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50 years ago this week: Aug. 27

Addison County was busy and bustling 50 years ago this fortnight, with Field Days in New Haven and an air show in Middlebury drawing large crowds seeking summer entertainment during the first week of the month. The tone changed in the second week of August. Here are some of the top stories that appeared in the Aug. 13 and Aug. 20, 1970, editions of the Independent: 
•  Porter Hospital received a new transport incubator that would allow it to more safely transport premature babies in need of medical care to UVM Medical center. 
•  After months of debate, Weybridge residents narrowly voted down a controversial amendment to the town’s zoning ordinances that would have prohibited mobile homes except within a state-approved trailer park. The town also voted against establishing a kindergarten. 
•  Dr. Salvatore J. Castiglione, a professor of Italian at Middlebury College and director of the School of Italian, was awarded the highest academic award given by the Italian government, the “Cavaliere Officiale Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana.”
•  Betty M. Ferraro held an open house for the daycare center she had created in Brandon, with the purpose of demonstrating how the “fairly new concept” benefitted the community. The stated purpose of the center was to “take care of the children of working mothers.”
•  Though only in its second year, the tractor pull was already one of the most popular Field Days events. Winners of the contests were Mrs. Richard Clark of Shoreham, James Husk of Ferrisburgh, Arie Scholten, Steve Torrey of Addison, and Bill Landon of New Haven.
•  More than 5,000 people flocked to the Middlebury airport to watch the air show organized by the Middlebury Rotary Club. The Bill Sweet Airshow wowed the crowd with stunt flights, including one act in which stuntman Eddie “Batman” Greene jumped from a moving car onto a ladder hanging from a low-flying plane. During the grand finale, Greene “jumped from a plane with ‘batman wings’ — a head-to-toe cape — and descended to the runway much as a glider does.” That same day, the airport was rededicated to the state of Vermont to be used as a state facility rather than a municipal one.
•  Gordon Brown of Bristol, Gene Fletcher of Middlebury and Frank Miller of Brandon were all undertakers worried that they would no longer be able to continue operating their long-running ambulance services. Due to new Medicare regulations, the local ambulances faced a lack of trained professionals and necessary equipment as well as difficulty receiving Medicare payments for their services. The three men began to organize new volunteer services, patterned after the Vergennes Rescue Squad, which still exist today. 
•  A fire near Mud Pond in Orwell burned around 25 acres of woodland before the Benson Fire Department was able to extinguish it. 
•  Twelve Scouts from Middlebury Boy Scout Troop 136 successfully made the 50-mile trek along the Long Trail south from the Canadian border. The trip took them six days.
•  Twenty-one-year-old Brenda E. Agee of Weathersfield, Conn., died from injuries she sustained after her car crashed into a bridge abutment while driving on Route 7 in Ferrisburgh.
•  Despite a federal report claiming the water supplies of 18 Addison County towns and Brandon were unsafe, Gov. Deane Davis and the Independent that the water posed no threat to public health. Brandon Health Officer Dr. Arthur J. Dick provided 75 contaminant-free water samples from Brandon’s reservoir over the past eight months to refute the one unclean sample taken by the U. S. Department of Health in 1969.
•  Volunteers began to come together in the Middlebury, Bristol and Brandon areas after their local undertakers proposed forming new volunteer ambulance services. At a Middlebury meeting, Cornwall’s T. Richardson Miner Jr. took charge of a “steering committee” to attract more volunteers, while former State Trooper Wayne Reeves offered to provide the volunteers with Red Cross training.
•  In an issue of Vermont Life magazine, Margaret Smith wrote that “most native Vermonters can no longer afford their own state,” citing land records that show large swaths of land owned by out-of-staters from as far away as London and Venezuela whose landownership contributed to driving up property taxes.
— Emma Pope McCright

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