Whitesburg KY
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Struttin’ Time

We share much in common with Vermont

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step, so the old saying goes. I kept that in mind on my way to and from Vermont. From Whitesburg to the Cabin in the Wild hunting lodge is a twoday, 1,000-plus mile trip.

I promised the children of Letcher Elementary School when I was there to give a talk a few months back that if they would buy the Eagle and read Struttin’ Time I would paint them a picture of my trip to Vermont that will live in their minds.

Let’s take that trip now. Go in your mind’s eye with me to the top of Pine Mountain and suppose that is where we lived all the time. Every morning we wake up we look over and see for miles and see the fog lifting from its bed. Vermont is high, like our Pine Mountain, except it doesn’t peak and heads straight back down hill. There is level land that is miles wide and as green as a Granny Smith apple.

The old-timers enclosed all their land with stone fences that are as straight as arrows. Only the state of Wyoming has fewer people than Vermont, and Vermont is only one of four states that used to be its own nation, the Republic of Vermont. The people live hard, like we do, but are as happy as any I have been around.

The little town of Chelsea would remind you of living in McRoberts, with all the company houses. The little country stores are like going back in time. How cool would it be to go back to the C. B. Caudill Store in Blackey and buy your gas, shop for groceries, have your meat cut, and get a pair of boots. There is no cell phone signal there, no Walmart, and no crime. Their road system can be described in three words, they have none, but no one says a word.

The average income in Vermont is around $40,000 a year, but you could never tell it by the simple life they live. The women for the most part that I saw wore what we call granny dresses and I never saw a child with shoes on, but they walked unimpaired. I talked to them about our people and how we were losing a way of life because of drugs. They sat in amazement.

Can you think back to the first day of school last year that was called off because of bad weather? Their school goes on no matter the weather, although their winters get to 20 degrees below zero and they have four feet of snow at a time.

The people were always so nice and my mind wandered back to my childhood — the old company stores, the times we didn’t lock our doors, and when we never had a drug problem. The days are leaving fast for our people to live in that simple life again, maybe because we don’t have porches anymore.

To keep my word to the kids of Letcher Elementary, I will write them a description of a trip to Vermont they won’t forget.

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