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In My Little Room — Going to Vermont Every Summer as a Child

May 2, 2011 • 12:21 am • 3 comments

In the back of the car, the old Ford station wagon, driving from California to Vermont in the fifties. I was an only child, in my own world in the back of the car. I could stay there all day while my parents drove and drove, my father mostly. I was in a little womb, protected, self contained, happy. Then the motels we stayed in, next to the train tracks, so I could stand at dusk and feel the big freights roll by.

Then another day driving, me with toys and books, reading, dreamy, lost in my interior world.

Finally, after a week of driving, we would arrive at the little house in Northern Vermont. It seemed like the ends of the earth to me, Starksboro, a poor hardscrabble farming town with no kids to play with — just a few gruff farmers and their rough and tumble families. The house we lived in for a few weeks each summer had no running water, no electricity, and at first no indoor plumbing. We cooked outside over a kind of grill made of granite stones from the field. When they bought the place in 1950 my parents had spent weeks shoveling old clothes and junk out of the house, and it still smelled like damp plaster when I was growing up. The extra room was piled high with National Geographics that my father must have saved. The icebox in the basement with the dirt floor had a block of ice in it and I was sure there were giant spiders lurking.

No one my age came to visit, I was by myself all day in the woods or the fields, building a tree house or later, when I was a teenager, shooting my .22 in target practice, or, once a woodchuck who was sunning himself on the rock down the hill. I went down to see if I had hit it, and saw a trail of blood down into the hole below the rock.

Then sometimes the Brooks family would come up from Connecticut, and then everything was filled with energy and excitement and we all sat at the big table outdoors in front of the house and cooked pancakes and hamburgers on the grill. Or we floated boats on the pond.

Sometimes my parents would take me with them to visit their friends on Lake Champlain, wildly wealthy people with famous paintings on the wall and family pictures in their living rooms in perfectly polished silver frames. Then we came back to our little house late, down a dirt road, and the house was dark and an owl screamed in the distance and I had a tiny blue tin kerosene lamp in my room and I huddled around it, terrified that the bogeyman was coming down the attic stairs into my room. Then I went to sleep in the dark spooky night and in the morning it was all new again, and the sun was shining and the grass was shining and it was all new and joyous and everything was right with the world.




Thatcher, lovely piece. I enjoyed meeting you yesterday at the Illustrators Panel in Los Altos.

I grew up in Barre, VT. My mom’s family lived mostly in Waterbury and Burlington. My favorite place to spend a week in summer was with my cousin Margie on a hard scrabble farm on top of Crossett Hill in Duxbury area. They had running water in the kitchen sink only, a wood stove, and a three holer down the hall past the sheds. I found it magical. My family of seven had a home with a bathroom and running water outside of Barre, so we lead a pretty normal middle class upbringing on my Dad’s modest income.

Today, my cousin Margie and husband Ed have purchased land above the old farm and built a house that is off the grid for the warm months. Solar, generator, and well water keep them humming. Ed is still involved in the space industry in Florida, so their other home is a lovely place on Merritt Island.

Childhood memories are special.

By Mary Paquet on Feb 6, 2012 • 11:25 am


Hey there.  Hello to you and Olivia and the boys.  I have lost total track of you.  I am still living here in Baltimore and doing my artwork and as a teaching artist, murals in the public schools with kids.  Check out my website and get in touch.  Would love to see you all again and see how you are all comingl doing on life’s journey.    Cheers, Kristin

By Kristin Helberg on Apr 3, 2012 • 6:00 pm


I was looking up HURD ib Google and found your site so I’m wondering
if you are descended from Sophronia Hurd b 1808, d 1876 who married George Thatcher and lived in Bennington, VT and had a son George.

I have been researching my family back to the 1580s and I descend from John Hurd.  He and his brother Adam came to America in the 1630s and settled in Windsor, CT and later moved to Stratford, CT.  John’s familybpretty much stayed in Fairfield County, CT but Adam’s family migrated to Woodbury, CT and on to VT & NH and from there to NY and west.

Would love to know how you might fit into my genealogy hobby. or if I might have some of your ancestors in my data base.

Regards, Lois Hurd Hayden,

By Lois M Hurd Hayden on Sep 30, 2013 • 6:12 am

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