The Cavendish Historical Society Newsletter
PO Box 472 Cavendish, VT 05142
Fall 2023 Vol. 17, Issue 4
The holidays are rapidly approaching and the Cavendish Historical Society is trying something new this year. We’re hosting a special event centered around Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”
Written as a social commentary on the deplorable conditions for the poor, Dickens selected this format as being far more appealing than a tract, which many would have ignored. Cash strapped from his American tour, Dickens thought this was a good way to raise money for his growing family, and besides this was the right time of year for a good ghost story.
As it was, Dickens didn’t make much money from the sale of his book-the binding was very expensive-but he left the world a richer place, with an endearing yearly tradition. Given the events of the last four months, his messages of charity and hope are quite appropriate.
CHS’s Dickens’ Christmas Carol takes place on December 17, Sunday, at the former Crows Corner Bakery on Depot St. in Proctorsville starting at 3 pm. It will feature a variety of workshops, including wreath and ornament making, hot chocolate tasting, mince pies and maybe best of all, Cavendish ghost stories told round the hearth (more like a bonfire) in the evening. More information will be posted around Thanksgiving and will be part of the Dec. 1 CHS Briefs.
MUD OR SNOW, STILL WE GO
In October, the K-2nd grade students at Cavendish Town Elementary School (CTES) visited the one room school on Center Rd and the Tings’ Farm on East Rd. The 1st and 2nd graders were being read Sandra Stearns’ book, “Cavendish Hillside Farm 1939 to 1957.” The students not only visited the school Sandy attended, but they “walked her home,” as the Tings’ Farm (called Morse Farm at the time) on East Rd is right next to Sandy’s childhood home.
We were thrilled to have Hollis Quinn give us a guided tour of the one room schoolhouse. Hollis was a first grader at the school and his mother, Jane Quinn, featured in Sandy’s book, was one of her teachers. Because the students enjoyed learning about Sandy’s childhood not only from her book but also the field trip, we thought people might enjoy learning about Halloween and included an excerpt at the CHS blog. Very popular, we've included another chapter, in keeping with the winter months ahead. This excerpt is from Sandy’s book, “Mud, Snow, Still We Go.”
We, today, have become pampered rural citizens. We expect our roads to be plowed and well sanded so we can come and go at any time without effort on our part.
This was not the way of life when I was growing up. A major snowstorm meant we would be “motor vehicle” stranded for 2 or 3 days at a time, until the old “Oshkosh” had time to open all the main arteries, working down to the less traveled roads. It did not cancel anything. Dad waded through the snow to and from work on the third shift at Gay Brothers Mill. We trod through the snow, sometimes waist deep to school each day. Jan, and later Don Ackley, being taller broke the trail and I floundered along behind. When the weather was below zero we bundled up in several layers of clothing, and with scarves over our faces, trekked to school. By the time we reached the Morgan Bridge, I would be frozen. “I’m going home,” I cried. “You might as well go on to school. You’re over halfway now! Jan would coaxingly reply. I have never remembered to check the distance on my speedometer, but I think it was a fib. Never the less, I continued on.
Outings with the car or truck were sometimes exciting. If it was snowing, chains might be installed before we left home. Most times, however, we knew the main road would be practically bare, at least in the middle, so we slid and slithered down to Belknap’s Sawmill. Driving on the bare tar quickly wore out a set of chains. The nearer we drew to home on our way back, the more anxious we became. Would we make it back up the hill? We never approached the hill directly. The corner by Ackley’s (now Don and Rita Elliot’s) [corner of Brook and East Roads] was turned. Then we backed across the bridge to get a start on the hill. Dad shifted into first, then into second as we gathered speed to attack the hill. What a glorious relief if we made it on the first try. Often this was not the case. Down the hill we backed, slipping and sliding. This time we backed across the bridge and around the sharp corner. Dad stepped on the gas more firmly and we shot up the hill, chewing our way up bit by bit. Sometimes we needed a third try. How heartbreaking to reach the top of the hill by the big rock and not have quite enough momentum to carry us over the top. Mom and we, kids, would disembark and gather up the perishable groceries, just in in case Dad didn’t make it on the last try, and carry them home. Dad would reverse to the bottom once more and put on the chains. Usually this would be enough to get the vehicle home. ….
During mud season Dad usually left the truck at Belknap’s and we walked home carrying whatever we had. If the shopping had been extra large, I was allowed to drive the horse and wagon back down to pick up the supplies. We knew the road was bad and never complained. Often some of the family would take a shovel and turn the water into the ditches, etc. Visitors didn’t know so much about road conditions and often tried to drive through. Dad has a single whiffletree and chain handy during mud season for towing out stranded motorists. I often rode the horse to the mired vehicle while Dad walked. As I grew older I went alone. One end of the chain was wrapped around the bumper (in those days a bumper was built to last) and the other end was attached to the whiffletree and tugs of the harness. Away we would go, the horse and I, pulling the car onto solid ground. Grateful drivers were thankful to be able to continue on their way and often pressed me to accept a token of their appreciation. I loved mud season and the profit I reaped from it.
Copies of “Cavendish Hillside Farm 1939 to 1957” are available in time for holiday gift giving by sending a check for $15, plus $5 shipping and handling to CHS, PO Box 472 Cavendish VT 05142. To pick up a copy, call 802-226-7807 or e-mail email@example.com
CAVENDISH, VT ..ONLINE, POLISH STYLE
While cleaning in the Museum, we came across a booklet that was written by Genevieve H. Koziol-Moore in August 2001, that was prefaced with, “This narrative is offered to provide a bird’s eye view of the Polish American persona and culture contributing to the fellowship of the community. My sincere thanks to Kamilia/Wanda Wirzbicki who initially approached me to record the data, to Sophie Antoniewicz-Snarski who motivated me to do it and Linda Welsh who became the catalytic agent to facilitate it. I appreciate Sophie’s editing of the draft and informative/sequence corrections for authenticity.
The daughter of Anthony and Mary Koziol, Genevieve was born October 23, 1921 in Proctorsville and died at the age of 90 in Chester, NY. She graduated from Massachusetts General Hospital School of Nursing in 1943, served in the US Army Nurse Corps, ETO from 1944-45 and acquired a BS and MA degree in Nursing Administration from New York University in 1964 and an MPS in Health Services Administration from the New School University in 1994. Her activities focused on reorganization, upgrading and updating sophisticated nursing services as Nursing Director in 5 hospitals and multiple departments in a Health Center as Assistant Executive Director. She pioneered, coordinated, and integrated safety, legal, business practices and positive mental health approaches in facilities throughout Rockland, Orange and Sullivan counties.
Koziol-Moore’s parents immigrated to the U.S. when they were both 14. Anthony was employed at the nearby woolen factory, where he started being trained as a loom fixer. He met Mary Cijka and married when they were both 18. They lived and worked in Proctorsville. From then on the family moved every time Anthony left one mill to go to another for better remuneration or because production had decreased. At one time, the family moved 3 times in Proctorsville to be closer to employment. When I was born, we moved to Ludlow as Dad was working at the Jewel Brook Mill.
Dad acquired a job as an automatic loom fixer in Cavendish, at the Gay Woolen Mill so we moved to Cavendish. The owners of the mill provided 3 buildings across from the mill which had 4 and 5 room apartments at reasonable rates ($1.00 per week) for employees at the mill. Most of these were occupied by Polish families. It was known as “the block” and became an insular Polish community where only Polish was spoken.
Polish customs were observed on Holidays. The group was a stoical one but eagerly responded to any event like a birthday or a christening party to celebrate. A few of the White Russians (displaced Poles in Russia) were always there with an accordian and their fancy Cossack dancing. From habit, they talked White Russian, which the Polish children misinterpreted to be intentional. Food was available at Perkin’s Store, Anna Percy’s Store, a milk farm and migrant farmers selling vegetables and fruits.
The children were called “Square Head” by the rest of the community, implying they were mentally deficient. In response as the children started school speaking only Polish., they attempted to excel to eliminate the stigma and ramification of the name-calling. As they learned English they came home and taught their folks. ….Our parents were interested in knowing the derivation of the town name, Cavendish. Research in the library indicated that it was probably named after Lord Cavendish of England by the early English settlers. However, the derivation we as children preferred was based on local folklore: When early settlers and Indians lived together, one day an Indian was walking on a path by the cosw pasture when he saw that a calf had gone through the fence and had fallen in a ditch. He quickly ran to the farmer in the corn field and said in broken English, pointing to the path ‘Calf in dish.’ From then on the hamlet was called Cavendish.
The night of the flood that gutted the southern portion of Cavendish by the overflowing Black River from Ludlow, leaving a gully was a memorable night. Word came through that water by the dam in Ludlow was rising and it was uncertain if the dam would survive. We were instructed to pack knapsacks of only important items and to proceed to Olin Gay’s home on the hill behind the block. [The house owned by the Bonts until 2021] The thundering sound of the river and the line our refugees with flashlights following the path to safer terrain was awesome. The Olin Gays met us at the door to their huge living room and served us hot chocolate, coffee, sandwiches, cookies and doughnuts in front of their fireplace with a roaring fire. It was like being in a palace compared to our apartment without a bathtub. We stayed there until the rain abated and it was safe to return. However, no one could sleep as the thunder of water roaring down the fields towards Whitesville, where the night before it had excavated the Prokulewicz home and others, was prohibitive.
The Poles attended evening classes to learn English and naturalization requirements. There was much revelry periodically, with dinners served in the Ludlow and Proctorsville Grange Halls. The food was cooked by the women and then reheated in the hall kitchens. Usually after the dinner there was polka dancing. The young girls danced with each other, learning the steps by watching the adults. During the summer there were Polish Picnics at the Ludlow Soapstone Mine site attended by Poles near and far. Polish people love to eat, drink and be merry. A dancing platform was constructed, a live polka band officiated and the men cooked hotdogs, corn, hamburgers, kielbaszi and served sodas and beer. On occasion, street fairs were held in Proctorsville with dancing on the road in front of the school and fireworks in the evening.
YOUNG HISTORIANS-WITNESS TO A CENTURY
With the new school year comes a new program for Cavendish Town Elementary School (CTES), a Young Historians Club after school for students in grades 3-6. We’re thrilled to have Gloria Leven as an integral part of the program. At a hundred years old, Gloria is “witness to a century.”
She grew up in Huntington, W VA, where her father, I. Ben Romer, was the manager of two departments stores-Huntington Dry Goods and Bradshaw-Diehl. When asked her about life during the Depression, she explained her father’s position keep the family well cared for. However, she had vivid memories of those in need and how her mother would help them.
Students are amazed that a candy bar, such as a Baby Ruth, was five cents and that there really was such a thing as “penny candy,” some of which was two pieces for a penny.
Gloria answers all the questions the students have, be it favorite Hollywood stars-she loved Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers-to what was it like to go to school.
Gloria went to a one room school house from first through six grades. From there she attended what she called “a real school.” Ultimately she graduated from Ohio State with a degree in social work. Her father was very clear that it was important for her to have a career and make her own living, and to do that, she needed to go to college.
One of the many events cancelled this summer thanks to the floods, was a hike to the quarry in Proctorsville. In response to questions we received about the quarry, in 1836, the Black River Marble and Soapstone Manufacturing company was established for extraction of the green serpentine rock -Verde Antique. The original quarry was located on the Black River, near Winery Road at a place formerly called Hart’s Bend. It was moved to its present location, off of Twenty Mile Stream Road in 1931 when Antonio Moriglioni operated the Quarry until the local mill owners squeezed him out of business during World War II. With the mills, and other area businesses having military contracts, they needed the power and viewed the quarry as a “luxury item,” and not necessary for the war effort. In 1989 the Ruby brothers, from Fair Haven, attempted to open the quarry but did not have the necessary equipment. In the late 1990’s Vermont Quarries (owned by an Italian company) bought a 20-year lease to remove stone. The quarry was worked for 3-4 years and then ceased. During this time, stone was shipped for cutting to Italy, Spain and Brazil.
BECOME A MEMBER, RENEW YOUR MEMBERSHIP, DONATE
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.
Phone Number: _____________________ E-Mail: ____________________________
__ 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
__ Archaeological Activities _ Museum & Archival __ Special Events
__ Rankin Fund __ Williams Fund __ Solzhenitsyn Project
__ Other (please specify) __ Cemetery Restoration __ Preservation Projects