Sugarin’ Off in the 1940s

It’s early April and the maple sap is flowing, which means it’s time for one of Vermont’s most beloved traditions: The Sugaring-Off Party. This recently rediscovered clip from a 16mm film reel in the Middlebury College Archives records one such party held by students in the early 1940s.

Sponsored by the Mountain Club, the annual outing brought sugar-craving undergrads to the college’s own maple grove near the Bread Loaf Inn. Complete with an evaporation hut for processing freshly-tapped sap into syrup, the “sugar camp” boasted 1,100 trees on land bequeathed to the college by Joseph Battell in 1915. Photographs from the 1939 party even made it onto the pages of LIFE Magazine.

Mountain Club Members 1932

Mountain Club Members 1932

After hiking up to the orchard, “Sugarman” Boudreau helped the eager students collect sap and boil it to produce thick maple syrup. Like any good Vermont sugar-makers, the students diligently (and by no means begrudgingly) inspected the results by tasting generous helpings on snow with pickles and doughnuts. Others chose the more exhaustive measure of quality control and vigorously whipped the syrup until it hardened into maple candy.

Anne Saurman of Clearwater, Florida 1948

Anne Saurman of Clearwater, Florida 1948

Clothing Guide 1944-45, from the Archives

For the 1944-45 school year, the Student Union published these handy HELPS AND HINTS as part of a clothing guide (for women). For example, “No Rubber Boots are to be worn to the dining-rooms, or to lectures and concerts unless the weather is very severe and there is no opportunity to change.” And don’t get us started on shorts. “Shorts are never to be worn in the dining rooms…they are never to be worn downtown unless one is going through town on a bicycle. Then don’t stop to shop or have a coke. Plan those shopping or coking expeditions for sometime when you don’t have shorts on.” Unless, of course, you remembered your leg make-up (For details on that one, see the heading Housecoats.)


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Poetry Reading from “Please Do Not Remove: A Collection Celebrating Vermont Literature and Libraries”

Please-Do-Not-Remove_cover-front-finalWe are pleased to present, along with the New England Review as part of their VT Reading Series, a reading from Please Do Not Remove: A Collection Celebrating Vermont Literature and Libraries. This special event will take place in the Davis Family Library Special Collections and Archives Room 101, at 4:30 p.m., Tuesday, March 10. The book’s editor, Angela Palm, and three contributors—David Dillon, Karin Gottshall, and Gary Margolis—will read from and discuss selections from the anthology. A reception will follow, and copies of the book will be given as a door prize. Free.

Please Do Not Remove (Wind Ridge Books, 2014) is an anthology of twenty works of prose and poetry by writers who represent Vermont’s rich literary tradition. Each piece in the book is inspired by an old library check-out card and incorporates libraries in some way. Corresponding color photographs of the cards, taken by Nick Adams, accompany each work. Ten percent of the book’s net proceeds will be donated to the Vermont Library Association for as long as the publication is in print.

David Dillon is a poet who lives and writes in Vermont’s iconic Northeast Kingdom town of East Albany. His poem “Northeast Kingdom Wind Song” recently was selected as the winner of the Vermont Broadside Poetry Competition. He was born in Vermont and worked as a journalist in New York, Pittsburgh, and Washington, D.C., before returning home. His most recent book is From the Porch.

Karin Gottshall is the author of Crocus, winner of the Poets Out Loud Prize, and several independent press chapbooks. Her new collection, The River Won’t Hold You, won the Ohio State University Press/The Journal Prize. Her poems have appeared in Crazyhorse, FIELD, The Gettysburg Review, New England Review, and many other journals. She teaches at Middlebury College.

Gary Margolis, PhD, is Emeritus Executive Director of College Mental Health Services and Associate Professor of English and American Literatures (part-time) at Middlebury College. His third book, Fire in the Orchard, was nominated for the 2002 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry. His poem “The Interview” was featured on National Public Radio’s “The Story” and Boston’s ABC Channel 5 interviewed him on the Middlebury campus reading his poem, “Winning the Lunar Eclipse,” after the 2004 World Series.

Angela Palm is the editor of Please Do Not Remove. Her essay collection, Riverine, is forthcoming from Graywolf Press in 2016 and is the recipient of the 2014 Graywolf Nonfiction Prize. She is a contributor at BookTrib and owns Ink & Lead Literary Services. She lives in Burlington, Vermont

For more on the New England Review and the NER VT Reading Series see http://www.nereview.com/ner-vt-reading-series/

“Joseph Battell: A Centennial Appreciation,” a talk by David Haward Bain, Monday, February 23rd

Joe Battell, ca. 1860 -HSM, Stewart Papers, vol. 9

February 23, 2015 is the centennial of Joseph Battell’s death. Bread Loaf land baron (in his day the largest private landowner in Vermont), environmentalist, crusading newspaperman, Middlebury College alum (Class of 1860), trustee, philanthropist, novelist.

David Haward Bain presents an illustrated “magic lantern” talk on Joseph Battell’s life and works.

When: Monday, February 23, 2015, 4:30pm

Where: Abernethy Reading Room, The Axinn Center at Starr Library, Middlebury College

Refreshments will be served.

Sponsored by Middlebury College Special Collections & Archives, the Franklin Environmental Center at Hillcrest, the Environmental Studies Program, Middlebury History Department, and the Stewart-Swift Research Center, Henry Sheldon Museum.

David Haward Bain has taught creative writing and literature at Middlebury College for 28 years, and has been affiliated with the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference for 35 years since his first-book fellowship in 1980. His books include Empire Express: Building the First Transcontinental Railroad, Bitter Waters: America’s Forgotten Naval Mission to the Dead SeaThe Old Iron Road: An Epic of Rails, Roads, and the Urge to Go West, and Sitting in Darkness: Americans in the Philippines, as well as The College on the Hill: A Browser’s History for the Bicentennial of Middlebury College and Whose Woods These Are: A History of the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, 1926-1992.

Photo credit: Joseph Battell circa 1860. Courtesy of the Henry Sheldon Museum, Stewart-Swift Research Center

Winter Carnival Films from the 1940s “Premiered”

Fun in the snow at Middlebury College!  These recently digitized 16mm films haven’t been seen in more than fifty years.

This silent film montage shows scenes of the 40 meter jump on Chipman Hill, early ski trails at the Snow Bowl and the “new” 50 meter ski jump, Mountain Club outings to the winter woods, and even “aero-skijoring” on Lake Champlain. Winter Carnival the way it was in the middle of the last century!

And this newsreel, produced by Paramount Pictures in 1949, is an entertaining glimpse back into a unique moment in time.  It was shown in movie theaters throughout the country before the feature film.

 

Winter Carnival Vintage Films Premiere and Hot Chocolate Bar, February 13

Recently rediscovered films in the College Archives from the 1940s will be shown for the first time in more than sixty years.

See Winter Carnival the way it was, before Gore-Tex and fiberglass: ski jumps on Chipman Hill, woolen races at the Snow Bowl, aero-skijoring, and more.

When: Friday, February 13, 2015, 4:30 – 6pm

Where: McCullough Crossroads Cafe (The Juice Bar)

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Addendum–

It was a lot of fun and…

Crossroads Cafe film showing

here are the films, enjoy!

Sporty Sweethearts and Sausages: Vintage Valentines from the Archives

From Special Collection and Archives, selected from our collection of American postcards and ephemera:

Valentine Golf
Valentine Thoughts
My heart’s a golf ball
for your “game”
You always with
me “score”
If I could only
win this “match,”
You’d “tease” my
heart no more.
© 1914

Valentine tennis

A Greeting to my Valentine
My heart goes
bounding o’er
the net,
A “lose game” we being,
Before another sun has set
I hope the game to win
© 1911


Valentine wishbone

I wish you knew 
a certain girl.
Her style is
indescribable.
Her manners really
are quite nice.
Her fortune quite
desirable.
Her portrait this: they
call it fine.
And she’s your own true Valentine.
Date unknown.

Valentine Baloney 2
Valentine Baloney 1

It’s NO BALONEY when I say I LOVE YOU!
Date unknown

Postscript: Yes! That butcher/dog’s arm swings back and forth
The hinge is original and intact. (We can’t say as much for that baloney.)

Davis Library spring exhibit, “Before the Selfie: A Century of Student Portraits”

Our spring exhibit features a century of photographic portraits of Middlebury students.

In other words, one hundred years of awe-inspiring facial hair and evolving fashion trends.

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How will you be remembered? Email a selfie to the Archives at specialcollections@middlebury.edu

Instagram #middleburyselfie

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Photo credit: Lewis Hemenway, Class of 1864, Middlebury College Special Collections & Archives and May Belle Chellis, Class of 1886.

“Joseph Battell: A Centennial Appreciation,” a talk by David Haward Bain, Monday, February 23rd

Joe Battell, ca. 1860 -HSM, Stewart Papers, vol. 9

February 23, 2015 is the centennial of Joseph Battell’s death. Bread Loaf land baron (in his day the largest private landowner in Vermont), environmentalist, crusading newspaperman, Middlebury College alum (Class of 1860), trustee, philanthropist, novelist.

David Haward Bain presents an illustrated “magic lantern” talk on Joseph Battell’s life and works.

When: February 23, 2015, 4:30pm

Where: Abernethy Reading Room, The Axinn Center at Starr Library, Middlebury College

Refreshments will be served.

Sponsored by Middlebury College Special Collections & Archives, the Franklin Environmental Center at Hillcrest, the Environmental Studies Program, Middlebury History Department, and the Stewart-Swift Research Center, Henry Sheldon Museum.

David Haward Bain has taught creative writing and literature at Middlebury College for 28 years, and has been affiliated with the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference for 35 years since his first-book fellowship in 1980. His books include Empire Express: Building the First Transcontinental Railroad, Bitter Waters: America’s Forgotten Naval Mission to the Dead SeaThe Old Iron Road: An Epic of Rails, Roads, and the Urge to Go West, and Sitting in Darkness: Americans in the Philippines, as well as The College on the Hill: A Browser’s History for the Bicentennial of Middlebury College and Whose Woods These Are: A History of the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, 1926-1992.

Photo credit: Joseph Battell circa 1860. Courtesy of the Henry Sheldon Museum, Stewart-Swift Research Center

Historic NYC Postcard Exhibit at Davis Family Library

RRE post card banner

Who would guess that an artist born and bred on a Vermont farm would create some of the most iconic postcards of New York City? Rachael Robinson Elmer’s ground-breaking “Art-Lovers New York” postcard series is currently on exhibit at the Middlebury College Davis Family Library, on the upper level, through April 17th, 2015. The exhibition, on loan from RokebyWashington-Arch Museum and sponsored by Middlebury College Special Collections and Archives, presents all twelve cards, as well as biographical information, historical context, and the three postcards of London that originally inspired Rachael.

Rachael Robinson Elmer changed the aesthetic of American postcards. She pioneered the fine art city view card when her Impressionist paintings of popular scenes in her beloved New York City were produced as postcards by P. F. Volland in 1914. Her “Art Lover’s New York” cards were immediately copied by dozens of artists in New York and elsewhere.

artist Rachael Robinson Elmer was born at Rokeby to artist parents Rowland Evans and Anna Stevens Robinson in 1878. Her art education began before she had even started school and continued with a young people’s summer art program in New York City and later, at the Art Students League. She moved to New York as a young woman and commenced a successful career as a graphic artist. Rachael married businessman Robert Elmer in 1911 and died prematurely in February 1919 in the Spanish flu epidemic.

 

The Middlebury College Special Collections and Archives holds the extensive historical correspondence collection of the Robinson Family on long-term loan from Rokeby Museum.  The books of Rachael’s father, Rowland E. Robinson, are part of the Abernethy Collection of American Literature and the Flander’s Ballad Collection.  See our previous blog post, Reading Rowland Out Loud, for more on that.