Friday, December 2, 2022

It's Part of Me ...

Downtown Springfield, VT
I was born in 1953 in the town of Bellows Falls, Vermont. My two brothers were as well, at the time my parents lived in Springfield, Vermont. Which did then, and does now, have its own hospital. I don't know why they chose Bellows Falls, might be because the family doctor had privileges there, I don't know. Back then doctors did everything, specialists in small town Vermont were few. I do know that the hospital, the physical building itself, burned down between my birth and my oldest kid brother's birth. No, I had nothing to do with that. I had an alibi. (I couldn't walk yet, getting away would have been tough.)

Anyhoo, it was a nice place to grow up. My oldest kid brother (The Olde Vermonter) still lives and works there. From what I've read, the old town has its problems. A lack of jobs, a big drug problem, and other things which afflict people in such an environment. It wasn't like that growing up. (Then again, every time I read something, I have to remind myself that it's the "media." People don't report facts any more, they have opinions and agendas. Or so it seems.)

That picture up top, that's Main Street in the snow. We did get a lot of snow back in the day, they still do. It's one of my memories of Vermont, picturesque with snow. I do remember other times of the year, but winter was always a favorite. Not that I was a big skier (didn't start that until I was in high school), it might have been because the big family gatherings were always from Thanksgiving to Christmas. Those always involved lots of good food and lots of people gathering together who really cared about each other.

Things were different back then, vastly different. Better in some ways, depending on who you were I suppose. My hometown was predominantly white, there was a teacher (art as I recall) who had no kids of her own so she and her husband (I presume) adopted a number of kids. Of whom I knew two, both girls, one was black, the other was Native American. (I want to say Navajo or Hopi, my memory is sketchy in that area.) Those were the only people of color I saw when I was a kid, pre-high school. Didn't bother us in the least.

We grew up learning to treat people as individuals for the most part. To us it was no big deal. I remember the shock I felt in high school when I bought a record album by Sly and the Family Stone and one of my friends casually mentioned that he was surprised that I liked "colored" music. (No, he didn't use the word "colored.") It was a shocker that people thought that way, but it was an eye-opener as well.

My Dad was an Army veteran, he enlisted just after the end of World War II (he turned 16 on D-Day, so he was too young, he went in when he was 17, a year later). Both of my Dad's brothers served overseas, one in the Army Air Forces in the Pacific, the other as an infantryman in the ETO. My maternal grandmother's brother was also an infantryman in the ETO, both were wounded but both came home.

My paternal grandfather was also a veteran, he served during World War I but was in Panama, protecting the Canal no doubt. Somewhere in the family archives (probably lost) is a group photo of my grandfather's outfit, he's sitting near the front of the group (as I recall) and in the back row to the left is a future general and president, Dwight D. Eisenhower. Sure wish I knew where that photo was.

I knew my heroes personally as a kid.

The late 50s, early 60s were a great time to be a middle-class white kid. Which is my frame of reference. No doubt the experience varied a lot based on where you lived, the color of your skin, and even (in some cases) your religion. We had a single Jewish family in town, no one minded them, they were good people. Back then it was a Protestant-Catholic kind of clash. Most of the town was Protestant. There apparently was a Catholic Church in town, small and over-whelmed by all the Congregationalists, Baptists, Methodists, and a couple of other denominations I'm unfamiliar with. Oh yeah, there is an Orthodox Church back home as well. When I was a kid we called it the Russian Orthodox Church. Not proper these days, or so I'm told.

When I was a kid, everyone went to church on Sunday, except many of the Dads who only went on Christmas and Easter. "C and Es" my Dad called them. (Which I found odd, seeing as how that's pretty much what he did.) Churches tended to have a pretty sizable crowd on Sundays. Doesn't seem to be the case these days. What happened?

I have many fond memories of those days, like I said, they were good times. I had a great childhood. One of the things I see my kids doing is ensuring their own kids (my grandkids) are also having great childhoods.

So The Missus Herself and I must have done something right. (More her than me, no doubt.) But those early days in small town Vermont made me who I am, so my own parents must have done something right as well.

Maybe things will get better, maybe the people will wake up before it's too late. Lately I have my doubts.

So I'll stick with my family, them I can trust.


  1. Born in 1950, family dissolved fairly early on, grew up literally starving poor in a middle class neighborhood until mid teen years. Not much positive to say about it. Both my brother and I are preppers as we lived with the reality of what is coming for most. I truly feel for those who have grown up with plenty and what they will face in the future.

  2. I started out in '53 also, other side of the continent. I turned 8 in Hawaii and left when I was 13, I was a Haloe. Years later my mom told me they transferred back to the mainland because I was getting too friendly with the Hawaiian girls.

    I was wondering about the decline in church going, religion has been huge for a great many years (centuries!). I wonder if there is a correlation between the media and religion?
    By media I think I'd start with the the war in Vietnam on the news at the dinner table in the late 60s and follow thru to today where people are always plugged in via their phones. I know that's a very general sweep of things but the advances in media have changed things a lot...
    FWIW I just looked and it says 91% of the WORLD are cell phone owners...

    1. Our involvement in Vietnam, and its portrayal on the "news" along with the ineptitude (if not downright treason) in Washington DC is really where it all started to go wrong. At least in my estimation.

    2. Concur.
      I too grew up as an upper-middle class white kid in the burbs. Just too young for Vietnam (I'm an "Era" vet). Family split when I was starting my teens. Church had been routine in my childhood ( Great Grandfather had preached there) but with "visitation" on weekends , church took a backseat.
      Bought into much of the leftist carp in HS and even college until I learned to think for myself. The slanted reporting on Vietnam helped open my eyes as most of my college friends were veterans.
      Boat Guy

    3. "Until I learned to think for myself ..." key thing right there, most people do not think for themselves, if they think at all!

    4. This is so very true. I have family members that do not think, they just believe what they are told to believe, by the media.

  3. Sarge, I fall into the decade behind you and in a different part of the country with not a lot of snow, but lots of the same shared experiences: small town with a single high school, K-8 school where I knew all of my classmates, Summers spent out of doors in woods, Grandparents and extended family within driving distance, church (of the Protestant variety) every Sunday. It was not a remarkable one to me at the time, but seems magical in retrospect, perhaps made more by the fact that it seems such an unrecoverable existence in today's world.

    I am sure like many parents of the day, actual problems were shielded from me - which, at least from my perspective, is probably as it should be. Adulthood can be a hard, joyless grind. As you suggest - and I agree with - having those sorts of memories can be a blessing in hard times. I can still smile, 40+ years later, about taking the shortcut up the hill to my best friend's house, cutting across the neighbor's property and through their fence (they knew we did this) for whatever the plan of the day was.

    Could we get back - maybe not to that mythical era (as you say, it was not great for everyone and there were some significant issues), but to something resembling it a bit more? I truly and sincerely fear not. That would require the sort of true soul searching and evaluating of what is truly valuable to us as a society (versus what society tells us is valuable to us) that we do not seem capable of anymore.

    1. Good point, we need to arrest the rot or it will continue.

  4. Seems a guy was complaining about hearing the same thing every time he came to church, no variety. The pastor said, "If you came more often than Christmas and Easter, you'd hear something different." C's and E's. That's a good description.

    I remember the 60's and 70's as that, too. Born a decade after you. We didn't have tv near the table, and news wasn't very interesting to a little kid. But I remember the war, and when my uncle was killed. The carefree playing outside until I heard mom holler, or dad whistle. Really found my spot when we moved to a 5 acre farm. Farm animals, working the dirt, working for farmers, haying, irrigating, hog production, welding, mechanics fit my head. As I look back at those times, I miss them. I think it's a normal, natural thing to look back, remember only the good, and wish for the simplicity of those times.

    If I'd had a raising like James, I'm not sure I'd be so charitable about the past.
    aRGH, I can't even type today.

    1. Not everyone had an idyllic childhood, which I did acknowledge. Concur with your last.

  5. Born almost a full year before Pearl, I was one of the few Jewish kids in a very small town (a truck-farming community), but it didn't make any difference (none that I could see anyway). Our family religion was America; a country/place/idea where people could worship G*d in any manner/church/synagogue in which they felt comfortable.
    I went on active in '66 (an only child); there was never any question in our family but that I was going to write a blank check to Uncle Sam; when "Your Lord" calls for your service, you answer, with fervor.

  6. Well, regarding Orthodox churches, Dad used to drag us to the local Greek Orthodox church for whenever they were doing their festivals for the food, of course. As to other Orthodox churches, which one? Armenian Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, Ukrainian Orthodox (which the split of UO from RO apparently is a part of the reason for Putin putting forces into the Ukraine)? Or just lump them all into the label 'Eastern Orthodox Church'? Which, if you do, you can end up in a vicious orthodoxy fight because one group often does not get along with another group (see aforementioned RO/UO issue.)

    Sure, at one time the Eastern Orthodoxies were larger than the Roman Catholic Church (thanks to plagues and other issues) but collectively they are not as big as the RCC. Though the RCC is shedding parishioners like a dead dog sheds ticks, while the Orthodoxies seem to be keeping theirs and gaining members. Wonder if it's due to the deemphasis on the Mysteries in the RCC. Heck, the dufus commie-pope said Hell doesn't exist, which would get him stoned or beat to death in the Orthodoxies (hmm, might be a way to rally all them Os under one roof for a few minutes, but, no, ain't gonna happen. The Swissers would protect the jackalope, darned it.)

    As to 'color' and 'flavor' of people, grew up not caring, not really noticing at all. Each one tended to have slightly to radically different foods and all were pretty darned okay (as long as you stayed away from that pickled herring stuff of the Scandinavians, or the other nasty food surprises from various other peoples.) Wasn't until I came to a 'liberal' town that I actually saw real prejudice and 'racism' and 'bigotry.' Boy, were the Diversity Classes ever fun at one employer (fun because, well, whodathunk I couldn't keep my big fat trap shut? Whodathunkt the pasty-white fat hetero married male would have ever experienced bigotry and racism and prejudice? Hey, they brought it up. I still defend my answer to when the Diversity 'officer' asked what I saw when I looked around the room full of XXX employees, which was, "XXX employees." Not white, black, green, plaid, male, female, made-up-gender-mental-illnesses or other things. Second was 'uniform vs street clothes, third was gender (two of only) and fourth was skin, fifth was hair, maybe fourth was size, maybe. Importance of identification feature in order of listing, #1 being most important and #3 on basically being nitpicky fiddly bits, more to describe person than using their name. ("That brown, long-haired white lady who sits next to Karl, who is she?" type of thing.) Diversity occifers hated me, so did the people who wished to be labeled as butt-hurt whiners.

    All that discrimination bullscat? I never had it. Didn't grow up in it. Don't care for it. The only thing that separated us kids growing up was what street one played on and maybe if one's parents were officers or enlisted, otherwise didn't care, not important.

    This new butt-hurt culture of ours pisses me off greatly. Would gladly open up a corporal punishment stand at the next butt-hurt rally to show them what butt-hurt really means. Obviously far too many butt-hurters have never had their asses whipped for being butt-stupid, and it shows.

  7. Bellows Falls........have you read Journey to the End of an Era by Melvin Hall, highly recommended. Tom

    1. I have not read that, time to do some digging. Thanks Tom.


Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)
Can't be nice, go somewhere else...

NOTE: Comments on posts over 5 days old go into moderation, automatically.