#256 - Politicians Not
Hello again Maple People,
Lately I've been involved in a couple of "legislative" issues. Although both my grandpas were legislators, I'm not a politician and for certain will never be one! I choose to spend my "legislative" time in the safety zone of music and friendship. Last Wednesday night I played with the East Bay Jazz Ensemble at Farmers' Night down in the House Chamber of the Vermont State House. Farmers' Night was founded back in the early 1900s by an organization called the Farmers' Club and is, in my opinion, one of the most important activities at the Vermont Legislature; it offers music, poetry and drama instead of budgets, bickering, and countermanding. Over the years, I've played with several different musical groups for Farmers' Night but none was more enjoyable than last Wednesday when we serenaded our audience with strains from Ellington, Miller, Brubeck and Basie.
On another "legislative" note, I was a page boy way back in the 1961 session. Back then the Vermont Legislature was populated heavily by farmers, held every other year on the "odd" year, and, oddly for some folks no doubt, served Vermont's needs very well. I look upon my tenure as page boy fondly and made some great friends back then. One of them was fellow page boy Byron Hathorn who grew up on a farm in Hartford, Vermont. Last winter, Byron and I re-connected with each other through the Internet after fifty years! He and I were great buddies as pages, maybe because of our common farm roots and the fact that we both have family ties to Calais, Vermont.
Byron has spent most of the interim in the field of construction and development and has done very well for himself. He and his wife Scooter spend six months of the year living in Thetford, Vermont and the other six at their home a "stone's throw" from the gondola in Vail, Colorado. He recently sent me an invitation to pay them a visit there in Colorado. I said I'd come if they wouldn't make me ski..."At my decrepit stage, skiing's off limits." I emailed. I could almost see his wink when he emailed back, "What happened to you...I'm still young and ski every day!"
I flew out there a couple weeks ago, picked up a car in Denver, and drove the fascinating 100 miles west to Vail. When I pulled into their yard sometime after dark, Byron and Scooter welcomed me with open arms. He said "Skiing stinks so we're going on a road trip down to Durango." I knew it had everything to do with being good hosts and nothing to do with the quality of skiing in Vail. The next morning the three of us piled into their Suburban and headed south toward Leadville, Byron Hathorn a bit leadfooted, Burr Morse a bit white-knuckled. We weaved our way clear to Durango where their friend Jackson graciously hosted us overnight at his mountain cabin. The next day we wound our way back to Vail through, for this still white-knuckled Vermont farm boy, the most spectacular countryside I'd ever seen!
Naturally Byron and I recalled lots of memories from the old page boy days. One in particular was in the summer of 1961. The legislature had so much to do that year that a special session was called and we all found ourselves back at the Statehouse in July. One day in particular we'd all "had it" with both stifling heat and hot politics. A couple of legislators, Sanborn Partridge from Proctor and Phil Hoff from Burlington decided to play hooky and take a ride in Sandy's Jeep. They invited Byron and me to go along. As we left Montpelier, Phil Hoff asked me, the local boy, if I could recommend a good place to go. I said "Sure" and led them up County Road to the hills of Calais. We went past our old farm and continued beyond, where the road turns to little more than a cow path. When we reached an old abandoned homestead, I suggested we stop. I knew where there was a big patch of wild raspberries a short hike away. The four of us wandered out to the brambles and ate our fill until rain forced us back to the Jeep and a hurried return to the legislature. The following year, Phil Hoff became governor of Vermont.
It was great renewing my friendship with Byron after all those years. We had some good talks, drank a few beers, and parted with plans for a get-together next summer in Vermont. There's been a lot of "bills in the th'old hopper" since 1961 and, looking at it from our now "senior" prospective, we concluded many have not been good ones. Memories, however, are always good, like road trips in Colorado, Jeep rides in Vermont, and telling a future governor both "where to go" and giving him the "raspberry" all on the same day!
We've been out tapping trees the last few days here at Morse Farm although we don't expect much sap to accumulate for a couple weeks. The way this mild winter has been, though, makes us think spring might well announce itself early this year... Thanks!