Saturday, August 14, 2010

CHS Newsletter: Scribbler II Summer 2010

More Hawks Mountain Cannon Hikes
In the continuing effort to find out if there is a cannon on Hawks Mountain, dating back to the French and Indian War, Larry Lindbergh and Mitch Benoit recently took a hike and found the plaque and geodetic marker. The plaque reads, “This spot was occupied in 1875 as a station in the primary triangulation of the geodetic survey of the United States. It was reoccupied September 1921 by the Porter Telescope Makers of Springfield Vermont, who erected a tower and dedicated this tablet a year later. Latitude 43 degrees 22.1 minutes N Longitude 72 Degrees 34.8 minutes W.” According to the information we’ve received from Cavendish residents, who are no longer with us, the cannon was near the plaque. Because of summer foliage, it was difficult going. A hike is being planned after the leaves have fallen. If you are interested in participating, please e-mail or call 802-226-7807.

What Can We Pass On?
Because of my role as Coordinator with the Cavendish Historical Society (CHS), I’ve been in a unique position to study not only how people responded to the Great Depression in the 1930’s-that was the focus of the Society this past year- but am also collecting stories of how our town is being impacted by the current recession. In compiling the Cavendish Business Directory for May 2010, I couldn’t help but notice how many small home-based businesses are gone. Considering they are the backbone of our economy, that’s a very telling sign.

As co-director of Chronic Conditions Information Network, I spend quite a bit of time helping people deal with their respective health care crisis. The combination of the two roles has made me think a lot about our current situation.

Many are having a rough time. While the economic situation is a major contributing factor, so too is the aging of the “baby boomer” generation. It’s a “perfect storm” for frustration, anger, fear, anxiety and “just what is going to happen next”

I’ve been looking at things through a 1930’s lens. In Cavendish, people didn’t have a lot to begin with. If you worked in the mills, you had the risk of being laid off, but you could still tend a garden, hunt and fish, which certainly made things a bit easier than if you lived in a city. If all else failed, there were the wild blackberries and raspberries of August. I’ve met more than one Vermonter who refuses to eat berries as they constituted a large part of their diet in the 30s.

Life was hardly easy. People did what they could to help each other. Their ideas of renew, reuse and recycle make the best of our green living practices look shabby. Trying to live a 30’s lifestyle today isn’t realistic. However, we can learn from them just as future generations will learn from our experiences.

With that in mind, below is my take on thriving during these difficult times thanks to those people from Depression era Cavendish. What are your ideas? The more we collect, the more helpful it maybe to future generations. E-mail your ideas to or mail them to CHS, PO Box 472, Cavendish VT 05142.

• Turn off the TV and computer and only listen or read the news for about a half hour each day. In the 30’s there was no TV or computer. Most of the folks in our town only had a chance to listen to a little bit of radio in the evening. If you were lucky to have electricity, and not have to hook the radio to a car battery, you could listen to “The Shadow Knows,” and the birth of the Big Band. Keep in mind that our news today has the philosophy of “If it bleeds, it leads.” The more frightening and upsetting the story, the more it will make headlines and the various news programs will devote hours to it. You can make yourself nuts in short order on this stuff.

. • Cook. Avoid the processed foods and enjoy what’s appearing at our local farmer’s markets or from your garden. Share your extra with friends, family, and neighbors.

• Walk or ride a bike. Leave the car at home whenever possible. If you want more exercise you can help the Historical Society with their Cemetery Preservation project by cleaning stones. You’ll get a good workout, learn some interesting history, and help the town at the same time.

• Invest in your friends and neighbors and create social opportunities. When I interviewed Sophie Snarski, a fiddler, who graduated from high school in 1933, she said she played three nights a week. There were “kitchen hops,” dances that rotated among the various farmers, plays, movies, and town dances that took place weekly. Because they weren’t competing with TV, Netflicks and various activities in other towns, people turned out for events. When I first asked Sophie about the 30’s, she talked a great deal about the good times they had and how much better the community was connected than today. It was only when I asked specific questions about the depression did she relate how strapped her family was for money. In this difficult era she created positive memories that have lasted her a lifetime.

• Churches and the Grange played a major role in the lives of people in the 30’s. My take on that is join something. Those that belong to a church, Rotary or any other such group have a built in a strong social network. If there is a problem, people know about it and can help. Having a spiritual belief is very important for most people. It helps to support you through the rough spots.

• Do something enjoyable that engages you. It might be going to Six Loose Ladies on a Thursday night to work on knitting-again that social piece. However, anything that fully engages your mind, and gives your brain a break is going to make things a bit easier. Reducing cortisol (the stress hormone) levels in the brain is a real plus.

• Hang out with people that make you laugh.

• Less is more. Enjoy what you have and don’t obsess about what you don’t have. It’s not “stuff” that makes life worth living. Make time for the important things-a hot cup of tea with a friend on a cold winter morning; a hike up Hawk’s Mountain with your kids; a pot luck at a neighbors; helping an elderly neighbor with snow removal or putting in their garden; and watching for shooting stars on a warm August night.

• We’re all connected. The more we obsess about world issues (the 30’s had the Dust Bowl) and ignore the joys in our own community, the more challenging life becomes. Keep in mind that the joy and happiness we generate in our own lives, spreads among us and beyond.

• Warren Buffett probably said it as well as anyone when he responded to the question about how to measure success, "When you get to my age, you'll measure your success in life by how many of the people you want to have love you actually do love you. That's the ultimate test of how you've lived your life."

• Be flexible and willing to change. Cavendish had to make a lot of adjustments in the 1930s, not only due to the economy, but also because the town was inundated with men from other parts of the country as part of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). Some of these men stayed, married local women and helped the town grow in new directions.

Cemetery Preservation

Thanks to our volunteers and donations, we are working weekly to restore the stones in the seven Cavendish cemeteries. Memorial Day weekend, CHS held the first of what we hope will be an annual event of cleaning and righting stones. Our focus was the Hillcrest Cemetery in Proctorsville, since the town was holding their Memorial Day activities there. Next year, we will rotate to the Cavendish Cemetery on High Street.

In June, the students in grades 4 and 6 worked hard in the Proctor Cemetery. They raked leaves and scrubbed monuments. Several of the sixth graders are working with us this summer as part of the community service requirements for junior high. We hope to have grades 4-6 work with us in the fall and spring to help restore this cemetery.

While many people visit the various cemeteries, placing flowers on family and friends graves, few take the time to clean the marker. CHS in conjunction with the Cavendish Cemetery Commission held a workshop July 18 and plan more for September, to teach people how to care for the newer monuments. Interestingly, newer stones, with the rough cut areas, can be a lot harder to clean than older stones if left unattended. Recently, two volunteers worked for almost two hour cleaning a stone, which was less than 30 years old. Lichen and algae was growing on the “rough cut” areas and inside the lettering.

When visiting our cemeteries, don’t expect to see “bright white” stones. We follow the National Park Service’s guidelines on monument cleaning, whose first principal is do no harm. We do not use bleach. Our goal is to keep the stones preserved for generations to come.

CHS has developed a handout on monument cleaning, which is available from the Town office, the Cavendish Library, and the CHS Museum. It can also be obtained by e-mailing and writing “Monument Guidelines” in the subject heading.

Contrary to popular belief, purchasing a perpetual care plan doesn’t ensure the upkeep of the stone. Nationally, many cemeteries find these funds barely cover lawn maintenance, which has ultimately led to the abandonment of many old cemeteries.

Because our cemeteries are a reflection of our history, CHS is working to ensure that this doesn’t happen in our town. You can help us in this effort by volunteering and/or sending donations.

CHS Receives Cavendish Community Fund Grant
CHS is pleased to announce that we have received a Cavendish Community Fund (CCF) grant to help with the Cemetery Preservation Project and for our Young Historian’s Program, which begins in September at the Cavendish Town Elementary School. We will be focusing on the 1940’s this year.

Raffles to Benefit CHS
CHS has two raffles underway to assist with our funding needs. The first is an “instant wine bar.” First prize is a minimum of 25 bottles of wine, 2nd and 3rd prizes are a case of Woodchuck Cider and the 4th prize is a variety of “schwag” from Harpoon Brewery.

A Bargello quilt made by Carolyn Van Tassell, sister of CHS board member Bruce McEnaney, is also being raffled. Van Tassell, a former teacher of Family & Consumer Science at Springfield High School, has been quilting for 30 years. She teaches workshops throughout the state, including Fletcher Farm. She is owner of Fine Line Machine Quilting. Her quilts were recently exhibited at the CHS Quilt Show 4th of July weekend. The quilt is on display at Six Loose Ladies in Proctorsville.

Tickets are $5 a piece or 3 for $10. The drawing for both raffles will be October 17 at the annual meeting. You need not be present to win. Tickets can be purchased by mail by sending a check to CHS, PO Box 472, Cavendish VT 05142.

Cavendish Grange Hall Curtain Restored
Under the direction of the Vermont’s Painted Theater Curtains, a group of volunteers from the Cavendish Historical Society (CHS), worked with professional conservators to restore the Cavendish Grange Hall curtain on Friday, July 30.

Clyde (Puss) Bailey signed the curtain in 1951. It is believed that the curtain may be an older Crystal Arts curtain, since the central scene is similar to other curtains of this type. The local advertisements that surround the central scene of a pond and trees, include: P.K. Brown, Ludlow Insurance, Paul W. Adams, Mumford Drum Corps, Bixby’s Dairy, Spaulding’s Restaurant, Specialty Press, Tom’s Taxi, Gileris Market, Ludlow Grain & Supply and Windsor National Bank.

The curtain was installed at the CHS Museum in 2007, when the Grange was closed. The curtain can be seen at the Museum on Sundays from 2-4 pm.

Thank you to the CHS volunteers Bob and Cooper Naess, Wendy Regier and Mike Pember for a job well done.

Cavendish Historical Society Board
Dan Churchill
Jen Harper
Cheryl Leiner
Gloria Leven
Bruce McEnaney
Mike Pember
Gail Woods

Upcoming Events
Please note that the Duttonsville Reunion was cancelled for this year but will be part of activities planned for summer 2011.

September 12 (Sunday): Walking tour of historic Proctorsville village. Meet at the Proctorsville Green at 2 pm.

September 22 (Wednesday): Young Historians begins at the Cavendish Elementary School for the 2010-2011

October 10 (Sunday): Walking tour of Proctorsville and Hillcrest Cemetery Tour. Note the walking tour begins at 1 pm on the Proctorsville Green. The Hillcrest Cemetery Tour, led by Carmine Guica, will take place at 2 pm at the Cemetery.

October 17 (Sunday): Annual meeting. More information to follow

November 27 (Saturday): Annual Holiday Fair at the Cavendish

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 ___ Young Historians

Donations are always welcome and can be designated as follows:

__ For general purposes __ Educational Programs __Publications
__ Archeological Activities __ Museum & Archival __ Special Events
__ Rankin Fund __ Williams Fund __ Young Historians
__ Other (please specify)
___ Cemetery Restoration

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