Dave's Vermont Trip June 1996

Jamaica, Vermont - June 13 to June 19, 1996

My brother John and I left San Jose at 6:30 a.m. on TWA, changed planes at St. Louis, got delayed by an overload of U.S. Postal Service containers, and arrived at Hartford about 30 minutes late. My mother arrived from Kansas City and her plane was also late. After getting baggage, we took the shuttle over to National Car Rental where my brother rented a new Buick. They told us that if there was more than one driver for the rental car it would be four dollars PER PERSON PER DAY. Totally outrageous! Needless to say, we did not pay.

The 2 1/2 hour trip north on Interstate 91 was marred by a terrible rainstorm in Massachusetts, requiring us to slow from 65 mph to 30 or 35 just to be able to see the road in front of us. (We didn't know it at the time, but the same storm washed out roads in the small Vermont town of Grafton.) Other than that, the trip was uneventful.

We stopped for dinner at Howard Johnson's just off Exit 3 in Brattleboro, then continued the half-hour to Jamaica, arriving a little late for "Grace Under Fire."

My sister Joanne arranged for John and me to stay in a fifth-wheel recreational trailer owned by some townfolk and parked in the yard, excuse me, the "field" near the garage. We had electricity, water and privacy. Mother stayed in the spare room in the house. It worked out just fine.

It was warm and muggy in the daytime and cold at night. It was also buggy. I got a number of mosquito bites on my arms and legs which took a long time to heal.

[Niece] Melissa's graduation was very interesting. Leland & Gray High School in Townshend, VT was established in 1834 as a seminary; it is now a combination "middle" and high school. Fifty-one seniors graduated; many of whom had attended this school together for the past six years. And one of whom graduated with a mere two minutes to spare; that's another story.

The "Class Night Awards Assembly" was held in the school gymnasium on Friday evening. The graduates assembled in caps and gowns (over T-shirts and shorts) to receive awards and scholarships. There were many academic achievement and "Top of The Class" awards for the different subjects as well as scholarship grants from various organizations in the area. Some graduates were also inducted into the National Honor Society and given scholarships.

The graduates presented the Class Skit (where they lampooned the faculty), the Class Will (where they "willed" various silly items to underclasspersons and faculty), and the Class Prophecy (where they prognosticated where the various graduates would be in ten years).

The parents presented the graduates with a video ("A Look Back") showing still pictures of them growing up. In some cases there were only baby pictures and senior pictures, but in many cases there were photos of them all through school: class activities, ball games, trips, cavorting in the hallways, in the snow, etc.

The graduates "officially" presented the school with the Class Gift of a much-needed portable public address system, which they'd actually given some months ago, and which was used throughout the weekend.

Commencement was held on the athletic field behind the school at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday morning, June 15th. There was a faculty speaker, a student speaker and a keynote speaker. The faculty speaker told the graduates to work hard but to keep a sense of humor. The keynote speaker (a noted local activist) told them to work hard but not to forget to contribute something to society. The student speaker presented a combination poem and speech that he called a "peech," where he humorously mentioned each of the class members by name.

Numerous additional awards and scholarships were presented, in many cases to the same kids repeatedly.

Finally the diplomas were presented. After each student's name was called, and after shaking hands with the School Board Chairperson, the Superintendent of Schools and the Principal, each student was presented with a rose by the Senior Class counselor, who also moved their tassels to the "graduated" position on the mortarboard.

(I can't help but thinking that this is probably the only time they've ever had any interaction with the two school district administrators.)

(Melissa L. Brooks graduated "with distinction" and will matriculate at the Philadelphia College of Textiles and Science in the fall.)

Immediately after graduation, the Brooks family hosted a barbecue in the front yard, complete with burgers, hot dogs and chicken, green salad, deviled eggs, potato chips, cold drinks, potato salad and "that green Jell-o stuff with the marshmallows on it", and topped with strawberry shortcake. A pleasant time was had by all.

Later that evening, everyone assembled on the (Townshend) Common for the annual Alumni parade. "Floats" (mostly flatbed trucks) and the school band circled a one square block area two or three times. To boil it all down, the parade is apparently seen by the alumni as a semi-dignified affair while it's seen by the graduates as an excuse to throw water balloons at the juniors who are throwing water balloons at them. The Windham County Sheriff's Department didn't have a sense of humor about it and kicked a few of the "floats" out of the parade.

Even later that evening, Melissa attended a non-smoking, non-alcoholic all-night party at the home of one of the graduates, with their parents chaperoning, and everyone had a good (safe) time.

For the rest of the trip, we didn't do very much, but life continued as it normally would for the Brookses. The younger children had two days of school but they went on trips and watched movies; there was no actual work involved, and very little learning. John did accompany the seventh-graders to an amusement park in Massachusetts, and had a fairly good time.

On Tuesday, John and I took a tour of the area by rental car, stopping at Hot Glass Works to see the local glass-blowers, Coleman Hills Farm to see the milking process and to get some maple syrup, Weston VT to see the old mill and get some gifts, Basketville to see all the baskets and at the Exit One Outlet Center (Brattleboro) to get more gifts. We also drove across the Connecticut River to the outskirts of Keene (NH) to see the new Wal-Mart Store and then came back.

Mother, Joanne and Melissa took me to the airport on Wednesday, June 19 and then returned by way of one of the malls along Interstate 91. John stayed for another week to take more pictures and relax.

I had two relatively uneventful flights back to San Jose, then rode light rail partway home and got a ride the rest of the way from roommate Bob, who was just getting off work.

Back to work on July 2.

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Created on July 1, 1996. Last updated at 22:20 on July 15, 1996.
David W. Schultheis, San Josť, Silicon Valley, Santa Clara County, California, USA