IT IS MARCH — IT IS RLI — IT IS 25 YEARS

10-12 MARCH 2021

Yes, I have been staying at the Red Lion Inn now for twenty-five years straight. I did walk through the first floor some time in the 1980s, and drove by many times in the early 1960s in my 1929 Model A Ford Roadster. You, by now, should realize there have been wonderful patterns in my life. I am blessed, and do not take it for granted. I began writing this memory on 11 March – a year ago today COVID was declared a pandemic, and I got a call from the Inn, “sorry, Ray.” I rescheduled my visit to September 2020.

Cathy and I first stayed for Valentine’s Day in 1996. Many visits followed including three nights for the millennium celebration 1999-2000, and also the following New Year celebration. We canceled the next New Year’s since we were still settling in with our move to Walpole. In April 2008, on the way to Connecticut to adopt Nellie Ann, we had lunch in the Tavern here. That was Cathy’s last visit. I felt I could not come back. It took a year. When I finally came back I realized how important the Red Lion Inn is to me. I am sitting “in my spot,” sorry Sheldon, can see the staircase, and can still hear her footsteps coming down.

The past several months I have read a number of books on 18th century development along the Mohawk Trail and Deerfield River. I also found a series of self published books, “A Revolutionary War Road Trip… .” Of course I bought the ones for the area. With these readings, I developed new routes to explore to the Inn and home. The plan that developed was to get to the Mohawk Trail a different remote way, and on the way home to explore part of the Henry Knox Trail – and as I found out about nine miles of roads “new to me” in the Sheffield area.

Guilford Vermont Country Store – US Route 5 looking south

If you wish, get your maps out. Down I-91 to Exit 1, US 5 into Guilford where I turned right at the General Store onto Guilford Center Road. I have eaten here in the past (T – they have inside seating). In a short distance I headed south on Weatherford Hollow Road toward Leyden, Massachusetts – never been there. And, this is hill country, isolated and with no reason to be there. Well, I saw an agricultural fair grounds – could be fun – hopefully this coming September. Then a right on Zimmerman Mill Road to Leyden, and truly a small hill town. Town Hall, Church, couple houses, and great views.

From here to Colrain. And, why? My French and Indian War reading included much on Charlemont and Colrain, Gary and I drove through Colrain in November, and after reading I needed to see more, and in the process I found a significant event that happened in a now abandoned hill town in Colrain.

I drove into the small crossroads town, and hope to someday see the historical society. I then found my right turn to cross the Arthur A. Smith Covered Bridge.

Crossing the bridge I looped back to Foundry Brook and Village – this was a busy place using the North River.

and looping back, to the bridge again

and down Route 112 to Charlemont Road to find Stacy Road — stay with me.

Stacy Road would take you to the now abandoned village hill town of Catamount Hill within Colrain, but no longer. Talking with a hiker I could have gone further to a parking area, but I could tell he felt that would be ill advised. Probably why all the hikers’ trucks were behind this spot parked. Also no longer connecting are South Catamount Hill Road, and North Catamount Hill Road, which I later found off Heath Road. In my readings in January I found that it was here, in 1812,  that the first US flag was raised above an American Public School, and possibly the first over a building. Perfect for my June (tying in with Flag Day) Did You Know That… history article in my CLARION. More on that as time approaches, but I had to get close to the area. Possibly with mud gone, and in BB1 or BB2, I will go further, and then hike with walking stick.

On my list was next to see Adamsville village in Colrain, so back north I went heading there and then to see Heath and Rowe. I eventually turned around and headed back to the sign I saw saying Heath Road. “Must go to Heath,” Ray says to Ray. Passed a goat farm, rounded several bends, and started climbing. Did I say “hill town country?” Became dirt, Ray loves dirt, but wait. When mud takes over when you are still sharply climbing on a narrowing path, and the tires decide on their own where to steer – time to turn around. Twice in one day, what is happening to me?

Back down 112 then to Route 2, and west on the Mohawk Trail to Charlemont. Charlemont is an outdoorsman’s haven, but seen better days. Most buildings closed, but somehow Avery’s General Store has survived since 1861 and is considered the oldest continuously operating general store in New England. They did not have a deli for me to get a sandwich, but I did get an Asian Noodle salad from the cooler, and headed to a roadside spot that may be familiar, but here it is looking from the opposite direction to the east. I slid open the van’s side door, and enjoyed my salad and black cherry soda.

 

With much in the area to still explore – the Hoosac Tunnel and more remote villages – I checked out the two camping places on the Mohawk Trail. Sorry, not my forte with packed year round tin cans. Lady RAB III already has told me, “Ray, remote quiet spots, wooded and old-fashioned.” My future explorations in this area will be BB2 day-trips.

So passing 1,000 feet over the Hoosac Tunnel in Florida, I opted not to go down Central Shaft Road but continue to North Adams and find the location of Fort Massachusetts. The western most fort during the mid 1700s, on August 19, 1746, eight hundred French and Indian soldiers surrounded Fort Massachusetts and took prisoners to Canada. Rebuilt, but falling into disrepair and ultimately lost, a replica was built in the 1930s as a tourist attraction, and the DAR placed a plaque. The replica was demolished in 1970, and all that remains is the chimney. So, look for an abandoned Price Chopper parking lot, and in the rear is the preserved spot. Next trip I hope to see the plaque.

Then into Williamstown, south on my favorite US Route 7, through Pittsfield, into the Red Lion Inn’s parking lot, check in, unpack, and head to the porch to find this new enclosure of vinyl in custom aluminum frames – ingenious. Small heaters were also included, thus they could spread out tables for meals here and also on the side porch, which was not enclosed, but in use since it was in the 60s.

Dressed for dinner, enjoyed the lobby, slept, and breakfast (below) the next morning before heading off for my usual routine, plus a new exploration.

 

Staying for two nights, I have a whole day without unpacking and then packing. I have a routine, my day out may vary, but does hinge around some of the antique shops in the area. Always looking for presents for Ray, and books to sell to pay for those presents.

I bought some books, but sadly no new presents for Ray (maybe LADY RAB III and her towing companion fill the bill for awhile). But most important, at Great Finds, just seconds before I pulled away, Joe pulled up alongside me. I have known Joe for almost 25 years, Cathy and I first visiting, and buying books from him, at his “inn” in Connecticut. Timing is everything. We visited awhile, and will get together again soon.

After Millerton began the new adventure. North on NY Route 22 (another favorite road of mine) looking for Route 71 at Nobletown, to see the Knox Trail Monument. I could go on and on, and maybe will in a separate history article. But briefly, and most important, Henry Knox was a Boston Bookseller (just one more connection and thread in my life). In winning confidence from George Washington, Knox moved captured cannons from Crown Point and Fort Ticonderoga to Boston. His “noble train” took from November 17, 1775 to January 25, 1776. Placement of the cannons around Boston finally drove the British from holding the city. I learned of the Henry Knox Trail and his feats in my readings.  In 1927, 56 granite and bronze monuments were installed along Knox’s route in New York and Massachusetts to create the 300-mile-long Henry Knox Cannon Trail, one of the earliest heritage trails in the country. A new quest was begun, and I found the turn.

here is a close-up of the bronze plaque that appears on the New York State markers. Notice the tokens on top left by visitors.

east, two and a half miles, is the Massachusetts border. Massachusetts’ monuments take a different form, and the ones I visited later on are similar. But, on the back side, facing New York State, is the same bronze plaque as above.

and a close up of the bronze inset

further down Route 71 (five miles from the state line) is North Egremont. I had never been down this route before. Ironically one of the books I purchased earlier is a history of this small village and the work a local historian did correcting the route through this area using Knox’s diary. Here at the country store (where I purchased a muffin to eat on the bench) is the next marker.

and, a close up including a memorial to those lost on 911.

Next I passed through the village of South Egremont which I have visited before with Cathy. I go back even further in time here. September 15-16, 1963, almost 58 years ago, I drove up from Wilton in my 1929 Model A Ford Roadster to the now defunct Jug End Barn resort for a Model A Ford show. I took many pictures, but in checking my collection just now (yes I save almost everything), I only have one image of my Belzebuth there, below in the background (right) loaded with camping gear on the running board. Still struggling whether to sell or not sell my “new” ’29 Roadster.

another very important part of American history I am grasping to understand had its conclusion just down the road in Sheffield. Shay’s Rebellion (1786-1787) which exposed the weakness of the government under the Articles of Confederation and led many, including George Washington, to call for strengthening the federal government leading to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. So much more to learn, study, and keep me young. On Sheffield/Egremont Road (which was new to me, and I will traverse again) is this monument of the battle in the field behind the stone.

in this gallery below, if you click to enlarge you can read the history plaque that is here.

it was then back to the RLI parking lot, a walk around town, and return to the Inn to show you the new enclosure from the outside. It is tastefully done in my opinion.

It was then time to prepare for my further explorations along the Henry Knox Trail on the way home. Lots of good information on-line, many notes taken, and I probably will write more about Knox – hey he was a brother bookseller. I discovered that the writer of the series of books I purchased missed a location, off the main road. Yes, on my list to find.

Leaving on Friday the 12th (the three quarter century day) I headed back down US 7 to Great Barrington to head east on Route 23. At that intersection is another Massachusetts Henry Knox Trail marker. I bet very few people pay attention to historical markers.

The next marker is in Monterey where I have visited before, even have lunch inside the country store here during a great trip through in November 2014. I recommend you click, read, and follow that trip. Below is looking west from the marker to the village.

and, by now you know what the Massachusetts marker looks like.

it was then east to Blandford and a small park in front of the town garage.

surprise … no, actually I have been moving one marker from spot to spot.

the next marker, that the writer of my guide missed, was in Russell, so off I went to US 20 and Russell. But no marker. Checking my notes I found it was at the intersection of General Knox Road and South Quarter Road. So, I dictated into WAZE, and off I went – backtracking, making a turn off Route 23 to find this small rural intersection.

and the marker

I decided to skip finding the marker in busy Westfield, so headed north on Route 10 since I had not been on it in awhile. Do not need to do it again – too cosmopolitan and commercial for me. Back onto I-91, I always pull off and into Old Deerfield, and was hoping to buy a toy for Ray at the Museum shop. It has been closed the days over the past year when I have driven through. But, Friday, it had to be open – NOT – not until late April.

But also on the plan was to take the image below to help you win more drinks. One imagines that the buildings in Old Deerfield are all in situ, but there is an exception – Hall’s Tavern, now the visitors center.

Driving down the Mohawk Trail from Shelburne Falls, just before East Charlemont you will see a field and farm – Halls Tavern Farm. Yes, in my readings I found that the Tavern (c1760) was originally here, and moved in 1949, 20 miles to the Deerfield site where a tavern stood until burning in 1799. You may share you winnings with me any time – chardonnay is fine.

RAY RECOMMENDS

1 – Do not stop reading and learning. One thing leads to another, and new explorations and experiences are right in your back yard, or easy day trips.

2 – Add an over night or two, and stop and look at the markers, for again the learning continues. Simply maintain an active mind and intellectual curiosity.

3 – Just don’t stop.

 

Posted in The Red Lion Inn, Stockbridge, Massachusetts | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

TWO PLUS WEEK REPORT — 21 FEBRUARY 2021

I enjoy writing. I write to remember. I write for enjoyment. And, I enjoy writing to share. This past week I have done a great deal of writing for the March issue of my CLARION newspaper, and I cannot stop the words from flowing to my fingers and the keyboard. So, here are some more words, and there is absolutely no obligation to follow from one to the next. Last I reported to you on 4 February when I had a great SERENDIPITOUS SNOWY SOJOURN, complete with lunch overlooking the West Arlington Covered Bridge. And, here are some happenings since that time.

You had better remember that LADY RAB III joined my harem in November. Impulsive – possibly. Smart – most likely in view of travels during COVID, even in 2021. But not without some trepidations. GiGi (Granite Girl) has a towing rating to tow LADY RAB III, but not much margin of error for tough pulls, and we do have some hills here in New England. Did I do the right thing? Lost sleep, concern, what should I do? Get a larger tow vehicle? A possibility that entered the back of my mind. Yes, a possibility, but where do I begin? But things just happen.

I need some groceries to fill out the cupboard for another ten days, so on Friday, 12 February I headed to Lisai’s. Always liking to see what is new in different areas, I ventured north on the east side of the river, and came home on the west side. Passing Westminster (VT) Auto (since 1989) a pick-up truck caught my eye. I checked their website once home – under $8k, new engine, wow. I went back Saturday morning. The truck parked near the road was different, but the one I read about was around on the side. Quick look, and I went inside to chat with Vernon. “It is a two-wheel drive,” he replied to my question as to why it had been on the lot so long. “Everyone now wants four-wheel drive.” I learned the history, what work had been done, and made arrangements to have it checked out at Tole’s on Monday the 15th. Short story shortened, truck checked, back to the lot, negotiations with more “fixes” included, and LADY RAB III now has a new playmate for $7,300. And, with luck our travel towing trepidations are solved. Now close to having a different vehicle for each day of the week.

So, next on the schedule was another Landmark Trust USA escape – this time to the Sugarhouse for three nights from the 16th to the 19th. This was great, and a needed respite 25 minutes and a world away from home. I love being home, but I needed to get away to isolate and read and write. How can you not love hiding out in this environment?

I cannot sing higher praises about Landmark Trust’s properties. They have done everything right, plus. Now having stayed at three of their properties, with authority I can say: impeccably clean, fantastic themed decorations for each property, the finest of kitchen equipment, bedding and linens top line, and the ambience and settings unequaled. Not being able to take images the quality they share on their website – please click on this link for a full appreciation of the Sugarhouse. Only thing missing was the young lady on the couch waiting for me.

I settled in Tuesday night, and started writing. I set up three “work areas.” The round oak table, the writing desk, and the couch. I ended up “working” most of the time at the claw-footed round oak table. Wednesday I finished up my March “Did You Know That…” article, and then headed down to pick up two luncheon specials at Panda North. Even though Landmark’s kitchens are perfect, I brought with me some frozen left-overs from various casseroles I had made. The Panda’s luncheon specials are about half the price of dinners, so I could not resist, and easy to microwave (did I say the kitchens are fully equipped? Yes, but just reiterating).  And, then it was off to Keene for my first COVID shot. Yesterday I wrote of that experience to share with others so they know what to expect. It will be in the March CLARION, but since that is a week away I posted the article on-line, and it has been read almost 200 times so far — click here for that article. Thursday was an all day of reading (THE CONNECTICUT by Walter Hard, 1947, part of the Rivers of American Series), and writing. I watched movies Wednesday and Thursday nights on my “big screen.” Gary suggested I again see 1941 — and I did with laughs all the way through.

Awaking about 6AM on Friday there had only been a light dusting of snow, but soon it got heavier. Check-out time is 10AM, I planned on reading until then, but with books to ship, decided it wisest to get out of the Dummerston hills sooner. Remember the snow when I left Kipling’s Carriage House in January? Well, now again.

I cannot wait to get back in warm weather and have a fourth “work area” inside this screened in area overlooking the apple orchards.

bye, snow and all

and, I also wish to enjoy the bucolic and historic Scott Farm – headquarters of Landmark Trust USA. Beautiful even in a snowy mist.

What is next? Each day is different, and gone before I know it, packed with projects that emerge. I do have a RLI date, was thinking of postponing, but now thinking I won’t. Did I say I enjoy writing? Ideas flash through my mind, and last week some words and problems creatively came together. Those thoughts began to ferment as I was falling asleep, but coming downstairs my fingers began to move quickly on a keyboard. The result, Peeves and Other Indignations. Sending it off to friends, they called in hysterics. Number Two Son (in birth order) emailed and said, “Awesome. 😉 You’re like the Andy Rooney of Walpole!” I have another jelling in my mind – Pillows. So, again, no obligation, but here is that bit of writing just below. Stay safe and stay well, and thank you for getting this far, as always yours, RAY

PET PEEVES, AND OTHER INDIGNATIONS

I have been accused of not being flexible – but that is not the case (except for my aging frame). But, if not being in favor of change is being inflexible, particularly at the grocery store, then I am inflexible.

When did you last push your cart down the aisle 12 feet, stop, turn left and reach for a 64 ounce jug of V-8 Juice, only to find it not there? It has always been there – just below eye level, swing your arm out, open fingers, clamp down, and move to cart. Scanning the shelves left to right, up and down begins. Tears well up. Finally, hidden on the bottom shelf paces away, I see it. I guess they aren’t paying up for shelf space, I ponder. Decades ago I ran the Navy Commissary Program with 89 grocery stores around the world, so I know something about the business, enough “to be dangerous.” But it gets worse. Trying to be flexible (the body remember) to get down to the bottom shelf, I discover: 100% Vegetable Juice (now ‘original’); 100% Vegetable Juice Low Sodium; Spicy Hot; High Fiber; Low Sodium Spicy Hot; Hint of Black Pepper Vegetable Juice. It is hard work making sure you transfer only your customary ‘original’ into your cart. And, then being careful that someone has not messed up the shelves, and the second jug you pluck is “spicy hot.” By experience, not my choice.

Forget the fact that a product has been relocated on another shelf. Add to that a change in packaging and I am lost. Don’t they realize, if I cannot see the package I have trudged home for years, that equates to lost sales? With luck, I may see the “new and improved” (their words) packaging, but is it really? And is it the same product inside? And is the price the same, but for less product? Maybe I am not flexible. This is not a one-time occurrence. Just think of your own frustrating grocery searches.

But not just the grocery. I wanted some more Tylenol to help my not so flexible body. I carefully wrote down all the detailed information on my bottle: 500mg, Coated, Extra Strength, 225 tablets — it is the red tablets I like as they go down easily (maybe I am not flexible). Trip to Walgreens, needed refill prescriptions anyway. Maybe eight feet of shelf space devoted to Tylenol just below eye level with more choices on the shelves below. I have trouble if I have to choose between chocolate and vanilla. This was too much. I assumed the hole on the shelf was where my choice (and that of everyone else) was. Have you ever counted up the time wasted scanning shelves and repeated trips to the store? Looking for Tylenol on Amazon once home was no easier, and did not result in an addition to cart and purchase.

Latest indignation? I have been “short sheeted.” You have probably been as well. Manufacturers, always opportunists, have utilized the pandemic to line their coffers. Actually, now having spent hours pondering this problem and comparing packages, although still an adequate “comfort level” I have been “short sheeted” with my latest toilet tissue paper procurement.

Starting a year ago you could not find a sliver of tissue, but I was in a good stock position. There was no choice on those shelves for months – no decision has to be made when there is nothing there. One visit there was a sleeve of an off brand – it went home with me. Each rare visit (I live alone) to the big city (Keene) store I check the shelves, and recently there was one small package of Angel Soft. It flew into my cart. Yesterday a roll needed replenishing. I opened the package. Something did not seem right. I went to replace the roll, and it struck me — the new roll was 1/8 of an inch shorter (I have what I call “a printer’s eye” and can spot small dimension problems). Those cheapskates. Still enough cover to do the job, but I feel cheated. I pulled the old wrapper of what I have purchased for years out of the recycling bag to compare all the stats – Angel Soft 2-Ply, 36 Double, 4 inch by 4 inch. On the new package, there it was, fine print, 3.8 inch by 4.0 inch. It just adds up to more confusion and frustration. Maybe I am getting too old. But I guess if it gives me more to write about I want to get frustrated and old.

On 22 February, one of my faithful readers, Lauren, emailed saying — Haha! I enjoyed your update. And your story at the end reminded me of when they completely rearranged the layout of our Target about a year and a half ago. I knew where everything was in the store, and how to get in and out as quickly as possible before my toddler lost patience with her temporary shopping cart prison. I was so upset when they literally rearranged the entire store, scrambling all the departments into a different order for who knows what reason. New shelving, new flooring, new layout…it was a construction zone mess for a good while, and then on top of that I couldn’t find anything anymore! In commiserating with the employees who also had to figure everything out all over again, I found out they were just as annoyed as we the shoppers were!

To which, I had to reply, more words and chuckles flowing — Yesterday I visited “… Lisai’s in Bellows Falls – a nice (almost 100 year old) family food market. I first stopped at their earlier Chester location, to get some cans while camping in Vermont in 1963 in my Model A Ford.

Well, a tad more expensive for routine stuff, but the best meats, and great people in the store, and I get to avoid the “big city” stores. Yesterday I get to the deli corner and reach for the home made cookies — but no, where are they? And there is a floor case there now rather than shelves. The young deli girl walks by, “where are my cookies?”  “We moved a few things around for a change, they are right at the front door when you enter,” she replied.

I go back to the front – there are the shelves with those baked goods – right where you should stumble into them. But, with focused shopping knowing where everything is supposed to be, I would never have seen them. I wonder where they will be next month? First product relocation there that I am aware of. I guess every couple decades it is alright, but not during my shopping experience.”

Who is next to share their tale of woe, frustration and hysterics (both good laughs and tears of hysteria)?

 

Posted in Day (or maybe two) Trips | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

SERENDIPITOUS SNOWY SOJOURN – 4 FEBRUARY 2021

When a back roader (me) finds a road back of his favorite back road (US Route 7A) you cannot imagine the resulting euphoria. And there is a backstory to this serendipitous snowy sojourn. It all started buying some books a couple weeks ago. The majority of the collection was books on Vermont. I buy books that I feel I can find a new home for, and also do not mind owning forever, and maybe even reading, or at least browsing through. One book is this collection was ROBERT TODD LINCOLN’S HILDENE AND HOW IT WAS SAVED 1975-1978. It was fascinating detailing how the home of Abraham Lincoln’s surviving son’s home was saved and turned into a historic museum. It detailed the property, and some facts I did not know. I love placing things on Google Maps, and in doing so discovered some roads between US Route 7A (the original road) and the (UGH) super slab US Route 7 bypass (that to be honest, helped protect the area). In over five decades of touring this area I had not been on, nor was aware of, these roads. A plan was hatched, reading done, and weather reports watched. February 4 looked like the day – I was on the road at 9AM. As you can see in my images, it was afternoon before the haze broke in the skies.

I headed across Vermont on Route 11 towards Manchester, but prior to entering Manchester Center turned south on Richville Road (I cannot find the origin of this road’s name). This road eventually runs along the Battenkill River in the valley between US 7 and US 7A. The first connector road to historic 7A is Union Street, and I turned right (west). Where else but in Manchester would a road run between two golf courses? To the north, The Golf Club at Equinox – designed in 1927 – and on the south, Ekwanok Country Club – founded in 1899. At the top of Union Street is the Equinox Hotel. I now know how locals avoid the ugly declining outlet stores and traffic rotary in Manchester Center.

Equinox Hotel, Manchester, VT

Mary Lincoln spent two summers here with her sons. Robert was introduced to the area. Mary planned to return with her husband in the summer of 1865, and the hotel began building a presidential suite. John Wilkes Booth’s action killed that plan as well. The inn was essentially abandoned and falling down by 1972, but saved from destruction, and following a $20 million restoration, the Equinox reopened in July 1985 as a year-round resort hotel and conference center.  Cathy and I had dinner here in the late 1990s, just as my first herniated disk broke loose.

Next door to the north is the former home of the Johnny Appleseed Bookstore. The shop was run by legendary author and bookseller Walter Hard. Time to re-read my copy of A Memory of Vermont. Our Life in the Johnny Appleseed Bookshop by his wife, Margaret. Ages ago I did get to see inside the shop before it ceased to operate.

Former home – Johnny Appleseed Bookshop.

Turning around and heading back east on Union Street, I turned south once back at Richville Road. Richville dead ends on River Road where I turned north to find the school house mentioned in the book on Hildeen.

continuing on, I came to the entrance to the Wilburton Mansion, and turned in. Remember my tour there in 2017? I need to return and stay.

and, coming back down their drive are these expansive views of the valley which you cannot appreciate with leaves on the trees. In this gallery (remember you can click to enlarge) the image on the right is looking off to the hilltop to Hildene.

Continuing back south on River Road it becomes Sunderland Hill Road. Sunderland is the next town south before Arlington. From google maps I saw a cross road, Hill Farm Road. And this is where the Hill Farm Inn is located. It was another great stop on that Manchester holiday tour in 2017.

looping  back to the “back road” – Sunderland Hill Road – perfection soon appeared in the form of the Chiselville Covered Bridge.

 

 

With clearance supposedly of eight feet and six inches, I am not sure if LADY RAB III would make it through. Don’t think I will chance it. Chiselville you ask? I hope you do. Well click on the image to the right to read the sign at the bridge to learn.

 

Crossing through the bridge heading south I had to turn down the dead end Chiselville Road. I did not trespass into a yard to see the gorge the bridge crosses – but guess it is spectacular. Of course, you could not even get this image in the summer.

So continuing south where do you end up? East Arlington, and tears for Ray. Yes, I had visited East Arlington in the 70s and 80s, but once retired (hate that word) from the Navy, and was a full-time bookseller, one of my first scouting trips included East Arlington – it was packed with antique shops – but no more. In the first image in the gallery below there was an antique shop on the second floor with the entrance through the red door. Bought many books, and a 3 foot high RCA Nipper Dog that I did real well with. The next two images are of antique shops now vacant, and the last shop (in the old movie theater) was amazing. Whenever I entered the owner greeted me by name (even if a year had passed), and said he remembered Cathy as well. Did I say teary eyed memories?

One of the joys I have is planning a trip — almost as much fun as the execution. I knew that when I left East Arlington I would stop at the deli in Arlington and pick up a bite to eat. And, where do you eat during COVID? In West Arlington, of course. But sorry Ms. T., I did not clean off a picnic table, but savored my sandwich behind the wheel while also savoring this view.

My journey west to West Arlington was on the north side of the Battenkill River on Route 113, but heading back east I traversed River Road for the first time in winter. Need to do it again.

Now for some history – interesting history to win you more drinks at the bar. Below is the sign you see entering Arlington on 7A from the south.

Yes, the First Capital of Vermont. But put this into perspective. Vermont was the Independent Republic of Vermont for 14 years, and not part of the new United States until 1791. Thus, going a tad further you could say that Arlington is a former nation’s Capital. Portions of your winnings graciously accepted.

 

Back in “downtown” Arlington is this sign explaining that Governor Thomas Chittenden lived in this spot. It is not clear (at least to me) if it was this home, built in 1764, or one just to the east (behind it) that was the Governor’s. However, looking west from this spot legend has it that a tall pine stood – the pine that became the state seal in 1779. A sugar maple (tree on the left in image below) now towers from that spot.

 

 

Directly next door to the north is this old Gothic church. In the late 80s this was a Norman Rockwell museum. The old red sign can be seen leaning against the side of the building. At that time Rockwell models from Arlington staffed the museum and related stories of sitting for the illustrator. I am sorry I do not remember what they told me.

At the north end of Main Street (US 7A), but do not blink, is The Arlington Inn. Cathy and I were staying there when that disk popped at dinner at the Equinox. Our hosts encouraged us to leave, and fast, not wanting to be blamed for the mishap. But, now 25 years later I know it is just my deteriorating frame. In my preliminary planning for this excursion I found the Inn is now for sale for $1.6M. I decided not to make an offer – I have my eyes on river front property instead.

Next up the road heading back towards Manchester is the Battenkill Camping Ground. In the 70s and 80s I had a tent trailer camper, and several times stayed directly on the river here with the kids.

Another cross road between 7A and Sunderland Hill Road was around the bend, and I had to see it also. Laver Road — so glad I went up and back.

 

Back on 7A I decided to snap these two images. For a long weekend in the late 1980s I rented this house with the Battenkill in the backyard. Trying to decide what to do post US Navy Supply Corps, I decided having a bookstore in the barn would be perfect in this area. I toured the barn, and decided upon naming my shop Battenkill Books.  But, now the barn is but a stone foundation.

Did I say I have spent a great deal of time in this beautiful area? Next heading north, in Sunderland, is – The Ira Allen House, a B&B. It was built by Ethan Allen, of Green Mountain Boys fame and Ira Allen (Ethan’s brother) who was the Surveyor-General of Vermont. Cathy and I stayed here on two different occasions traveling up from the shop in Connecticut.

Remember it was reading the book on saving Hildene that prompted this sojourn? About 12 years ago Scott, Betty, Rich and I toured Hildene in the winter, and then cross-country skied on the grounds. I had to pull in the long drive. I took a look at the gift shop, and snapped this view of Mt. Equinox.

What a great outing, and even nicer with a bright sky. Heading home I swung through Peru (in Vermont that is) which is always a treat.

and in Simonsville was able to catch this view of Rowell’s Inn. Cathy and I never made it there, but I did start enjoying dinners there with BLACK. BEAUTY and BLUE BELLE. It was a place were “everyone knew my name.” But, more tears, not well run (but great food), the bank foreclosed. Vacant for years, last I heard a bakery was to open, but it appears that has not happened and some deterioration continues.

Back into Chester, stop at the antique center. But, alas, it is getting hard to spend money – nothing even tempted me. But in Bellows Falls I did get to spend some coins at Lisai’s, and am set with meals for a week plus.

A wonderful six and a half hour outing, rejuvenating, nostalgic, and I maybe some touring ideas for you. But, remember I write for myself to remember, but do like to share.

Stay well and stay safe – my first shot is on the 17th — as always, yours, RAY

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CHANGE OF SCENERY – 13-16 JANUARY 2021

For safety, of course, options for travel, diners out, movies, and the like are limited, and best should simply be avoided. But a CHANGE OF SCENERY can help, and I have found a great way (for me) to enjoy a rejuvenating change. You may recall that scenery change in November was at the Amos Brown House, an hour (and two centuries) away. This week’s escape was 25 minutes away at Kipling’s Carriage House. Gary again joined me. We both drove directly from home, no stops, and spent three days, interacting with no one – not even a moose or squirrel or mouse.

In June 2015, having read about Rudyard Kipling in Vermont, BLUE BELLE and I decided

NAULAKHA – Dummerston, Vermont

we needed to explore Kipling Road in Dummerston, Vermont. There we saw NAULAKHA, built by Kipling in 1893.  It is in this house that Kipling wrote CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS, THE JUNGLE BOOKS, A DAY’S WORK, and THE SEVEN SEAS. He also worked on KIM and THE JUST SO STORIES. But more importantly, I then became familiar with Landmark Trust USA. And, then was fortunate to learn of a tour in 2019 of Naulakha. I wrote about that experience in “A JEWEL BEYOND PRICE” – NAULAKHA – A VERMONT TREASURE.  Friends and I had a great time that afternoon.

Returning from the Amos Brown House I knew I had to experience more of Landmark Trust’s exquisite properties, and I booked Kipling’s Carriage House, seen below 13 January 2021 from Kipling Road, and coming up the drive.

and, placing you between Kipling’s home and the Carriage House. I decided to not even try to capture how great this property is, but recommend you browse the professional images of the interior on Landmark’s page for the Kipling Carriage House.

Wednesday night we had dinner (I had made casseroles at home to make it even more relaxing while there – and easier with your own kitchen even though Landmark’s kitchens are amazing and well outfitted). We then figured out how to use the new screen I had purchased following our not having a screen watching movies with my new projector at the Amos Brown House. Laughs at our “new theater” followed before bedtime.

Michele, of Landmark, told me no one would be at Kipling’s home until Friday, so we could enjoy the rhododendron tunnel if we wished. And, we so wished and did Thursday.

above is looking at the tunnel from the porch, and below another “rocking chair study.”

The tunnel is a unique experience, having now been through in June and January. Can’t wait until a visit in full bloom.

you can certainly tell it was overcast during our entire visit. At the end of the tunnel is this gazebo. This view looks over the tennis courts towards distant “hills” in New Hampshire.

you probably remember you can click on my “galleries” for larger images.

and, passing the entryway to NAULAKHA, back “home” for the rest of the day.

Gary had work, and Zoom meetings, and I had writing projects and reading. He got his work done, but I did not. As usual I brought more to do than time to do it – when will I learn? I brought books (eleven in total) for three writing projects, along with related folders of information, and reading material. Also a pile of old antiques magazines to cull out articles to save – well, maybe another year. I thought at least I would finish a Josie Prescott “antique mystery.” Maybe tonight, Sunday. So, after diner? More of our “mindless” movies and shows.

Friday we both “worked” in the morning, and following lunch I had a circular route to drive – up Kipling Road, past Scott Farm (headquarters of Landmark Trust USA), roam around Dumerston Center, then west to cross the West River, down Route 30 to Brattleboro, and back up US 5 and back up Black Mountain Road, and “home.” First here is Scott Farm, a filming location of The Cider House Rules. The movie also features Ventfort Hall in Lenox, Massachusetts, which I have toured twice, and opens at the Bellows Fall train station.

Scott Farm – Dumerston, Vermont

we spotted a couple of these educational bee displays

my next “Change of Scenery” is already booked at The Sugar House

You have heard me say that a drive is different each time you take it, well a different season makes bigger differences. With leaves on the trees I could never share with you this southerly looking view of Vermont’s longest covered bridge across the West River.

Driving down Route 30, on the other side of the river was obviously an old railroad bed, something also too hard to see with leaves out. Back at the carriage house, and googling to learn I got my answer. The West River Railroad. Fascinating, I had read about the museum opening, but missed the day. And, a book I can always quickly sell – Thirty-Six Miles of Trouble – is about this short route. Can’t wait to find my next copy.

Back “home” – I defrosted the vegetarian chile I had made, and then it was back to “movie time.” Ended up being a seven hour marathon with a Gilligan’s Island Documentary, Delta House episodes, something I cannot remember, and to prove we are not totally “mindless” The Cider House Rules — hey we were right there, so had to.

my new ten foot screen (well you know they measure diagonally) is great, as is my blue-tooth speaker. Gary is ready to start.

 

 

It was about 1 AM when we decided to save the last two Delta House episodes for another “movie night,” and turned in. I was aware something had happened early morning, and getting out of bed at 7AM confirmed it was a loss of power. But I started packing, and got back to my mystery. Gary soon found me downstairs with an emergency lamp. Did I tell you Landmark Trust thinks of everything? (PS – great image, thanks, Gary – and it can be enlarged by clicking)

 

And looking out the door, there had been a heavy wet snow fall that probably knocked out the power.

Do you remember my recommendations following our stay at the Amos Brown house? Well, I am simply going to repeat them:

RAY RECOMMENDS – NO STRONGLY RECOMMENDS:

1- Visit Landmark Trust USA and review the exquisitely restored properties you may rent and experience.
2- Spend your money for experiences and memories
3- Document those experiences and memories such as I do. You have no idea how much pleasure I get rereading what I have done, particularly now when our travels are impacted by COVID-19
4- Did I say book a stay at a Landmark property? Book a stay at a Landmark property, just don’t bump me from getting back, and back soon.

Stay well, wear your mask, and stay safe. Love, RAY

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IT STARTED WITH A COW IN 1796

9 January 2021, and no travels to write about. I do have a few quiet “get-aways” planned, but simply spots to read, research and write. And, even though I love home, it is nice to have a change of scenery too.

But do not fear as to my keeping busy. I have outlines for two books to write, and as you know I publish my history articles, “Did You Know That…?”, in each issue of my newspaper, THE WALPOLE CLARION. In fact, I am currently working on four of this year’s articles, and just finished my article for February. My insatiable curiosity and research takes me down many routes, and I get side-tracked along the way on new paths of discovery. Sounds like my “shunpiking” in BLUE BELLE and BLACK BEAUTY, doesn’t it?

With many of my history articles I try to relate them to something current, and that is what happened as my February article formulated in my mind, and then on “electronic paper.” Close friends know I awake with thoughts, and this morning’s thought was to share my article on the development of the smallpox vaccine with you. Lessons to learn, lessons to share, and hopefully positive actions will result, especially from those who are skeptics on science and vaccines. Stay safe, stay well, as always, yours, RAY

Did You Know That…

…the word ‘vaccine’ comes from the Latin word for cow, reflecting the origins of smallpox vaccination? My curiosity research takes me down many different routes. In re-studying the French and Indian Wars, on a map of Rogers Island in the Hudson River I saw marked “Smallpox Hospital.” During the war, Rogers Island (yes, Rogers Rangers), and the adjoining Fort Edward, made up the third largest community in North America after New York City and Boston. The island and fort are situated where the river makes its turn south at a point due south of Lake Champlain. The Lake Champlain Canal now joins the Hudson River at this point.

(for this post I have included a view of Rogers Island and Fort Edwards that you can click to enlarge. Most people probably have not thought about it, but the Hudson River originates in the Adirondack Mountains, finally turning south at this point.)

 

There was no cure for Smallpox in the 1750s when the hospital was established on Rogers Island. The sick were left to die. Smallpox came from Europe to North America in the 1600s. Its introduction to the New World decimated the native population. In 1721, Boston, with a population of 11,000, had more than 6,000 cases. At least 850 people died from the disease. Eventually it was understood transmission occurred from inhalation of the airborne Variola virus, usually from oral or nasal cavity droplets. Transmission was from one person to another, primarily through face-to-face contact, and within a distance of six feet. Sound familiar?

But you ask, what’s with the cow, and how did vaccines begin? See how one thing can lead to another? Centuries ago, someone noticed that nobody became ill with smallpox more than once. Those who had smallpox and survived the high mortality rate were protected for life. Dairymaids were heard to say, “I shall never have smallpox for I have had cowpox. I shall never have an ugly pockmarked face.” It was commonly believed that dairymaids were in some way protected from smallpox. In May 1796, Edward Jenner found a young dairymaid, Sarah Nelms, who had fresh cowpox lesions on her hands and arms. The cowpox sores were similar to those of smallpox.

Using matter from Nelms’ lesions, he inoculated an 8-year-old boy, James Phipps. At that time, fresh matter would be taken from a ripe pustule (a small blister or pimple) of an infected person and rubbed on another, often through a cut made in the skin. Soon James developed mild fever and discomfort. In nine days he felt cold and had lost his appetite. But, the next day he was much better. Experimenting further, in July 1796, Jenner inoculated the boy again, this time with matter from a fresh smallpox lesion. No disease developed, and Jenner concluded that protection was complete.  

At first, inoculation (vaccination) was accomplished by inserting or rubbing powdered smallpox scabs or fluid from pustules from an infected person into superficial scratches made in the skin of another. Piston syringes for delivering ointments and creams for medical use were used almost 2,000 years ago. In the 19th century, hypodermic syringes were large needles that could rust or snap in two. Glass barrels could be used, but cracked. Tips of these crude syringes leaked.

Before disposable needles were developed in the 1960s, needles needed to be sharpened and sterilized. Those of us growing up in the 1950s and 60s can remember the painful puncture and sting of those needles. But, since then, needles have become thinner and sharper, and you hardly feel a thing, if at all.  

Cowpox served as a natural vaccine until the modern smallpox vaccine emerged in the 19th century. In 1967, the World Health Organization (WHO) launched an intensified plan to eradicate smallpox. Widespread immunization was conducted around the world, with the last known natural case in Somalia in 1977. In 1980, WHO declared smallpox eradicated – the only infectious disease to achieve this distinction. And achieved with science and vaccinations.

(Copyright: Ray Boas 2021)

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CHRISTMASES PAST — LOOKING BACK on 24 DECEMBER 2020

To Write About Something is to Live it Twice”

And, I am glad that I have, and can. I have told you that I “write for myself to remember,” but also to share. This holiday season, (like everyone else) I have not been able to get out for holiday activities and events. Well, to be truthful, what I have enjoyed doing in the past has been cancelled for this COVID year. But, I have been enjoying my previous holiday adventures rereading them, and a compiling them here for my pleasure. You may wish to browse through also, clicking on the links to my previous holiday adventures, and enjoy. Let me take you back through nine years of holiday posts. You may (please) click on the linked “red” titles for the full posts.

MERRY CHRISTMAS from “44” – 24 DECEMBER 2019

 

the above image I included from 29 December 2016. One thing I love about Walpole is that not much has changed since the late 19th century. The Gazebo is new in the past 14 or so years, but the same each year.

Following our massive snow fall (over two feet) on 17 December 2020, Larry and Celia Slason sent me the below image for the CLARION, and I need to share it here also – click for a large size.

how can you not love it?

One thing I will not see this year is the live Nativity following Christmas Eve church services. You know that this is how that story ends.

For a number of years I have put my “trees” out. Not as many this year, but I did buy four more, “new to me.” One is now in the shop, and three that I found at the Stone House Antique Center are on the mantle in the front informal parlor where I enjoy them each evening. Below is on the island in my kitchen.

Holiday traditions help make the holidays special. With friends I have enjoyed traveling from Inn to Inn in nearby Vermont seeing decorations and sampling goods. I miss that this year, but here is the link to last year’s

OKEMO VALLEY INNDULGENCE TOUR 2019
8 DECEMBER 2019

and, an image below when we finished the tour at Grafton . Do click the link above for decorations and snowy scenes.

 

For my newspaper, THE WALPOLE CLARION, I wrote an article about the history of candles in windows. I have not found out what website picked up the story and linked to it but I have had over 3,700 views from all over the world, most of those views in the past several months. You know I write to share, so take a look at –

CANDLES IN THE WINDOW
THE HISTORY BEHIND

 

 

This event below was really something different and special –

TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS
SANTA’S LAND – AND MORE
25 NOVEMBER 2018

The event at the Harkness House in Springfield, Vermont, was exceptional and festive. I would happily do it again. At the end of this post I provided some recommendations for holiday events – things I had done in the past, and still hoped to do, many “still on the list.”

A Merry Christmas to all

 

I am really disappointed that I could not again experience these events that I enjoyed in December 2017, but again, I have my posts –

HOLIDAY EXPLORATIONS – GETTING YOU IN THE MOOD
6 and 9 DECEMBER 2017

This post includes the holiday festivities at Storrowton Village in Springfield, Massachusetts, and the Manchester (Vermont) Holiday Inn Tour.  The tour in Manchester was similar to the “Inndulgence Tours,” but further “west” in Manchester, and great.

Here are some “teasers” so hopefully you will click the link above:

 

Next in 2017 I visited one of my favorite places of enjoyment – Old Sturbridge Village for:

CHRISTMAS BY CANDLELIGHT
OLD STURBRIDGE VILLAGE – 2017

Here in the parson’s house is The Ghost of Christmas Present who greeted you. He was decked out in his finery and mounds of food – faithfully replicating the original illustration in the first edition of A CHRISTMAS CAROL. This post you should visit for holiday decorations, circa 1830, and then a tour of my trees at “44.”

I ended the year back in Massachusetts visiting Ventfort Hall in Lenox, Massachusetts; and, yes, just down the road – The Red Lion Inn. Below the link are just a few images from this great excursion, so click and take a look (only the first is Ventfort Hall):

YEAR END HOLIDAY HURRAHS
28 and 30 DECEMBER 2017

 

The post below was a trip to Strawbery Banke in Portsmouth, but while there I discovered a Festival of Trees nearby. Lots of wonderful decoration ideas. I really enjoyed this stop, and if you have time, click on this link and scroll down past Thanksgiving at Strawbery Banke to gaze in amazement.

 

PORTSMOUTH (NH) HOLIDAY PREPARATIONS
19-20 NOVEMBER 2017

 

Just a leisurely drive can refresh and get you in the mood. I enjoy an old country store in Fairlee, Vermont, and the The Grafton Inn never disappoints:

HOLIDAY GREETINGS and TRADITIONS
19-20 DECEMBER 2016

But what about Plymouth Notch, you ask? This post is GREAT with GREAT IMAGES – just ask me. No, just click and visit with me:

CHRISTMAS CELEBRATION IN PLYMOUTH NOTCH
10 DECEMBER 2016

Images so great, in fact, that the Vermont Tourism Board used my image below on some of their advertising.

 

NOT YOUR NORMAL ELF

 

I attended the Christmas celebrations in Plymouth Notch several years, and for a number of visits there was a special holiday hat contest following a hat fashion show given by the Black River Historical Society. Guess who was a top winner?

And, you may also enjoy the 2013 visit for Christmas at Plymouth Notch using this link:

PLYMOUTH NOTCH, VERMONT 15 DECEMBER 2013

 

 

If you have followed my posts these past almost ten years, you know I like images through windows, shadows, and texture.

 

Below is the first “Inndulgence Tour” – and it was fantastic — please click on this link and travel along with an great ending at The Grafton Inn. (the images directly below are at The Castle in Proctorsville).

INN-DULGENCE TOUR – OKEMO VALLEY, VERMONT
3 DECEMBER 2016

and at the out of the way  Blue Gentian Lodge near Magic Mountain.

I do hope you take some time, and take a look at these posts to enjoy some of the holidays I have enjoyed. I know that I will be looking back through several times tonight and tomorrow.

MERRY CHRISTMAS
HAPPY NEW YEAR

Please Stay Safe, and Stay Well
Love, RAY

and, another of my favorites taken at “The Castle”

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HOME and into HIBERNATION — 5 DECEMBER 2020 – 1965 AIRSTREAM CARAVEL

There is just so much you can do as winter approaches, and Dr. Dewey was at the perfect stopping point as the snows approached his high elevation in Weston. “Time to wrap it up,” he advised. The messed up plumbing system was removed, we researched and emailed back and forth, and in developing a fix, Dewey emailed, “I have a vision.”

Would you believe I found LADY RAB III only two weeks ago? So much has transpired, and I have learned so much. The plan was that Bruce, the previous owner, would help and move her across the river when Dewey was done. I called him Thursday night, and he said, “Ray I know why you are calling, but I can’t.” His mother, age 92, fell and had 25 stitches and was waiting to go into hip surgery. I emailed Dewey saying that in the morning I would call David C., my now retired sports car diagnostician, for help. But, I know people’s email habits. David C. is on-line emailing early in the morning, so I sent him a note late at night asking for help. When I checked my emails Friday at 6:30 AM, David had replied at 6:24 saying he could not, but call his son, Patrick, who was waiting to hear from me. Patrick is another mechanical star, and woke up BLUE BELLE from an 18 year nap in two hours when I bought her. Patrick said, “let me plan my day, and I will call you back.” We met just before noon and headed across the river and up into the hills.

The clouds were ominous as Patrick hooked up. Fun visit with Dewey, and off we went.

there is something magical about seeing and following an iconic Airstream, but especially a vintage one, and even better if it is yours. But even better is being off somewhere in yours escaping what COVID may be left in 2021.

Arriving at “44” before 3PM, Patrick expertly backed her in alongside the shop, thus leaving space for snow to be plowed if need be.

But not 18 hours later, and before snow, Doug arrived to move her for me into his storage space.

but an easy two plus blocks from me, on a former farm property, this is LADY RAB’s “hibernation den” in front of Doug’s rig.

I will have to learn how to do this

to be able to slide “my baby” between a concrete cow trough and boat. Well, not that tight, but I need to be good. Already have on my Amazon wishlist a wireless backup camera to mount on LADY RAB

Doug’s 28 footer sees a possible meal.

and, off I headed home, but to return for visits. My new LED battery operated camping light (that I ordered last night) arrived at the post office today – but I had not planned on going when others can go. The light will allow me to sit in LADY RAB and gloat and dream.

And, how many trips did you make to Weston, Vermont in the past two weeks? I made four enjoyable trips, and on 2 December I made my third one to see the crazy redo of the waste lines. Guess who was waiting to see me?

LADY RAB – 1965 Airstream Caravel

below is the mess of incorrect and non-functioning piping that Dr. Dewey found. It is no more.

he also pulled the toilet, and moving some boxes that had probably been in the closet for  at least seven years, he discovered a pipe that black tape did not stop from leaking. Wonder why? Now I know why some of the plywood walls have flaked.

Former owner, Bruce, pulled up the drive and greeting us exclaimed, “I had a feeling you guys were at it.”

Here is Dewey (on the right) showing Bruce the breaks he found in the bumper. Dewey has the bumper for the winter, and it will look like new when he is done.

if you remember what the tongue looked like before, it is all cleaned up now. My original propane tanks have been tested and certified. That is great, you know I like original. Oh, Dewey, before I forget to tell you. Both Patrick and Doug have fancy trucks with all sorts of devices. Doug’s truck told him there was a problem somewhere, and he found that the trip wire for the emergency “kill switch” is “hot.” Put that “on your list.”

As you can imagine, I have spent a great deal of time on-line researching and learning the 1965 Caravel systems, and proper equipment. I told Scott and Betty that the replacement refrigerator (propane and electric) really bothers me. It is larger than what should be there, and to make it fit the counter top was cut and the unit extends way up. Kills the aesthetics as you look and go inside, it looks bad, and effective counter space is lost. As you can see, and don’t you agree?

Scott warned me what a correct unit would cost, “it is not a small dorm refrigerator for a $100,” he said. He warned me, I know, but replacing it to one of the correct size and appearance is important to me. So, some more research for the correct unit. I found these images on line for guidance. Of course you can “click” my galleries for larger view.

some variations, but you see how more spacious the kitchen area becomes – at least visually – with the counter top as it should be. Black tile has been placed over my original floor tiles – they are not great, and I have to do something. The top images above show carpeting on the right, but wood laminate on the floor on the left. I like that, and the correct selection will tie the space together, and give it a larger appearance.

Well, the snow has not come here as yet, but it has rained all day. Remember, I have written this for my own pleasure, memory, and to look at on the days I do not run over for a visit. This may be the last LADY RAB post until the spring, but then “watch out” because we will be “on the road.”

Catch you soon with a post from a selection of “Christmases Past.” Until then, stay safe and stay well, love, RAY

And, in case you missed the previous stories on my two week adventure, that is setting the stage for many more adventures to share,
click on these links below:

INTRODUCING – LADY RAB III – 20 November 2020

1965 AIRSTREAM CARAVEL — LADY RAB III — A Week Later
27 November 2020

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1965 AIRSTREAM CARAVEL — LADY RAB III — A Week Later, 27 November 2020

I am still “on top of the world” and even more excited with my “new” 1965 Airstream Caravel travel trailer – now LADY RAB III. The learning will never cease, and I have found a wealth of information on-line with fantastic websites devoted to the “Airstream Family” to assist in restoration, care and enjoyment. Not to mention the decorative accessories to time travel back. The Airstream “family” is amazingly supportive, and my postings on the Facebook page – Airstream Restoration – has already brought me some answers. And, another plus are great friends Scott and Betty in Pennsylvania who have been supportive, helpful, and have put up with my emails and calls. OOPS Had to stop typing – Betty called, I read the above sentence to her and she replied, “gladly put up with my calls.”

Earlier in the week Dewey moved LADY RAB III to his home and shop, where she could enjoy expansive views of the Vermont hillsides. I visited them both on the 27th, and Dewey and I discussed his operation on her derriere, and additional projects. This is what I had to look at coming up his drive.

and walking around…

 

Dewey and I spent a great deal of time discussing projects, which I will detail below. But when he had to run off for some parts for a car he was working on, I stayed and explored though LADY RAB III – something I had not done when I bought her in a dark garage after a few moments visit last week on the 20th.

This first view is sitting on the front couch, looking back. I had put up one of the tables. The black upholstery and non-original black painted cabinet doors was probably done by Lisa (owner once removed). She told me her “Toaster” was outfitted in a pirate theme for her sons and nephews.

note the compartments under the coach which slides out to make a bed. Black tiles over the original flooring – pirate theme, of course.

This is the sofa/bed at the front end. What you see upon entering. I was sitting at the far right end.

Now looking forward to see a full front view. The little lights are 12 volt for when you are “off-grid.” In RV terms that is boondocking. The bracket is for a TV, and a cable comes from the outside that was probably attached to a whip antennae. I guess even young pirates will sometimes need light entertainment. I bet Lisa may tell me when she reads this.

A table can be set up on each side. Tight for leg room. Not the layout I would have liked to have had – BUT – I have a great enjoyable piece of history here, and will adjust since I am flexible. But design of the outside space is where most enjoyment will be (see last image. below)

I pulled the side bed almost all the way out. Yes I have size 12 feet.

I only folded the front bed part way out. Happy to see the shelf behind for 1960s appropriate tchotchkes.

on the curb side is the kitchen. The refrigerator is a replacement and stands above the original cabinet height. In the long term, another search and fix to get back to original.

again, looking back at the bathroom

looking into the bathroom

now, what is that in the image below, and why do you want to see it? In one of our many emails, Dr. Dewey told me there was a problem with the Black Water Tank drain. Yes, you may be able to guess what goes into Black Water as opposed to Gray Water. Well, unlike newer or larger trailers, the 1965 Caravel only has a Black Water Tank, and this is not how the outlet should look. Also, the lever to open the dump valve is lacking. The fellow I bought the trailer said everything worked, but in a later phone call said he never hooked up the sewer line. Obvious now the previous owner only plugged in for power. Dr. Dewey said he would see if he could repair and make the drain work. Well, with all the great on-line resources I learned so much about this tank and age problems. One person even dropped his and had only unrecognizable pieces. I found detailed instructions on how to remove the tank, and an image of how it slides up into the closet for removal. Thinking removal and possible replacement best, I may have found a company that can supply the tank. Remember, if it can be fixed with money, it is not a problem. In this case we will probably be ahead trying to replace than fix. Dewey agreed in an email reply. Still on our discussion list. If you would like to receive a long dissertation I found on Black, Gray and Potable water in Airstreams, let me know and I will email the PDF. By the way, my brain synapses are moving so fast I am getting younger rather than older.

And, the closets, one on each side to the entrance to the bathroom. For privacy while in the shower or on the toilet there is an accordion screen – yes right out of 1965.

Sliding the side bed out, and pulling back the mattress you can see some electrical apparatus and the water pump. There is an access panel curbside to plug into house current. Scott, looking at the schematics, I think where the electric cable is coiled up is where the battery goes for boondocking power. Will have to investigate from the outside to follow the wires and read the switches as shown in the Owner’s Manual.

Reading somewhere I learned there were tubs under the couch beds. Figured I would have to find them somewhere for originality. Well, opening up the doors I was pleased to find four of the original tubs remaining. And, on the side there are slide out drawers they rest on.

Now to the projects. Getting rid of the extension and moving the bumper back to where it belongs was priority. But how far out exactly should it be? Dewey had found the bumper may have been hit at sometime, a section cut out and then shortened. I can live with that, only about two inches on each side, and will be noticeable only if you back another trailer up to compare. Posting on the Airstream Restoration Facebook page, within twelve hours three people sent me images with tape measures in place. I also got additional information on the lid that covers the hose box that Dewey will fabricate. It will look great for sure. So as not to overload Dewey’s email box, I have held back sending all the images until he is ready.

 

Now, the tongue. Don’t you like all the “sexy” technical terms? See the bar going side to side? There was also one on the rear. A wrench goes onto the pin sticking out, and you crank down feet to stabilize the trailer when parked and occupied. Not original, and ugly. Upon my arrival Dewey greeted me and said, “what to you want to do with it?” “Ugly,’ I replied, “it could go away.” He was thrilled I said that, “consider it done.” We agreed the extensions were bruised shins or broken knee caps waiting to happen. But when inside I did notice movement, have to do something.

Well, that something came easily following a long conversation today with Scott. Shortly after he sent me a link to a trailer supply house with vintage looking aluminum stabilizing stack jacks. I checked the site, then checked Amazon where the same exact set was about 34 cents cheaper (at $35.52 for the set), and with free shipping. My set of four arrives December 1st.

 

Propane tanks – had been remounted at some time back further than the original. Dewey said the poorly made bracket should go, and a new one put back in the original place. Then we can mount the spare between them and the body. Originally not coming from the factory with a spare, I have seen many restorations with the spare mounted there. If you have it, you will never need it. And, the tanks? One is dated 1971, and Dewey said no one will ever refill them – so for safety, etc., new tanks are “on the list.” Below are some additional wires, and I think a “suicide switch” in case there is a break on the tongue.

 

Well, over an hour and a half I played and explored my new toy, time to go home. “But wait,” cried LADY RAB III, “even though Dewey’s views are great, I want to come with you.”

I backed up.

Was about to hook up — but in time.

 

And, at in that time it will be party time – 1960s PERFECTION.

If you made it this far, thank you. Remember I am documenting for myself, and the next owners down the line of this Airstream treasure. But you know I love to share. And in googling 1965 Airstream Caravel I am hoping that other owners will be in touch.

Stay safe and well, love, RAY

PS – If you have not seen my previous story of this wonderful acquisition – CLICK ON THIS LINK.

PPS – Yes, I am curious, and while just now (Sunday, 29 November) reading an Airstream history book I needed to know, “why Caravel.” And, this is what I found – “The Airstream Caravel was first introduced in 1956 and continuously appeared in our lineup as a lightweight, nimble option. The Caravel name comes from early European sailing ships specifically good at sailing windward.

 

 

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An “OLD-FASHIONED THANKSGIVING” – 26 November 2020

I got back from the Post Office shortly after 3PM on Wednesday, changed into pajamas, and have no desire, or need to go out until mid-Friday. Most years recently I have visited the boys, or dined out with a friend. But this year the Massachusetts Governor said, “stay away Ray!” (I did not want to chance a trip anyway). It is also not worth chancing even a nice inn where strangers from who knows where will be. Thus, just a quiet, “old-fashioned” Thanksgiving Day at home. But that does not mean I cannot enjoy some Thanksgivings past, and also share with you.

 

Last year I shared with you AN OLD-FASHIONED THANKSGIVING written by Louisa May Alcott in 1882. I adapted the story to fifteen minutes, and gave a reading at the Town employee dinner last year. Please click on this link, and enjoy the tale of Thanksgiving. (this is Tilly reading to her siblings). You may wish to read aloud, socially distanced with your family.

 

 

Also last year, 2019, I experienced “A NEW ENGLAND THANKSGIVING” at Old Sturbridge Village on 19 November. All around the village preparations were being made from practicing shooting for a bird, to preparations on the hearth. Below is the table at the hearth in the kitchen el of the Freeman Farm. Do click the link above to retour that afternoon with me.

 

In 2017, I stumbled on 300 Years of Thanksgiving – a 90 minute weekend guided tour at Strawbery Banke in Portsmouth. What a great way to start my holiday excursions, and off I went for two nights, 19-20 November. I am really enjoying reliving that trip which also included “A Festival of Trees” that was fun to document. I think I got many great images on that trip, so please take the time, and click on this link “to get in the spirit.” Below is a table set at Strawbery Banke (yes, spelled correctly) circa 1919 at the Shapiro House.

So, what about my “old-fashioned” thanksgiving and this year’s Christmas excursions to decorated inns and special exhibits? You know the answer, there will be none in 2020. But, I have memories of travels past, easily prompted with my posts, because you know that “I write for myself, but love to share.” Growing up, my mother was thrilled when Swanson developed TV Dinners sometime in the 50s. Remember those? Compartmentalized in a pressed aluminum tray, portion of meat in the biggest space, flanked by two vegetables, or one vegetable and potatoes, and if lucky a desert in the small center section at top. Can you picture it? What fun to journey back and treat myself to a Swanson Turkey Dinner. But alas, the little shop I frequent across the river has a limited, albeit wonderful, selection, and this year I will have myself a BANQUET.

But, how is LADY RAB III you ask? I thought you never would. She was moved to Dr. Dewey’s Tuesday. He will be performing surgery to return her derriere to its youthful curvy shape. I was thinking he would be waiting until after TDAY, but he jumped in yesterday, and I anxiously await his email to visit Friday or Saturday. As you can see in this image he sent me, he has already trimmed off the excess fat someone once fed her. He believes he may have found another hiccup with her innards for excretion, but time will tell. And, as it can be said, “nothing is a problem if it can be fixed with money.”

And what have I have been doing? Well, lots of on on-line research on the proper way LADY RAB’s rear end will receive her “metal surgery.” Also reading much more about Airstreams is on the agenda for the day, and time to jump into another mystery, and maybe finish it. So…

HAPPY THANKSGIVING
Stay Safe and Well
as always, luv, RAY

and, until no longer needed, I will continue to run this banner in THE WALPOLE CLARION

and, you know, about this time of year I also start to get more of my trees out. I do enjoy them.

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INTRODUCING – LADY RAB III – 20 November 2020

One of the pleasures I had with my “open bookshops” in Haddonfield, New Jersey, (1990-1995), and then in New Preston, Connecticut from 1995-2002, is that when I woke up I did not know what I would own at the end of the day. The phone would ring for a house call, or a car would pull up in front and open its trunk full of books. In fact, Kevin stopped in New Preston, in probably 2000, with boxes of books for sale. Twenty years later we still email, and he sends me boxes of books.

Yesterday, 19 November, was a hectic day finishing up the December CLARION, and the files went to the printer at about 8 PM. Waking this AM I had no real plans. Time for a full day of reading, interspersed with work in the shop. But, then at 9:03, Dr. Dewey sent me an email saying, “Just talked to the guy and he is looking to sell it.” Email thanking Dewey, and then a call to Bruce. He said 1PM to visit in Weston (his woods back up to my car Doctor) was fine. That gave me time to do some research. You know when you talk with someone that things are “just right.”

Now, Ms. T accuses me of not being flexible – and that is not true. Carolyn and I agree that Ms. T is the problem – out for lunch, it has to be 11:30 exactly, or there is a big problem. I have been searching for a 13 foot 1950s-60s “canned ham” (10 foot box) for ease of towing. I have been looking and researching as you know from my posts. I have learned a great deal – what to watch for, and the problems. Let’s not discuss the time spent on-line, and the messages with owners from California to Texas to the Maine border. It is a process, and makes the final action much easier. I chatted with friends Scott and Betty in the Poconos last week. You have met them on my posts. They are pros with Airstreams, and told me to consider a small one. I learned about them, how made, and on and on. Floor plan maybe not exactly what I was thinking I wanted, but again – be flexible.

I arrived at Bruce’s just before 1PM, and we entered his garage.

Introducing LADY RAB III
1965 CARAVEL AIRSTREAM TRAILER
Overall 17 feet – Box/Cabin about 14 feet

now, let me show you inside

note the original unused propane lamp. The trailer and its utilities run on electric or propane.

and, a gallery of interior views you can click to enlarge. Yes, that is a bathroom with toilet and shower.

do you believe in “meant to be’s” – well I do. I went to look at the opposite side, and what did I see, but an original – yes totally original, just like the trailer – 1928 Model A Ford Coupe. You should know my history with Model A Fords.

more “meant to be’s” – well this “A” (which Bruce bought from a museum years ago) was originally from Wilton, Maine, owned by a print shop. Now yes, you had better know my hometown (except Walpole now is) is Wilton, Connecticut, and I have had letterpress printing presses since 1957 – only own six at the current moment.

can you believe all this? I am still pinching myself. I had arranged with Scott and Betty to Facetime with them at 1:30. I toured them through the trailer, including underneath which still has the original aluminum protective covering of the frame — something seldom seen. Bruce will fill me in on the previous owners, but he gave me copies of the paperwork going back, including a copy of the registration for the original New Mexico permanent license plate. Did I tell you, or did you guess, I bought “her.”

and, from my research before I headed to Weston, I found the floor plan of this beauty. You can click for almost full screen view..

I started working on this post to share with you, and realized I had to call Scott and Betty to thank them for the help. Scott’s mind is racing, and he is beginning lists of things to tell me to help me. As we were concluding the call he said, “let’s plan a trip together to the Airstream factory and the RV/ MH Hall of Fame, both in Indiana.” So exciting.

Well, guess that is it for tonight. I have research and learning to do, trips to plan and dream about, and a safe way to avoid some COVID critters. Lots of fun ahead, and you know I will share with you. Excitedly with love, yours, RAY

UPDATE 22 NOVEMBER — I FOUND THE OWNER OF MY GEM (once removed) in Bella Vista, Arkansas. And, following is Lisa’s reply. So thrilling, I will do as much to document “my baby” as I can.

What fun to see our little “Pirate Ship” pictures!  We did purchase this Caravel Airstream in November, 2000, as a “Family Christmas” gift.  After an especially hot summer in 2000, tent camping and fishing at our favorite spot “Roaring River” in the Mark Twain forest of Missouri, we (husband Mike Million and I) decided that we’d treat ourselves (not necessarily our sons, Spencer and Mitchell) to air conditioning and a bed up off the ground for our future camping fun.  We decorated the Caravel in a “pirate” theme, flying the Jolly Roger and using other red, white and black “pirate flags” as our curtains.  We had many, many fishing tales with our sons and two nephews and plenty of their friends.  That little “Toaster” has seen some fun times, including packing in six or seven sweating little bodies to escape the outdoor temps in the Ozarks.  Many times there were more kiddos than bed and floor room, so the boys and company pitched tents outside of the camper.

We purchased the camper from outside of Kansas City at a vintage car dealership, working after sons’ bedtimes and during their sporting events at the restoration.  We shined the little gem with the same technique used on airplanes, pulled up the decaying asbestos tile and replaced it.  We tried to leave the “integrity” of the camper, but the air conditioning unit and newer refrigerator had been replaced prior to our acquisition.  We had the black sofa coverings done at a local upholstery shop.  On Christmas Eve, we pulled the Caravel into the driveway and had the boys guess their “big” present by an Airstream ornament on the Christmas tree.  You can probably guess that we all four had to sleep in the driveway, in the Caravel, for Christmas Eve.  Such great family memories!

When I have a bit more time, I will try to find some of the pictures of the camper when we acquired it and after restoration.  My oldest nephew is now 29 and younger nephew is 25, so during the “hay day” of our camping, fishing, hiking, biking expeditions we had boys that were ages 12, 10, 8 and 6.  Fishing was the prime focus, but those boys couldn’t sit still long enough to catch a thing.  We had bikes, hikes, board games, hide and seek, kites, rafts, swimming…..  Never a dull moment!

Our sons are now 22 and 27 years old.  But they definitely have very fond memories of the little “Pirate Ship”.  As we had a FaceTime session with oldest son, Spencer, from Tokyo this weekend, the entire troop of local son and nephews were talking about our camping adventures.  So glad we had that trailer to help survive those memories!

Hope you enjoy the Caravel as much as we did!  It will definitely grab attention in a camping area of big rigs, slide outs and “mansion on wheel” units!  We were asked about our little gem often.

Cheers to a Unique Little Airstream!

Lisa

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