Thursday, April 23, 2015

Chapter 8: Memoirs/ Cavendish Schools

Center Road School today

Following Chapter 8 is an article by the Cavendish Historical Society on Cavendish schools To read the prelude and other chapters of Tiemann’s Memoirs go to Coming to Vermont (Cavendish): Memoirs of Philip Tiemann 

Meantime, the children had started school early in September, walking the half-mile down the hill to the one-room building which had served the neighborhood for many a year. They carried their lunches. Our house seemed very quiet until they returned in late afternoon.

The country school system was new to us, of course, and we had some doubts as to its efficiency. The town head once been divided into ten or a dozen school districts, including one for each village, spaced as advantageously as possible to accommodate the children from all the scattered farms. Then as time passed some of the farms were abandoned and certain schools closed, with the result that in our time a few poor kids were isolated and to reach a school had to travel close to three miles each way, or even further if they had to follow the roads (in bad weather). rather than coming cross-lots. Theoretically, if the distance was two miles or more the children were carried, their families being allowed something for transportation; but plenty of times it did not turn out that way. Either carrying them wasn't convenient, or the roads were too bad. Then the children had to make it on their own, and generally did; there were not too many absences. - A brother and sister used to come by, and sometimes would come in to get warm. They didn't have any gloves.

(Eventually this problem was solved by building a good consolidated school in Proctorsville* and carrying the children by bus but that came a good many years later following improvement of roads and vehi­cles, and only after a terrific battle among the voters.)

The situation meanwhile was accepted without question: people had been given legs to walk with, and were expected to use them. The teacher was boarded in the neighborhood, near enough, of course, so she also could walk., This was a pleasant arrangement, as we found when we had girls stay with us several years; but never think there was money in it for anyone. Looking back in an old town report, I see that our teacher at "Center School No. 1" was paid $558. "for teaching and janitor work" "for the year ending January 31, 1935" (a weird accounting system which I helped to change.) This meant if she wanted help lugging water and wood and tending the big pot-bellied stove she had to pay a pittance to one of the boys. Five to seven dollars a week for board must have seemed like a lot - to her! - That year Center School cost the taxpayers $665.50, probably a low for the twentieth century: it was up to almost nine hundred the following year. I have no record of the number of pupils then, but in 1941 a new superin­tendent had a brainstorm and his annual report shows that Center had fifteen children divided among seven classes.
It's hardly surprising that a teacher seldom stayed more than two or three years; even if their homes were near by they generally found something better or got married. But I take my hat off to them (at least, most of them) for the job they did. In general the children were pretty well prepared for high school. Under the circumstances that was a considerable accomplishment.

At least it may be said that the one room was spacious, light, and pleasant (when it was warm.) Generally windows were along two sides, black boards on the other two. The stove has been mentioned.' This was practical enough for the times. Otherwise the building was as primi­tive as might be expected, some of them with only an open-sided wood­shed which generally housed the two privies (for boys and girls.) At Center, the latter facilities were in small alcoves off the main room and in the end were provided with chemical toilets,- at about the time the wood stoves gave place to oil heaters. This was much later.

These little buildings also served as neighborhood gathering places, and there were some gay times at Halloween and Christmas parties. A number still stand, as after having served their purpose they were sold, generally to the nearest neighbor upon whose land the school probably was originally built. Even after being refurbished as guest houses or hunting camps, and painted anything but red (which few of them were, anyway) it is impossible to mistake these structures for anything but what they were.

Center Road School-Intersection of Center  &
Town Farm Roads
Cavendish Schools: From 1795 to 2009, there have been 13 public schools in Cavendish. Students were assigned to the school closest to where they lived. These included: • Stoddard-Bailey Hill (closed by 1874)
• Hudson School-Old County Rd (burned in 1901) 
• Parker School-near Knapp Pond (closed 1911)
•  Densmore School-Brook and South Reading Roads (burned in 1922)
• Rumke School-Greenbush (closed 1923)
• Gilchrist School (closed 1947
• Center School-Center and Town Farm Roads (closed 1955)
• Wheeler School-Twenty Mile Stream and Chambers Roads (closed 1955)
• Tarbell Hill School (closed 1955)
• Proctorsville Village School (closed 1959 and replaced with the Cavendish Town School)
• Duttonsville School (closed 1971)
• Stockin School (half in Weathersfield and under Weathersfield School District)
• Fittonsville School-Cavendish Gulf Road Built for the children whose parents worked at Spring Mill. When the mill burned, the school closed in 1884

While Proctorsville had all 12 grades at one time, for many generations, students would go to Ludlow, Chester or Springfield high schools. This changed when the Green Mountain Union High School was built. Today, through school choice option, while a majority of the students go to GMUHS, many opt for Springfield, Ludlow or Woodstock.

School District #1, Center Road  School, where the Tiemann children went to school has been written about extensively in Sandra Fields Stearns’ book Cavendish Hillside Farm 1939-1957. Stearns school days begin in the 1940s, a decade after the Tiemanns would have graduated. Still there are many similarities, with the school being a hub for the social activities of the community.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Chapter 7: Tiemann Memoirs/Foraging in Cavendish

Following Chapter 7 is an article “foraging” in Cavendish. To read the prelude and other chapters of Tiemann’s Memoirs go to Coming to Vermont (Cavendish): Memoirs of Philip Tiemann.

We thought at first that the heavy Labor Day frost had done little damage, - altho leaves were wilted, it did not show on the squashes and pumpkins mature enough to have hard shells, and these were labor­iously carried. to the upstairs hall and attic for temporary storage. It was not until some days later that the children came to me, big-eyed: "Gee, Dud, have you seen the pumpkins and things?"

A survey disclosed that almost all had developed black spots, and in a day or two more they had subsided into messy piles that had to be shoveled up. Cucumbers, citron, and tomatoes ware the same, and few were saved. So it was indeed fortunate that a supply had already been canned. Carrots and turnips, having been in the ground, were all right. And we picked about five bushels of unshelled dry beans. There was a big apple crop and about a peck of plums. To us city people it looked like a lot of produce.

During this month, having first of all removed the privy back of the shed kitchen, I also ripped off the sheathing in that area, built in door and window frame, re-sheathed, and finished with building-paper. This made the room considerably more attractive; and placing some stone steps outside the door gave us a rear exit. We still had the intention of using this for a kitchen thru the winter.

But as September advanced it was steadily getting colder. The wood-stove did not hold a fire thru the night, co in early morning the kit­chen was pretty frigid. We hung on for a while, partly because I was stubborn but more for the sake of the open fires we were enjoying each evening,- Moving in the range would put an end to that. It was really cozy, reading by the light of a kerosene lamp, with the kids playing games or doing homework; or sitting on an old split.log bench watching the fire and perhaps toasting marshmallows.

"If only we could be as warm in back as we are in front," Isabel lamented. For we quickly discovered that the nine draft drawing the flames up the chimney also pulled cold air into the room: closing all the doors helped, but then it of too stuffy! Also, an open 'fire is a glutton for fuel.

As the kitchen range had been rapidly consuming such stove-wood as had been left us, we now had another problem of magnitude. Whereas we could get rid of almost any kind of refuse in the fireplace, to produce heat a stove must have hardwood, preferably well seasoned. In the shed there remained a few "chunks" which defied splitting, and not much else. So it was evident that something must be done. First (and the only thing in sight) was to get delivery of the wood due me in exchange for corn, and this was easily arranged: it was brought already cut, but not split, and I stacked it as it was thrown off the wagon into the shed. Not too well seasoned, so Wy and I split it as rapidly as we could, but we never did get far enough ahead to do much good. And there obviously was nothing like enough to go the winter.

I asked the driver, "How much more do you think I will need?' "Oh, you'll probably not burn more than ten or twelve cord," he replied with 'a grin. - When laid up, a cord of wood measures eight feet long by four feet high, in four-foot lengths, or 128 cubic feet. Ten times that? Whew!

Again we met with unexpected luck, as a neighbor dropped in one even­ing to say he had some extra wood I perhaps could use. The roadsides on his property, just below us, had just been cleared for the width of the right-of-way (two rods) leaving useable wood stacked in more ­or less four-foot lengths, and of course quite accessible. Even tho the town had done this work, it always is assumed that the wood be­longs to the owner of the adjacent land.

"It's green, and some of it not too good, but I'd like to sell it and I won't be too hard on you," he told me. "That sounds all right," I replied, "How much do you want for it?" "Well, by rough measure I'd say there is close to seven cord. You can check it if, you like. Say (so much) per cord." The exact figure I don't have a record of but it seemed reasonable and I accepted with thanks.

Here was a real boon, as I had neither the time nor the know-how to tackle a big chopping job. Yet, before it had been consumed this ready-cut supply proved very instructive. It included about every variety of tree in 'the area, from rock maple (by all odds the best for burning) to shad (practically worthless) Beech and yellow birch were good; white birch burned too fast, altho while green was better than some others. Elm is the devil to split and perhaps the slowest to dry, but fine when well cured. The soft woods had little heat but “caught" well and so were useful for starting a blaze. "Popple" was in this category with pine, spruce, and hemlock. We had no oak.

All this wood was relatively green and heavy to handle, and many logs had to be split before I could lift them. And green (hard) wood gives tremendous heat when several logs are nestled together,- but it also produces copious amount of creosote. I have touched on this elsewhere.

Cavendish Foraging/What’s Edible: The frost on Labor Day weekend was a foreshadowing of the winter to come. The winter of 1933-34 would turn out to be one of the coldest on record for Vermont.

Given the combination of a harsh winter and the “Depression,” many families had to look for ways to supplement the food budget. Fishing and hunting weren't recreational activities as it was an important source of food. More than one boy would bring his rifle/fishing rod to school so he could provide or supplement the evening meal.

Like the early settlers, Depression era families looked to what grew locally. In fact, there are a number of elderly Vermonters who don’t care for blackberries-“That’s all we had to eat some days.”

However there are lots of things that are edible in Cavendish besides blackberries, fiddle heads and maple syrup. Below are edible plants that grow in Cavendish. Please Note: DO NOT EAT  any of these species until you are positive in their identification, as some edible plants and fungi species look very similar to poisonous varieties. This is particular important when it comes to mushrooms. 

Curled Dock
Field Pennycress
Fox Grape

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Tiemann Memoirs Chapter 6/Yankee Thrift

Following Chapter 6 is an article on “Yankee” thrift opportunities in Cavendish today. To read the prelude and other chapters of Tiemann’s Memoirs go to Coming to Vermont (Cavendish): Memoirs of Philip Tiemann.

Our program of renovation advanced too slowly. During bad weather, of which there were several spells, I worked in the house, but this was far from enough time to complete some important jobs, -especially making the big old kitchen fireplace usable. This was only one step toward making the room livable, as we had regretfully decided that the floor under the dry sink in the pantry would have to be replaced. It, and the beams below, were rotted to the point of being dangerous, but they could not be removed without taking down the partition separating pantry from kitchen. Here I began to learn how one thing generally leads to another, and it is impossible to estimate the time required until after long years of experience.

I at least had the benefit of the advice of my carpenter neighbor; even tho he must have derived much amusement from the way I went about things, he went out of his way to be helpful. And his son went with me into the woods where we felled several suitable hemlock trees, peeled them, cut them to approximate length and hewed them flat on one side, then skidded them to the house behind Dan. They were left then to season a bit, altho being cut in the fall they were not sappy. - While we were about it we also brought up the cut branches with which to bank the foundation of the house,- a practice I abandoned after a couple of years as involving more time than it was worth.

At this point Nature intervened. The summers are shorter here then down in New Jersey, and toward the end of August evenings were getting rather chills but we thought little of it. The night before Labor Day was fine and clears as still as could be, and with that sort of green­ish tinge around the horizon after the sun went down. morn­ing we awoke shivering* to gaze out upon a frost so heavy it resembled snow. Everything was sparkling white. We had never thought to cover the gardens, and still did not realize what a catastrophe had struck. Howevers-it was quite evident that we were ill-prepared for winter. What we needed most was the fireplace.

Staying with us just then were a number of "family" including e brother-in-law who enjoyed country living and was of great help to us on a num­ber of occasions. He and I had been planning to take down the partition and I hated to interrupt this, but there was no choice: fireplace first. So while the others were bringing in what could be salvaged. from the garden, we got busy tearing up the boards, which had been used to replace the original hearth, finding all kinds of rubbish beneath.

The mess was cleared away to the brick construction below, which as seen in the cellar was a very strong arch built out over compartments containing shelves. It seemed as tho eventually a brick hearth would be ideal, but there was neither time nor material for that now; so as a temporary expedient I carried innumerable buckets of sand from near Second Brook and filled in the aperture to floor level. This made it possible to have a fire that very evening, and we were rewarded by the pleasure of watching the flames reaching up the wide black throat of the chimney.

A good part of the weeks then, we men were able to spend on the carpentry job,- carefully removing the shelves and wide spruce panels of the partition before ripping out the rotted flooring and prying up the beams.

We discovered that a length of the main transverse sill which had supported the inner end of the beams was "gone" and, being unable to remove it entire, we cut off and replaced a section held up by a stout post, Our recently-cut beams were trimmed to an exact fit, eased into notches, and. the fist surfaces finished off ready for a temporary floor,- which was finished on Sunday.

While not our original intention, we found that we liked having the room larger, with the additional light from the window to the west end. Also the old pantry shelves against the wall could be used for books. So we delayed replacing the partition, and never have done so: its panels have proved useful elsewhere. That end of the room made a con­venient dining space for quite a few years. Covered by a large carpet, the "temporary" floor remained until the entire floor of the room was replaced at a later date.

Having made such good headway, I "took off" part of a day to accompany my brother-in-law to Bridgewater and Plymouth, and so increased my knowledge of our new state. This was pleasant and relaxing. - On a few occasions Isabel and I, or she alone, had been to Brattleboro or Claremont for necessary purchases, but we were far too busy for unnecessary. trips.

Nor did we really have the time to entertain. But any city dweller who migrates to the country can count on a good many visitors for while. People are curious, some with friendly intent and others who want to find out what you have gotten into. But after a while it boils down to those who are really interested; a number of these, both family and friends, came up and did yeomen service in house and fields, and we enjoyed them sincerely. We have appreciated both their company and their help, and I hope they have liked it here. I'm certain all the children had fun in the brooks !

Thrifting in and around Cavendish
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without,” was the guiding principle for not only the Tiemann’s but for most people in Cavendish during the 1930s. To help our present day residents, the following local “thrifty” resources are provided:

In Person Shopping

• Black River Good Neighbor: Has a thrift store in the old armory building in Ludlow, off of Main Street, as well as a used furniture store on Main Street. Twice a year they hold a large tag sale at Fletcher Farms.

• Cavendish Transfer Station: Check with the attendant before taking something.

• Chester Andover Family Center-Thrift Shop (close to GMUHS at 908 Main St. Chester): Follow their Facebook page as it includes up to date items in their thrift shop.  

• SEVCA Good Buy Store: 23-25 Main St, Springfield Note that SEVCA also has stores in Bellows Falls and Brattleboro.

Myrtle’s Closet: Springfield, benefits the Springfield Area Parent Child Center. Features clothing. 

• Other thrift stores near by: Use the National Thrift Store Directory, which includes recommendations, addresses and store hours. 

• Cavendish Town Wide Tag Sale: Takes place the last Saturday in July. This year it will be on July 25. Learn more at the 5th Annual Tag Sale websiteCavendish Connects sponsors this event.

• Abundance Swap: Sponsored by Cavendish Connects, this takes place the first Saturday in December. This year it will be Dec. 6 at the Cavendish Town Elementary School.

On-line Resources
• Cavendish Community Garage Sale Facebook page  You will need to be a Facebook member to participate in this group.

Springfield VT Freecycle: The Springfield, VERMONT Freecycle Group is open to those in this area, and within a 30 mile radius, who want to recycle that special something rather than throw it away. Whether it's a chair, canning jar, piano or old door, or you name it: feel free to post it.

• Craigslist Vermont: Note that there is a “free section.” 

• Yankee Thrift: The Pinterest board operated by Cavendish Connects. Lots of wonderful ways to help you save money.