Saturday, April 24, 2010

A tale of survival in rural Vermont

Katie Zezima reports in today's New York Times from Putney, Vermont, population 2,634 in the southern part of the state. That's where a general store burned to the ground in May, 2008, only to see arson bring down its replacement in November, 2009. Here's an excerpt from Zezima's story that highlights the significance of this institution to Putney, which she describes as "bucolic." As for the store, she says it was more than a place to buy a cup of coffee or a loaf of bread:
For more than 200 years it had literally and figuratively been the town center, where people learned when babies were born and debated town issues while perusing the shelves or buying a hammer.
* * *
In less than six months, the Putney Historical Society has raised more than $800,000 through numerous state and federal grants, Internet donations, bake sales, concerts, corporate funds and unsolicited contributions to help rebuild the store.

The store’s post-and-beam foundation, which will be constructed from donated local trees, is on schedule to be raised in July, and residents hope the store will reopen in December with fanfare and a party unlike Putney has seen.

In fact, Zezima's story features many rural myths in addition to that of community, which doesn't mean--of course--that they have no factual basis. Still, she sounds like a reporter on a mission, and many of the local townsfolk have contributed to it with their quotes . . . read more here.

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