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Thursday, May 21, 2015
Tiemann’s Memoirs Chapter 12/1930s Cavendish Merchants
Following Chapter 12 is information about 1930s merchants doing business in Cavendish. To read the prelude and other chapters of Tiemann’s Memoirs go to Coming to Vermont(Cavendish): Memoirs of Philip Tiemann
Then the New Year was upon us, we had no desire to sit up to see it in, but we did invite some friends for dinner by way of celebration.
Besides shoveling snow, my only pressing outdoor activity was getting up wood, If our supply had not again gotten down to the danger point, I would gladly have put off facing the bitter cold. One morning it was 36 below zero, with wind, and that day I did not go out. There was ice in the kettle on the stove - the fire having died down during the night; and the eggs the children brought in were frozen (despite the cold we were getting about ten a day.) Even the cellar was not safe-we lost a lot of our potatoes. The part of the foundation above ground level glittered with frost, despite being banked on the outside. The kids did not linger on the way to and from school.
I was indeed glad that some of the roadside supply of cord wood remained. Of course it had been mounded with snow by the passing plow, which made it hard both to locate and to dig out. I borrowed a logging sled (a platform on two pairs of heavy iron-shod runners), tossed on e blanket for Dean who needed extra. protection when standing despite his fine fuzzy winter coat, took a shovel end ax, and we brought up perhaps one, or sometimes two or even three loads of snow-crusted logs and threw them off in front of the shed. Here I, and Wyeth when he was home, went to work with bucksaw and ax. It wits no slight lob keeping abreast of the fires in that Weather. Actually we had to keep ahead, as we found the frozen near green wood was mighty poor fuel until it at least had time to thaw. Sometimes this required big stacks in the kitchen.
The children of course were outdoors less in the extreme cold. The walk to school generally was enough, and they were well bundled up. We soon discovered that foot-gear was especially important and, to our surprise, that leather boots were superior to rubber for keeping the, feet warm, so long as they were dry, with one or two pairs of heavy wool stockings, depending upon the temperature.
In the woods I wore "packs" which had leather tops on rubber feet, with felt liners and the heavy stockings; they assured dryness altho over a long period might get cold. I also had been given a splendid sheepskin lined leather coat; good against wind, especially when riding, but too clumsy to work in. If chopping, a wool shirt and sweater (over "long johns" of course) generally wee sufficient and sometimes too much, One tried to find the point between getting chilled and being sweaty. Any shield from the wind was a greet help.
In the house we kept reasonably comfortable once the fires head been built up in the early morning (my job.) Then at least the downstairs was warm, and we spent mighty little time upstairs. We dressed and undressed by the stoves, making a dash for the bedroom and pulling up many, many blankets. It made a surprising difference in the room above the kitchen when the stovepipe was run up thru the floor and into the chimney there. I also put a register in the floor in Wy's room, which, on sunny days, often was the warmest room In the house. (It now is my "study".)
A recurring problem was to keep supplied with the items that had to be obtained in the villages. By good fortune, one of the stores in Proctorsville would deliver groceries on Saturday if the roads were not too bade so on, that morning we frequently went to a neighbor's to telephone. an order. (Having a phone at that time was beyond our means; but I believe we shared the bill.) The delivery truck was a Model T Ford and would get thru when nothing else on wheels could.-If we-had to go in ourselves we sometimes borrowed the little brown mare, who could get to the village and back with the sleigh in about half the time it took Dan. But we used him too.
In the meantime the new roof had not been neglected; in fact the rear was almost done. It necessarily had to wait, now, then, depending on the weather and on the occupation of my roofer friend: if he was called back to work in the mill for a few days he had to comply or risk losing his job. A lot of employment was on such a part-time basis at that period. Anyway, the worst of the leaks had been covered, and we found that one benefit of slate is that when snow begins to melt and get heavy it will slide off. As there .are no eaves gutters, there is nothing to hold the snow or force it back under the slates. On the other hand, when the cascade comes it is hazardous and prevents use of the front door in winter.
When at last we had a January thaw (which never is a certainty) it was very welcome. It didn't last long. There was one mild, disma1, rainy day and the snow 'settled" considerably,- just getting ready for more, I assured the children. - A note on the cheerful side about then was the arriva11 of the first catalogs for seeds, equipment, and poultry supplies, always good reading on a farm. Also on a couple of good days I could begin pruning the apple trees, which should be done while they still are dormant.
We were anxiously awaiting the expected calf, and very short of milk. A pullet died, cause unknown, and signs of spring broodiness began to appear in the rest of the flock. I ordered a batch of baby chicks as replacements. "Come fall, they'll give us eggs enough to sell, and also cockerels for meat.” I promised Isabel.
As a very pleasant surprise we received $500. on the legacy,. with, however, a hint that it might be the last payment due to legal entanglements. It was the more welcome because the rent we were supposed to be getting for our house in New Jersey wasn't being paid. We never were able to collect, and finally were forced to sell out for the amount of the mortgage , which involved a distressing loss.
One thing we continued to get plenty of was snow. "Poor man’s fertilizer,” my neighbor called it. Its friendly blanket did at least protect the roots of vegetation (preventing "winter 'kill") and it seemed to make the house warmer, too. This., despite the puzzling fact that it soon melted where in contact with the foundation, leaving an inch or more of air space. It always melts in the same way around the trees. I do not know the explanation; it doesn’t seem that any warmth is possible.
By mid-February, when the cold was loss bitter, the children were having fun outdoors with skits, sleds, and a toboggan left by Santa at Christmastime. Of course they had friends among the neighbor children; and occasionally we joined them. But they also had their own chores, and were helpful it various ways. Wyeth backed me up manfully on the wood job.
Then it became frigid again. One morning our nearest stamped in wiping the fog from his glasses and the tears from his eyes. "Jearusrileml Wouldn't you know it?" he roared," Water and drain both froze up tight, Guess we'll have to carry water from the brook." That meant a path thru the snow and chopping the ice daily...."And we'll have to lead the horse," he growled. "She won't go by herself."
“Cheer up.” I told him. “Most our potatoes are frozen,” He grunted. "This winter will be something to compare to for a hundred years."
Yet I couldn't help reflecting that we perhaps were better off than people in the cities. My mother had written about her frozen pipes, and how New York was tied up for days by a nine-inch snow f all; whereas we were getting along well enough, with at least some of the roads plowed even when others were closed by six-foot drifts. Our own water had continued its steady flow; when the drain iced up a couple of times a few kettles of hot water cleared it without much effort.
Perkins Store remained the main store in Cavendish village. In 1932, Anna Percy rented the General Store, which H.I. West had operated for many years. She bought the store in December 1935 and ran it for more than ten years. Fanny Bacon and Carrie Spafford had a gift shop on Main Street.
Ralph and Maude Parker, working at the Parker Sawmill and Wood-Working Company in Proctorsville felt that the family business had not suffered any in the Depression. They made wooden handles for kitchen utensils and tools and found good markets for them. Don Belknap and his Elm Valley Creamery did good business during these years-the market increased for his milk as he usually won the contract to sell milk to near—by CCC camps. Chubb Hill Farm and Cavendish, Vermont by Barbara B. Kingsbury