Small Towns: Stockbridge, VT to Waterbury on Vermont Route 100




Route 100 is the spine of Vermont. Its 200 plus miles run smack down the middle of the state from the border of North Adams, Massachusetts to the U.S./Canada boundary near Newport, Vermont. It’s no exaggeration to say the route is rural; just two settlements—Morristown and Waterbury—have more than 5,000 residents and it’s just barely so in both cases.


In the best of times, Route 100 is the take-your-time way to see Vermont, but in a few weeks it will be wicked slow. It’s the drive during foliage season and traffic won’t subside until Mud Season, as it passes through ski country, with Stowe perhaps the most famous of its resorts. (Serious downhill skiers don’t rate it the best, but I’m strictly a snowshoe guy so I wouldn’t know.) During its peak times (pun intended), you’ll need binoculars to spot a New England license plate.


Now is the time to go if leisure is your goal. I’ve written before of southern Vermont on or near Route 100, so let’s highlight the section that passes through the Mad River Valley. On a recent trip to Burlington and the Champlain Islands, Emily and I left I-89 North at Royalton and took Route 107 to its intersection with Route 100 near Stockbridge. The first part of that journey is farm country, which means it passes through no-nonsense villages that cater to local needs, not traveler wants: Talcville, Rochester, Hancock, Granville…. It skirts the eastern edge of the Green Mountain National Forest.



As the elevation rises and you begin an ascent through a gorge, you will pass Moss Glen Falls just beyond Granville. It’s not signposted very well, but the falls are smack dab beside the road. There’s a small pullover and from there you can walk on a short boardwalk for various views of the falls. At 35-feet, Moss Glen isn’t tall, but it’s wide and picturesque. If you’re part goat, there’s also a 5-mile hike above and around the falls but you don’t have to don boots to enjoy the site from the sneakered comfort of the boardwalk. 


Warren Covered Bridge


Warren and Waitsfield are the two most-visited villages on this section of Route 100. They are both around 1,700 people and are quite different in character. Warren is pretty sleepy until Sugarbush opens and ski season gets underway. Even then its local businesses cater mostly to the après-ski crowd. In the “off” seasons, most folks take a drive past the Warren Covered Bridge, take a few snaps, admire the not-so-broad Mad River and make their way to Waitsfield.


Waitsfield Covered Bridge


Waitsfield is like a smaller version of the southern Vermont Route 100 town of Wilmington. By this I mean there are also things to do if you’re not hurtling your moral self over the edges of very tall mountains. You can do that if you wish—Mad River Glen is nearby—but Waitsfield also has art galleries, restaurants, a walking trail beside the river, and other attractions. Though it’s the same size as Warren, its three-season energy makes it feel much larger. The Waitsfield Covered Bridge is longer, more scenic, and the Mad River is deep enough there for swimmers to enjoy. Artisans Gallery is a good place to find superb art from local crafters, painters, and sculptors. If you want a light bite, you can sit in a small garden by the river at Three Mountain Café, though I’ll warn you that service can be slow. They do have New York-style bagels, though. 




Also recommended is a short drive away from the village to see the self-descriptive Round Barn Farm. It’s a meticulously gentrified building that’s more of a destination setting and banquet hall these days, but there are lovely views of meadows and the Green Mountains. Plus, the grounds have been beautifully landscaped. If you’re hungry, on your way out of town you can enjoy the counter cultural ambience and tasty offerings from American Flatbread. (Insofar as I can tell, flat bread is pizza with a funkier shape. Good though!) 


Near Waitsfield



You could wait until you get to Waterbury, though most folks don’t want to spend much time in its past-its-prime center until it’s for brews. Waterbury has become so famous for them that it has been nicknamed “WaterBEERy.” I wasn’t so inclined in late morning, but apparently the Prohibition Pig has frothy delights on tap. Waterbury is also home to Green Mountain Coffee, though I must confess that I’m not a fan—too many wimpy roasts for my tastes.


We popped back onto the interstate at Waterbury, but if you continue out of town on Route 100 there’s the remnant of an old mill, numerous shops that cater to tourists heading for Stowe, a cider mill, and the town’s biggest attraction, the headquarters of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream. We’ve been there many times, so we skipped it this trip. It is, however, one of the most fun “industrial” tours in America. Although the company was sold years ago, the place retains airs of cheekiness, social awareness, and lack of pretension in keeping with the values of Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield.


As a small aside, it was something of a fluke that Ben and Jerry’s is in Waterbury and my coffee buddy Steve Herrell is in Northampton, MA. They were all trawling for sites to start a business at about the same time and were looking into the same turf.


Rob Weir


Sentencing Inequity and Not Woke at All


I’ve been trying to avoid politics–not because I don’t care, but because politics has become a zero-sum game. Wheels spin, venom is dripped, and nothing changes. It’s two sides screaming “Oh yeah!” from opposing sides of a brick wall. Alas, some things prompt the need to comment. Here are two.


Remember Michael Hari? In 2017, he bombed a Bloomington, Indiana mosque. Recently, Hari–who now claims to be transgendered and goes by Emily Claire Hari–was sentenced. She/he/whatever received a sentence of 53 years in prison. I shed no tears for Hari, but we must ask, how many people died because of him? The answer is zero.


Numerous Muslims testified that they feel fearful because of Hari. They no doubt do. But I come back to that number: zero. One could certainly argue that he intended to kill and that his was a hate crime. The problem is that American justice is supposed to rest upon what actually occurred, not speculation or feelings. Judges are allowed to consider victim statements before sentencing, but they are expected to give priority to the severity of the crime. Hari destroyed a building and 53 years for a 50-year-old who, through luck or ineptitude, killed no one, seems grossly excessive. I can only conclude that the sentence was more symbolic than just.


Since 9/11 liberals have bent over backward to show their support for Muslims. Nothing wrong with that, though a strange cultural relativism exists among those who would show no such mercy had fundamentalist Christians bombed the World Trade Center. Let me say it again, lest there be any confusion: Hari intended a heinous crime. At the end of the day, though, this was not Birmingham 1963, when four African American girls died and three of the four defendants–after decades of escaping justice were sentenced to life in prison. That’s essentially the sentence Hari received.


If you feel like Hari deserves this, take a look at Paul Hodgkins, the first person sentenced for the January 6, 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol. He was jailed for eight months. Anna Morgan-Lloyd got off nearly scot-free: 3 years of probation. The latest batch coming up for sentencing are expected to receive jail time ranging from 6 months-1 year. A handful of weapons-wielding rioters could get up to 10 years, though I doubt it.


Let’s recap: 53 years for Hari, but nothing approaching that for the Capitol rioters who sought to overthrow democracy and invalidate a lawful election. In theory, they could (should?) have been charged with treason, a potential capital offense. I don’t support the death penalty, but let’s take this a step further. Rioters trashed the Capitol, didn’t blow it up, but five people died as a result of January 6. One protestor was shot by Capitol police and four non-rioters perished–one by an overdose, one by suicide after his concussion was misdiagnosed, and two others of “natural causes,” including a heart attack most certainly brought on by the stress of the riot. The final score for these two events: 5-0.

How did the Capitol rioters get off so lightly? Perhaps those crying tears over the mosque need to consider that the real enemy today is rightwing fanaticism. The right has clout and the left doesn’t. Hari is no leftist, but shouldn’t energy and political pressure be focused on things that matter most? Why has the outrage over January 6 I vanished into a sucking hole of distraction and amnesia? 




Shifting gears to what is becoming just another distraction, I’d like to call for a ban on the word “woke” from those who are still asleep–like far too many black athletes. A big difference between civil rights activism of my youth and now is that past activists were willing to run risks, not just make pronouncements. Today, many black athletes are more concerned with capitalism than racial justice. I don’t begrudge those wishing to cash in on their talent, but shouldn’t they also place their money where their mouths are located?  


What if black athletes refused to play in states that suppress black voter turnout or don’t deal with cops who kill black people? What if black NFL players refused to play for the Minnesota Vikings until a full reckoning takes place over the murders of George Floyd and Boogie Smith? Why not tell agents they won’t sign contracts for racist pigs like Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones? Imagine what would happen if top basketball and football recruits turned their backs at universities in Louisiana, Tennessee, or Texas. I’m not hearing much from University of Alabama, where the percentage of black football players is well north of 75 percent. What does it say when Major League Baseball went to bat against voter suppression by moving the All-Star Game out of Atlanta, yet the University of Georgia’s football team is filled with African Americans? Too many young African Americans are seeing green more than black. Knees on the playing field are as passe as ice bucket challenges. Wake up! Feet in arenas of states that actually care about justice speaks louder than words.   








Sports Teams: What’s in a Name?




You’ve probably read that the Cleveland Indians will drop their nickname in 2022 and rebrand as Cleveland Guardians. The Guardians doesn’t float my boat, though I’m pleased they are dumping their racist moniker. This leaves just the Atlanta Braves, the Chicago Black Hawks, and the Kansas City Chiefs with problematic names among North America’s four major team sports and I hope they wise up soon.


Whenever teams change names, alarmists come out of the woods with apocalyptic predictions unless the decision is reversed. They also drag out tired old “heritage” arguments to defend the utterly indefensible. Actually, nicknames have changed a lot over the decades. Cleveland’s original 1870 surname was The Forest Citys [sic], a nod to the section of the municipality in which baseball was played. It was changed to The Blues in 1882, then to other names: The Spiders, The Infants, The Lake Shores, The Bluebirds, and The Broncos. In 1901, they signed superstar Napoleon Lajoie and became The Napoleons, which got shortened to The Naps. When Lajoie retired in 1915, they became the Indians as a joke. Cleveland once had a Native American player, Louis Sockalexis (1897-99), who wasn’t very good (and an alcoholic). “Indians” was an insult that stuck.


Many team names make sense: The Minnesota Twins pays homage to the “twin cities” of Minneapolis and St. Paul; the Denver Nuggets and San Francisco 49ers evoke the Gold Rush; the Detroit Pistons the auto industry; the Indiana Pacers to the car that leads the field at the start of the Indy 500; and the Edmonton Oilers to the oil sands outside the city. Others are obvious: Dallas Cowboys, New York Mets (short for Metropolitans), The Montreal Canadiens, and the Vancouver Canucks. Animal names are common–the fiercer the beast, the better–and lots of team names were chosen by fans, including the Buffalo Sabres, which is about the only lethal association one can make with that franchise.


Colors and long-forgotten words are also inspirations. Many early baseball teams wore distinctive hosiery, hence the Cincinnati Red Stockings, the Chicago White Sox, the Cleveland Browns, and eventually the Boston Red Sox, though they had previously been known by names such as the Americans, Red Caps, and Beaneaters. Both the New York Yankees and New York Knicks owe those handles to holdover terms from New York’s original Dutch settlers; the Boston Celtics–with a soft instead of a hard “C”–comes from the Irish population that once dominated its politics. For the record, the Yankees were originally called The Highlanders, but because of the grounds on which they played, not for Scottish reasons!


Here, though, are some origin stories with more obscure histories.


The Oakland A’s is shorthand for “Athletics,” and has been handed down twice. From 1901-55, the were the Philadelphia Athletics and from 1955-66, the Kansas City Athletics. The franchise moved to California in 1967. Today’s Kansas City Royals–a strange name for a nation with no inherited aristocracy and ditto the LA Kings–were an expansion team.  Actually, the Kansas City Royals are named for the American Royal, a livestock show held in the city since the 1890s.


In their “official” history, the Buffalo Bills are named for Buffalo Bill’s Traveling Wild West Show. That’s probably a load of hooey, as William Cody was from Iowa, not Buffalo. It likely has more to do with Buffalo’s Erie Canal terminus. Meat was often shipped via the Great Lakes to Buffalo and, from there, made its way to New York City and other Eastern Seaboard cities.


The Atlanta Braves doubly inherited their team’s name–­from the Boston Braves (1871-1951) and the Milwaukee Braves (1952-62). (The Brewers, a team name that makes sense, were a 1970 expansion team.) It ought not to be hard for Atlanta to part with “Braves,” except that racism is common in that neck of the woods.


The Chicago Cubs got their name for no good reason other than the fact that they had a lot of younger players when they joined the National League. The San Francisco Giants, by way of the New York Giants, had a lot of tall, burly players. The football team borrowed the name from the former National League baseball team—just like they borrow “New York,” though they play in New Jersey.


You can be forgiven if you think the word “Tax” should proceed the surname of the Los Angeles Dodgers. That’s not the reason, though. The franchise was in Brooklyn until after the 1957 season and was by then known by the diminutive of its most recent nickname “Trolley Dodgers.” (The franchise had many other names including The Bachelors and then, The Bridegrooms!) And, yes, tragic encounters between pedestrians and trolleys was a thing in urban America.


The Anaheim Ducks are, indeed, named for the 1992 Disney film The Mighty Ducks.


The Memphis Grizzlies? There are black bears, but no grizzlies in Tennessee. That nickname made a lot more sense when the franchise was in Vancouver, until the Grizzlies moved in 2001.


You’re hardly alone if you don’t associate Salt Lake City with jazz. The Utah Jazz, however, were originally the New Orleans Jazz, an appropriate name. Why Utah hasn’t changed the name is anyone’s guess.


If you’ve been to LA, you probably failed to notice a lot of lakes. Basketball’s Los Angeles Lakers was, until 1960, the Minneapolis Lakers playing in a state known as the Land of 10,000 Lakes. (There are actually more than 14,000.)


The Green Bay Packers play in the smallest city of any professional team and are the only professional team that’s community-owned. Nonetheless, Ernest “Curly” Lambeau would have never fielded a team in 1919 without a lot of investment from local meatpacking titans.


It’s alliterative, but that’s not why we have the Pittsburgh Pirates. There was a breakaway league in the 19th century—the Players League if you’re keeping score–and when it ended, Pittsburgh signed some players other teams thought were their property. That is, they “pirated” them. Pittsburgh was ruled to have acted within their rights but decided to embrace the label slapped onto them by detractors, a sort of “Oh yeah?” gesture.


The Detroit Red Wings came by their name in a (ahem!) round about way. Team founder James Norris (of Norris Trophy fame) played for a team called the Montreal Spoked Wheels in his youth. When he set up shop in Detroit in 1932, he intended the Red Wings as a sort of mashup of the Montreal team and Detroit’s automotive industry.


The Washington Wizards came to the District of Columbia in 1973, The team was, from 1963-73, the Baltimore Bullets. After a few years it dawned on team officials that “Bullets” was not a good name in a city with a distressingly high crime rate.







Kitty Foyle: Ginger Rogers Acts!



Directed by Sam Wood

RKO, 108 minutes, not-rated (pre-ratings system)





Ginger Rogers is best remembered as half of a hoofer team with Fred Astaire. Few today recall that she was so well-regarded that she was once the highest paid actress in Hollywood. Rogers won the Best Actress Oscar for her performance as the titular character in Kitty Foyle. Never once did she put on a pair of dancing shoes.


Kitty is a working-class gal from Philadelphia envious of the old-money families of the Main Line–the leafy suburbs along Route 1–and had a serious girl crush on Wynnewood Strafford VI (Dennis Morgan). Imagine her glee when “Wyn,” in defiance of his family’s wishes, decides to start a magazine and hires her as his secretary. The two fall in love and plan to marry, but is Kitty little more than another act of rebellion on Wyn’s part? A meeting with the impending in-laws (Gladys Cooper and Ernest Cossart) is all too much for the feisty Kitty, who quickly surmises the Straffords’ desire to put both she and Wyn in “proper” boxes.


Kitty leaves Wyn and Philly for the bright lights of New York City. Along the way she gains some sophistication as a salesgirl for Delphine Detaille (Odette Myrtill) in a shop that caters to the upper crust. She also meets a handsome doctor, Mark Eisen (James Craig) and plans to marry him, despite the fact that he’s on the bland side and poor as a church mouse. Wyn’s appearance in New York throws a monkey wrench into those plans. As it transpires, it’s easier to move than forget, plus Wyn can offer her a lifestyle she can only dream of. First, though, he has to extricate himself from the marriage (and child) he acquired after Kitty walked out.  (There’s another complication between Kitty and Wyn but I’ll leave that for you to discover.)


Kitty faces the age-old dilemma of head versus heart. Mark is rock steady and unestablished; Wyn is glamorous and wealthy. The latter is no trifling matter; the film debuted in 1940, a time in which the Great Depression had not yet ended. As the film wends its way toward its conclusion, all we know for sure is that Kitty is on her way either to marry Mark or run away to Argentina with Wyn. In essence, it’s a matter of whether Cinderella will marry the pauper or the prince.


Director Sam Wood works from a novel written by Christopher Morley turned into a screenplay by one of Hollywood’s most-talented script doctors, Dalton Trumbo. By today’s standards, Kitty Foyle will perhaps seem too much like a pawn moved by others. Even allowing for the differing expectations of 1940, Kitty’s motives often seem muddled at best, but Rogers is terrific in the role and mostly makes us root for her rather than doing a sociological dissection of pre-World War II gender relations. The film is billed as a hybrid drama/romance, but the quick-tongued Foyle/Rogers makes it seem more of a mildly dark screwball comedy.


I can’t promise that you’ll love the film, but I’m pretty sure you’ll never again think of Ginger Rogers as just a dancer. Another thing to keep in mind is that the film released on December 27, 1940. The following December–the 7th to be precise–an event at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, altered American history. As an offshoot, it also changed expectations for women.


Rob Weir