Monday, December 31, 2012

Away the old year...

There's a wonderful old 1936 cartoon from the Fleischer studio called, "Christmas Comes But Once a Year". Most times, that is a blessing.

This year, I wouldn't mind a second Christmas. I was supposed to go over to Laura's hobbit hole for Christmas day and dinner, a continuation of our longstanding tradition; but she called in the morning sounding thoroughly miserable. She'd come down with the current grippe and had to cancel. With everything that needed to be done actually done, I spent the day relaxing at home, doing not much of anything. It was wonderful.

Yesterday, we finally had our Christmas. And after our feast, Chris and Lise (who created and run the citizen journalism site iBrattleboro ) popped in for a visit. A Christmas with old friends was just what was needed. (And they gave me a ride home, sparring me the cost of a cab - Thanks!)

Just after Christmas Day itself it started to snow, which it proceeded to do on and off for the next two or three days. Brattleboro is an interesting town, its Main Street full of old brick mill town buildings. It takes on extra luster during a snow, especially at the holidays when there are lights up (although there aren't as many lights as there used to be - sigh).

During the week I spend a lot of time at our local community radio station which I help run. Here's a view out of one of our windows, taken Saturday night a week before Christmas. The building on the left is the Brooks House, a once grand hotel where our studio used to be located (and where Laura used to rent an apartment). In April 2011, it suffered a terrible fire. It is still boarded up with much work yet to be done to return it to life, but a branch of the State Community College is going to be going in there, and new apartments are being carved out, too. (And as a side note, Chris helped to string the lights on its facade.) On the right is "Pliny Park". It used to be the parking lot for Dunkin' Donuts (and nicknamed "donut park", of course). The rehabbed (or was it replaced? I no longer remember...) Dunkin' Donuts is now a Thai restaurant.

After the first day of snow, I opened my door (which is on a sort of catwalk at the back of the building) to see this view:

I've no idea why someone would put a beautiful palladian window facing another building, but I have to admit I enjoy seeing it when I go out. Oh, in case you're wondering, here's the view looking out from inside my studio apartment, which is all tarted up for the holidays:

Just a few steps past the building is St. Michael's Episcopal Church. Around here you can't just say "St Mike's", as we have two - the Catholic Church is also St. Michael's. I don't know why. Maybe Brattleboro used to have a thing about archangels.

St. Michael's Episcopal used to be downtown, but was moved in the 1950's. They are near the end of months of repairs and the addition of an elevator to the basement.

Certainly a famous town angel incident occurred on New Year's Eve 1856 when Larkin Meade (whose brother was a partner in the architectural firm of McKim, Meade & White) created the "Recording Angel", an 8 foot high snow sculpture. Larkin Meade became a well known sculptor and created the statue on top of the Vermont State House, as well as the statue of Ethan Allen in the Capitol building in Washington D.C. There seem to have been a number of marble copies of the Recording Angel made - one is in our library, and another stands in a cemetery in Hingham, Mass. There was even a poem written about it, and the creation of the snow sculpture is said to have been written up in the New York Times.

There are several churches around downtown. Our Main Street has two distinct areas, a business section, and a government/civic section.

If you were to walk with me into town, we would go by the town Common - which is at the end of Main Street, unlike most New England towns and villages where the common is in the center of town.

Then we'd pass the old High School, which is now the Municipal Building, housing the town offices and police department. Oh, by the way, see that 'one way' sign? Behind it is a beautiful fountain (wrapped here in garland) which sits where Larkin Meade created his snow angel:

Just about half a block later, just past the library and the old church which is now a club, one finds our beautiful old Post Office - and Federal courthouse on the second floor (where I was one of two people named as running 'radio free brattleboro' in our case against the FCC - but that is a story for another time).

On Saturday, it snowed some more. It was snowing when I made my way to the radio station to do my big band swing oriented show ('Recycled Radio' - 6pm to 8pm) and it was snowing when I started to walk home. It was truly a beautiful and peaceful walk. Our studio is in the Hooker-Dunham building, which is the original mill building for Dunham shoes, which started in Brattleboro. Just outside the door is the town clock:

I took a quick walk across the street to take a picture in Pliny Park:

Back across the street is the Congregational Church (which used to be on the Common in the early 1800's - they moved it and replaced it with this building some time later):

Just a little further, one reaches the edge of the business and civic district. Main Street becomes Putney Road (just about where that snow angel was sculpted) and a few steps more brings you to the town Common, which ends just before my building, although on the other side of the street. There is an old bandstand on the Common. Both President Teddy Roosevelt and then Vice-President George H. W. Bush spoke there, and possibly Dorothy Lamour when she was in town to sell War Bonds during WWII. For the last two years, a Christmas tree has been put into it. It's lovely to have it light one's way home.

So here it is New Year's Eve. In a few hours, there will be fireworks just across the Retreat Meadows (other side of the Common) and then this year will fade into memory. It's the year my friend Larry Bloch died from the same kind of cancer that took my father. It's the year I took retirement in November, the year I became President of the Board of the radio station. It's the year of the delayed and very Merry Christmas. It's another year in which I don't really want to remember much else. But I will.

One of the reasons I think I took such a shine to Brattleboro and Vermont is that visually, it used to remind me of where I grew up in the 1950's. It hasn't been completely spoiled yet. As New Year memories begin, I see myself watching tv on a Saturday night at my Grandmother's. She loved to watch Lawrence Welk, who was on at 7pm. Every year, on the last show before New Year's Eve, the Lennon sisters used to sing the same song. I loved it then, and I still do. It is my wish to my friends, and to you.

With Best Wishes for 2013,
Pax Vobiscum.


Anonymous said...

That was a lovely tour. I feel like I was right there with you.
Health and Happiness to you in 2013
Stevil....Happy New Year.

Austan said...

Ah, thank you dahling for those shots of downtown. You know I rarely get there anymore, and it's good to see the old town still has It.
As for the Lennon Sisters, I loved them as a kid, even had a coloring book of them. I must be getting sappy cuz that made me cry. I'm sending it to Strider with a New Year wish.
All the best to you, Bunky. xo

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

mbj/Delores - and thre was still a little part of Main Street that didn't get covered. I'll have to do that soon - we can't ignore the art deco Latchis Hitel and movie theater. Best wishes to you in 2013!

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

Austan - I took those pics hoping they'd be good enough to share so you would have a glance around town. I mean, how often do any of us even get to see those old lighting fixtures at the Post Office lit up? And I didn't know you liked the Lennon Sisters! Happy Happy Dahling.