburne Show flyer, in front of my Dad’s 1939 Chevrolet, which made me think of some of his other vehicles.

He plowed our dirt road with an old Army truck (also pictured in the flyer) and usually had me and our current dog with him. He had a Dodge coupe, a couple of sedans (Chevrolets, of course), and a Willys pickup truck, which he drove over, around, and through everything.

Dad liked to accumulate vintage cars, not to restore or show, but to drive for fun. He had a ’35 Packard limousine which was given to him in lieu of rent by a neer-do-well hippy type kid from down country. He discovered a ’28 “barn find” Dodge Brothers coupe that was a real “cream puff”, from a lady who could no longer drive. We now have that ’28 Dodge. When we brought it home to Vermont (from New Hampshire), we discovered all of the old registration paperwork in the trunk, indicating it had been registered in my name all that time, but I have never driven it. As I may have pointed out before, driving an old car as a teenager in the 1950`s, no way!

Our son now has the Packard in his garage and hopes to find time to work on it at some point. With his job and raising a family, it won’t happen right away. Wendell’s Dad wasn’t particularly mechanically minded, but he was impressed by the tandem bicycle Wendell and his friend constructed – and rode. Wendell’s Mom also had a Model T she drove in the teens and ’20s.

barn cat
This is a picture of the “practice”, not on Mary’s family farm.

And now back to my Dad – he had to milk our cows by late afternoon, by hand, offering squirts of milk to the barn cats. The milk was put into milk cans to be picked up the next day, including the morning milk. And now up to the present. All of the above (except for the cow milking) explains our interest in old cars. Currently, a 1948 Indian motorcycle is being worked on by Wendell in our garage. We’ll see where that goes!

Spring is supposed to be here, but until only recently it has felt like it. The snow we never shoveled has melted so we can see the leaves we never raked. I found one crocus in bloom and the daffodils are coming up, so there is hope. This is Vermont, however, so any kind of weather could happen! And probably will!!!

Get a Bigger Hammer

A few days ago, I was rummaging about in the cellar, looking for something, and I came across my X-C skis. They are the old wooden kind that you had to wax every time you used them depending on the weather and conditions. I also found my bamboo ski poles that I had used occasionally, when the ice replaced the snow in the yard. Then, there were my old shoes that I could never fit into now!

Over the next few weeks I started to think about all the X-C skiing that I once did. Mostly here in town, with friends, the kids or the dogs, on ski trails or bush-whacking here on our property (before the era of cell phones, horrors!) I recall one specific winter when we had purchased an old VW bug from a neighbor. It was orange and beat up enough so that a few more dents or scratches didn’t make any difference. A good car for us! For a number of years a friend and I ran a Bill Koch ski club here in town for kids and we would meet every Saturday at the local school. From there we would ski all over, on ski trails that were in existence everywhere then. Somehow, we managed to fit three to four people in the VW along with our ski equipment. No big deal! One particular Saturday, Gael was getting ready to drive to Florida to visit his brother and the kids and I were getting ready to go to the Bill Koch Club to go skiing. Gael’s parting comment went something like this… “If the car won’t start, crawl under the car and hit the starter with a hammer”. No problem. It sounded easy enough. Gael leaves and we get into the VW. It won’t start. So I crawled under the car and looked for the starter. I wasn’t sure what I was looking for, so I called a neighbor who came over and we proceeded to crawl under the car together with a hammer. He showed me where the starter was, hit it and I crawled out, got into the car and it started. Whew! I thanked him and we drove off to our skiing afternoon.

For the next few weeks, I carried a blanket and a hammer in the car and had to use it quite a few times, but it always worked. I also dis-covered that, with a push from someone or something, I could usually jump start the car that way. Another reason for having kids! If I had to venture out of town to the grocery store, I usually took our son and quite often a friend of his with me, just in case! I would park in the grocery store parking lot in such a way that, with a push from the two boys, the car would start. It usually meant that the boys would have to go into the store with me, but we separated when inside, me to get the groceries and them to do something to kill time. One time I happened to see rolls of toilet paper being tossed over isles and I know they had found something to amuse themselves. I don’t remember what happened to that car or what replaced it. It might have been another VW bug with the driver’s seat on a piece of plywood or a Saab that came from Joe Kaelin. Both of these cars have unique stories to go with them. I’ll save those for another time.

To the editor…..

I don’t know if you take reader’s responses to articles, but Nancy’s article brought back vivid memories of sliding down the “Mary Fletcher Hospital” hill in Burlington. We used to go down to Sears on Church St. and get cardboard washing machine boxes, pile in 2 or 3 of us and blindly bomb down the steepest part of the hill, trying to see if we could make it all the way to Colchester Ave. and possibly get run over. Ah, the good olé days of being put out with the dog and told “don’t come back till dinner time!”

Bill Fagan

Nostalgia

Probably because I just celebrated (I use that word loosely) my 69th birthday, I got to thinking about the past and what my children and grandchildren have and are missing out on.

Last Tuesday, while sitting with fellow ‘hookers’ (rug) and watching the snow come down, my thoughts ran to cardboard. I’m sure you are saying the same as a couple of the ‘younger hookers’ in the room (they are in the late 50’s) “cardboard”? At the time I didn’t realize I had said the word out loud. It certainly wasn’t a subject that had come up before and believe me we cover a lot of subjects! Yes, cardboard. Haven’t you ever gone looking for or in off seasons kept your eye out for the perfect piece of cardboard for sliding on the snow. Cardboard works in just about every snow condition when Flexible Flyers and Toboggans don’t. Cardboard can carry one or more persons depending, of course, on the size and sturdiness of the cardboard piece. Blaze a trail and off you go, snow spraying your joyful face and maybe a little fear in your heart if the trail is a steep one. Then, at the bottom, you pick up your cardboard and truck to the top and do it all over again. So, as you can see, cardboard could be the perfect sled, light, so portable, works in almost all snow conditions and when it wore out or got left behind or forbid, stolen, just find another piece. I spent the first 6 grades in a one room schoolhouse and our teacher, Mrs. White, let us use our ‘art class’ personalizing our piece. And I might add, we were ‘green’ before we knew we should be. Cardboard left to the elements of snow and rain disintegrates and returns to the earth! How great is that?

On our way to the movies Wednesday, looking out at what could be great sliding hills, the moon shone on what looked to me to be Nirvana- crust. This makes for a perfect sliding experience.

My sliding days are over (at least the sliding that is fun) but I look back and remember what fun we had and if you used cardboard, no expense. Because of these memories, I never look at cardboard without evaluating it for its ‘higher purpose’.

Idle Time is Memories Motivation

The other day, looking for “busy work” so as to avoid jobs like cleaning the cellar, etc., I chanced on my teens era RCA Victrola. It’s a trade model and has always been quite good. I put on a Victor “double disc” record, wound up the machine, released the turntable brake and awaited music. The turntable barely turned and the terrible low speed music was accompanied by an unfortunate reoccurring screech. I know quite a lot about this machine’s history and it has had minimal and gentle use. Nothing to do but to take it apart and see what’s wrong. Inside there is a care and maintenance label. It suggests lubrication. RCA wants you to use Vaseline…but there was a little blue jar of Vicks Vaporub. Just medicated vaseline, right? Dave’s garage would be proud of me! Did it fix the Victrola? No, but the gear train worked real smoothly and smelled healthy just like me. The problem turned out to be a slight warping of the aluminum turntable so the underside would hit on the breaking mechanism, drag down the speed and screech. I ground down the high spot and now it’s all music to my ears.

In the 1950’s, Mahlon Teachout bought a Victrola from the estate of a woman who was said to have received it as a gift from a suitor who never returned from WW1. She never could bare to play it and it was put away.

Some time later, I got it in a kind of complex trade with Mahlon. He got a small plot of land and a ruined saw mill building and I got the Victrola and a 1920 Buick GK45 touring car. The Buick made it to one of the first Stowe Car Shows but I cannot say for sure, the very first. I sold it to get married in 1960 but I still have the Victrola and good memories of both.

Ramblings from an Aging Mind

Wow, survived the holidays with no more cracked ribs or crushed toes. This included cookie day with our daughter, our friend and her daughter, family get-togethers; didn’t have to wrap presents as a friend likes to do that?? We got the tree set up with the lights on so that the grandchildren could decorate it on Christmas Eve. After that three generations watched the Muppet movie.

We did lack snow, but pretty sure we will be getting some very soon – this is Vermont. For now, it serves to remind me that I have not raked the leaves yet. Oh well, they will still be there in the spring! The holidays being behind us now means thinking about getting the garden ready for planting (I will remember to plant Brussel sprouts this year), cleaning out the asparagus bed and being able to hang out washing again. Oh, and lawn mowing, but Wendell and the rider mower do that these days. I kind of miss pushing around the old mower, but there will be flower beds to clear of fallen tree limbs and rose bushes to trim, so no lack of projects.

I have been feeding two stray cats, but cannot get them to let me touch them. I would take them to the Hu-mane Society if I could catch them because our cat would not welcome them. You may notice that I said “our cat”, as his previous owner still cannot have him in his new place, but then, without him, who would sleep on my bed at night! So, I guess it all works out. Anyway, hope everyone’s holidays were fine and we wish all a very Happy New Year!!!!

The Thing is Napping

vw thingIt’s December 1st. The calendars have been changed, all the leaves raked up, the gardening tools put away, the snow shovels are out, the snow tires are on the cars, the chains are on the tractor that Gael plows the driveway with, the wood is on the porch, the storm windows are on and the winter coats, boots and mittens are out. It seems to take longer to do this than it used to. I can’t imagine why??

Oh, one more thing. The summer cars (Owen’s BMW and the VW Thing) are put away for the winter. Something about having a long winter’s nap. We even watched The Grinch the other night, our favorite Christmas program, can’t miss it.

It has been fun to have the Thing back after having it away visiting for a number of years. It’s interesting to hear the stories the kids tell us about. They all drove the Thing at some time in their teen years. There probably are stories that we will never hear about for one reason or another!! We drove to an event here in Underhill this past summer and I was telling a few people about my maiden trip with it. It was our daughter Susan’s birthday and I was taking a few of her friends and Susan to the Morgan Horse Farm near Middlebury (it was the little girl and horse love affair that Susan has never gotten over). One of the people I was sharing the story with, was one of the girls who made the trip on that June day many years ago. She remembered the trip well.

vw thing interiorWe hadn’t had the car more than a few months when on Halloween I was returning a few kids to their homes after trick or treating and I hit a bear. I stopped to see if it was all right (it was) but our kids were quite upset, not about hitting the bear, but because their Halloween candy had spilled on the floor and got mixed up with their sibling’s candy. We drove the Thing during the winter months for a few years and nearly froze. Ever try driving with a blanket wrapped around your legs? Actually, probably some of you have. Our son shared a story about having the whole Rice HS football team in the car one day! I used to take our goats to visit the vet in Jeffersonville in the Thing. They loved to ride in it. We have had pigs in the car too, but that’s a long story that I’ll share with you some other day.

So, the Thing deserves to be having it’s long winter nap where it’s dry and out of the weather until Spring…..when we can think about warm weather and day trips we’ll be taking in our well beloved Thing.

Appreciation Day

What made me think of writing on this subject was a headline on Facebook that asked, “How many women say thank you to a person who has held a door opened for you?”

My answer would have been, I hope at least 99.9% do but alas, that isn’t the case. I think I have touched on this before but here I go again. So much of our lives have a lot of people ‘behind the scenes’ making things happen for us. Most of us do not eat, drink, read, clothe ourselves with any direct effort on our part, someone or some ones do it for us. Yes, we work to get money and then depend that stores will be there for what we need or want without a thought to others who have put hours into making, growing, transporting, unloading and setting it up in places for us to see and buy.

This is true with so much of our lives, the newspaper deliverer, the library, the car wash, the bank, the movie theater and the list could go on and on. There is someone behind the scenes in everything that hopefully makes our lives easier and in many cases more fun. I also am sure that you, the readers, fit into that chain at some point.

This brings me to the VAE, VAAS or 501-c3. I haven’t gotten just what we are straight yet but what I would like to say is a big THANK YOU to those who understood and spent many an hour getting the paperwork needed to accomplish such. What I do know is that working with government (State or Federal) can be a daunting task and so appreciate those who took this on and worked until all the I’s dotted and t’s crossed.

Next, I would like to say a big THANK YOU to Gary (Fiske) who spends his time (a lot more than he would admit to) putting together our organization’s monthly newsletter. And to all those who contribute to it, with articles, ads, jokes and also to the proof reader, Edi. Thank you all for the work with the result being a top notch publication.

Can’t write about appreciation without mentioning Bob (Chase) and Duane (Leach) and their work and dedication to the Stowe Show. I know a lot of you put in endless hours helping under their leadership, THANK YOU ALL!

One person who has held an important position in the VAE and has done an outstanding job for years is Dick Wheatley. I am sure I am speaking for us all, THANK YOU for all your years of service. Certain jobs require someone with certain knowledge, integrity and trustworthiness and you cer-tainly meet and exceeded those requirements of the job. We can’t THANK YOU enough.

I am sitting here with the VAE 2015 ROSTER and realize there are many who do a lot in many ways. I purposely didn’t mention all the names or positions that I could have but thought if I tried to I would leave someone out and that wouldn’t be and isn’t my intention. You are all very important to making the VAE what it is today and hope-fully with your help will it only get better in the years to come and we will be able to hand this over to those who come after us and they can build on the excellent work done by you all. THANK YOU ALL and keep up the good work.

My first Article for Wheel Tracks

I’ve been giving this, my first article for Wheel Tracks, some thought in recent weeks and with that a lot of reminiscing.

It all starts with my first encounter with my husband Gael and his 1937 Packard many, many years ago. Then Peveril Peake enters the picture with his 1956 VW Bug. I logged more than a few miles in the back seat of that car, often wrapped in a blanket. Fortunately, Pevie always had to stop for coffee and a meal or two. I had no idea where we were going or what we were looking for in many of those rides. One trip took us to upstate New York to visit John Hawkinson. I do remember a delicious German meal we had on the way. We might have been in a Hupmobile that time.

Then there was the firetruck that Gael and Mahlon Teachout bought in St Albans. We hadn’t been married more than a few weeks and Gael was always disappearing to some shop to work on this project with Mahlon. I don’t remember that sitting so well with me. But in the end, when the firetruck became a speedster, it was fun to see and ride in, or on.

I do remember Mahlon and I taking it to Stowe for a car meet one year, 1961. Gael had to work and met us there later. I watched the chain drive something and just hoped the chain wouldn’t break and decapitate us.

Then there was the 1927 Chevrolet (named Edward) which was actually easy and fun to drive. I don’t think it was legally registered when I stalled it on a hill at a red light in St Albans. I hadn’t been driving too long. A policeman came to my assistance and saved me. That could be another article, driving cars that weren’t registered or inspected and how easy the inspection stickers were to remove and put on another car. License plates were duck soup. Actually, I think our kids could add some stories of their own along these lines.

I will never forget seeing Steve Dana driving down our road in his Kissel and his dog sitting on the seat next to him. What a sight. Another article might be about the Volkswagons that we drove over the years, including the Thing that seems to be back in our barn. Maybe I’ll even get to drive it next summer, if the shifting gets easier. The top needs to be replaced, but the family drove it one summer without a top, rain or shine. We did get some funny looks.

Oh my, the more I think about the stuff we drove, the more stories I have. And, I don’t think it’s over yet. Thanks, Gael (and Pev, Maholn and Steve).