Hello 2016!

First, wishing you all a happy and healthy New Year! We had our Colorado daughter and grandson here for Christmas, which was a good all-family-together time, including my brother Scott and wife. Wendell and I had actually gotten the bathroom wallpapered and a new shower curtain installed a couple of days before their arrival. I had “sort of” cleaned the house – wouldn’t want them to be too shocked, if squeaky clean! I didn’t get a chance to make wreaths this year, another first, but there’s always next year I suppose. We did get the Christmas tree up three (!) days early and put the lights on it. The rest was up to our guests, who did a fine job. We undecorated the tree and got it outside before it started shedding needles. It now has another life as a bird feeder with suet hung on it.

alligator wrenchWe were at a loss for what to bring to January “Memorabilia Meet”, when it occurred to me that we had a mysterious tool on the shelf that I had picked up at an antique store a couple of years back. Maybe it was automobile related. This might be an opportunity to get some educated opinions as to what it is. Wendell took it along and put a note on it asking for ideas as to its identity and use. We got some wild stabs, but no direct hits. Well, now this is the age of Google and computer search engines, so we subsequently gave that a try. Bingo! You probably never heard of an Alligator Wrench, but that’s what it is. Looking at it you can see where the name comes from. It was used mostly by steam locomotive maintenance workers to loosen nuts and pipes. I never would have guessed.

The Stowe car show is months away, but we’ve got to be thinking now about what items we’d like to offer for sale in the souvenir booth. We’d like to Jazz up our inventory a bit. If you have any ideas as to items you think would sell well, we’d like to hear them. Contact me or Kit Wheatley if you have any suggestions. We’ve heard umbrellas, coffee cups with VAE on them, water jugs, again with VAE, cloth tote bags with VAE or Stowe Show printed on them. Any ideas would be appreciated. Again, have a great 2016!

Goodbye 2015

happy new year 2016If you are reading this, then Christmas is over and thoughts of putting this season away and what 2016 will bring are on your mind. Did I get what I wanted for Christmas? First, I don’t know because I wrote this 2 weeks before Christmas and second, I really didn’t ask for anything special but I’m sure I got something. We always say, ‘don’t get me anything’ but somehow can’t seem to honor the request. Just doesn’t seem right not to open something, no matter how small or silly. One of my favorites has always been dried pineapple, so one year I went to the natural food store and bought enough of it to fill my stocking! Probably at least 10 bags and maybe more, we all got a good laugh out of it, so it was sooo worth it! I forgot to tell you that some years Santa has been too busy to fill my stocking so I do it myself, which really isn’t so bad as I get exactly what I want and like and not what Santa is sure I’ll enjoy!

I think Christmas used to be better, I mean…. more fun and certainly more anticipated. Oh sure, I know what you are all saying, ‘you can tell Nancy is getting old, she is talking about the “good old days” – all true! When I say better, I know being young is certainly a big part of it all but Christmas in the years before we had all that we needed or wanted, it made (in my opinion) the whole season something to really enjoy. This was a time to get what you needed, socks, pjs, new boots, coat and in our house, a new game for the whole family. Not to say we didn’t get something we wanted, we did, but not to the fever pitch of today!

I have received, over the years, the typical, the unusual, useful, not so useful, what someone else wants, and the practical – like a snow shovel from my father-in-law – have to say never used the damn thing! Of course, telling him it was exactly the perfect gift! Don’t you just hate the way people gift? Kitchen stuff to the merry housewife and manly stuff to the man of the house, with the exception of my shovel, of course, but I think that was on sale and my 2 sisters-in-law got one too!! The last few years I have tried to convince the gift givers to give only edible things. It is not that I don’t appreciate the things but have long ago run out of places to put them.

Grandmother’s Button Box

It’s late March and the weather hasn’t been very conducive to bringing out the spring bonnet, so I spent one Sunday sorting out some closets. One of the things that I had to move was my sewing box. On top of that box sat an old friend… my grandmother’s button box, in an old fruitcake tin. Over the years the box has changed from being worn out from use, and the contents have grown somewhat. Some of the buttons are still on their original cards when they were purchased years ago, but many are recycled from past articles of clothing.

My fondest memory of this box is it being given to me, to look at as a very small child, one cold winter day when Mom had errands and she left me with Gram. In those days the old farmhouse kitchen was heated with a wood stove, which has a wonderful spot just big enough for my little chair behind the stove.

I would sit for hours looking at all the wonderful colored buttons in that box, many of them being handed down from my great-grandmother. My grandmother could tell which garment most of the buttons were from. We had many discussions about the clothing and the person who wore that particular fashion with what button. Most of the time there were wonderful stories of balls and special dances. My family may have been from the country but they were quite the social butterflies, at times attending many functions in and around Franklin County. I can remember watching my grandmother sitting at the sewing machine, creating beautiful dresses and outfits for my mother, her sister and myself. Gram was an accomplished seamstress, and had even taken a tailoring course in Boston at some point in her busy life. We never lacked play clothes, day dresses and evening wear when the occasion called for it.

The button box was never very far away, and sometimes I had the dubious honor of picking those special buttons. When Gram’s household was broken up, the button box was one of the things that I requested for myself. I’ve kept it all these years, using the buttons for my daughters when they were growing up. I don’t sew much these days, so the box has been kept in the closet.

I suppose button collectors would have a hay day with the buttons in the box, many of them dating to the early 1900s, but I find the memories too great, and I hope to pass the box on to one of my daughters or possibly a granddaughter. Not many people take the time to remove buttons from an old shirt or dresses theses days, but I can tell you, they are missing out on memories of their own.

A Nice Fall Day On The Roads

vermont fall motoring tourThe Gypson Tour on Saturday, October 3rd, was a delightful ride. Wow!

Who, besides Bob and Wendy Chase, knew all those scenic roads even existed. They did a great job of arranging such nice weather for it also. We knew it would be a bit nippy so we came in a closed car, figuring that no one would be bold enough to bring an open car. Seeing Eric Osgood bundled up in Silver Annie and Gael Boardman with his Volkswagen “Thing” put us to shame.

The directional clues were insidiously clever. I’m pretty sure nobody got them all and that’s the way it ought to be. I was the “navigator”, trying to keep us going in the right direction(s). If we met a VAE car going the other way, we would figure we were going the wrong way, turn around, and try again.

Turning around was a challenge in itself due to October Fest traffic – where’s power steering when you need it? But the scenery was beautiful, when I had a chance to look, even though that look would make me miss a clue answer. With a few wrong turns, we probably saw more scenery than was intended. Anyway we ended up at the Commodore Inn’s back parking lot and finally gave in and opened “the envelope to find out where we should have ended up ” – duh!! That’s where we were supposed to be. What a lot of clever thinking Bob and Wendy put into those clues – thank you, thank you- it was a great tour. Whoever scores the highest gets to arrange next year’s tour and will have a hard time topping this one. I’m pretty sure it won’t be us.

Antique Clothing Collectors Criteria

Collecting antique clothing can be lots of fun and rewarding. To avoid costly mistakes here are some guides to use.

  • Condition: Inspect the fabric carefully, a small tear could mean something larger later. Look for repairs, as sometimes these are not done in the best interest of the fabric. A garment in mint condition could fetch a higher price, but might be a better investment in the long run.
  • Style: Does the garment have beautiful lines and is it well made?
  • Design: Vintage clothing should have clear lines, quality of structure, color and texture.
  • Structure: How a garment, or fabric is made is crucial to determining the age and price.
  •  Material: What is it made of, or from? Is there more than one type of workmanship involved, and is the material and workmanship still used today?
  • Quality: Thought in designing or the care given in workmanship can never be underestimated.

When shopping for vintage clothing have a tape measure handy to measure clothing size and fabric length. Standardized sizing started in the forties as a result of fabric rationing during the war. Taking measurements is the best way to size a garment. Look carefully for rust stains on whites and perspiration stains on all clothing before you purchase, because they are not easy to remove.

But, most of all have fun looking for that great vintage outfit!

Look Out, There’s a new Player in Town

I have to admit Shelburne Museum is a perfect spot for a classic car show. Although, I could have done without the cold north wind and multiple layers of clothing. On the up side, my husband’s 1954 Dodge Power Wagon (PW) was a screaming success. A consistent crowd mulled around like groupies at a rock concert. I sat quietly on a Craftsman bag chair eating my lunch, collecting snippets of conversations as PW fans converge upon my husband and I. There is nothing better than car guys talking shop: I’m doing great, how are you; this thing is awesome (eloquently stated by a 5 year old boy); did you see the pictures before I pulled it out of the weeds; and (my personal favorite) do they still do PW Rallies? I can actually answer that question, “Yes, they do!” I had one spectator tell me that I should not leave my coffee on the running board of the PW. Little does he know that I have a vested interest in the PW’s well being.

I feel badly for my almost lavender 1971 MG Midget. She was neglected by her owner (namely me); I left her sitting alone all day by the Ticonderoga without anyone present to tell her story. At the next car show I am going to give her the respect she so rightly deserves by playing disco music, dressing in 70’s attire and hosting a disco dance party.

Mother’s Day

By the time you read this, Mother’s Day will be over by at least a month. I have to tell you that I have a love/hate relationship with the holiday. It is considered the third largest holiday for card exchange with, of course, Christmas being the first and Valentine’s Day second. The giant card company, Hallmark, estimates they sell 133 million cards. Mother’s Day comes in second in the gift giving holidays and it also, is the year’s most popular holiday for dining out.

First some history on this( in most cases ) revered holiday called Mother’s Day (note it is not Mothers’ Day). It was always intended to be in the singular, “it wasn’t to celebrate all mothers. It was to celebrate the best mother you’ve ever known-your mother- as a son or daughter.” It was brought about largely by a woman named Anna Jarvis (1864-1948) when her mother died in 1905, she was inspired to organize the first Mother’s Day observances in 1908. The idea caught on and President Woodrow Wilson signed an official proclamation on May 9, 1914 stating Mother’s Day is “a public expression of our love and reverence for the mothers of our country.” Then what? You guessed it, in a very short time it was recognized as a gold mine for commercialism! And, it was almost immediately a big business of selling cards, candy, flowers and it disturbed Jarvis so much that she spent her life and her substantial inheritance trying to return the holiday to the reverence of a person’s mother which was her original intention. Her story and all she did to try and reform Mother’s Day until at least 1940, is extremely interesting and very courageous for a woman from 1910-1940 but unfortunately she was not able to turn the tide and she died in 1948, penniless and in the Philadelphia Sanitarium.

Now, my feelings about the day we set aside for ‘our mother’. I guess I would first say if Mother’s Day is the only day you recognize her (I hope) for her devotion to you, part of me says ‘don’t bother’. It is kind of like those that only go to church on Christmas or Easter and aren’t observant the rest of the year ‘don’t bother’! But wait!! I am also the ‘queen of eternal hope’. Maybe, just maybe, if you do it once a year, maybe something will prick that heart of yours and it may become something you start doing twice or three times – which if you aren’t careful, it may just become part of your routine and you one day say ‘ wow, I love this’. (Believe me your mother and God will love it, too!) I have to admit I loved the flowers I received but was a bit disappointed when I read in the paper among the ads for where to eat and what to buy or what to do with your mother on ‘her day’, an ad to play a free round of golf with your mother (this was at the Club where my son is the Pro) I didn’t get a call with a tee time! (I’m pondering that one!) I’ll finish by saying a huge thank you to all you mothers that serve us on Mother’s Day in so many ways. It may be in a restaurant, store, gas station, hospital or a hundred other places we may need to be on this day and all year.

One more bit of information, last year the average spent was $168.94/per mother, this year $162.94 – wonder where I fell short! Better watch it, Father’s Day is traditionally a “fewer gift giving day” but that could change!

It’s All About the Mud

mud season vintage carDisclosure: “The views expressed in this article belong solely to the writer and do not reflect the VAES’ idea of a good time”.

Mud season is frustrating for non-mud enthusiasts, most classic car owners and livestock caretakers alike. If Vermont were to name a state season, mud season would be a viable candidate.

Vermont’s fifth season is undeterminably long, it disappears only to reappear spontaneously, striking without notice. June tent weddings, Fourth of July and the Stowe Car Show have all fallen victim to torrential rain and mud. I like car shows best when the solar deity, Ra, chooses to be in attendance.

vermont road mud season
“Muddy road after thaw, near Stowe, Vermont” – from the Library of Congress – April, 1940

Some folks are drawn to mud like a moth to a flame, adding mud to sporting events to enhance player and viewer enjoyment. Mud wrestling, mud volley ball, mud football, and let’s not forget my personal favorite – mud bogging caravan style, entice a cult following. I have personally experienced mud bogging due to a kind hearted gentleman who saved my husband and I a coveted spot in the back of his 1952 Dodge Power Wagon. His vehicle was meticulously restored and CLEAN which meant its occupants were not motored through a 30′ by 60′ foot pit of mud. This pit was truly impressive, indiscriminately swallowing up jeeps, miscellaneous retired military vehicles, men – women – children- dogs, and beer coolers. Needless to say my husband now attends this rally alone.

On the brighter side, mud season is the catalyst for change. It ceremoniously welcomes in the running of the sap, spring flowers and the highly coveted dog days of summer.

Old vs. New

old vs new carsFrom time to time some of my friends and I discuss young people and talk about things that they will never have or never do or just what is different from our generation to theirs’. I am reminded that that is what ‘old’ people do and have done for centuries. I guess I would use the word, ‘matured’ rather than old.

I will start with the ‘book’. There is something about reading a book and having the actual book in your hands. I love to read and have at least one book going all the time. I also have a ‘Nook’ tablet and have several books on that which I have read but it just isn’t quite the same. I can’t really tell you why, it just isn’t. My guess is there are children born today that will never read a book, in book form. They will read books from a Nook, IPad, PC and some will even go to the library and find that all the material has been converted to digital.

Map reading is becoming a lost art also. With the advent of GPS systems, you can throw your maps away. I remember when you traveled you looked forward to collecting maps and all gas stations gave them away. I know some of you collect maps but not for navigation anymore. I guess it is kind of like the compass; there aren’t a lot of people that would know how to use it if they had one. Most cars come with GPS as standard equipment now and if not, your cell phone will have one.

Email has become the letter/note/thank you that used to come in the mail. This type of communication was looked forward to and still is for me. I love getting a nice let-ter/note in the mail. Some people blame the price of stamps, their time (or lack of), but most just never learned to write a letter. I’ll have to ask my grandchildren if let-ter writing is still taught in schools. I will say that I do check my emails and am glad to have one or two in my ‘inbox’ but again, it’s not the same as holding a letter that someone took the time to write and put a ‘forever’ stamp on and mailed and when it was received I knew that it was meant for me and not everyone in your ‘contact’ list.

I could go on and on about the changes in the world from generation to generation. It comes down to, if you never had it – how can you miss it. I’m sure that those of us who never had to walk in the dark at 20 degrees below zero to the outhouse- have ever missed it! And realize that those who traveled West in a covered wagon, never missed the GPS but I bet if given the chance – would have loved it!

This younger generation will not miss some of the things that I have held ‘near and dear’ but I will continue to miss it for them.

One More For The Road

I realize that I am late in saying this, but hope everyone had a happy Christmas and that the New Year will be a good one for all. Our Colorado daughter and her son were here for Christmas day until New Year’s day. Having our three “children” and their children, plus my brother and his wife from New Hampshire, made for a great holiday get together. My New Year’s resolution is to have our house “spit spot” for the summer’s family get together, well, dust freer, and wallpaper replaced in upstairs bathroom. The paper was one of the first things we did – wallpaper really doesn’t stay nice forever I now know. Maybe if I start tomorrow, but it is too cold for housework – smile. Our son Tom’s New Year’s resolution at his wife’s urging, is to get to work on the 1935 twelve cylinder Packard limousine he was given by my Dad. Dad had acquired it from a ne’er-do-well young fellow whose wealthy father became tired of supporting his son, told him to pick a car from his extensive collection and get out of his house. This “back to nature” type of guy ended up living in a house that my parents owned, out in the woods and with no utilities. At the end of his brief tenancy, he didn’t have money for rent, so he gave the Packard to Dad. All our kids took a shine to this impressive yacht of a car and especially enjoyed riding in it during parades. Tom especially loved it so his grandfather willed it to him. It has been with Tom in New York, then St. Albans and currently in his garage in Westford. I think, in the past, I have mentioned that the three-car garage was the selling point for their buying in Westford. There was also a house and several acres of land, but those features were irrelevant to our son. Given the current lower gas prices, it might even be feasible to drive this gas-guzzler a bit. In any event, looking at it and working on it should be a good father-son bonding experience. Wendell’s resolution is to get his 1939 Chrysler roadster finished – no surprise there! It’s the same as last year’s. Must get back to writing Christmas cards. I thought of doing New Year’s cards, but too late for them too. Maybe if I start in October this year, I’ll get them out in time, maybe. There’s always hope.