Save Our Ship
I was pleased that "Berth to Death" [April 27] included comments from the talented shipwrights who gave life to the Lois McClure, but I was disappointed to read that the beloved replica schooner would not continue to serve her mission "to preserve and share the history and archaeology of the region."
A crowd of 10,000 people gathered on the Burlington waterfront to watch her slide into the waters of Lake Champlain on July 3, 2004, christened by Lois herself. For the next 14 years, the Lois McClure traveled throughout the region's canals and natural waterways, making friends for Vermont everywhere she went.
I spent 15 summers on board as part of the crew. By 2018, we had logged more than 10,000 miles, visited 200 historic harbors, and welcomed more than 300,000 visitors of all ages and backgrounds aboard our wooden time machine.
The Lois McClure proved to be a magical venue. While traveling, we frequently received gifts of food at the end of the day from visitors returning with fresh-baked treats. That a simple, freight-carrying canalboat inspired these spontaneous acts of kindness confirmed to all involved that we had created something very special.
Many of us who shared this experience believe that the schooner's current condition has been exaggerated. The generous maintenance endowment provided by the McClure family suggests that the schooner can honor her history, her builders, her donors, volunteers and future generations. We ask that the Lois McClure remain a floating exhibition at the Vermont museum that gave her life and continue to enrich the public.
Cohn is cofounder and director emeritus of the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum.
A 'True Visionary'
[Re "Growing Green," May 4]: Melissa Pasanen has outdone herself this time! What a story about Will Raap buying Nordic Farm. She captures his spirit so well and his insatiable desire to push agriculture forward. I remember when Julie Rubaud lived in the Calkins' farmhouse. The Intervale was more isolated then, with more of a Wild West vibe. One morning when I went down to the barn to harness my horses, some guy exposed himself to me — the bad old days.
Thanks for this huge piece of writing, which so beautifully describes the achievements of one of Vermont's true visionaries.
Diane St. Clair
Why is Seven Days giving Tom Chittenden free advertising by publishing a full-page picture of him in the paper each week? I don't understand the need or the desire for this, and it's definitely unfair to all the other politicians serving us who do so without fanfare and without the desire to see their faces in your spread each week.
Mr. Chittenden is an opportunist extraordinaire who should be ashamed of allowing this self-promotion, rather than serving the people in his community. He certainly isn't taking care of the citizens of the Chamberlin neighborhood of South Burlington who are working to keep Burlington International Airport from encroaching farther into our area of the city. And your paper is contributing to this inequity.
Is this a case of money driving the machine? Seven Days is my favorite source for news, so please review your protocols and consider giving a full-page spread to a different one each week.
Editor's note: The ads featuring Sen. Chittenden are actually advertising Seven Days. The ad text, targeting other local politicians, indicates that he saw results from advertising in the paper, which covers issues in the communities he serves. He opted to spend these campaign dollars locally instead of with out-of-state services such as Google and Facebook. To avoid promoting him, we refrained from showing any campaign-related material, referred to him simply as a "state legislator" and ran the ads early in the year, before the candidate filing deadline for local races on May 26. The ad last ran in the April 27 issue.
Commenting on the use of neonicotinoids, Jon Binhammer cites the decline of insect-eating birds as evidence of a decline in insect populations [Feedback: "Bees and Birds," May 4]. I'd like to add additional evidence, something that can be verified by any senior citizen.
Up until the final decades of the last century, drivers consumed at least as much window-washing fluid in the summer as in the winter, because every summer drive in the country would result in a windshield plastered with the remains of insects. People bought fabric covers to keep bugs from encrusting their grills, and some installed plastic shields on the hoods to divert the airflow, and thus the insects, away from their windshields.
Insects still end up on windshields, of course, but only a tiny fraction of those that used to be there. DDT was outlawed years ago, but the vast amounts of chemicals applied in agriculture continue the work of extinction, not only by poisoning insects but also by poisoning the plants (i.e., "weeds") that insects need to complete their life cycles.
[Re "Leaked SCOTUS Abortion Ruling Is Likely to Buoy Prop 5 Support in Vermont," May 3, online]: Sen. Patrick Leahy has been in office since the '70s. In all that time, he's done nothing to codify Roe v. Wade. He did nothing to force through Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominees. He did nothing to stop George W. Bush from stealing the 2000 election.
The repeal of Roe is his legacy. Good riddance.
Taste of Home
I'm a Vermonter living in Minnesota, and my mom mailed me your piece about Koffee Kup Bakery crullers ["The Last Cruller on Earth," April 5]. I, too, grew up eating them, and they had a large, sugary place in my heart. My grandmother would put them in the oven until the sugar formed a little crust on the outside, and we'd dip them in cups of coffee shot through with honey and half-and-half. They were a part of every trip back home. My husband and daughter came to love them as much as I did, and we all bemoaned the fact that we'd had our last ones without knowing it.
All of this to say, your piece was wonderful. Thanks for writing it. That last one must have really been something.
West St. Paul, MN
Anne Wallace Allen's excellent article about workforce housing in Vermont ["Cottages Industry," April 27] contained a reminder of the efforts of company towns in the state to provide housing for their new hires in previous eras. Perhaps the ultimate company town in the state was St. Johnsbury, with its benefactors, the Fairbanks family. Beginning in 1830, the E & T Fairbanks Company scale factory needed skilled workers as it grew into an enormous, sprawling factory complex selling a vast catalog of all types of scales worldwide.
The Fairbanks family knew from the start that it had to provide housing for its new workers, most of them straight off the farm or the boat. Housing options offered to workers ranged from a room in the YMCA (a Fairbanks gift to the town) to rooming houses, apartment buildings and single-family homes. The company also made lots available to workers and maintained a crew of carpenters to build homes. In general, the homes were of good quality, and many of them can be identified today in the so-called Four Seasons neighborhood up the hill from the old factory location.
The Fairbanks family was providing new housing into the 20th century, even as it was struggling with its balance sheet. The company was purchased by its own subsidiary, Fairbanks-Morse and Company, in 1916. It is interesting to look back to an earlier era when a corporation considered it part of its corporate responsibility to provide housing for its much-needed workforce.
Swainbank is the author of Fairbanks: The Family That Created an Industry, Built a Thriving Town, Endowed It With Cultural Institutions and Led the State of Vermont.
The article by Courtney Lamdin on restrictive covenants is superb ["Racist in Deed," April 27]. It explains the issues with the proposed legislation thoroughly and clearly.
Certainly, state law must be clear that such covenants are null and void. As a genealogist with Vermont roots who does research in Vermont land records, I would caution against any attempt to alter or conceal the original deed records. Those records are vital for understanding the past. I use digital images of Vermont land records posted on familysearch.org frequently, and while I have never encountered these covenants, it would be important to include that information in my research reports if I did. A database cataloging those restrictions in deeds would be very valuable for legislators, citizens and researchers.
The proposed legislation to allow individual property owners to remove the restrictions from their own deeds, while well intended, seems to me to be of limited effectiveness. Some would use it; some would not. A better method might be to require all property transfers going forward to include language in deeds explicitly eliminating such covenants. That would make the deed records uniform across the state going forward.
We need to know both the bad and the good about our past so we can do better in the future. Your article supports that — well done!