Monday, July 2, 2018

CHS Briefs July, 2018

Please also check the Cavendish VT Facebook page for photo albums of various CHS activities.

Craig Rankin's Plant List
Vermont is now experiencing its all to brief 2nd season-the 4th of July (the other season is winter). With temps in the 90s and a high heat index, we adjusted the Annual Plant Sale to an expanded “early bird,” from 5-7 pm Friday and from 8-noon the day of the sale. While we’ve had a special “left overs” sale on Sunday, it’s too hot for the plants and the customers.

When the 4th is mid week, its hard to predict which weekend people consider the “4th of July weekend,” so sales are generally down as fewer people are here. It spite of that it was great to see so many friends and former customers. A very special thank you to our plant team-Svetlana and Kem Phillips, Pang Ting, Pieter van Schaik and all those who donated plants for the sale-Angela Assermely, Barbara Dickey, Wendy Regier, Lou Choiniere, Anna Shapiro and Jen Leak. Special thanks to Ron Bates for providing us with lemonade and Town Manager Brendan McNamara and Randy Shimp, municipal water operator, who worked with us trying to resolve our water issue.

There was considerable discussion about changing the sale to Memorial Day and offering a variety of new options. If you have any suggestions, please e-mail or call the numbers below.

So if you are wondering if we’re setting a record with our current heat wave, board member Bruce McEnaney provided the following information, “Vermont's highest recorded temperature occurred on July 4th, 1911. It was 105 degrees f. It was in Vernon, south of Brattleboro. They survived. We will too!”

Coming soon is the fabulous and wonderful blueberry picking at the McEnaney Farm. Bruce and Betty do an amazing job with the best blueberries-Bruce will assure you it’s because you pick them yourself. As soon as we have a date, we’ll let you know.

Carmine Guica Young Historians: Though the school year has ended, we fit a lot into the last two months, which you can see from the Cavendish Facebook Albums.
-       May Day at CTES

These activities would not be possible without our incredible volunteers: Pang Ting, Bruce McEnaney, Timothy McEnaney, Denise Hughes, Trevor Barlow, Em Benoit, and Doris Eddy. Thank you!

We are now working with the after school program (ASP) and will be collaborating with them on a “Roots” Camp. The first week will feature the skills of the first peoples who lived in Vermont while the second week focuses on the first European settlers. The camp runs Aug 13 through Aug 24.

CTES has a new principal Debra Beaupre, who we are looking forward to working with. As we wish George Thomson the best on his retirement, he has already agreed to help chaperone some of our trips.

While it maybe 90 + in the shade, we’re already experimenting with woven paper heart designs as this year’s holiday theme will be Scandinavia.

Solzhenitsyn: It’s wonderful to be visiting with people from all over the world who are interested in learning more about Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s time in Cavendish. In addition to Cavendish’s exhibit, the Vermont Historical Society’s Museum exhibit Solzhenitsyn in Vermont in Montpelier is open until Oct. 2018 in the Jackie Calder Gallery. Below are recent interviews involving CHS.

Museum & Stone Church: Wish we could say the doors to the Museum have been installed, and probably no one wishes that more than Dave Stern and Bob Naess, who set aside time each week to work on this project. However, we can take one item off the “to do list,” as Carl Liener installed his beautifully painted sign for the Museum. The original was destroyed in the fall when someone drove into it. Carl is currently recovering from a motorcycle accident so we wish him a speedy recovery.

Svetlana Phillips, with the assistance of her husband Kem, continues to work her magic with the planter in front of the Museum. We enjoy how it continually changes.

Museum: The Museum is open every Sunday from 2-4 pm. You can arrange to visit at another time by e-mailing or calling 802-226-7807

Annual Phineas Gage Walk and Talk: Sept. 9, (Sunday) 2-4 pm at the Museum

If you can help with any of the following, please contact CHS; 802-226-7807 or PO Box 472, Cavendish, VT 05142

• Painters, scrappers and repairers: We need volunteers willing to do some basic carpentry to repair the banisters of the Museum. We will also need painters for the steps and banister.

• CHS is looking for new board members as well as volunteers who can help with various activities.

Monday, May 28, 2018

CHS Spring 2018 Newslette


May 27 (Sunday): The CHS Museum opens for the season. Hours are Sundays, 2-4 from Memorial Day weekend to Columbus Day Weekend (Oct. 7). Other times can be arranged by contacting CHS at the numbers above.

May 30 (Wednesday): Memorial Day celebrated in Cavendish

June 30 (Saturday): Annual Plant Sale. If you have items you would like to donate to the sale, please contact CHS at the numbers above.

July 28 (Saturday): Cavendish Town Wide Tag Sale. CHS will be on the Proctorsville Green

September 9 (Sunday): Annual Phineas Gage Walk and Talk, 2-4 pm. The “talk” begins at 2 pm at the Museum and will be followed by the walk to the scene of the accident, with stops at the site of the boarding house where Gage stayed as well as the surgery of Dr. Harlow.


CHS’s annual plant sale takes place on June 30 (Saturday), from 9-1, in front of the CHS Museum in Cavendish. Our Carmine Guica Young Historians, from Cavendish Town Elementary School’s 5th grade have been planting a wide variety of herbs- sweet basil, oregano, thyme, parsley, English lavender, cilantro, sage, and rosemary for the sale. There will also be lots of hosta and a variety of other perennials, as well as container tomato plants. If you have plants you would like to donate to the sale, you can drop them off at the Museum the day of the sale, or contact us at the numbers above and we can help with transplanting


With 2018 marking the 100th birthday of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and the 170th anniversary of Phineas Gage’s accident, Cavendish is celebrating two of its most historical figures.

On September 13, 1848, Phineas Gage, a foreman, was working with his crew excavating rocks in preparing the bed for the Rutland and Burlington Railroad in Cavendish. An accidental explosion of a charge Gage had set blew his tamping iron through his head. Not only did he survive the accident, but he lived for 12 more years and became the first documented case of traumatic brain injury (TBI), ushering in a new understanding of the brain.

Born on Dec. 11, 1918, Alexander Solzhenitsyn was a soldier in the Red Army fighting on the front lines of WWII when he was arrested for writing “disrespectful” comments about Stalin to a friend. Sentenced to eight years in the labor camps and then permanent exile, his experience was the basis for “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich,” “Gulag Archipelago,” “Cancer Ward,” “In the First Circle,” and many other books, poems, plays and essays. While his writing won him the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1970, it also resulted in his being exiled from his Russian homeland. He and his family spent almost 18 of their 20 years in exile living in Cavendish.

Other than their Cavendish connections, and sharing a significant anniversary in 2018, what else could these two men have in common?
• They both lived for extended periods of time in countries other than where they were born-Gage in Chile and Solzhenitsyn in the United States.
• Both nearly died, Gage from his injury and subsequent infections and Solzhenitsyn from metastatic cancer, and an assassination attempt by the KGB. 
• Both played a role in changing history-Gage’s injury and recovery was the gateway to the modern understanding of the brain and the field of neurology. Solzhenitsyn’s writings contributed to the end of the Soviet Union.

One of their most significant commonalities maybe their resiliency-that ability to adapt over time to life-changing situations and stressful conditions.

The American Psychological Association has identified five factors that contribute to people becoming resilient.

1.     Having caring and supportive relationships within and outside the family: Research indicates that having good relationships with close family, friends, neighbors or others is possibly the most important factor for developing resilience.  Accepting help and support as well as assisting others in their time of need is of great benefit.
2.     Capacity to make realistic plans and take steps to carry them out. Recognizing that change is part of life, stressful events happen and understanding that crisis isn’t necessarily insurmountable is key. Accepting circumstances-e.g. having a brain injury, being imprisoned or exiled-can help to focus on circumstance that can be altered by taking decisive actions.
3.     Positive View of yourself and confidence in strengths and abilities: People often learn from adversity, recognizing their own growth as a result of loss.
4.     Skills in communication and problem solving
5.     Capacity to manage strong feelings and impulses

Below is a brief overview of how Solzhenitsyn and Gage met this criteria. Note that while we have Solzhenitsyn’s writings, his family, as well as various biographies, articles and essays to drawn from, unfortunately, much less is known about Gage.

Gage: Within hours of his injury, his family immediately gathered in Cavendish. Throughout  his life, Gage’s family was an important touchstone for him. The Gages traveled by boat from Boston to San Francisco, with Phineas disembarking in Santiago, Chili, where he worked as a coachmen. When he became ill-most likely the development of epilepsy from his brain injury-Gage returned to his family in San Francisco, where he ultimately died.

Once he returned home after his accident, Gage knew he had to make a living. He recognized that he was a curiosity so he spent several years “exhibiting” himself. The daguerreotype shows him as well dressed and self confidant, though he was blind in one eye. He carried his tamping rod with him everywhere he went and even had it engraved- This is the bar that was shot through the head of Mr. Phinehas P. Gage.” The engraver misspelled the name.

Again and again Gage would show himself as resourceful. Whether he was exhibiting himself as a curiosity,  working as a stage coach driver, or finding work after he joined his family in San Francisco, Gage was rarely without work even though by today’s standards he would have been considered compromised.

Poor impulse control and being quick to anger are certainly characteristic of the type of TBI Gage sustained, yet to drive a coach for as long as he did, first at what is now the Hanover Inn in Hanover, NH and then in Santiago would have required that he learn to master these behaviors.

Gage drove a Concord coach in Santiago for seven years, which required excellent cognitive and motor skills. An 1860 advertisement says the 13 hour, 110 mile journey from Valparaiso to Santiago started at 4am.  Passengers paid $10.00 for the journey and were allowed 50 pounds of luggage.  Before arriving at the starting station at 4 a.m. Phineas would have had to check (if not actually perform) the feeding, grooming and harnessing of the horses.  Once there he would have had to load the luggage, collect the fares, give change, make the passengers comfortable, and keep them so for the next 13 hours.  He would have driven back to Valparaiso 24 hours after arrival in Santiago. Psychosocial Adaptation

Dr. Henry Trevitt, of Valparasio knew Gage well and reported he was engaged in stage driving; and that he was in the enjoyment of good health, with no impairment whatever of his mental faculties. Not only did Gage have to learn the complexities of his job, but he would have also had to adapt to a completely new way of life Chile. It is possible that his highly structured occupation as coach driver helped to “rewire his brain,” much as current rehabilitation programs, based on “neuroplasticity,” provide today’s TBI patients.

An interesting side note, it would be a cousin of Gage’s, Fred “Rusty” Gage, that would pioneer the field of neuroplasticity-the human brain is capable of generating nerve cells throughout life. Until then it was believed that humans are born with all their brain cells and lose them as they age. Rusty Gage’s research is paving the way for not only new treatments for those with TBI, but also stroke and Alzheimer’s Disease. When asked about tips for a successful research career, Rusty Gage stated, “Don’t plan too far in advance; be open to new opportunities and ways of looking at the world.” And when asked what did he think his biggest accomplishments outside of the lab would be, he noted, “Having a family that apparently still loves me.”  It would seem that the Gage family understands the basics of resiliency.

Solzhenitsyn: Even though his father died in a hunting accident before he was born, he was much loved by his mother and her family. In fact, his mother never remarried as she didn’t want a step father that would be too hard on him.

While living in Cavendish, Solzhenitsyn was surrounded with strong support by his wife, Natalia, her mother and their sons. Everyone was involved in the “family business” as Solzhenitsyn spent his time writing “The Red Wheel.” The children would type, his wife would edit, and his mother-in-law had the precise task of carefully turning every letter into Cyrillic script, since the IBM Selectric typewriters did not have a Russian alphabet.

Solzhenitsyn returned Cavendish’s gift of privacy and sanctuary by offering safety to other’s in exile, including the Soviet dissident Aleksandr Ginsburg. In addition, the royalties in the West from “Gulag Archipelago,” were used to establish an aid program, the Solzhenitsyn Fund, to help Soviet political prisoners and their families.  

His experience in “external conditions of unfreedom” (being in the forced labor camps) helped him formulate the idea that true freedom is possible even in the most restrictive human situations. He wrote in From Under the Rubble, “We are creatures born with inner freedom of will, freedom of choice-the most part of freedom is a gift to us at birth. External, or social freedom is very desirable for the sake of undistorted growth, but it is no more than a condition, a medium, and to regard it as the object of our existence is nonsense. We can firmly assert our freedom even in external conditions of unfreedom.”

Solzhenitsyn expressed his inner freedom and individuality by continuing to write while in prison. When he could not write prose, he memorized verse. His role as writer and truth teller was so central to who he was that when he was told that his cancer had returned and only had a few weeks to live, he proceeded to hide his writings in bottles, burying them in the hopes they would be found.

Through his writings, Solzhenitsyn provides clues to how he and others endured life in the camps. In various novels, his characters engage in various forms of “mindfulness” -focusing on the present moment in a non judgmental way. Research is now showing that mindfulness breeds resilience. “Satiety depends not at all on how much we eat, but on how we eat. It's the same with happiness, the very same...happiness doesn't depend on how many external blessings we have snatched from life. It depends only on our attitude toward them. There's a saying about it in the Taoist ethic: 'Whoever is capable of contentment will always be satisfied.”  In the First Circle

In  “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich” at the close of day, the “zek,” (prisoner) engages in what is now encouraged by positive psychologists-acknowledging the good that is in your daily life. Shukhov felt pleased with life as he went to sleep.  A lot of good things had happened that day.  He hadn't been thrown in the hole.  The gang hadn't been dragged off to Sotsgorodok.  He'd swiped the extra gruel at dinnertime.  The foreman had got a good rate for the job.  He'd enjoyed working on the wall.  He hadn't been caught with the blade at the search point.  He'd earned a bit from Tsezar that evening.  And he'd bought his tobacco.


If you have not joined the Cavendish Historical Society, need to renew your membership, and/or would like to be a volunteer, please complete the form below and sending a check, payable to CHS, to CHS, PO Box 472, Cavendish, VT 05142. All contributions are tax deductible.

Name: _______________________________________

Address: _______________________________________________

Phone Number: _____________________    E-Mail: ____________________________
Membership Level
__ Individual Member $10  ___ Senior Member 65+ $5  ___ Sustaining Member $500
__ Household Member $15  ___ Contributing Member $250                            

___ I would be interested in serving, as a volunteer .I would be interested in serving on the following committee(s):__ Program Planning  __ Fundraising    __ Building (Museum)
__Archives                       _ Budget           ­­–– Cemetery    __ Carmine Guica Young Historians

Donations are always welcome and can be designated as follows:
__ For general purposes                   __ Young Historians                  __Publications
__ Archeological Activities                _ Museum & Archival             __ Special Events
__ Rankin Fund                             __  Williams Fund                             __ Solzhenitsyn Project
__ Other (please specify)                   __ Cemetery Restoration           __ Preservation Projects

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

CHS Briefs May, 2018

Please also check the Cavendish VT Facebook page for photo albums of various CHS activities.

HAPPY MAY DAY! Celebrated as a traditional springtime festival or as an international day honoring workers, Cavendish’s Duttonsville School use to make May Day Baskets, distributing them to various people in town. The Cavendish Historical Society (CHS) is bringing back this tradition by making May Day Baskets with Cavendish home schoolers and the 5th graders at Cavendish Town Elementary School (CTES).

Carmine Guica Young Historians: The end of the school is a very busy time. There are two days of May Day activities, including our 5th graders planting herbs (sweet basil, oregano, thyme, parsley, English lavender, cilantro, sage, and rosemary) for the CHS Annual Plant Sale (June 30).

The 6th graders will be making poppies for the town’s annual Memorial Day activities (May 30), and on May 16th will be cleaning in the Cavendish cemeteries and placing flags on veterans’ graves.

On June 13th the 3rd grade will be spending the day at Canterbury Shaker Village in New Hampshire.
Solzhenitsyn: The Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn Center has recently launched an English website, which also includes a Facebook page and blog.

Mary McCallum of Proctorsville, and a commentator for Vermont Public Radio (VPR), recently spoke about Solzhenitsyn’s need for privacy and how that might have changed if he were still alive. Listen at the VPR website.  

CHS has recently received a bronze sculpture, a gouache painting and a sketch of Solzhenitsyn by the artist Drago Cherina from Margo and Ian Baldwin. These artworks will be on display at the Museum this summer.
 100th Birthday Year Activities
• May 14 (Monday): Margo Caulfield of CHS will be interviewed on Vermont Edition, VPR, along with University of Vermont Russian Professor Kevin McKenna. The program airs 12-1 and again at 7 PM. A podcast will be available at the VPR website.

May 17 (Thursday):  Noon. UVM professor Kevin McKenna will talk about the influential Russian author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and his time living and writing in Vermont at the Third Thursday Talk at the Vermont Historical Society in Montpelier. Third Thursday talks are free & open to everyone. Bring your lunch, coffee & tea provided

• May19 (Saturday): 1 pm Exhibit Opening: Solzhenitsyn in Vermont at the Vermont Historical Society Museum in Montpelier. Produced in partnership with the Cavendish Historical Society and the University of Vermont, the  exhibit celebrates the life and work of Russian novelist and historian Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn on what would be the 100th anniversary of his birth through photographs, quotes, and family memories. It is open through October 2018 in the Jackie Calder Gallery at the Museum.

Museum & Stone Church: With any luck the new doors to the Museum will be installed by Memorial Day weekend when the Museum opens, thanks to Dave Stern and Bob Naess. Due to a windstorm in April, our remaining sign on the Museum was blown down. In the fall, the sign with hours open was destroyed when a driver backed into it. Carl Leiner has signs ready to go, and we hope both signs will be up in the next few weeks.

Becky Plunkard is working on door arrangements for both the Stone Church and the Museum, while Svetlana and Kem Phillips will once again be working their magic with the planter on the side of the Museum.

Museum Opens: The Museum’s summer season begins on May 27 and will be open every Sunday from 2-4 pm. You can arrange to visit at another time by e-mailing or calling 802-226-7807

Annual Plant Sale: CHS’s annual plant sale takes place on Saturday June 30. Transplanting starts in mid May.

If you can help with any of the following, please contact CHS; 802-226-7807 or PO Box 472, Cavendish, VT 05142

• Do you have plants you would like to donate to the annual plant sale? Do you need help digging them up? We can provide pots, soil and even some manpower. We begin transplanting after May 13.

• Painters, scrappers and repairers: We need volunteers willing to do some basic carpentry to repair the banisters of the Museum. We will also need painters for the steps and banister.

• CHS is looking for new board members as well as volunteers who can help with various activities.