The Year in Review: 2006 – Part 6, Milestones

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(Host) Every year has its turning points.

Some of them are goodbyes to people we knew well. Others mark events that brought some enduring change.

This morning, as we conclude this week’s series of reports on 2006, VPR’s Steve Delaney reports on some of the human milestones.

(Delaney) In the first week of March, Woodstock reported the death of its Mister Everything, Frederick Doubleday, who was 91.

He served for decades in many civic offices, often at the same time. Fred’s friend Phil Swanson recalls the time a fire call came in while Justice of the Peace Doubleday was in the middle of performing a wedding ceremony

(Swanson) “…was in the middle of performing a wedding ceremony. And he grabbed his coat and told the couple that they’d have to wait. He’d be back for them, but he had to go tend to his needing on this fire call. I believe they did wait. And they were quiet They enjoyed it. It gave them a story they could tell for their whole life.”

(Delaney) Fred Doubleday became Woodstock’s first citizen of the year, in 1992.

In April the Reverend William Sloan Coffin died at his home in Strafford, at 81. His status as an icon of faith, activism and influence was personal for retired minister Jack Bixby of Brattleboro.

(Bixby) “He made for me and for thousands and thousands of others the whole notion of ministry something that suddenly seemed very relevant to the time in which we lived and the issues that mattered at that time. I don’t know what would have happened had he not lived and witnessed as he did.”

(Delaney) Coffin was the chaplain at Yale when he led protests against the war in Vietnam.

The long quest for recognition for Vermont’s Abenaki Indians took a big step forward in the spring. Nancy Lyons said she spoke for her ancestors and her descendants on the day the Governor signed the tribal recognition bill.

(Lyons) “It’s like being born for the first time. And it’s a birth for not only for ourselves but for our grandparents, for our children for our children that’s going to come. We’re going to be able to give them pride to stand up and say they’re Abenaki instead of having to hide like we did.”

(Delaney) At the end of April John Kenneth Galbraith died at ninety eight. The Kennedy-era economist had summered in Windham County for sixty years, and his friend Bob Backus said he fit right in, as much as a six-foot, eight-inch man can fit in.

(Backus) “He was one of the community. He was accepted as one of the community. He didn’t ask to be anything other than that and he got what he wanted. He got to be himself here.”

(Delaney) Peter Galbraith says George Aiken tried to get his father to run for the Senate from Vermont in 1964, even though Galbraith was a Democrat.

In the spring, a man in Sandgate moved a wall panel and found behind it the original version of one of Norman Rockwell’s best-loved paintings. It’s the Saturday Evening Post cover that shows a farmer and his son sitting on the running board of an old truck, waiting for the bus. The father’s face is sad, while the son’s is alight with the college adventure just ahead.

Turns out the version that’s been on display for the past thirty years was a skillfully done copy, made by the man who owned the real one.

The newly found original sold at auction in November for fifteen million dollars, three times what it was thought to be worth.

In September the Dog Team Tavern in New Haven burned down, and the body of owner Chris Hesslink was found inside. Three months later, investigators said his death was a suicide.

Vermont’s first lady of folk music died at home in Marlboro, late in May Margaret MacArthur became famous for finding, saving and playing the traditional music of rural America. He son Dan says that music was her legacy.

(MacArthur) “I think the songs and her ability to make them live on for further generations was just a real source of pride and pleasure for her.”

(Delaney) In 1985 Margaret MacArthur was named a New England Living Art Treasure by the University of Massachusetts.

For VPR News, I’m Steve Delaney

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