By Marguerite Jill Dye and Marguerite Loucks Dye
Injustice, insurrection, independence, and new beginnings are what the 4th of July is all about. Pilgrims fled Europe for religious freedom and new opportunities. Many risked everything to cross the dangerous seas and begin a new life.
People that came to New England were tough stock. They formed settlements where their strength, endurance, and determination helped them overcome great obstacles. Where there is a need, people respond. When a powerful storm strikes, neighbors help neighbors. Citizens come together to work for common goals and provide the support that moves the community forward.
One vital need in a rural community is the volunteer fire and rescue, and Killington’s local heroes are no exception. They have skillfully assisted and saved many lives in peril, from accident-related injuries to critical health crises. They have rescued the trapped and put out fires, inspected unsafe buildings, and provided encouragement and countless untold kindnesses. Many of us have stories to tell of their role in our and our families’ lives. They’ve helped my father, husband, neighbors and friends. We can’t thank them enough for stepping in. Without our fire, rescue, and EMS volunteers, life on the mountain would be too risky for many Killington residents.
To celebrate this Fourth of July week, I’d like to share the column my mother wrote about the completion of the current fire house which was built some 40 years ago. It seems especially relevant today since plans for a new fire house are underway and the site has been selected along the Killington Access Road near Woods Road.
“Remembering one of the best ever Fourth of Julys at Killington!”
By Marguerite L. Dye
“Over the years we have enjoyed many happy Fourth of Julys at Killington with family, friends, and often a houseful of houseguests for the holiday. One special day that stands out in our memory was the Fourth that the Fire House on the Access Road was officially opened with a big Firemen’s Picnic Celebration on their very own grounds. The men had borrowed dozens of large picnic tables, and had set up lots of barbeques and hibachis. Inside the new Fire House was a shiny, beautiful fire truck, covered with children climbing all over it, having the time of their lives, and ringing the bell, trying on the firemen’s boots and hats, ecstatic to be in a “real” fire truck. Standing next to it, surrounding it, were groups of men, marveling at the equipment in general, and oohing and ahhing over this feature and that in particular.
“After people had eaten and the children had calmed down a bit, the ceremony began for the dedication of the beautiful new Fire House. Various people spoke, and then they introduced Oren Bates who, among other things, had donated the land. Oren did an excellent job of explaining about the need for fire fighters and equipment and their own building, and how it had finally all come about. He gave credit to the many volunteers, industrious workers, and acknowledged the lodges, industries, companies, community and individuals who had made financial contributions. Much hard work by many, and sheer, determined cooperation, had made it all possible. It was a most impressive dedication. There wasn’t a dry eye among the adults. There was an abundance of pride and joy flowing (along with the beer), and we were (are) all extremely appreciative that the great effort of so many could be culminated in this meaningful manner.
“When the ceremony ended, the games began in earnest. I can remember that Willard and I won a prize for hobbling back and forth in a three-legged race, and each of our children for various running games. The tug of war for the kids was lots of fun to watch, but the tug of war for the adults was serious business. Our teams were so evenly matched, and all were so determined to win! It went on and on, first a little one way, and then a little the other way, back and forth. I can remember laughing so hard it was difficult to hang on, but I must have, in spite of laughing, because my hands were so red and raw when it was all over that I wasn’t much use for the rest of the day for building on the ski house. I could hardly unbend my fingers from the rope. I think the decision was a draw.
“All good things come to an end, so we eventually did leave and go back to work for a while at our building site. (What a sight!) I prepared and served an early, light dinner that no one was very hungry for (because we had all pigged out at the picnic), but as a hostess, one feels it should be offered whether they are very hungry or not, and we couldn’t wait until later in the evening, because we had to be through early (for a change) in order to drive to the fireworks. (In our family, no Fourth of July is ever complete without fireworks, and long ago our dear friend, Ann Wallen, had taken us to ‘The Farm and Wilderness Camp’ near Plymouth, and it was so great that we have returned together each year). Our houseguests helped carry blankets, jackets, flashlights, and once there we staked out our position high on the hill overlooking the field below where the fireworks were lighted. One of the highlights came at the very beginning when it was almost dark, before the start of the fireworks. The children from the camp had gathered branches and wood, and piled it as high as a house, and the ‘POW’ that sounded as it was ignited thrilled the crowd and frightened the small children, who began crying. It was a magnificent, glowing heap that continued to burn all throughout the brilliant fireworks display. The crowd was most appreciative each time the rockets burst in the air, gasping and shrieking at all the appropriate times and murmuring ‘Beautiful,’ ‘Spectacular,’ or ‘Will you look at that!’ It was a beautiful evening, and we all agreed a perfect ending to a perfect day.
“Our houseguests asked if they could come back the next Fourth of July. They said it was the best one they’d ever enjoyed. In recent years there have been many lovely Fourths with fun parades, and delightful picnics with friends, held near the town pool, but the Fourth when they dedicated the Fire House was a very special Fourth of July that many of us will long recall with cherished memories.”
Marguerite and Willard Dye began building their ski lodge in 1958 (when their daughter, Jill, was 7.) The family construction adventure “in the frozen north” was often the subject of Mrs. Dye’s columns in The Mountain Times, a tradition that Jill has continued in her weekly Mountain Meditation about nature, spirit, and thoughts of the world.