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Friday, December 16, 2016

Last night was the coldest this season.  I had a reading of minus 11.5 degrees on my indoor-outdoor, and minus 13 on the old mercury type thermometer outside my office window.  When it's that cold and the wind is blowing like it was last night, a couple degrees one way or the other doesn't make a whole lot of difference.  It's cold.  plain and simple.  

I didn't linger outside when I took snow measurements this morning.  This was a nose-pinching morning, for sure.  I measured 1.5 in. of new snow, but I the way the wind blew last night, I doubt there is any way to tell how much actually fell.  The snow was being blown about all day yesterday and especially last night - but all I can do is report what appears on my snow board each day.  I've about given up on the backyard stake.  That showed a strong 12 inches yesterday morning, but this morning was down to 10.5, but there were ridges of snow around it.  The only fair way to measure how much is on the ground is to go out there with my yardstick and take several measurements and then average the readings.  I'll do that later - after the warmup this weekend.  We may have a lot less to deal with by Monday.

We had to go to St. Johnsbury yesterday and it was not pretty around Joe's Pond.  Even going down West Shore Road the snow was blowing off the trees creating whiteouts.  Route 2 was the same, but traffic was moving at a reasonable speed for the most part.  I still worried that someone would slam into me when I slowed down for blinding clouds of snow.  By the time we were going down the east side of Dole Hill, the stormy weather let up, but in St. Johnsbury it looked like the frozen north with snow blowing off buildings and almost nobody out on the streets.  Traffic in the stores was down, too.  

Fred had to get his driver's license renewed, so we went up to the Green Mountain Mall.  The Motor Vehicle Department is opposite Pennys at the south end of the mall.  While I was waiting, I walked the length of the mall to the new pub, St. J. Brewery, in part of the space the Pennys store used to occupy at the north end of the mall.  It was just after noon and there weren't many people there, but it looked very nice.  However, there were only a few vendors set up in the mall - possibly half a dozen, and not many decorations.  It wasn't very Christmas-like - not like I've seen in in years past.  There are lots of empty store fronts, but those businesses that are there, Pennys, Sears, Olympia Sprots, Payless, Optical Expressions and Maurice's were brightly lit and decorated.  There are a couple  gyms, and the Chamber of Commerce office and Vermont Motor Vehicle space that is occupied on Thursdays.  Connected, but not accessible without going outside, are Job Lots and the Dollar Tree Store, and these stores seemed to be busy.  Usually there are people walking for their exercise, but I didn't see anyone doing that, and I sat for some time outside the DMV waiting for Fred.  It would be nice to see the mall come alive again.  In the meantime, the stores that are there are well stocked and the clerks friendly, making it a good shopping experience.

Today Fred and I are staying inside - well, except Fred just went out to do his usual runs up Jamie and Marie's driveway.  I'll opt out of walking today - I have "important" projects to do.  One I finished late last night was confirmation of my grandfather's activities years ago when he took a brief journey west after his first wife passed away.  Some of my cousins have supposed he was gone for "one or two years," as an aunt had said in an interview years ago for a book Irma Bolton wrote about the family.  Her book was mainly genealogy, but she got as much input from family as she could.  

A number of years ago, another aunt gave me my grandfather's diaries that span the years between 1885 through the 1930s.  I had not paid much attention to the story of when my grandfather "went west" until I read his diaries.  My great grandmother, Harriet Denison Bolton, passed away in June, 1896, and then my grandfather's first wife, Mary Blodgett, died that November, on their 6th annoversary.  My grandfather left the farm and his two small children in the care of his father, John Bolton, and trusted neighbors, Edward and Eliza Pinkham, who moved to the farm soon after Mary's death.  The Pinkhams had two children, girls about 10 and 14.  The 14 year old, Grace, worked in mills in Massachusetts.  She was born there before her parents moved to Vermont, so I suspect she lived with family when she worked in the mills.  I never heard her story.  

Long story short, my grandfather left in September, 1897 for Oregon, where he worked briefly for a surveying company and got to see a lot of the country, which was his aim, to find a potential homestead.  I remember him saying he never found a place he liked better than the farm on Cabot Plain.  He returned to his farm and family in November, 1897, having been away about seven weeks.  

I am very happy to ease the minds of my cousins who have felt all these years he had abandoned his family.  He had taken great pains to provide for the family in his absence.  When he returned, the Pinkhams remained at the farm and a year later, their daughter, Gracie, came to live with them.  My grandfather married her a year later, on her 15th birthday.  Yep, imagine that.  He was 30.  They raised 10 children together, 5 girls and 5 boys.  The first was born in 1900, the last in 1921. The children from his first marriage were raised along with those from his second, with love and respect.   All were healthy, educated and turned out to be good citizens.  Grandmother Grace died in 1949 at 65, my grandfather died in 1952 at 83.  They were kind and gentle people who loved every one of their children.  And my grandmother was a happy lady for all of the hard work and what must have been nearly impossibly hectic years spent raising 12 children.  She always had hired help - but still, all that responsibility at 15 years old????  My goodness.

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