And, the Differences continue
An Update – 26 July 2017

Early July – Overcast

26 July 2017 – Overcast

And, how the change happened 25 July 2017
(remember, click to enlarge the images- please)

And, the answer to the question you have wanted to ask – Removal of 47 year old Sugar Maple – $1250 — Purchase and Planting of a 12 year old Sugar Maple – $1400. But I have continued the photographically documented 150 year tradition, and I’m happy I did.


Now, how can you not out of curiosity find out about the “Only One in the US” (almost in my backyard and hidden) after you learn that “Only the Trees are Different?”

Overwhelmed with play preparations (opening night this coming Friday, 16 June) for Old Home Days through the 25th, has impacted upon adventures, but also caused some action on my behalf for safety sake. My maple tree in from of my home was dying, dropping dead limbs from the top, and I did not anyone hurt. Sadly, I knew the tree must go, and on Monday the 5th, another difference with the trees at “44.” Below, now a “new look” at “44” – the stump has since been ground away.

Here are but a few images of that process, removing large sections at a time (click on any image to enlarge the photo gallery):

My home from the front is essentially as it was when built in 1806, except the “trees have changed.” Well, the original attached barn decayed and was removed in the late 1960s. The couple I bought from added an attached garage in 1971 (where the barn was), Then I added the “book shop” beyond the garage when we bought in 2002, and my almost four season porch was completed in 2007.

Cathy commissioned a local artist, Howard H. Hill to paint our home when we purchased in July 2002, thus documenting it at that time.

The red maple of the right of the house expired, and in time I removed the inappropriate plantings in front of the house. Inappropriate for what would have been the early 19th century appearance. But, you can see the majesty of the sugar maple on the left.

Jerry and Diana purchased my home in February, 1971, raising their children here. When they bought, that sugar maple had recently been planted by Guy Bemis (Mr. Walpole) who had saved the house from disrepair. Jerry gave me two polaroids that he took upon their purchase, and you can see the baby maple, and a massive one on the right (remember to click to enlarge).

In December 1970, my home was featured in YANKEE MAGAZINE in the “House for Sale” column in which “Yankee likes to mosey around and see, out of editorial curiosity, what you can turn up when you go home hunting.” Again, you see “baby maple” on the left (you can click to enlarge and read the article)

Before we “closed” on our home, a welcoming party was given us, and one attendee, Frank, retrieved these two earlier images from files at the Historical Society (he was the President at the time).

Great image above with my original barn sited when the garage now exists. Ironically in designing my “book shop” addition I came up with something very similar without have seen this image previously. And, below, long before the sugar maple was planted. Note the old “two over two” windows that Guy replaced, and the web lawn chairs and appropriate (not) laundry rack at the end of the drive.

The above images are probably from the 1950s. The postcard below would be from the 1940s, and you can just barely see the front porch over the stoop at that time, and a tree in the spot where my late sugar maple was planted in 1970.

And, this is a wonderful postcard documenting my home in the late 1930s, early 40s, with even another tree in the middle of the front elevation.

This “study” of my home, and its trees, is constantly evolving. Today, 9 January 2019, in reviewing some of my image files, I found this view of “44” the church, and the Town Hall. Taken probably in the late 1890s after the chancel portion of the church was extended west, and the portico was enclosed and a tower and smaller porch added. Two of the old pillars were shortened and used for the porch.

and, a close-up of “44” from the above image.


In November, 2018, Tommy Murray showed me a photograph asking, “Ray, have you seen this?” I had not – a great different earlier image of my home. He kindly gave it to me. Here it is. This view of the church is as it was built in 1845 with a front Greek portico with four fluted Doric pillars

he asked me what age it may be. It is a print of an earlier photograph, but there are clues as to when it was originally taken. Do you know them? Well, here they are:

1 – The Town House on the right is as it was prior to being remodeled in 1886
2 – You can see the roads that crossed the Common joining the road on the western side of Washington Square. It was voted in 1887 to discontinue those roads.
3 – My earliest image of my home from a mid-1870s stereoview shows my home without the portico at the front door.

Thus – I date this image from the early 1880s (or very late 1870s). And, a close up.


And, my earliest image of my home from a circa 1877 stereo view (doing the math, 140 years ago)

And, just found in April 2020, and now in my collection is this 1870s view (which may be clicked and enlarged also)

Not much has changed, “only the trees are different.”

And, now to the “Only One in the US” and maybe
the only one in the world!

You have listened to me lament not having the time to explore recently (and wear out the tires on BB1 and BB2). Production and directing of GEORGE WASHINGTON SLEPT HERE for Old Home Days has consumed most all of my time. But when we learned a piece of set furniture would not be delivered on Saturday, all of a sudden I had a window of opportunity to “hit the road.”  But, what to do? I am out of practice, and planning. BLUE BELLE and I headed out the drive to head north to explore roads in Acworth. At the end of the drive, I turned south. Recently in my collection of great historical ephemera I found a 1958 tourist guide to the “West River Valley Region on Vermont” and you will eventually get a full post on that. In that little 8 page booklet there was one thing I had never heard of, and probably close to 100% of the world’s population is totally unaware of too. Off we went.

I turned off Route 12 to Route 63 in Westmoreland to River Road, and turned left on Poocham Road – great dirt, winery, and two small cemeteries. Second time down this road, but this time at the crossroads turned west figuring I would end up in West Chesterfield and close to the Connecticut River. And, soon, there I was at the Universalist Church in West Chesterfield, about only thing there besides Actor’s Theater in the old hall.

I was getting hungry, and crossing the river I headed south on US 5. Once before I enjoyed the Top of the Hill Grill in Brattleboro and that became the plan. While sitting there looking at the Brattleboro Retreat across the way I decided to head there and up Route 30 toward Newfane instead of taking the back road past Rudyard Kipling’s Naulakha to the Covered Bridge in West Dummerston. It had been a long time since I had been on this initial stretch of Route 30.

I toured the grounds of the Brattleboro Retreat (no photos allowed), and once I exited I remembered that the ski jump should be close. I choose the first left, and there it was. The Harris Hill Ski Jump completed in 1922.

Harris Hill Ski Jump, Brattleboro, Vermont

Shortly arriving at the West Dummerston Covered Bridge I need to share a few images with you since you are now “hooked on” covered bridges after my last post.

West Dummerston, Vermont Covered Bridge

Driving through Newfane (a must visit for you) I was looking for the road to Brookline, Vermont  (population about 500) and my goal for the day. I found the road just before the closed Newfane Flea Market. I crossed the river, and crawled along looking everywhere. I saw someone in his drive, and pulled in. “Can you direct me to the Round School House?” I asked. “Continue down the road, turn left at the T on Grassy Brook Road,” he replied. Soon, there I was at


Round Schoolhouse, Brookline, Vermont

and, yes there is a story. Built in 1822, as recorded in my 1958 booklet, “A certain Dr. John Wilson who taught here had it built according to his specifications with windows facing all directions so that no one could approach the schoolhouse unnoticed. He kept a revolver within easy reach for it was said that he was none other than Captain Thunderbolt, a highway robber long wanted for murder in Scotland and Ireland.” One place I read that 60 students would be in attendance – hard to believe. I encourage you to Google the Round School House and Thunderbolt, and even better to visit. The building served as a school until 1929.

Looking from the other direction – the privies are in the left side of the wooden shed addition

I then continued north on Grassy Brook Road towards Athens — and I encourage you to do the same. Just remember, you have to plan to travel this route — it is not along any path that you may just happen to be on. Macadam to dirt, dirt without telephone poles, poles reappear, and you can tell when you are in a more depressed area – Athens. But, up on the hill above a concentration of buildings and the town buildings is the Meeting House (you have to know where to look).

It was interesting to find as I walked around that the back, which you do not see, is clapboard instead of brick. I had a view through the first floor windows, and would love to see the second floor.

And then I continued on Route 32 to Cambridgeport, right towards Saxtons River and home. BLUE BELLE had to stop and travel through Hall’s Bridge where we started the last adventure.

And, then it was home, but a much needed four hours off.

“To write about something is to live it twice.”

This entry was posted in Day (or maybe two) Trips and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Carolyn says:

    A memorable 4 hours, happy you had the chance to indulge.

  2. George Lush says:

    Ray, How interesting to live in an historic house with such provenance. To have such a detailed photographic record literally through the centuries is remarkable. Joyce and I are now successfully relocated in Law Vegas, where not much dates before mid 20th century, “Las Vegas” translates to “The Meadows” and was so named in the 19th century because of the natural springs located in the valley. In a nutshell the city evolved thusly: the native Indians, the Spanish, the Mormons, the railroads, the cowboys, the Hoover Dam, the Mob, the Rat Pack, the enormous hotel\casinos along The Strip, and us. Never stop exploring, Gustave Ledbetter

  3. Short trip for you. Great sojourn for us.
    Condolences on your tree, but the hoiuse looks beautiful.

  4. Mike Pride says:

    Excellent little adventure. You don’t say, but I’m guessing that schoolhouse turned out well-rounded scholars. Mike

  5. Roberta Streeter says:

    Harris Hill Ski Jump – We went” parking” there- a long time ago-R

  6. Betty says:

    Will you be planting another tree to replace the old one? Great find on the round schoolhouse! Great history on the teacher as well.
    Sorry to miss Old Home Days this year; we sure have enjoyed the festivities that weekend.

  7. Marian says:

    Ray, you and Cathy made a beautiful home and it is still so gorgeous. Sorry about the tree.
    Thank you.

  8. Peggy Pschirrer says:

    The new tree looks lovely; it graces your beautiful house. Your line about writing allowing you to relive experiences is particularly apt because this morning an long time friend called to tell me she is writing about people she knew in the 60’s, 70’s……she was verifying some of her memories. I still think your shunpiking belongs in a collection of stories: On the Road with Ray.

  9. Betty says:

    Guess that answered my question of whether you were going to replace the tree… It looks great! Shade trees are so important to a house’s personality, especially yours with such history.

  10. George Lush says:

    “I think I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree…” Did you know there is a rest area on the New Jersey Turnpike named after Joyce Kilmer? Kind of incongruous, don’t you think?

  11. renise says:

    Thanks for posting watercolor by Howard H. Hill. I just found two of his paintings in Lincoln Nebraska. One is Hastings House and the other Walpole UU Church

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