HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU AND YOURS - REMEMBER TO STAY VIGILANT AGAINST COVID-19 IN 2021
Welcome back, Happy New Year, and Well Done! You've made it through to 2021. Despite the difficulties forced on everyone this past year you've made history by surviving Covid-19 and by being around to greet this New Year! In the future, you'll have so much to tell your grandchildren and great-grandchildren. They won't believe how everyone's lives changed in 2020 as the pandemic surged and the public took to wearing face masks like Frank Allard and Deak Worth, and Doug Humphreys seen here in Brighton Garage.
For those already coping with ill health in 2020, or the loss of a beloved partner, moving into a care home, or looking after ailing loved ones, problems became exacerbated, solutions were harder to find, and new government health regulations came at us thick and fast with confusing and contradictory new rules and laws. Life had never been so chaotic, unstable, or confusing. Yet somehow we gritted our teeth and plastered cheerful grins on our faces, if we had fear - which we all did, we didn't show it. Instead we buckled down, joined forces, forged new friendships, and supported our neighbors. By doing this, we helped grow our confidence in our ability to survive. And as we persevered we reached out, forming new friendships, the result is that our lives have been reinvigorated by these new shoots of growth. Friendship is then an essential tool, and a powerful testament to life itself. While Covid-19 put severe limitations on our lives, the new friendships we made enlarged and enhanced them. As William Morris once said "Friendship is life, and the lack of Fellowship is death."
I really wouldn't want to be without all the new friends I've made through the Covid-19 crisis. The Island Pond Historical Society has become a warmer closer group. The ever youthful Eric S. Dufour - seen above with his husband Andy who also shot the stunning photo of Eric with his IPHS Ambassadorial Certification of Appointment - came onboard as our first ever Goodwill Ambassador. Barbara and Tom Bresse remained as our IPHS Guardian Angels. Morris McKenney became our go-to off-site historian in all rail related and gold prospecting matters, and has been especially helpful with his great sense of humor throughout this crisis. Together, our fortitude and perseverance has paid off: so here we are in a brand new year, but who would have guessed that all us IPHS'ers would have had to fight so hard to reach this point? Sadly, we're not out of the woods yet, it is now clear from the trajectory of figures that the first part of 2021 is going to be more and not less difficult where the pandemic is concerned. More of us may lose loved ones. Covid-19 has not faded out but has taken off on a new more virulent path so, again, we must keep calm and remain vigilant, more so than ever before.
We must remain En Garde! Government health officials warn us we'll need to adopt stricter health precautions than last year. This means more mask wearing and more bans on mingling. For me, it means no international travel which makes seeing my parents in London impossible. Right now, my parents are in their late seventies and in quite good health. But all it will take for this pandemic to turn into a personal crisis for me is if one of my parents should fall down the stairs, have a stroke, or develop dementia or Alzheimer's. If that happens I really will be in a pickle! So, let us all look on the bright side and - without resorting to fiddling while Rome burns and running wild at Bacchanalian feasts, let's celebrate this New Year and take a moment to Congratulate each other for making it this far.
Here in Island Pond, the IPHS has continued 100% as normal - with the exception of the museum being closed because of the risk of visitors and volunteer staff contracting Covid-19. We have remained closed throughout 2020 and if this pandemic is not over soon I will have no hesitation in recommending to the executive board that the museum remains closed UNTIL all danger has passed. However, do not think we have been idle. Far from it, we have helped authors Paul Lefebvre and Mark Bushnell with research, and assisted Brighton Recreation Dept. with vintage sporting Brighton High School photos. Your historical society has been busier than ever, and that's the way we like it! We've baked hundreds of home made cakes and delivered them to more than 50 elderly, ill, or widowed Island Ponders, this is all thanks to our Cake Guardian Angel - IPHS Treasurer Marilyn W. Maxwell LLHSM - who generously funds the entire project herself. A Get Well fruit basket was delivered to Carlene Powers on Railroad Street when her husband, Duane, went into hospital with a severe COPD attack in late December. Like Rita Stafford who was also ill last year, Duane is now recovering.
Genealogical enquiries have flooded in for our volunteers to work on due to more people being able to spend time at home researching their family trees, while vice president emeritus Craig A. Goulet generously kitted out a 95 year old WWII vet with a new winter wardrobe of warm clothes. Craig - all through this dangerous pandemic, has been a wonderful role model and has exhibited the finest leadership skills. His more than twenty years as vice president have been exemplary. His expertise and community spirit is a fine example to us all, and thus he has more than earned the title of vice president emeritus because we shall never allow someone of his caliber and expertise to retire. James H. O'Gorman, you will be pleased to know, is coming along nicely and growing well into his role as Memorial Chairman. He has enlarged the Memorial Dept. and made sure an Island Ponder in his seventies received a warm furry jacket for Christmas. Our executive board and our volunteers Richard Martin and his niece Dayna Martin were recently recognized with small plaques, Laura Carpenter the editor and publisher of the Newport Daily Express newspaper was presented with the IPHS 'Star of Vermont' 2020 award for her loyalty and dedication to assisting the IPHS in its aim to preserve the history of Island Pond, and many IPHS members have been thanked for donating fabulous relics for display in the museum and for the generous checks members like Bob T. and Thora S. sent enabling us to buy uniforms for the volunteers and clean the graves of war veterans whose descendants have passed away.
Did I also mention that the scribes among your fellow IPHS members are busily working on new books? Author Ted Dubois has promised to publish his very latest offering later this year, Ted's work is always wonderful and yet I have a feeling his newest book may be the very best of all, when the book is released you'll read the news here first, Congratulations Ted! James H. O'Gorman - in his role as Memorial Chairman, is compiling a Memorial Honor Roll calendar that will contain the names of all those IPHS'ers on the Memorial Honor Roll. I have STILL to make a start on completing my late husband Mark's book - Vermont Valor - oh dear, so many other equally exciting projects have caught my eye! Right now, the IPHS Newsletter Editor, James H. O'Gorman, is pulling together the Spring issue of your newsletter. It promises to be a bumper read, it will be jam packed with exciting railroad articles, including a story about Alex Cabana from new IPHS member Ralph Cabana, two fabulous train articles from Morris McKenney (who says 'Hi' to everyone from his base in Florida), and a wonderful article on Cydney Barnes by his great-grand daughter Claire Barnes Carlisle. There will be plenty of other articles to tempt your palate including a story about Town Warnings from 1880s Brighton where locals voted on whether to alter this town's name to Brighton Lake! Talking of most excellent scribes, IPHS member Sally Bradley over at Nettleham in Lincolnshire has written a stunning two part article on the late Charles F. Maw, Brighton selectman for 37 years. Though Nettleham and Island Pond are over three thousand miles apart, Sally has been a priceless link, keeping us updated to how the Covid-19 situation has been unfolding in Britain. Sally's neighbors Alan & Joyce Bratley are also IPHS members and have been wonderful, sharing a copy of their Port Sunlight soap certificate with a school in Nettleham so that pupils can see the award won by Hannah, mother of Charles F. Maw, when she entered a Port Sun Light washing contest in the 1800s! Better still, it hasn't just been Charles who made the newspapers! Wally Watson, son of Joanne McKenney Watson (seen above) appeared in the Newport Daily Express with his first deer of the season!
Laura Carpenter, Newport Daily Express, with her IPHS Star of Vermont award Dec 31, 2020.
Now, while 2020 was very difficult, I am sure you will agree with me when I say 2020 also brought out the very best in so many people. There were NO END OF GOOD DEEDS done by so many of them. New IPHS member Chris Doyle provided us with copies of vintage documents and a donation, IPHS member and author Stephen Dwyer sent in two perspex facemasks so we could continue our community outreach work, Mr. & Mrs. Eli Xenelis bought the old Boylan home and became members and gave the IPHS a generous donation, Beverley & Paul Reynolds supported the IPHS most handsomely, and Joanne Watson McKenney generously gave us forty first class stamps - invaluable to the IPHS! Everyone tried their best to help us AND each other, total strangers went all out for each other, neighbors who hadn't spoken to each other before began checking on each other, and so many of you reached out to help us. I am very proud of each of you. At a time when people could have walked away, pulled up the draw-bridge, and saved their own skin by turning tail they instead reached OUTWARDS to help others, to befriend the isolated, to cheer up the unwell, and to allay the fears we all experienced. There have been genuine heroes among us, one of them is a youthful looking pony-tailed lady who is about to become a grandmother - again! Usually her name is never mentioned. Every day, customers pass her by, many never giving a thought to the brave way she stayed at her post and kept serving customers. Her name? It's Janine Goss. And without Janine and her boss Andre the entire mail system in Island Pond would have collapsed. No one would have thought the worse of Janine if at the height of the pandemic she had turned tail and locked herself indoors at home. No one would have blamed her for not wanting to interact with locals and with the many strangers who came into the post office in Island Pond needing stamps or to mail off parcels. Janine - together with Andre the Post Master (see photos below) - knew how to cope and how to protect herself and the customers from Covid-19: she simply bought a $15 transparent shower curtain and taped it to the ceiling in the post office so that it stretched to the counter, she then cut gaps in the curtain so customers could pass their parcels through for her to weigh and stamp.
Today, just like every day, and no matter happens with this pandemic, we can rest assured IPHS members like Janine will never let us down or run out on us. Janine's confidence is inspiring. She 'is' the all important face of continuity and stability - those two forces of confidence that render a chaotic and dangerous situation more manageable for us to cope with. As the old saying goes, if a bar fight broke out Janine is the one to want at your side. Janine is a hero though she would never admit it. She worked all through this pandemic, mailed off over 500 copies of the IPHS newsletter for us not to mention over a thousand IPHS postcards. And that is why her name tops this IPHS New Year's Honors List. Also on the IPHS New Year's Honor List is Deborah Ramsay Hawkins. Despite health problems, Deborah stayed at her post in Walmart where she works hard. Customers pass her by, rarely thinking of the danger Deborah puts herself in to make sure customers get what they need when they pass through the self-service check out counters. Locals and strangers pass Deborah, only a few think to stop and thank Deborah for her service. Without store workers this nation would be on its knees. Deborah was very courageous and deserves praise for what she would call 'doing her job' yet, as with Janine, Deborah did her job in the most worrying of circumstances and is one of millions of workers around the country who made sure customers were looked after.
This IPHS New Year's Honors List recognizes many of those who made a special and unique effort not only for the IPHS but also for their community. Each of the people on this list will receive a certificate of acknowledgment, each of these people is special in a very unique way, and their efforts will always be appreciated even after Covid-19 has faded away. We are not over Covid-19 yet, however, so do not let your guard down. Make no mistake, some dark days may be ahead, as sobering as that thought is. Heart breaking times may await us all, and there will be 'days of worry' when the future seems completely out of control. But, with Janine who is steady and strong - and always on our side, and with those others like her such as Craig Goulet and Marilyn W. Maxwell (winner of the LLHSM's Lifetime Achievement award) who project stability and fellowship and leadership in even the strangest and most unprecedented of times, we will never be alone. Whether we are widowed or caring for a partner who is unwell, or facing all the usual difficulties that come with aging we can be confident because of the fellowship we've created and the courage our members have shown. We are in this together, and will come through this together. Your historical society is in strong capable hands and has continued to grow, we've moved forward successfully and with purpose, and so whatever Covid-19 throws at the world in 2021 we will face it head on, together, and with more courage and fortitude than ever before!
On that note, the vice president emeritus Craig A. Goulet and I - together with the executive board members, our volunteers, and your fellow IPHS members, extend warmest best wishes to you and your family for a very Happy Safe New Year 2021. And we hope you will join with us in wishing Ray Fontaine a very happy retirement from his many decades of work in maintenance and as cemetery commissioner with the Town of Brighton. Finally, our sincere thanks to Dale Meehan in Florida. His generous donation was received just a week ago and was a wonderful surprise. Thank you Dale! This historical society is very grateful to you for your continued support.
Sharon J. Biron
ISLAND POND HISTORICAL SOCIETY
NEW YEAR'S HONOR LIST 2020
JANINE GOSS - ROBERT JOHNSON SR - LAURA CARPENTER - ERIC S. DUFOUR - RALPH CABANA - EVA MARTIN - BEVERLEY & PAUL REYNOLDS - DEBORAH RAMSAY HAWKINS - STEPHEN DWYER - THORA SAMSON - FRANK & LOUELLA ALLARD - MARILYN W. MAXWELL LLHSM - TED DUBOIS - VANESSA GOULET - SALLY BRADLEY - DENIS CHENETTE - DUANE POWERS - ANDRE THE POST MASTER - RAY FONTAINE - BIANCHI MEMORIALS - RICHARD & NANCY KEOUGH - DENIS FULLER - RICHARD MARTIN - CRAIG A. GOULET - TOM & BARBARA BRESSE - ALAN & JOYCE BRATLEY