Saturday, December 1, 2012

A note or two about my little town

Sometimes, most of the time in fact, I really love the town in which I live. It has been my intention to start writing a bit about it and telling a few of its stories.

Just yesterday, for instance, I started the day by hosting a Friday morning radio show on our all volunteer community radio station. Most of the two hour time slot was spent in a free wheeling discussion with Daryl Pillsbury, who works nights on the maintenance staff at our local hospital. I first met Daryl when he was the sole voice for the working class on the Selectboard which manages our town. He later spent 8 years as our county's representative in our State Government. Several years ago, he and another local citizen created the Heat Fund, a non-profit (no one gets paid a cent) which raises money to provide emergency fuel assistance in our county.  He'd come in after getting off work to promote the Heat Fund; we also talked politics and his work for the Marijuana Resolve (which he helped start) whose goal is to end the legal insanity and attendant costs of criminalizing pot smokers. By 9am I was training a new radio station participant, an older man who has spent years as a local realtor, whose show mixes advice on real estate with 1950's and 1960's rock and roll. As each song plays, he makes hand gestures as though he were performing the choreography of a doo-wop group. As I made my way to the post office, I ran into two different friends, both requiring stops for quick discussions. After running other errands, I attended the kick off of our holiday season at the tree lighting in the center of town. The tree is in a "vest pocket" park, which is a story or two in itself. Santa was there. As was a young father with his 3 or 4 year old son, both on Dad's bicycle standing off to one side. The Dad asked his son if he wanted to go over and meet Santa. The boy hid behind his Dad's legs and confessed that Santa Claus scared him. The park sits at the main intersection in town, in front of a Thai restaurant. By the time I made my way home, I'd had another training for another new DJ (Friday is our most difficult day to fill and it is filling up). Today, Santa will arrive via tractor, a yearly event in which he is, I believe, accompanied by Alfred, our local black drag queen (well, the famous one, anyway) who will be dressed as an elf. The annual sing-in of Handel's Messiah also takes place this afternoon. It has professional soloists, but those attending get to sing all the choral parts. There's lots else going on today - all in a town of 12,000 people. Well, it is the third largest town in the state.

Lest you think that I am joking about the Messiah Sing-In, here's an odd bit of video from You Tube. At the beginning of the video, there is a brief shot of the interior of the Centre Congregationalist Church where the event takes place. The church used to be on our town common, but was moved to Main Street and rebuilt close to the center of town back in 1843.

As I was starting the preparations for my regular radio show this week, I was thinking that I might use some of my research for a post. It was quite a surprise, therefore, to find that Laura over at the Austanspace blog had written about our Community Radio Station. As a part of my show, which covers the big band era, vocalists, songwriters, etc. I usually finish with a 15 minute or half hour broadcast from that era which is from the roughly the same week we are in, just a different year. As part of the set up to that finale, I read the news from the local paper published that day. As enjoyable and oddly familiar as the news might be, I think I get my biggest kick from the old advertisements. Here's a few examples from the paper of December 2nd, 1938:

This ad (above) was on the bottom of the front page!

The above ad was from one of the three movie theatres in town in 1938, the Latchis. 
It is part of the Latchis Hotel, one of the few art deco buildings in the entire state of Vermont.

The Latchis in 1938, the year it opened.
The opening was delayed due to the Hurricane that October, which hit the area pretty hard.

Above is the auditorium as it appears today, barely changed from the days when there were weekend stage shows (usually 5 acts of vaudeville) along with the movie. Many years ago I was successful in getting a series of Sunday matinees of classic movies played there. But the story of the Latchis, and my little part in its history, are stories for another day. In the meantime, I have a radio show to put together, and a gentle snow, the first able to leave a bit of accumulation on the ground, is falling. I must make coffee and stare out the window for a bit. 


Austan said...

Yanno, I never realize all that goes on here until I see someone recount it. We're a busy little place. I'm glad you got to hang with Daryl and sorry I missed it. :P I too, am staring out at the snow with a cuppa. I'll be listening tonight! Cool post. Stevil.

sdt (a.k.a. stevil) said...

Thank You, my Dear. And I didn't list several of the other things going on in town - this weekend is also the Open Studios at the Cotton Mill, the indoor Farmer's Market, the Gingerbread decorating contest, the artisans sale on Cherry Street, the local Circus Arts school is performing over at the Cotton Mill on Sunday, etc. And I forgot to mention that the Messiah Sing-In was collecting donations at the door for the homeless shelter and the food bank. Yeah, we're a busy little town.