Seasoning Vermont: When Fall Became a Product

Originally published in the Times Argus/Rutland Herald Weekend Magazine on 10.16.21 in the “Remember When” column with the title “Falling for Vermont

Frank O. Duffy, a postal worker from Mattapan, Massachusetts, had been visiting Wallingford for more than 40 years. His friend, Patrick J. Muiry, of Boston, had “discovered” the town back in 1895. And now, the retired Mr. Duffy was staying at Maple Grove Farm for his annual October vacation. The foliage was, he told the Rutland Daily Herald, “as gorgeous as ever this year,” especially along the “back roads where October’s colors are gayest.”

It was 1937, and Vermont hadn’t long been a fall vacation destination. That is, until marketers decided it should be.

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Miss Ross & the Rutland Reformatory

UVM/photo

UVM/photo

Some Rutlanders today still remember the women who washed laundry. One remembers going with her grandfather to drop it off and pick it up. Someone else remembered their large vegetable garden, another the candied apples they’d hand out at Halloween. Still others recall eating meals served by the women and singing Christmas Carols alongside them.

Believe it or not, these women they remember were inmates; Continue reading

Vermont Eugenics, the Rutland connection

Prof. Henry Perkins. (UVM / photo)

Prof. Henry Perkins. (UVM / photo)

“One eugenical scheme to purify the state’s polluted protoplasm was bring in a better class of Vermonters — tourists and summer homeowners.”

What is one of the first things you notice when you cross the border back into Vermont? No billboards, right? What about the other features we take for granted: tourist information booths, great hiking trails, summer homes — many, many summer homes — cabins, cottages and even a few mansions. Yes, our tourist industry is one of the major things that keeps Vermont on the map. We have a brand that, thanks in part to various movie references across the decades, is known even internationally. And we are proud of it.

But what if I told you this tourist industry had racist and socially discriminatory roots? That even the construction of Route 7 and the improvement of other highways starting in the 1930s were to make our state more attractive and accessible to the “right” people”? Continue reading