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).

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!