A “novel” idea

Gaymont woolen mill in Ludlow. Photo by Ron Patch

I have an idea for a new book. As I go around visiting friends, I hear countless stories of days gone by. Whether it’s Bob Turco, Bill Burton, the Kendall family, or Ted and Danny, everyone has stories. I couldn’t live long enough to record them all. I’ve often said, “I wish someone had done a hundred years ago what I do today.” Think of what has been lost.

Some of these stories explain how things were done in the past, what really matters, or who Vermonters are as a culture. Some stories make me chuckle. So I asked several friends if they would write their stories for this book.

Everyone likes the idea. Some say they can’t write. I get that, but all you have to do is tell a story as if you were talking with me. Editing can clean it up and make you look good. Although I believe misspellings, improper grammar, sometimes make a story more authentic.

Ever hear of a car race from Chester to Springfield on the old road? That wasn’t unusual, but this race was done in reverse gear.

You’ll learn about some of our quirky ways. Our language, our way of life that sometimes puzzles newcomers. If nothing else, we are independent.

I have a number of stories to write. Some are too long for the paper or maybe a little too risqué. I want to write are about Vermonters I have known. These stories are fun and revealing.

Some stories can’t be shortened to fit my column, because they would lose their value. Some stories will have “naughty words,” as Lee Kendall calls them. These are not appropriate for the paper, but will be fine in the book.

One old Vermonter I was buying antiques off said, “let’s go up attic.” I commented that I hadn’t heard that before. He said, “you go down cellar, don’t you?”

I will ask Kevin Gould and Frank Kendall to submit more of their poetry. Maybe you write poetry. If so I’d like to hear from you.

Over the years I’ve met a number of Vermonters who create objects of art from out of nothing. For me, folk art is the truest art form. Maybe you create lawn art from found objects. Perhaps you paint or carve. I know we have a number of creative people living amongst us.

I’m not interested in those who already have a voice or platform. I’m looking for the person who creates for their own enjoyment or amusement. Is this you? If so, I would like to talk with you. It would be fun.

I think a good story for someone to write would be the carnival held every summer at the Catholic church. I remember Al Cross, Elmer Butler, and I think Jim Lovett running the muffin tins. The Ferris wheel, other rides, cotton candy, and games of chance or skill are distant memories.

I asked Donna Mitchell Leclair if she would write a few stories. She is onboard with the project and will submit several stories. Donna grew up where Mitch’s Maples is today.

Donna sent me a story over the weekend. It’s about the time her parents hosted a black boy from New York City through the Fresh Air Kids program. It is well written, and easy to read.

I will compile the stories, organize, and pre-edit. Amanda will finish editing. Shawntae lays out the pages in the book making it print ready. I love Vermont and its people. If you feel the same way, help me make this happen.

Based on previous books I’ve written, March is the best time of year to release a book. Cabin fever wanes. A new book will sell well this time of year, so I want to publish next March. So we have time.

This is your chance to record your stories for posterity. Oral history is fine, but lost with passing generations. Leave you kids and grandkids something more permanent.

The photo with this article is the Gaymont woolen mill in Ludlow. Notice the old cars.


This week’s old saying is a bumper sticker I once saw: “Pedestrians, New York’s number one bumper crop.

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