My school days 4th grade to 12th grade in Orleans, VT
Orleans, VT USA 1944-1951
Fourth Grade to OHS Graduation
People and places that
by Henry B Stevens
Saw Mill at Evansville
Ice House off Irasburg Street
Gray's cabin Shadow Lake, Glover
Comming of Age in Orleans, Vermont
by Henry B Stevens
Hometown often has a special meaning in a person's life, and certainly that has been true for me. Although I was born in Morrisville, Vermont in 1933 and have many memories of that place, Orleans is my hometown and the persons and places of Orleans had considerable influence on what I was to become.
My family moved to Orleans in 1944 and our first home was on Main street in the outside corner flat over the Converse Company store. The inside flat was occupied by Orine Dudley, bookeeper for the Converse Company, and the single third floor apartment was occupied by two school teachers.
I had been taking piano lessons in Morrisville and I immeadiatly enrolled as a student with Sadie Domina. My dream had always been to be a trumpet player and I soon was taking both piano with Sadie and trumpet lessons with Harold. The Dominas were a major influence because music was a big part of my life in Orleans. Also, Harold was a stamp collector, and because I had started collecting in Morrisville my trumpet lessons always included some stamp collecting. Years later I became a full time stamp dealer and my son Philip now runs the business. So the Dominas are still very much a part of me to this day.
Carl Swanson was also very important to me and my music as he was the school band and orchestra leader. I played in both band and orchestra. Carl also arranged for me to be in musical festivles in Burlington and Newport, my first chance to travel. Carl also would work me into the town band in Orleans and sometimes into the town band in Barton.
Prof Leslie taught seventh and eightth grade shop. Prof was also the FFA teacher and it was just lucky, I feel, that the academic kids in seven and eight grade could elect to take shop with Prof. Each semester we would do a shop project or two and also would spend time on some FFA material, which included animal judging, the kind of thing that goes on at fairs and other agriculture venues. The idea of learning to judge a particular individual animal against the established standard and coming up with a number score and ranking was all new and very interesting to me. A few years later I started in stamp dealing which is all about the look alikes and which examples to ignore and which to buy. Stamps, like coins, sell for different prices depending on the grade, from low grade to high grade.
My best friend in Orleans was Robert Gray. We did many activities together and I spent a lot of time at his house. We built model airplanes,among many other projects and Bob also played a trumpet. Bob's father Bernard owned the saw mill in Evansville. The two of us often went with his father to pick up a load of logs or deliver lumber. Bob and I also spent time at the mill, but we stayed out of the mill and away from the machinery. We could help people load slabs, which they took home and cut up for stove wood. We could also stick lumber once in a while.
Eleanor and Bernard Gray purchased a lot at Shadow Lake in Glover. I spent many happy hours there with their family. The lot adjoined a camp owned by Mr Schoppe, principle at Orleans High School. The Gray's lot was pretty wet, but that was OK because there was a tiny bit of land on the shorefront across the road. The Gray's built a tiny cabin on that bit of land and put a dock out into the water. I was lucky enough be in on the building and often visited the camp and sometimes stayed over night. Although I seldom heard from Bob after graduation, I did keep in touch with Bernard and Eleanor and visited them at the cabin and at their home in Florida.
We moved from the apartment to a large house on Irasburg Street. This property had a barn and a small upstairs apartment that was rented to Joe and Catherine Springer when we moved in and they continued to live there during the time I was in Orleans. Catherine sewed baseballs and I sometimes sat and visited with her. Joe Springer work at one of the mills. Joe was an avid outdoorsman and participated in the usual hunting and fishing. He was a great source of information for me as I was interested to learn as many of these skills as I could. Joe didn't take me hunting or fishing, except one time he took me with him to be a helper when he set a bear trap. A bear trap at that time required an enclosure of a certain size that would allow a bear to enter, but keep out cattle and humans. The set also required certain signage.
Fred Fauchs was a well known outdoorsman in Orleans and I'm sorry to say I didn't know him. But the people I did know often quoted and referred to Fred in their conversations.
As soon as I was big enough I started mowing lawns. On of my customers was a Mrs Brown up on Water Hill. The house and barn were large and imposing. But the terraces were a challenge for me to mow, however I kept at it. Mrs Brown would always invite me in for a glass of water when I finished and I sat and chatted with her, which I always enjoyed.
When I got old enough I worked for Walter Tarbox and his son Neal. They had a small dairy building on their farm and sold milk retail door to door. My job was mostly washing bottles in the milkhouse; they were returnable and reusable in those days. I also worked on bottling milk and cream. I also worked as a runner delivering milk to customers. The driver of the pickup told me what to take and where to take it and I ran both ways
One day I tripped, fell and cut my hand quite badly. Of course, I just wapped it up and kept going. After a couple of weeks it was obvious the cut was not going to heal properly and I went to Dr Gage who cut the wound back and stitched it properly. Four stiches. A couple years ago here in Florida I left a note on a green Lincoln car with a Newport Vt dealer's sticker on the trunk and the person looked me up. It was Dr Bonvouloir and he sat in my living room and chatted for a while about Dr Gage and Orleans.
Most young boys want to be Fireman or a Policeman when they grow up, but my wish was to be an Indian because an Indian knew about the woods, animals, fish, birds and how to maintain themselves in the woods. This was my desire. As soon as I could leave the house and property without getting a spanking I started exploring the fields, streams and roads of Morrisville by myself. By myself, because if anyone went with me they wanted to talk, and they usually didn't want to spend the time to look carefully at what was close at hand. In Orleans I had great chances to follow my desire.
Our home on Irasburg street butted up against Eastman's pasture. Through the fence in an instant and I was off on adventure. Often my walk would be down to the Barton River and work my way upstream. Other times I would head in the opposite direction and up the hill and looping back towards the Irasburg Road. An other walk was heading out of town on the Evansville Road and up to the Country Club and out into the woods there. During fishing season my trips often were along the banks of either the Barton or Willioughby rivers. I learned to tie flies from my Uncle, Francis Clark, and I used my own flies for my fishing. Joe Boulanger was a meat man for Jenkin's store and he gave me selected feathers from chickens for my fly tying. For
some reason I spent quite a bit of time around the small pond and ice house that was just
up the street from our house on Irasburg street. It was handy, and there was always some interesting
nature observation available on every visit.
Al Phillips worked for my father as a television installer and repairman. He also was a Ham radio operator and he gave me a short wave receiver to listen to. I didn't get good enough to get a license at that time, but when I got married I started studying again and did ham radio for years. I'm KB1Z. Darrell Hoyt was also a ham radio operator and once in a while I got a chance to hang out in his radio station that was in his barn.
Joe Stevens was a salesman. He was good at talking with people and he taught me by example how
to engage people while presenting his product or service. He would take me along when he drove
out on calls to farms where the people had expressed an interest in a tractor, hay baler, or
a replacement for their milk cooler. Joe was not interested at all in nature or outdoors. His
idea of back to the earth was taking his tie off at a summer outdoor picnic.
May Stevens taught me how to cook, can fruits and vegtables, and write letters. May seemed to
write a few lines or more to someone every day. After Orleans, as I went my way, Mother wrote me
about twice a month till the end of her life.
In high school in the morning a few students could be excused from study hall to go downstairs and help with the hot lunch program. I often did that and spent time peeling potatoes, carrots, chopping cabbage and other similar tasks. Somehow this led me to getting a job at Jack Harter's Girls camp on Lake Willoughby in the summertime. I did this between my junior and senoir year and the summer after I graduated.
There were 5 students to work in the kitchen. Four would work at setting tables, serving, and washing dishes. One would wash pots and pans, help the cook as needed, and prepare vegtables along with the other four. I jumped on the pots and pans job. Charlie, the cook, cooked at a Military School in Florida during the rest of the year. Charlie gave me me a slip of paper as a third cook, and as soon as I got to University of New Hampshire I had a job as a short order cook in a local diner.
Sometimes people, if they had their life to live over, would do something different. Not me. I'd just go on back to Orleans.
Doris Kennison of Orleans assisted in editing and fact checking. Thanks, Doris
Want to review or comment on this
Click here to login!
Need a FREE Reader Membership?
Click here for your Membership!
|Reviewed by MaryGrace Patterson
|Dear Hank , I really enjoyed the story.. Those were the days!.. I went to Shadow Lake too. Our neighbors, Lois and Edgar Murphy had a camp there. I Think I went there in about 1949, or 1950. Is this the ariticle you had published in Orleans?....M|
|Reviewed by Gianetta Ellis
|So nostalgic. Demonstrates how important the simple things are in life and what a profound impact they have in shaping who we become. I love Vermont and have written of it myself. When I visit family there again, I will be sure to track down Orleans.|
|Reviewed by Felix Perry
|Interesting trip down the passages of time when things were a lot simpler but I think a lot better.