Sunday, August 23, 2015

An Old Road in Waterford?

One of the loggers who worked this summer at the landing near the Mad Brook Road, off Route 18, mentioned being able to "see the old road" from the landing. After a bit of a prowl, this is what I saw, parallel to Route 18. Comments or information from anyone?

Friday, August 21, 2015

Waterford's Part at the 100-Year Celebration of Long Log Drives on the Connecticut River

Canaan Historical Society

Spiked boots (worn by river loggers) and logging chain.
One hundred years ago, in 1915, Waterford schoolchildren and families probably stood along the Connecticut River, like people along about a hundred miles at a time, marveling at the last long log drive organized by the Connecticut Valley Lumber Company, the C.V.L. Co. -- there would be some other log drives, but in 1930 the river would close entirely to this, as the Comerford Dam rose into place here. It would be the first dam on this river to NOT have a sluice gate for logs to pass through.
Helen and Beth at WHS table.

On August 1, the Waterford Historical Society took part in a celebration of the river logging days, hosted by the Barnet Historical Society and organized by Dylan Ford and Bobby Farlice-Rubio. Also on hand was the Canaan Historical Society -- which brought many C.V.L.-related artifacts, and where Waterford resident Walter Dodge donated a pair of snowshoes that belonged to noted logger Winfield Schoppe. Many members of Win Schoppe's descendants shared the stage for renditions of logging tales related to his life, as written and published by Robert E. Pike.
Helen Pike visits with a couple who used to host her father as he wrote his books.

And Waterford's Helen Chantal Pike -- a historian and author herself, and daughter of author Robert E. Pike -- narrated the life and adventures of Ruth Park, one of the few women to leave a record of her own efforts in timber harvesting, managing the operation, as well as setting in motion forest conservation for future generations.
Helen Pike on stage.

A stunning hooked rug designed and hooked by Roberta Smith of Waterford hung at the center of the event space. And storyteller Beth Kanell (yours truly), also of Waterford, shared tales of logging magnate George Van Dyke of the C.V.L., as recorded by Robert E. Pike and added to with more details from her research.
Roberta Smith and her hooked rug.

What an event! Some 400 people attended, making it clear that the history of the logging days is a lively and engaging topic that continues to be an active part of our heritage.

(Photos by Lynn Troy and Beth Kanell.)

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

A Call for Modern Photo Postcards

Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter are the social media that have replaced photo postcards today - but these rectangles of stiffened paper last much longer! Here is an image, printed in the 1950s, of the "Rabbit Hill Motor Inn" in Lower Waterford. The photo was captured by Jenks Studio of St. Johnsbury, Vermont.

By dint of its age, the postcard is now an "antique." What should we be printing to make sure that today's lovely moments are captured for viewers 50 years from now?

Monday, August 17, 2015

Comerford Dam: Another Early Postcard View

Hard to tell whether the photo was gently enhanced to emphasize the European "Romantic" appearance of the Comerford dam in this postcard, probably printed in the 1930s.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

A Sense of Place: Vermont Farms, Gregory Sharrow

Gregory Sharrow, photo courtesy of Williams College.
It will take a few weeks to catch up with the history-related events that took place in our region during the first week of August! So here are a few notes from the shortest and easiest to summarize: the talk given by Gregory Sharrow of the Vermont Folklife Center, at Old Home Day in Lunenburg, Vermont, on Sunday August 2 at the town's primary school.

Here is the summary from the Humanities Council, which co-sponsored the talk:
A Sense of Place: Vermont's Farm Legacy. The character of a place is shaped by its cultural heritage and folklife, the informal traditions of family and community that guide the ways in which a person plans a meal, treats a neighbor, or understands civic responsibility. In Vermont the cultural legacy of farming has strongly influenced the identity of Vermonters, and it is these distinctive traditions, which have persisted even with the decline in farm numbers, that help make the state unique. This lecture by Gregory Sharrow explores the fabric of farm culture in the past and probes its relationship to the world of Vermont today.
Sharrow collected oral history from about 500 Vermonters during the late 1980s and 1990s; in our region he interviewed dairy farmers Wayne and Edie Patenaude in East St. Johnsbury at Locust Grove Farm. He did not bring the Patenaude recordings, but played parts of several others to illustrate three concepts that he wanted to emphasize:

* Palimpsest. This is a term used for early manuscripts where writing was repeatedly erased in order to re-use the vellum or other flat substance -- but every use left some trace on the "page." Sharrow sees Vermont farms this way: with evidence of changing use.

* Sense of Place. For Sharrow, this is "the thing that anchors you in a web of experience and meaning." He illustrated it with farm choices and traditions that are particular to Vermont.

* Oral History. Sharrow and fellow oral historian Jane Beck use a form of listening to local residents that rarely involves questions or direction -- more, letting the person talk at length about his or her topic. He presented one farm woman's explanation of making butter, from milking to stamping.

Sharrow also described a question he had used to understand people's relationships with their neighbors: "Do you live in a neighborhood? Who else is in your neighborhood?" With this, he found the clusters of people who help each other on the seasonal tasks that could otherwise take too much cash and expense out of the farm cycle. He cited the book Changing Works by Douglas Harper as initiating this idea and giving examples, and the fifteen people in the audience provided some in exchange, as they recalled group efforts for haying, for instance, as well as kitchen tunks (aka kitchen junkets), musical gatherings in the neighborhood. Gary Fournier and others of the Lunenburg Historical Society added examples of this locally, especially for the region known as West Neighborhood -- proving Sharrow's point locally.

Who are your neighbors? Do you see them less often now than you did a decade ago? That's what many people in the audience talked about. It's an interesting way to look at the changes in our current history and heritage.