All last week I watched the leaves turn, more brilliant, more gold, every day. But this Monday Record is late, not only because my husband and I returned to Vermont to the scenes of my youth, and to help my aunt and uncle celebrate his 85th birthday and their 30th wedding anniversary, but because I had to return to Bellows Falls again today. I left my purse with my camera at Fat Franks, The Wurst Place in Bellows Falls where we had great hot dogs on the way home.
The first return was to meet up with my cousin Walt and his wife Peggy, and Cousin Dick. We had a delicious country breakfast at the Dutch Mill. I lived for a couple of years at The Farm where Walt and his siblings grew up, but Dick only got to visit in summers.
Walt and I posed in front of the building that served at our two room school house in 1948-49. We had electricity, but no plumbing. Miss Stewart the teacher for grades 1-2-3 down stairs (grades 4-5-6 were upstairs) brought a giant crock with drinking water with her every day. The mothers took turns making soup or chili con carne and bringing it to school so we could have a hot lunch during the winter. I think Dick was really sad he never got to go to this school. In the fall of 1949 Walt didn’t go here any more either. A new Consolodated School opened up. More kids. More teachers. Running water and indoor plumbing.
The Farm is right on the shore of Lake Champlain. This is the main cove where we swam, and where Walt’s family built a kind of pavilion and camp site for people to use when they visited. Skinny dipping, family picnics and reunions. Years and years of memories.
Along with all the ‘Remember whens’ we went to visit family gravesites – and consider our own mortality. This stone is for my parents. My father died in 1979 and my mother in 1990. I am now older than either of them was when they died.
But the main reason for this visit to Vermont was a celebration. My mother’s sister, Doris, had a sweetheart, Mike Claflin, when they lived in high school in Charlotte. After graduation Doris moved to New York City with her parents and later married and had two daughters, Carole and Karen. When she was widowed, Mike got in touch and the result is 30 years of very happy married life together. There were too many cousins in attendance to get them all together at once and too much celebrating all over the place to get a group photo.
Just pretend you are on the deck looking down at the land that belonged to the Claflin Farm before a good chunk of it was sold off, with Lake Champlain in the distance.
We finally had to leave the celebration and wend our way home. I thought it would be fun to stop in Bellows Falls, where we had never been for a snack supper. We found the fabulous Fat Franks, the wurst place to eat in BF – and they have all kinds of wurst, all kinds of local mustard, great sauerkraut, the best home made hand cut local russet potatoes for French fries. Everything is just what we locavores could wish. And they were really nice to let us in because they were just about to lock the door. If you are in Bellows Falls, stop at Fat Franks.
Today I had to return to Bellows Falls and Fat Franks to retrieve my purse and camera. I took this photo of a police car in honor of Archer Mayor, author of the Joe Gunther mysteries which I enjoy so much. Joe was stationed in Brattleboro until he became a member of the newly formed Vermont Bureau of Investigation, but he’d have to drive up to Bellows Falls every now and then. They have a great book shop there, an Opera House and a lot of very nice people.