November 8th, 2017


We got to my parents’ house, perched on a hump beside Burke Mountain, in the little town of East Burke, and the first thing I set about was to look for a job.

Early in the morning of the first work-day,  i went down to the unemployment, and asked to see what jobs they had available.

“What kind of job are you looking for?” asked the clerk.

“Printing, I’m a printer..”

“Well,” said the clerk with a knowing smile on her face, “you might as well just apply for unemployment compensation right now, ‘cause you’re not going to find anything here.”

“But can I just look through the job offerings, to be sure?” I asked.

“Help yourself,” she said, and led me to a microfiche reader.

On the first fiche, I found a listing for a printer.  It was in Waitsfield, on the other side of the state.  I jottted down the phone number and address.

“Thank you!” I said, as I left the office.


I drove back to my parents’ place at the top of a hill in East Burke,   I called the phone number of the job listing, and got a place called “Adworks.”  I drove over to Waitsfield that same afternoon and, after a brief test run on a broken press,  was hired right then.

Adworks was a two-man shop, set up initially to provide an advertising agency (hence the name Adworks) for the businesses of the Mad River Valley, where Waitsfield is located.  It’s a recreational tourist area,  mostly skiing — there are three major ski areas; while Waitsfield itself is a small town with a population of 650 when we arrived, during the winter the number grows to 20,000, so lots of commerce going on.   But there was no printer when Adworks started, so they bought a small press and associated equipment.  This was before the age of fancy xerox printing, before the age of personal computers, so a shop that could design and print a flyer, a brochure, was much needed.  So I became the guy who did all the actual printing stuff; Ron and Brent, who started Adworks, did the sales stuff.

As it would have been an impossible task to commute from East Burke to Waitsfield, Avis and I found an apartment in Warren, the village about four miles to the South of Waitsfield, on the ground floor of a little house beside a babbling brook and a short walk to the village center, where there was a tourist hotel and  a general store.  Avis found a job doing bookkeeping for a construction company (again, a small company; everything is small in rural Vermont).

Ron, the owner who actually hired me, was the only black man living in the Mad River Valley at the time.  His partner, Brent, lived with his wife and two massive dogs in a dome.  A couple of years later, Brent moved away.  By that time Avis and I had bought a house in Waitsfield,

Our new house was “The Solar House,” a passive-solar system, on a dirt road three miles from the village, high on a hill. It had been a ‘spec’ house built by the company Avis worked for, and we got it dirt cheap.  The house was on a acre of land, surrounded by pasture, with a large, red barn about 500 feet from the house.  Bald Mountain rose up behind the barn.  Our nearest neighbor was 1000 feet away.

The house was small — just two bedrooms and one bath, upstairs, and a living-room and eat-in kitchen and mudroom downstairs.  About ten years later, we added another bedroom, bath, larger living room,  and a meditation room, as well as a large deck.  We lived there for twenty-nine years.

Comments are closed.