Good ol’ Alabama is of course my favorite state. But a very close second is Vermont. Some people have asked: If it’s so great, why don’t you live there?
Good question, and there are a few good answers For one thing, real estate prices and property taxes are outrageously high.
Also, the winters are loooong.
You know how we ache for springtime after our mild little winters. Imagine living through one of theirs; and they call spring Mud Season.
And it’s a long way from Auburn and Frontier Country.
But for about five months, ahhhh.
It came as a shock to realize how long it’s been since we’ve been there, when my grandson, who at the age of five was skipping rocks across the White River at South Royalton with us, stopped by the other day on his way to law school at the University of Miami.
The daughter and family had just been in Vermont. Son-in-law was raised in Burlington ‘til the age of 13 when his family moved to Florida. He came to school at AU and worked at a popular watering hole of the time, the Hungry Hunter as a server.
That’s where he met the daughter, who was a seating hostess there (while doing her majoretting job with the AU band and heading toward finishing summa cum laude (a little fatherly pride, there).
How had things changed? I wanted to know. Not much. Still neat little county and state highways, no billboards, no trash. Our last time, there was a picture-book farm just over every hill, with a barn, pasture, cows, house, tractor, cornfield…She said some of those cornfields are growing trees. But Ben & Jerry’s will have to have some dairies going.
And the small towns with the wrought iron signs saying: “Est. 1750” or something. White steeples, of course.
We saw such a little of the state. My favorite places included Tunbridge, (think Loachapoka) where their annual state fair is well past the 150 number. And South Royalton, about the size of Notasulga, where the Vermont School of Law is located. I tried to get the son-in-law to go there. Wouldn’t be any distractions, except maybe fly fishing and grouse hinting.
Covered bridges along the way.
And there’s Arlington, where Norman Rockwell painted his magazine covers. His house is just across the Battenkill, a famous trout stream. You cross via surely the most photographed and painted covered bridge in the country.
Bennington is nearby, with its museum, near the Old First Church, which must be seen, and a cemetery where Robert Frost is buried. I have a picture of Frosty standing by it.
There are a couple of places that are not in Vermont but which, dang it, ought to be. On the eastern side, there’s Dartmouth College, which was and remains my ideal of what a college/town ought to be like.
Just across the state line on the other side are Hoosick Falls, N.Y., which is of special interest to me because two super heroes of the Big Band Era grew up there, Bob Eberly who sang with Jimmy Dorsey, and Ray Eberle (Bob changed the spelling), who sang with Glenn Miller.
And nearby is Eagle Bridge, not a town, not even a village, but just the house where Grandma Moses did her painting.
We subscribed to Vermont Magazine and Yankee for a long time, but they got new editors and became real slick, and started pushing “progress,” forget the old, concentrate on the future, etc. . My goodness, the whole aura, the whole thing about Vermont is its nostalgia and simple bucolic beauty. May it never change.
Oh, one thing: before, I, and even the son-in-law, had noticed that there simply were no really drop-dead gorgeous girls there. This time, in places like the pedestrian street in Burlington, there are jaw-droppers all over the place, almost like Auburn.
Bob Sanders is a veteran local radio personality, columnist, author and raconteur of note.