It was time for me to have a break. Just a day away, or overnight, helps me refocus and actually accomplish more when I return. But I was perplexed. Where do I go, and I thought and thought before remembering The Old Mill Inn in Hatfield, Massachusetts, that I had stumbled upon on-line, and filed away in my mind. That will be it for this escape. Their on-line booking was easy, and I booked the Waterfall Room for Monday 16 January. Why? You may not know that when moving to Walpole twenty years ago, my late-Cathy and I traded our shop and home atop a thirty foot waterfall in New Preston, Connecticut, for the sound of church bells here on the Common.

Former home and book shop of Ray Boas, Bookseller, in New Preston, Connecticut, from 1995-2002.

Why Hatfield, and where is it? Actually unless you plan to go to Hatfield, you will not just stumble through. Next door to Northamption, sandwiched between the Connecticut River and I-91 and US 5 and Route 10, you have to plan to go there. Close, yet remote. And once there you are experiencing fantastic architecture and river side flat land that has supported tobacco, onions and potatoes for ages. I am usually very good at planning my trips, and thought I had everything figured out. Ends up restaurants I wished to visit are now closed Monday nights, and many of my scouting stops (even though advertised as open) were closed. But “adapt and adjust” and I had a great time, and bought enough books for a profitable trip, and two Pullman Railway Car books for my own enjoyment.

Unlike Vermont and New Hampshire maps that are distributed everywhere to encourage tourism, Massachusetts maps are impossible to find. In fact, my last two I had to request from the Massachusetts DOT, and they mailed them to me. So, I just ordered another so I can mark up a map to show you my route on this adventure. I have been on all these roads before (except into Hatfield) but winter is different, you can see more, and I went in the opposite directions than I usually go in. So, here we go heading down Route 10 from Keene to Winchester, cross the state line, pick up Route 63 through Northfield, and into Millers Falls.

stopping in a shop in Millers Falls, I asked, and learned that Town of Montague includes: Turners Falls, Montague Center, Millers Falls, Lake Pleasant and Montague City. This is an interesting area, and worthy of further exploration. I arrived for lunch, as planned, at the Lady Killigrew Cafe at The Montague Bookmill which is in an 1834 grist mill — see a pattern to my explorations?

From this mill I headed down Route 47 to Sunderland, then looped up US 5 to scout, turning around to visit Yankee Candle’s massive store. Had not been there in years, and fun to walk through. Almost out the door I saw this Airstream cooler – let it stay there for $550. But I have been sharing my Vintage Camper Toy collection on various vintage camper Facebook pages, and shared this. The response was amazing.

You also may wish to browse the page of my collection – Ray’s  “VINTAGE CAMPER TOYS” – and you are encouraged to do so. If you find one I do not have, let me know. Below one of my “treasures.”

Then back to Sunderland, south on River Road on the west side of the Connecticut River, onto Main Street then over to The Old Mill Inn.

I had booked the Waterfall Room — left corner top floor, three windows each side out from the corner. I will return.

and, looking out my window – sorry about the screen, but you get the idea. The roaring sound was so wonderful.

and, at night

on the porch looking across the river to an old metal bridge, closed and deteriorating. A vision of the past.

Marsha and Shannon run a great little cafe in the Inn, open from about 8 to 11 AM. Great breakfast sandwiches. So, the plan for daytime scouting and exploring escapes in BB1 or BB2 come springtime on the loop on the map above will be to stop here, get a bite to eat, and sit at a table on the porch.

And, below is the Inn as you enter the parking lot. A group of ladies had gotten their sandwiches, and were at a table off to the right, chilly but warmed by the sun.

After enjoying my breakfast sandwich in front of the pellet stove in the Inn’s common room, and chatting with folks, I headed off to Northampton for some shops. And, alas, just like I failed with restaurants on Monday night, my planned stops were either no longer there, or not open as advertised. But I continued west on MA 9 through Williamsburg to Goshen where I turned north on Route 112

I shared Williamsburg with you in August 2021, during a wonderful stay atop Mount Greylock. That trip (that pattern again) included mills at Hancock Shaker Village and in Williamsburg. I love revisiting and traveling my posts – and you also may enjoy again – BACK TO MOUNT GREYLOCK and WESTERN MASSACHUSETTS – 18-20 AUGUST 2021

Once on the Mohawk Trail (Route 2) I circled through Shelburne Falls, down to scout in Greenfield, and then home on the super slab. And, then it has taken me with all my other work almost six days to get to completing this journey to share.

1-Look at my map above, great territory to explore, get out there for a day trip. On the way home stop at the Whately Inn or Deerfield Inn for dinner.
2-Go out of the way – it is not really, but just remote – and see Hatfield. Great architecture, old farm land and tobacco barns (hope you know how to identify one).
3-Subscribe to many area history and travel email sources – I get many ideas this way
4-Stay safe and well

As always, luv, RAY

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ANOTHER YEARLY TRANSITION — 2022 to 2023 — 31 December 2022

My last post relating memories and adventures for the year 2022, and hopefully posted before “the ball drops.” Starting off, and truthful, I am not as thrilled as usual with my images and tales, but as always would like to “remember and share.” Four different segments here since 18 December – 13 days ago. The best part if you wish, jump to the end for my time yesterday at Hildene in Manchester, Vermont. Or, simply go to THE TWELVE DAYS OF “VINTAGE CAMPER TOYS” which I began sharing on various vintage trailer websites since the “first day of Christmas,” December 26. But again that will be at the end.

I receive many notices of events. From STRAWBERY BANKE MUSEUM in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, I learned of the event – Candlelight Stroll during which visitors call on the many families who once lived in the Puddle Dock neighborhood. I have enjoyed this museum several times, particularly in 2017 when I visited for the Thanksgiving Holiday Preparations – it was great. I thought I would experience something similar for Christmas, but the Candlelight Stroll, was essentially an outside experience, with crowds, damp and wet walk walks providing me a still lingering cough and nose blowing.

there were minimal holiday decorations in the homes – but if representing the time period correctly, that can be expected. Remember images in my galleries may be clicked for a larger view.

to warm up a couple times I went and enjoyed hot cider listening to this Boston based band.

tempting me to attend was the themed diner (separate ticket) in the Pitt Tavern. On the third floor is a Masonic Lodge (since inception of the Tavern) and Masonic Museum. Not usually open, it was a treat to see.

this is the original Lodge Hall meeting room (albeit restored), still in use.

amazing history, and a good number of US Presidents were Masons, including Truman seen in this small statue.

and then it was time for me to join the party in the tavern to eat…

and be entertained…

Sadly it had been too long since dinner at The Castle in Proctorsville, Vermont, thus the next “holiday outing” with friends. I always enjoy (and take a picture of) the wreath outside, and the Christmas decorations.

CHRISTMAS EVE, and for 47 years (except some COVID cancellations and one bad rain) a live Nativity has been presented on the Common in front of my home. You know the story, and it is related along with appropriate musical accompaniment. A cold evening, still a nice crowd, and yes, that is “44” in the center rear of the first image (with my “major award” in the center window on the second floor).

and, then there was yesterday – 30 December. In my accumulation of holiday events was Christmas at Hildene in Manchester, Vermont. Hildene is the home built by Robert Todd Lincoln, the 16th President’s Son. I have made many visits, but not at the holiday time, and with my NARM membership – entrance free, so just less than an hour away, off I finally went. What I thought would be an hour plus visit ended up almost three hours – but that happening related at the end. Passing through the visitor center I walked up the path.

and first saw this tree in the entrance area.

Below is the dining room. The portrait depicts Robert at the age of 62 about the time the home was constructed. The table was often set for six people. Robert’s daughters, Mamie, also had a summer home in Manchester, and Jesse were frequent visitors to Hildene. Jesse often visited with her two children

This is the staff dining room. I think I related most to this room as being festive for the holidays in a simple way. The Lincolns had a staff of 15 who took care of their needs during the summer months. Nine of the staff members traveled with the Lincoln family during the winter months. The remaining staff members stayed to maintain the estate year-round.

These dolls were having a party.

Below is the grandchildren’s room. This room is now set up to show what it might have looked like when Linc, Peggy, or Bud visited their grandparents.

This is one of President Lincoln’s stovepipe hats. In chatting with one of the docents I learned the provenance of this hat which was given to a previous owner of the nearby Dorset Inn, where it was exhibited for a number of years. When the inn was sold the hat was ultimately given to Hildene with all of its documentation. The mirror you see here is Lincoln’s White House dressing room mirror. The President very likely saw the last reflection of himelf in this mirror before leaving for an evening at Ford’s theater. Interesting reflection in the mirror at this time.

and, heading back outside overlooking the front lawn.

On my previous visits the Sunbeam – A Pullman Parlor Car – either was not open, or I did not have time. So, a tad over an hour into my visit I headed off to the car for what ended up being almost another two hours. Why a Pullman Car you ask. Robert Todd Lincoln became George Pullman’s attorney, and it was Pullman’s company that made these railroad cars. Following Pullman’s death, Lincoln took the helm of the firm for an interim year, which became fourteen years. This is how he made his money.

I toured the car, but then sat and visited with an outstanding docent, Gary, learning history from him and sharing our love and knowledge of local Vermont area history. Yes, I know enough to stop when a group arrives so a docent can do what they are there for, but then we can pick back up. All the docents I chatted with in the home were great, but Gary made my day. Here is the Sunbeam as you approach (with the “real McCoy” brakes underneath), and then some interior views of this exceptionally well done restoration of one of the six remaining wooden Pullman cars.

I think instead of trying to relate all I learned about this car, and the home, you just had better visit. You have heard me say that I “vote with my dollars,” and even though I can visit at no cost with my NARM membership through OSV, I told Gary I would become a Hildene member to help support the museum. But, in reading an article about Mary Todd Lincoln earlier today on the Ohio State University website, it gave me second thoughts because of the way Robert treated his mother. I linked that fascinating article above, and encourage you to read it. He was not nice, and even with some of his Pullman dealings, but I will not fault the museum, and still will send a check.

Alright — now I love to share. and late this fall went full throttle collecting toy camping trailers. Arranging a holiday display in my dining room a thought came to me to share them along with my bottle brush trees and develop THE TWELVE DAYS OF “VINTAGE CAMPER TOYS.” The Twelve Days of Christmas begins on December 26, so beginning that day I began sharing my collection each day on various Facebook vintage camper pages and groups. I have also assembled a page on Shunpiking With Ray, and here is the link to what I am sharing. – THE TWELVE DAYS OF “VINTAGE CAMPER TOYS” – and an example of what you will see, or click on this image,

I made it. Yes, I have this last post of 2022 done, and will be able to post as planned in 2022 with less than three hours to spare (East Coast Time). Nothing else on this evening’s “plate” but to reflect and thank God for all my blessings. May you have a safe, healthy and prosperous New Year, love, RAY

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THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS, and at “44” there are now over one hundred Christmas Trees, the majority are vintage bottle brush trees.

The 1918 edition of THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS to the left was given to my mother in 1927 “from Elsie.” A large format, the color illustrations are amazing. I will have to reproduce for you next year.

You have seen many of my trees in the past, but some have been transplanted in new spots, and there are more. So, let’s begin the tour.

I live in a little New England Village where we do not use front doors. Coming through my “mud room” into the kitchen one is first greeted with this forest which has grown much this year.

in front of the fireplace there are a few new additions this year. I started to get “blow mold fever” but have settled on the 1978 Empire Plastics on the left, and another you will see later. The great camper and station wagon are new, and more on that collection later below. The mantle has not changed, with one of my favorites with ceramic fruit second from the right.

On my Pennsylvania Dutch Pie Safe is a chalkware Santa I found in November – a bargain price. In his hollow sack a previous owner put pieces of coal – too much fun.

I changed out the kitchen table from years past – more about “Me and Santa” (the red folder) later on.

Even my computer table in the kitchen has trees (and many others in the kitchen and elsewhere I decided not to overload you with this year.)

out on the porch you find an Airstream in a small forest, and two groups paying homage to Louise Penny’s “Three Pines.”

I have collected old wooden boxes for fun for years. One never knows what you can stuff inside and try to keep inside.

On the kitchen table you saw some red dinner ware I found this year – just beautiful, and considering $12 for 20 pieces, Salvation Army Stores are now on my list of stops. Below in the dining room is the classic German Christmas Tree dinner set I have enjoyed for years. No, I have no idea why I collect these trees, and have a good number out all year long.

I unpacked my Putz Houses for almost the first time ever. You can see them above. More on those next year. Below the side table, and then part of the cabinet top in front of the side windows.

You had better be curious about my toy “canned hams” above, and before you email and ask, just click this link to learn more about them in my tale, THE TWELVE DAYS OF “VINTAGE CAMPER TOYS

You may have other things to do on this NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS, so enough of my trees. Yes, adorning three more rooms, but little changed from previous years – I just like those arrangements.

But before you go, I found something misplaced for well over twenty years a couple months ago in a box that had been unopened almost forever. But I had a vivid memory of my photo with Santa at Macy’s in White Plains, New York, probably in 1955. I asked him for a Western Town. That Christmas it was not under the tree, but my father exclaimed, “what is that over in entrance hallway?” Santa had remembered, but with a little teasing. Of course I found and acquired another for memory sake a number of years ago with most of the accessories.

You are never too old for Santa. I visited with him at Santa’s Land in Putney, Vermont, in 2015 and 2017.

I mentioned to you I curbed becoming obsessed with hoarding “blow molds,” but on the way home from Old Sturbridge Village two weeks ago this 40 inch Santa begged to come home with me to protect the Common. Here he is taking a break from that task.

and, what is Christmas without a “Major Award?” If the “old man” can have one, so can I. And, proudly displayed out the center window upstairs is MY “Major Award.”

A week ago on the 17th, in preparation, I wrote and posted HOLIDAY TRADITIONS AND RITUALS – 2022. If you missed it, click on the link above for that tale, and A CHRISTMAS CAROL REDUX – one of the funniest renditions you will ever hear.

And, speaking of traditions, on Christmas Eve 2020 I compiled a post of my Christmas Season Festivities and traditions going back to 2013. this summary linked below has links to the full stories which you may also enjoy. Please click below and enjoy —



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With less than two weeks left of this year it is a time to look back and reflect. On December 3rd, the New York Times morning email edition began saying, “Rituals make the season meaningful for many of you.” They are correct. We have our must watch movies: “Its a Wonderful Life;” “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation;” and, “A Christmas Story,” just to name a few that I will be watching again even though I know the story lines, dialogue and endings. The article enumerated traditions that many readers shared. The special cookies, parties, family gatherings, decorations, and some silly odd traditions.

In my own way I have some traditions including: Candles in my windows, setting out my bottle brush trees (many of which I leave out all year since they bring me joy – why I have no idea), my special holiday red dinnerware out and ready for a gathering, the Live-Nativity recreation on the Common in front of my home on Christmas Eve every year. And, I am sure there are some other meaningful fun things I just do without thinking. I again will soon be sharing with you in a post my “tree arrangements” around my home (now a tradition), but I just thought I would start a “new tradition” (remember I write for myself to remember, but love to share) and share with you the history of candles in windows that I published in 2019, and A CHRISTMAS CAROL REDUX that I first shared last year. Hard to decide which to give you first, but think the history article first, and then encourage you to sit back with many drinks for A CHRISTMAS CAROL REDUX. If you must, and it is alright, just scroll down for a radio play you will never forget.


I share a tidbit of history each month in THE WALPOLE CLARION in my “column,” DID YOU KNOW THAT…?  In the December, 2019, issue I explored the background behind placing candles in windows. Since then this post has become the top Google answer to the question “candles in windows history.,” with 22,302 views on line as of December 17, 2022 – over 10,000 just the calendar year. Below are the “candles in the windows” of my 1806 Colonial on a quintessential New England Village Common.


… the tradition of lighting candles in the windows of homes during Christmas, dating to colonial times, was brought to America by the Irish? Candles in windows have always been considered a sign of welcome to others. In early America, when homes were often miles apart, the sight of a distant candle in a window was a sign of “welcome” to those wishing to visit.

Religious practices and persecution have a long and complicated history in Ireland. As early as 1171, King Henry II’s invasion of Ireland began persecution against the Irish. Pagan solstice celebrations were replaced by Christmas celebrations. Protestantism attempted to replace Catholicism. The British Government, between 1691 and 1778, perfected their oppressive Penal Laws, targeting Catholics in an attempt to squash the religion. Catholic priests were not allowed to practice their faith. Ordered to leave the country, the priests instead went into hiding. The Irish were forced to obey British Rule.

During Christmastime, faithful Irish Catholics would, in darkness, light a candle in the window and leave the door unlocked. This was a sign to priests it was safe to slip into their home to say Mass. In return they offered hospitality to the priest. The British, questioning the Irish about the candles, were told it was their way to welcome Joseph, Mary, and the Baby Jesus as they sought shelter. On immigrating to the United States, the Irish brought this holiday practice with them.

The tradition of the lit candle in the window in colonial America has been interpreted in many ways. It has been seen as a beacon of hope for any passerby during the holiday season, and signaled strangers that there would be food and shelter there, should they ask.  Candles also showed hope that Mary and other saints would pass by their home and bless it. The candle’s welcome was part silent prayer for the safe return of an absent person, and part sign there is someone waiting and tending the fire. Other interpretations say the candle would be sending a message – a child had been born or a family had received a blessing of some nature. Often the candles would be commemorating a community event or celebration. Inns (and now bed and breakfasts) used candles announcing rooms were available, and leading travelers to the door. The key being the sense of welcome.

CANDLE IN THE WINDOW — FENNO HOUSE c 1725 — Old Sturbridge Village, November 17, 2019 

When Colonial Williamsburg was established, they were unsure how Christmas should be represented. Remember, it was not much of a holiday in colonial America. They hung colored lights on ten evergreen trees in 1934, continuing to search for decorations representative of the period. The landscape architect remembered his family’s practice of placing a candle in their Boston window in 1893. With that idea, the next year a single lighted candle was placed in the windows of the four buildings open to the public. The candles were lit from 5 to 10 PM between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. Worried of fire, four janitors were paid $1.00 each to light the candles and guard against fires.

Electric candles solved the concern with fire. Colonial Williamsburg visitors liked what they saw, and wanted candles to take back home. In 1941, Williamsburg department stores sold their entire stock of 600 electric candles by Christmas Eve. Today, having candles in the windows is even easier. My candles take batteries, and are remotely controlled.


More traditions, and more candles — I invite you to visit, read, and view 134 FLICKERING FLAMES – A TWO YEAR REDUX – 3 DECEMBER 2019, which is an update of a previous story.


(Like You Have Never Heard Before)

From December 21 to 26, 2010, I attended a program – Fête de Noël: Christmas in Québec City. It was great, and the tour leader was the gentleman who taught all the tour leaders in Quebec City for their licenses. Could not get any better. Besides the history there was Christmas Eve Dinner at the Hotel Frontenac (below), and a carriage ride in the snow around the city on Christmas Day.

Heading home on Autoroute 20, the afternoon of the 26th, I was dial switching on the radio. Now, you may recall that from 2008 through 2014, I produced, as a benefit for local food shelves, my own adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A CHRISTMAS CAROL. Having completed performances before I left for Canada, this tale of redemption as Scrooge faced three separate ghosts, was fresh in my mind. Landing on the CBC I heard that A CHRISTMAS CAROL REDUX, narrated by Russell Thomas, was about to begin. “Now I want to hear that,” I said to myself, and it soon began with a kazoo prelude.

Now it will help if you know the basic plot before you spend 54 minutes listening to this REDUX production, but not necessary. I was soon laughing hard, tears of laughter were streaming down my cheeks, and I feared that the car seat was not waterproof in case my bladder lost control. Fortunately I saw a rest area, and pulled in, parked, and listened to the radio. I had to find a copy to share.

I found part of the show on-line about six years ago, and then forgot about it. But the thought resurfaced in November 2021, and I went searching. AND I FOUND IT. But how to share it? I enlisted son Gary, and he went to work. It took some time, but he was able to complete the task. 

So, now I invite you to the party. Pour some non-dairy eggnog, or glasses of wine, get some dry underwear in case, put your feet up and turn out the lights and close your eyes. Click the audio link below Mr. Fezziwig’s Ball. But my disclaimer – the show is irreverent, often politically incorrect, raunchy at times, and hysterical – ENJOY!


And, speaking of traditions, on Christmas Eve 2020 I compiled a post of my Christmas Season Festivities and traditions going back to 2013. this summary has links to the full stories which you may also enjoy. Please click below and enjoy —



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By now you should know that Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts is one of my favorite places to visit, enjoy and support. If you forgot, click on this link for posts about those visits.

COVID has changed much, including this event and the closing of OSV’s lodging facilities. But when I got a member’s notice for CHRISTMAS BY CANDLELIGHT for 2022 with a chance to stay in the OLIVER WIGHT HOUSE, and with tickets I immediately signed up for a two night stay and visit. How can I not want to again stay in a 1780s Colonial with original Rufus Porter murals?

On Saturday, December 10, I back-roaded through Massachusetts scouting along the way. So many previous stops now closed, or no longer having “real” vintage or antique items. But really “making my day” was the purchase of a very uncommon child’s toy rotary printing press, with original box and almost all accessories, for my collection. Will have to do a post of that collection to share at some point, but here is some background on my printing enjoyment.

My plan was two evenings in the village – Saturday in the farm and mill area, and Sunday around the Common. I was overwhelmed with the number of cars in the parking lot, and mentioning that to the parking attendant he told me they were expecting over 3,000 people. Usually I plan my visits when there are maybe ten cars in the parking area. I always start my holiday posts here with a lantern on the walk in. Below is Sunday’s image with snow – nicer than Saturday without.

It was fun enjoying the happiness and excitement of the crowds, but on Saturday a tad too crowded for me. In walking to the farm area I passed the Meeting House, stopped in the store (relocated from Dummerston, Vermont), the Parsonage before crossing the Covered Bridge (also from Dummerston).

in the store was a history of Christmas Tree ornaments over time.

continuing on this side of the Common you pass the law office and then arrive at the Parsonage.

entering the door, there was a fellow demonstrating quilting. The only demonstration I saw this night.

I usually enter the bridge from the mill side, this time I walked down the hill from the Tavern to the “bridge of trees.”

and looking across the lake, exiting from the mill end of the bridge.

Probably one of my best all time experiences is when I BOARDED WITH THE BIXBYS in September 2018. Below is the fire where we cooked dinner, and my bedroom. You can click on my galleries for larger images.

Too many people were waiting to enter the Farmhouse, so I continued strolling to the pottery shop capturing this nice view.

About two and a half hours of strolling with the crowds, and since the Tavern only had the cafeteria line open, and not sit-down service as I enjoyed before, it was time to leave. But I stopped and enjoyed the Ginger Bread House display and competition on the way out. Here are two examples.

Earlier in the week when I was chatting with my son, David, he said, “why don’t I come out to visit while you are there.” Both my sons live just north of Boston (Gary visited for the Inndugence Tour just last week). Arriving about 11, we had a great four hours together. Lunch was at the Publick House on the original Sturbridge Common. Sadly I left my phone behind thinking I would not need it, nor take images. The Inn was so well decorated I wish I had it, but borrowed David’s phone to capture my amazing salmon meal. Cannot wait to get back again.

After David headed back home as the snow began to fall I headed back to the village.

Having now studied the program as to what was being shown about circa 1830s holiday activities, all was focused on the Common which I had saved for Sunday – AND – I was correct, with school and work the next day the crowds were thiner, but still all with festive people I enjoyed seeing and over hearing. I stopped first at the Small House where the origin and making of Christmas Stockings was presented.

Just up the path on the opposite side is the Friends Meeting House where there was a display bringing the entire town of Bethlehem to life. Absolutely amazing, and with less of a crowd I was able to visit with the interpreter/exhibitor – something I love to do at OSV. I am sorry I did not get his name, but asking how long it had been exhibited, the time involved to build, and the genesis of the display, he told me that he and his husband had been exhibiting twenty years, and made new pieces even this year. Tom, his husband, had been intrigued with his mother’s nativity scene, and that was the start. Art and history schooling and education helped in the development. Visit if nothing else for this display, only partially shown below – remember to click for larger images.

Continuing up the slight hill to the Meeting House and Common I always enjoy looking down at this farm area – now with a light cover of snow.

Just this past year, to the left of the Meeting House, is the newly constructed Cabinetmaking Shop. Normally making furniture in the 19th century ways, the two craftsmen were making toys that would usually be made at home in “off hours.” I found fascinating the device to hold down a piece with a foot treadle when the draw knife (shaving plane) was being used (last two images).

heading out of the Cabinetmaking Shop to cross the Common – I hope you like this early evening winter view of the Meeting House.

and, then to the Fitch House to see the display of straw ornament designs from around the world.

you should know that, besides “rocking chair studies,” I enjoy views out windows.

My next “big stop” was the Salem Towne House at the head of the Common, opposite (at a distance) from the Meeting House. In the downstairs rooms you explore the Christmas traditions from the 1830s, 1850s and 1870s, including the first known Christmas Tree in New England.

This first tree would have small candles, and gifts hung on the branches. Youngsters would charge the tree, pick a gift, and the candles (like a birthday cake) be blown out. The tree’s purpose finished, it would be removed and tossed outside.

finally in the next room I found my friend, Susan, docent/interpreter extraordinaire, and my teacher/hostess when I BOARDED WITH THE BIXBYS .

and the last room showing an 1870s dining room setting.

walking back outside, there was my friend George driving his team for tours. Ballard Tavern in the background.

and, looking to the other end of the Common – another perfect time at OSV.

If you have not yet figured it out – RAY RECOMMENDS Experience and Enjoy OLD STURBRIDGE VILLAGE. And, you can still experience CHRISTMAS BY CANDLELIGHT this year. But may I further recommend one of the best values I have ever found – The North American Reciprocal Museum (NARM) Association. I have mentioned this before, but if you purchase a membership at a member organization, such as OSV, at a certain level (at OSV $100 or above) the free benefits at member museums are amazing. Treat yourself, and join a museum now at the NARM level of membership.

Scouting on the way home today, I bought some good books. But also Santa and one of his reindeer popped into my van. As I shared on Facebook – “I cannot go away for two nights without being followed home. The guy on the left hitched a ride from Sturbridge, and the forty inch tall fellow with his reindeer hopped aboard in Deerfield. They said they knew I needed help arranging my almost 100 trees.”

This is my 399th post sharing with you, and I have at least two more coming this calendar year – 2022. But, stay well, healthy, count your blessings, and Happy Holidays, As always, luv, RAY

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“Been There, Done That” and had to do it again. This was the fifth time the Inndulgence Tour was held for the holidays in Vermont, COVID having caused postponements, and this was the third time I have enjoyed touring Inns and Bed and Breakfasts within an hour of my home, and on roads that I always enjoy exploring no matter the time of year. Providing background, here are links to my last two reports of this fun, fund-raising event for Vermont food shelves. At least come back to these past visits once done scrolling all the way through.


This year’s tour again had both some same and some new “stops” but less than in the past. Included were nine Inns, B&Bs, including:

Blue Gentian Lodge
Golden Stage Inn (Proctorsville Village in Cavendish)
Echo Lake Inn (Tyson Village in Plymouth)
The Governor’s Inn (Ludlow)
The Grafton Inn (Grafton)
Hartness House (Springfield)
Main & Mountain Bar & Motel (Ludlow)
Rowell’s Inn (Andover)
Stone Hearth Inn & Eatery (Chester)

Son Gary, arrived at 2:30 on Saturday the third, and off we went to Grafton on the back road through Saxtons River. “Wait what is this,” I exclaimed, “the front porch of the Saxtons River Inn is decorated and lights are on.” Closed for three years I pulled to the curb and “ran” up the steps to find out what was up. Opening the door into the cavernous empty rooms I was greeted by Susan learning that she and her husband, Caleb Saunders, along with their one year old son, recently purchased the Inn. With the plan to be open by July 4th (remember the famous parade in the village) they hope “… the Inn would be a gathering place for the village.” I wished them well, promised to spread the word, and to be back, and often.

First stop The Grafton Inn which is special to me. In May 2002, Cathy and I stayed there, and the next day made the decision to move to the area, ending up weeks later buying in Walpole. Rooms were all full so could not be seen, but cheese and cider was available in the Kipling Library. Yes, he visited from his home Naulakha just south a tad. Below is the Inn in an image I took in 2016, and the library and the Inn’s tree this year.

The Grafton Inn – 20 December 2016

From Grafton it was over the hill to Chester, and west on Route 11 to the Stone Hearth Inn. COVID closed many inns and B&Bs, and also saw changes in ownership, as is the case here. The new owners are doing renovations to the restaurant and bar area. While we were there the new owners were baking, but we visited with greeter, John Clark. A local Chester historian, I gave him copies of my history books, and hope to share stories at some time with him. Below is the Inn as I got out of the car, and the sitting room.

Originally I thought we would not have time to visit Blue Gentian Lodge on the access road to Magic Mountain in Londonderry, but we were able to.

Here our treat was a sampling of their famous cheesecakes. Also with the overall Scandinavian theme, Innkeeper Lisa demonstrated the Scandinavian craft of Scherenschnitte, intricate paper cutting into intricate ornaments.

It was then back east on Route 11 to Simonsville, and…

ROWELL’S INN — do you remember how thrilled I was to discover ROWELL’S INN in June 2011? My visits continued in 2011, and those visits would remind you of dropping in at CHEERS. But sadly Mike “went under” and lost the property to the bank. Sold, I learned the building was to become a bakery, and I would peek in the windows on occasional drives by. BUT reading the booklet for this tour I learned the Inn was not only open, but serving dinner – thus the plan for Gary and I. Christina greeted us (I had talked to her on the phone) and I gave her an original Rowell’s Inn Cookbook from years ago that I found on my scouting missions. I now have (along with the Saxtons River Inn) a place to go escape and be at home with “friends.”

two of the rooms on the second floor – and Christina opened up the third floor so we could see the original ballroom.

on the menu are burgers and the like, but our server did mention that there are special dinners at times. Gary and I both pinned for burgers, and I had homemade chips with mine. I cannot wait to get back – that is a “threat and a promise” and made possible only learning about the reopening for dining in the tour booklet.

Sunday the 4th the tour resumed from Noon to Five, and a friend joined Gary and I for the day. Planning a route to the five remaining stops, we were at the Harkness House at Noon for the start.

The most attractive and historic building — and a must see. We would have concluded here, but as yet reopening with new owners they have yet to find a chef to be able to open the kitchen. Just one more COVID casualty. Also in talking with the hostess, there is no longer a reception desk, everything is done on-line: booking, code for access, QR code inside for information. I am “too old” for all these new changes, and just love to “talk to someone” – but will have to learn. My Cathy and I spent a New Year’s celebration here years ago. and my most fun visit was in 2018 for “Twas The Night Before Christmas” throughout the Inn. Do click on this link to enjoy those festivities. Also you may wish to look at our last Inndulgence Tour visit in 2019 for images of the tunnel to the telescope museum and telescope. We toured there again, but I did not take as many images. Below is the entryway.

it would be hard to choose a room – they are all bright, large, and well appointed.

the tree in the comfortable sitting room, and the image below that our “snack” at this stop.

The Golden Stage Inn in Proctorsville was the next stop where I chatted awhile with Julie, the Innkeeper, who is the organizer of the event. Their snacks – everything chocolate.

and a room, and the mural at the top of the stairs – remind you of anyone’s dining room?

Heading a tad west on Route 103 in Ludlow (home of Okemo Mountain skiing, thus all the area lodging) is the Governor’s Inn, built in 1890 by William Wallace Stickney, who was Governor of Vermont  from October 4, 1900, to October 3, 1902 The new proud owners have done a wonderful job in their painstaking preservation – the woodwork is amazing, as were their snacks of mini quiches and stollen bites.

a welcoming entrance – and well balanced heavy doors.

and, a tour around the Inn, and a look out a third floor window to Okemo. Remember you can click my galleries for larger views.

Almost in the center of Ludlow was the next stop – Main and Mountain Bar and Motel.

First time in my memory on the tour, we were in and out. The “motel” rooms we were told extend back on both sides of the building. You enter in the front door to a bar, and small eating area. The real “hook” I would guess for skiers are the outdoor fire pits for drinks and food after a day on the slopes. Nice, but “not Ray.”

But, wait – look right. How about that holiday chair cover? I may have to place an order with my local seamstress.

One of the reasons you enjoy tours like this – IDEAS. And, Gary too got some ideas along the way.

Our planned last stop was the Echo Lake Inn, on Route 100 on the way to Plymouth Notch. Unfortunately dinner was not being served on Sunday nights, otherwise that would have been the plan. Cathy and I stayed here well over 20 years ago before our move to NH, I have had many dinners on the porch following BB1 and BB2 exploits, and my late “pre-kindergarten” friend, Mimsy, and I stopped after a visit with President Coolidge, we both exclaiming “best meal ever.” So, remember that and visit.

and two of their rooms for you…

Well, this concludes my report “to remember and to share.” I am busy arranging over 80 Christmas trees in my home, and that holiday report will be coming. I also have some additional holiday events to attend, and will write about those experiences, again, “to remember and to share.” Back to you soon, as always, luv, RAY

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I am often asked, “Ray, how do you come up with ideas for your explorations and road-trips?” Well, blame it on my insatiable curiosity, and fast moving need to learn something else from something new I just learned. And, fast moving Googling fingers help. Make sense? Today started from touring a Guilford cemetery October 2nd that piqued my interest to learn about early burial grounds. Knowing this, a friend then sent me a NY Times book review of OVER MY DEAD BODY, by Greg Melville, published October 4, 2022. I immediately placed my order for the book. Strange as it may sound, I often first look at a book’s source notes and bibliography. That led to my purchase of three more books on early cemeteries and funeral practices that are within arms reach as I am writing this.

Pages 112-114 in DEATH IN EARLY AMERICA by Margaret M. Coffin relates the story of John Bowman, who returning to his native Vermont, built a massive mausoleum with a larger than life stature of himself on the steps. Across the street (now Route 103 in Cuttingsville) he built a mansion. You also have probably been curious about the impressive home when driving by to Rutland. For background you may enjoy reading about this spot on the Shrewsbury, Vermont Historical Society site, Roadside America, or on Atlas Obscura.

In preparation to visit Mr. Bowman, I played with Google Maps. As you enlarge a section road names appear, and names of area features or attractions that have probably been “mined” by search engines and added. WOW – I found Old Turnpike Road, Shunpike Road, a covered bridge I did not know about, a Grist Mill, and a suspension bridge across a gorge. Well, here we go to Rutland, basically a round trip taking a tad over two hours, I had about eight hours of fun “shunpiking.” This adventure starts on Route 103 north of Ludlow, and from my subsequent reading I will be back in BB1 or BB2 in the spring to explore (and re-explore): Hortonville, Shrewsbury, North Shrewsbury, Mount Holly, Cuttingsville, East Wallingford, Tarbelville and Belmont.

Vermont’s Green Mountain Turnpike (built 1799 to 1833) running from Bellows Falls to Clarendon basically ran the route of today’s Route 103. So much more to learn about the turnpike’s connections, even running through Drewsville to Boston. My enlarged Google Maps lead me to:

and then to

which is one of the best dirt roads I have travelled on, better than many paved roads. I don’t think these trees date to 1799, but certainly add to the fun of this road.

but the reason for today’s trip was to see Bowman’s mausoleum which is on a downhill curve as you enter Cuttingsville. You have probably also missed it focusing instead at his mansion across the street (or the road).

Nineteenth century tanning magnate John Porter Bowman, “… commissioned an architect, stoneworkers, and a renowned sculptor to create his vision of post-mortem devotion, expending 750 tons of granite, 50 tons of marble, and $75,000 (over a million in today’s dollars). Inside, there are sculpted busts of the deceased, ornate stonework around the crypts, and mirrors positioned to make the room seem larger than it really is.” When I stopped the statue of Bowman is covered with a box, and the doors also covered. I found this YouTube video which you may enjoy — This Place in History: Laurel Hall and Laurel Glen Mausoleum. I knew the son of the owner of the bookshop mentioned that was here – somewhere I have the booklet he wrote about it.

Cuttingsville is part of Shrewsbury, and here is another end of Shunpike Road, just past the library on a side road off Route 103.

Continuing to Rutland, a careful examination on Google Maps had shown me more “new things.” A covered bridge and grist mill complex I did not know about, and just past the second crossing of the railroad tracks after Cuttingsville, to the left is the Clarendon Gorge Appalachian Trailhead (Long Trail) and the Bob Brugmann Suspension Bridge. I had to hike (safely walk) to see that.

and from the center of the span looking west down Mill River.

Trust you know there is an airport in south Rutland. Continuing there, turn left on Airport Road (if you see the East Clarendon train station you went a tad too far). Round a bend, and in a short ways turn left again onto Gorge Road to find the Kingsley Covered Bridge.

just before the bridge coming down the hill is the Grist Mill complex, but hard to get clear photos of. Turned into an Air BnB, I would love to stay there (since mills have been a fascination of mine, and my bookshop in Connecticut was in one). You may want to see interior views from their website, but here is an external painting on their site.

and below, what images I could get. First looking up Mill River from the bridge to the complex, and the complex as seen coming down Gorge Road. I then followed Gorge Road until it ends on US Route 7 below the airport.

It was then some antiquing in Rutland (sadly making no trades of cash for goods), lunch, and the Amtrak station where the Ethan Allen Express terminates.

I had decided to take back routes home that I had not been on in awhile, and not with leaves off trees. It was down to Clarendon Springs, Tinmouth, Wallingford, crossing US Route 7 to East Wallingford, then down Route 155 towards Weston, over the hill and through Andover to Chester. The back roads I traveled on the west side of US Route 7 afforded wonderful, not often seen views of the Green Mountains to the east. You should slowly tour those roads, yes, some are dirt. Once in Chester I did get to buy two more little early bottle brush trees that I have now with miniature “Camp 44.” Have to count my collection, now over 100.

If I were younger, and it were not so relatively isolated, I would love to purchase and restore the Clarendon Springs hotel and adjoining General Store. Well, I can dream, it was again fun to visit, first time since my July 2018 visit. Remember you can click my “galleries” for larger sized images.

Did I say I had a fun rejuvenating and educational day out? And, also plans for some additional area back road exploration in the spring. I recommend you explore this area as well, even the Mount Holly Historical Museum to see the Mammoth Tooth & Tusk. And, working on this conclusion, I was reminded of my visit in July 2018, to Belmont in Mount Holly as well. I can enjoy traveling just looking at my past writings, but yes, do need to hit the roads and smell the air again.

Stay safe and well, and start researching and planning your SHUNPIKING ADVENTURES – as always, yours, RAY

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I got out again, and repeated previous pleasures albeit things are not always the same. Bascom Lodge atop Mt. Greylock in Massachusetts, built in the 1930s by the CCC, closes this week for the season, as does the road soon climbing to 3,194 feet in elevation. I planned a favorite circle route – south to Greenfield, MA, cross the Mohawk Trail, climb the mountain, descend to my favorite US Route 7, north to Bennington, and back across Vermont on Route 9 to Brattleboro and home.

I have included this sign before, maybe not in the fall, and I guarantee that you will see it again. The image below is looking west on the Mohawk Trail (MA Route 2) at this point. The route is one of my favorites from this point west, and was extremely colorful. That is GiGi patiently waiting while I took these images. Put this route on your list.

It was overcast when I arrived, but I wanted to climb to the top of the Memorial Tower. The image below (taken in sun upon my departure the next morning) is the tower as you see it from the lodge. I wanted to share images from atop the tower in all directions, but it was overcast, and much to my surprise not colorful as I imagined.

It is quite a climb. This is the beginning before three sets of spiral stairs begin. And, then the view looking down and west towards the lodge.

how can you not enjoy 1930s Arts and Crafts architecture and furnishings?

and, dinner is served at 7 PM – and amazing. I choose the chicken over a medley of vegetables – and the flavors I hope I can experience again – loved it. And, I had to sit close to the fire.

But, looking west with Albany off to the right of the images — THE SUNSET !!! The first at 6:08 PM, and the intense color at 6:29 PM.

Looking out my window when I awoke, GiGi was covered with ice and maybe crystalized snow. But, for sure in descending down the road, it was obvious I was “above the clouds.”

North (Betty, that is in front of you) on US Route 7, my destination was Old Bennington, Vermont, to visit the Bennington Museum and two temporary exhibits. How can you not love looking up at the Bennington Monument any time of the year

Having passed the Walloomsac Inn for at least four decades, and going inside once in the mid-1980s, the plan was to see the exhibit at the museum on the Inn, now vacant with decisions under discussion as to how to hopefully save it. First across the small Common in Old Bennington, and then a close-up of the Inn.

You had better learn about the North American Reciprocal Museum Association NARM, and its benefits. My membership through Old Sturbridge Village allows me free admission to over 1200 museums and galleries. Thus, if you have limited time, or focused interest, you do not mind stopping in for a short time, and that is what I did to see two exhibits. Remember you can click my galleries for larger, readable views of the galleries.

Early Vermont history is a tad confusing, but I found the information below very succinct to put it all in place.

You may know that I am now spending time learning about early cemeteries and funeral and burial practices. Thus, my sharing this gallery you may click to enlarge.

A small exhibit showed “Gilded Age Vermont”

Featured in this exhibit is this c1924 Martin-Wasp Touring Car. The Martin-Wasp automobile was the only car manufactured in Vermont. It was designed as a high-end luxury car, and only about 16 were ever made. This car was being built (but never completed) to be sold for $10,000, when a Model T Ford was priced at $265 in 1924. Martin drove the uncompleted car around Bennington until 1953, when he sold it to a collector who restored it as seen here today.

The other temporary exhibit I wanted to see was Vermont’s Parks and Recreation focused on the development of Tourism in the state.

I will just share these information panels, saved here for my future explorations, and maybe to tempt you as well. There are spots LADYRABIII and I may experience together. I am pretty certain (but do not have the receipt as I have with other camp grounds) that I camped at Hapgood Pond in 1963 while touring Vermont in my 1929 Model A Ford Roadster, traveling up from Wilton, Connecticut.


You know that I have enjoyed my experiences at the LANDMARK TRUST USA properties in Vermont. Now in just two weeks shy of two years I have had eight stays at these wonderful properties, and Gary has joined me on six of those stays, the last this February/March. A few months ago as we were chatting we said, time to experience the Dutton Farmhouse, and I made a booking. Gary and Ilana, along with Scott and Betty (who “came with” Cathy, 27 years ago) joined me for a relaxing time 24-27 October. It was conversation, some reading, laughter, meals, along with ANIMAL HOUSE (a tradition), TRUE LIES (now to be a new tradition) along with some documentaries. And, much laughter and research on “blow-molds” – a new interest to study and collect. Below is the farmhouse, looking east to New Hampshire, and down the drive to (YEAH!) the dirt road.

Overcast, gloomy and a tad rainy Monday and Tuesday, it is alright because you are warm and toasty enjoying life with friends. Wednesday cleared a tad, and I wanted to loop a tour on roads I enjoy showing the group Dummerston Center, West Dummerston, and the route of the West River Railroad (and quarries) on the west side of Black Mountain along the river. I showed them Jelly Mill Falls, and we all jumped out. I discovered and wrote about this area July of 2021.

West Dummerston Covered Bridge over the West River. Ray’s “prize winning” image from this post.

and the gang – Betty, Scott, the Patriarch, Gary, and Ilana (in part).

decoration at the front door of the Dutton Farmhouse — second place “award winner”

I thought that would be it for this memory post, but waking on Thursday, for the first time this stay there was no overcast, and the sun could be seen rising from the east. Below were taken at: 7:20 AM; 7:23 AM, and then I turned around and saw the wall at 7:25 AM, lasting only a moment.


1 – Take a break, one, two or three overnights, with or without plans and two hours or twenty-five minutes from home. It is rejuvenating and worth every moment.

2 – Discover Landmark Trust USA properties. But as Gary reminded me, “Dad, we are not finding dates we wanted because your posts have made them more popular.” Well I see there was a Wall Street Journal article, and COVID enabled people to find safer get-aways.

3 – Even if not “on the road,” I am an “armchair traveler” browsing brochures and websites and planning. Hey, you know me and books. Recently I found, bought, and is in one of my many “reading piles,” TRAVELING IN PLACE: A HISTORY OF ARMCHAIR TRAVEL by Bernd Stiegler. Too Much Fun!

Stay safe and well. Back to you soon, I hope — luv, RAY

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I am turning a corner, and in the last days have booked two overnights in the near future. But, in time you will read of those. But on this page is a compilation of three adventures “on the road” 6, 9 and 15 October. The focus here will be sharing New Hampshire and Vermont fall foliage, the likes of which I do not remember this early and spectacular. And, tied in I will share some history articles I have written for my newspaper, THE WALPOLE CLARION, so here goes.

Struggling with where to overnight on the other side of the state (as I did do in March of this year) while scouting for books and other “treasures on the list,” I gave up, and decided on a day trip instead 6 October, but I did tour an 18th century inn in Durham for the future. My new tree (remember Only theTrees are Different) was popping out

Giving equal coverage to be fair, here is the rear of “44” looking to “Camp 44” My maple on the left is never this early or this colorful – normally it is last and bland. This tree was but a few inches in diameter, and a few feet tall, growing out of an old stump when Cathy and I purchased “44” in 2002 – twenty years ago.

RAY equals BACK ROADS – and it was over NH Route 123 through Alstead, Marlow and Stoddard to get to the main road to Concord. Below is Marlow at 9 AM that morning, 6 October.

It was a day of good book buying, and some new backroads from Bedford to Wilton through New Boston and Mont Vernon – Destination – dinner at the Birchwood Inn in Temple.

Sunday, 9 October, it was off to enjoyable Dummerston, Vermont, for the Dummerston Apple Pie Festival. Begun in the 1970s, but not held since 2019 due to Covid. I enjoy exploring West Dummerston, Dummerston Center and East Dummerston. And, you should remember that in Dummerston is Kipling’s Naulakha, and the Scott Farm, not to mention the Dutton Farmhouse. And, there is also the campground where LADYRABIII will attend the vintage shows in May and September next year (you will want to attend the Merry May Vintage Camper Show show May 19-21 – I am already working on decorations). Below arriving up the hill from the east into Dummerston Center.

The size of the pies was overwhelming, but the pancake breakfast I could handle. This is how they do it in small town northern New England.

After enjoying everyone enjoying themselves, I drove off on a favorite route heading north from the center intersection. Here is a sampling of what I saw. (remember you can click images to enlarge).

On the 12th I needed to find a cemetery in Westmoreland to find the tomb Capt. Abraham Roblin of New York City, was, in 1820, interred. Yes, I was working on my November history article – subject – HORATIO THE ELEPHANT feel free to click and read the story. Curious right? I found Pratt Cemetery on Route 63, but wondered why I have never seen it in the last 20 years passing by. Remember when in Guilford on 2 October we learned that early graveyards were built on hills and slopes that could not be used for farming or grazing? Well, the land that Rev. Pratt gave for a cemetery is a slope that drops sharply off from the road, below the stone wall, and you really have to be looking for it. I found it, and the Pratt tomb is the brick structure where Roblin was interred.

On the radio yesterday I heard Connie Sellecca (John Tesh’s wife) talking about a reading study and health. I have heard him give tips on his radio show, but first time I have heard her do so. WELL – the study she shared – reading books can add two years to your life, and just what I have always said, the mental stimulation. You will be stuck with me for awhile, this month I have purchased three books on graveyard history alone to dig (joke intended) into.

And, on the way home yesterday, 16 October, from my third COVID booster and flu shot, I needed to stop and explore behind the Hooper Institute in town for what I was just told could be remains of Walpole’s Town Pound. My October history article was on Town Pounds (click on this link for that story, which I hope you will enjoy) and I had to do some traipsing through the woods. But to get there, I went on a little known seasonal dirt road in Town – Meeting House Road – that goes through the golf course. And, here are some leafy views going up the hill.

The 1963 town history says the pound’s stones were used in the foundation of the Hooper Institute, but much of that is concrete. So for the mystery, here are the stones in the woods that could have been part of Walpole’s Town Pound. These could have been foundation stones that have worked their way up, and shifted, the “good” stones being appropriated for use elsewhere in the 1920s.

Trust you see the “history threads” through my life and need to learn. So, the next project —

wonder if they will sell to me? Only right, don’t you think?

above, an early traffic sign for the center of an intersection – BUT, flanked by season red, and red barn.

Thank you for looking and reading this far, I hope you enjoyed the views, and maybe took a look at the “history lessons.” Stay safe and well, luv, RAY

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I almost did not make this Guilford Historical Society event, but with possible inclement weather it was postponed to Sunday from Saturday — I had a conflict in town on Saturday which would have kept me here. And, then I thought, no I will not write a post, but Ray thinking to himself, decided, “you need to write about that five hour journey so you remember, and then share and encourage others to explore Guilford, VT, and learn how important this once most populated area in Vermont is to Vermont’s early history. So, here goes, hopefully sparking you to learn more and explore Guilfords’s “approximately seventy-eight miles of roads; sixty miles of which are gravel.” “Gravel” – AKA “dirt” and loved by BLACK BEAUTY and BLUE BELLE who made the journey on the second.

The day’s event was  in Celebration of the 250th anniversary of the Carpenter House on Carpenter Hill Road. From 10 until noon tours were given on the first floor of the house, at Noon Carpenter House Stories relating the early ownership and history were related, and following a former resident related his time there. Tours of the Carpenter Hill Cemetery were given, and I attended the 1PM tour. I must quote the publicity which stated, “The Guilford Historical Society and the Guilford Conservation Commission have been working with the owners of the Carpenter House to plan a day of celebration for this beautiful homestead on Carpenter Hill Road. Built in 1772, the house was acquired by Benjamin Carpenter in 1779, the year he became Vermont’s second lieutenant governor.” The owners were overly gracious and generous in opening there home in this manner, and the various nature trails on their property.

Setting the stage, and putting things into perspective, you must remember that the Republic of Vermont (and its disputed territory between New York and New Hampshire) did not become a state until March 4, 1791, becoming the 14th State in the United States. I have written about the border dispute over Vermont lands between NY and NH. Benjamin Carpenter was connected with the government of the “Republic of Vermont.” During the early years of the house’s existence, Guilford was embroiled in the controversy over whether Guilford should be part of New York or the independent Vermont. Because of his position Carpenter was about to be arrested and banished but he hid. In time Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys came to Guilford to put down the Yorker uprising. It is believed he was at the house and gave his ultimatum to Guilford to submit to the authority of Vermont in the upstairs Court Room. Please learn more about Guilford, the Yorkers, and Ethan Allen (a side note – Ethan Allen married his second wife just across the river from me in Westminster, VT, February 16, 1784).

Below is the Carpenter House from the front, and the side showing the rear extensions and barns.

You know I have toured many historic Colonial structures, particularly Historic Deerfield and Old Sturbridge Village, just to mention a few. But the tour in this private home (thus no photos) was exceptional – the home is that wonderful and close to original with its layout, wood paneling, fireplaces and equipment, and the furnishings and accessories. I felt like I was in the early 1800s. Essentially untouched and saved from disrepair in the early 20th century, through many ownerships it was simply preserved and used mainly as a summer home. It was not until the mid-1960s that electricity, plumbing and central heating were added to the home without any noticeable damage or modifications. An absolute treasure.

Thought I would share the original floor plan (not much changed on the first floor except additions). What I found fascinating is the entryway and fireplace layout (you may click to enlarge) — more about that at the end of this post.

Sorry this is getting wordier than I planned, I just want you to be sparked to learn more.

And, it was the cemetery tour that is sparking me to want to learn more. Erin, who was giving the tour, had the booklet you see to the right in her folder. Looked intriguing, and I have a copy in the mail to me already.

So, below are some new things I learned about 18th and 19th century cemeteries. You know I like to explore them, but now can be more knowledgeable about what I see.

Further up Carpenter Hill Road and around a bend is the cemetery, built on a hillside. Why? Hillsides are not ideal for farming or grazing, so a good use of the land.

Below Erin read us Benjamin Carpenter’s epitaph on his stone.

One always sees a large stone – the head stone – and assumes the head of the body is near that with the feet extended towards the viewer. Well, not so here with Mary Carpenter’s large head stone on the left, and the grave and body to its right ending with the foot stone.

and, here a close-up of the “foot stone.” To its rear is a granite post marking the plot boundaries. There were many such posts (this being one of the smallest) marking plot boundaries. Most of the posts were around four feet high. I do not recall seeing these in other cemeteries I have explored.

Erin enjoyed sharing this stone, noting how the stone carver did not plan ahead properly. Can you see? I wonder if the carver was paid at all or a reduced amount for his errors. Do click “gallery” images to enlarge.

I found some new to me Guilford dirt roads to traverse. Came to one T intersection, but don’t believe there was a stop sign since hardly travelled. I turned right on Lee Road and saw an interesting cut off tree with a roof and weathervane. Pulling alongside, it is the most unique little roadside “free library” I have yet to see.

I look forward to more Guilford explorations, and learning more cemetery lore. But now I digress to something I have been struggling with in my house. Benjamin Carpenter’s front entryway with the center chimney and its fireplaces backing up to it brought more into focus what I believe happened to my home in about 1850.

My home, built in 1806, has no fireplaces. I have two small brick chimneys serving as flues only. In my front parlors downstairs are identical mantles on the center wall, and one cast iron stove remains. Upstairs in one bedroom you can see where a flue may have exhausted into the chimney. A 216 year old home without fireplaces? I have been chatting with experts over the years.

At an event at Historic Deerfield I was chatting with an architectural historian. He promised to visit his next time in Walpole. When he entered my front door a few years back he said, “stairway and banister appears to be an 1850 era modernization.” And in May of this year I met the grandson of the founders of Historic Deerfield. He is now retired as former director of Historic Deerfield, and lives across the river. We chatted, and I shared images. He concurred that my mantels and entryway appears mid-19th century. He encouraged me to look for foundry markings on my stove. I did, and with the name information was able to date my remaining stove to c1850.

Below you can see my two front room mantles, what makes no sense in the second floor floorboards (the only “original” that are exposed), and in the last gallery my stove.

What makes most sense to me now (especially since my existing chimneys start at floor level) is that my long central entry hall is “new.” Originally I probably had a shallow entryway like the Benjamin Carpenter home, and others of this era, with a few steps on the left, a right angle turn for the stairs to the second story, or another turn to the second floor as I have oven seen. Then a central fireplace would have backed up to the stairs with on the first floor fireplaces opening to the two front rooms, and one to the rear for the kitchen area. Makes sense. AND, there is a big mound of dirt and stones in the center part of my crawl space, right were footings would have been for such a central chimney. What I need is someone small and not frightened by cobwebs to crawl in and investigate that mound for me. Volunteers?

Hope you got this far:

1 – Explore Guilford, Vermont, and its sixty miles of dirt roads
2 – Learn early Vermont history and how it became a state
3 – Read about Ethan Allen (yes I have about a dozen books about him in one of my reading piles)



“44” Fall 2022 – 4 October 2022
“Camp 44” – getting chilly Fall 2022 – 4 October 2022
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