... from Melrose to Montana and back to Melrose
Dear friends and family,
We drove only 102 miles yesterday and spent the evening in New Platz New York. The following morning we headed for New Lebanon and the Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield Massachusetts.
This Shaker village has twenty historic buildings some dating back to 1850. The round stone barn, in its time stabled 52 milk cows. Wagons entered on the upper level and hay was unloaded into the central haymow. Cows were stabled on the ground floor, facing the haymow. Manure was dropped through trap doors to the cellar and stored until needed for fertilizer. The construction of this building in 1826 was certainly and innovation of itís time. The wood poultry house, farmyard, the ice house, brick garage and meeting house were only a few of the buildings making up this amazing village.
Hancock was the third of nineteen major Shaker communities established between 1783 and 1836. The United Society of Believers in Christís Second Appearing was founded in Manchester, England, in 1747. The Believers became known as Shakers because of the trembling, whirling and shaking that affected them during worship services.
This communityís population was at its peak in the 1830ís when more than 300 Shakers lived in six communal groups called families. As Hancockís population decline, families were consolidated, and by the 1930ís only the Church Family remained. Today the remaining Shakers live in Sabbathday Lake, Maine.
In 1960 this property was sold by the Shakers to a local group of Shaker enthusiasts committed to preserving the Shaker heritage. Since that time the buildings have been restored and adapted to interpret two hundred years of Shaker life.
A wonderful self-exploration tour into the past left us wondering why we complain because our cell phone or computer wonít work sometimes.
We drove north on route 7 to spend the evening in Bennington Vermont. The motel was adequate, smaller than some places we have stayed, but we had some fun playing shuffleboard outdoors in the early evening.
Our first stop the next morning was the Bennington Museum, which has a wonderful Grandma Moses Gallery. The gallery is within the Grandma Moses Schoolhouse, a family and childrenís activity center. Other exhibits included the Bennington Flag, one of the oldest Stars and Stripes flags in existence. There is an extensive array of American glass from the 19th and the early 20th century along with American paintings and sculpture. There is also a wonderful display depicting the battle of Bennington, which took place in August 1777. This was a good culture stop for all of us.
We parked on a side street and walked around for a while admiring the exhibits of artistís pallets that were on display on the streets. The colors and selection of subject matter were museum pieces unto themselves. Local artists did the works and the pieces would go on auction at the end of the month. They did make for a very colorful downtown.
After lunch at a local restaurant, we headed for Shaftsbury, to see the Robert Frost Stone House Museum. The farm was on route 7A a small country road with beautiful land all around. The house was completely isolated and that is why Frost bought it. He enjoyed the seclusion and the farm was an ideal setting to raise his family and continue writing poetry in private. This is a quiet house and I could understand the need for place to write the wonderful things that he did.
In the small town of Weston is the Vermont Country Store. The building has the atmosphere of a 19th-century store. The store and its catalogue have things like ladies sundresses, and menís suspenders. You can buy coffeepots and butter dishes. There is a section that carries Black Jack and Beemans gum and Licorice of all kinds. Walnettos in a tin are not far away from the famous Crown Pilot crackers. Regarding these crackers, Nabisco stopped making them in 1996 but they werenít gone long, owing to loyal New England customers. These folks werenít about to give up the Crown Pilots without a fight, so these crackers are back and great for chowder and soup. American Flags, curtains, pillows and cheese. Wonderful Vermont cheeses were available for sampling and we did. If you get a chance to stop by it will take you back to your childhood days of penny candy and half-sour pickles in a barrel.
For our next stop we drove to Rutland to visit the Norman Rockwell Museum. This museum has more than 2500 published works on display. We have all see the Rockwell art on the Saturday Evening Post covers, and they have brought us home. Home to a time of family and Thanksgiving and barbershops. Many of the Rockwell painting were done in this town with local people posing as the subjects of his many works. At this time there was a women available who, as a child had been part of the international poster done by Rockwell. Her brother also appeared in the painting and she gave us some insight of just how much fun it was to pose, not knowing the importance of the job and how her place in history would make her a local celebrity among the other local celebrities.
There are magazine covers, advertisements and illustrations in a variety of small rooms. We got a few small prints and a tee shirt with a copy of one of the Rockwell prints. It was a nice, remembering what was before stop.
We headed towards Woodstock to spend the evening and realize we were indeed getting close to home.
We hope you will stay with us for the remainder of this journey.
Stay well and take care of each other
Shirley, Donna, Louise and Casa
To read previous issues of the trip click here