On May 22, 2024

Boys, brothers, dad, Vermont

Building a Killington Dream Lodge: part 14

By Marguerite Jill Dye

Dad made progress and forged ahead on our Killington ski lodge while Mom, Billie, and I toured Europe.

Our extensive European whirlwind trip was the very beginning of my awakening to understand the world and how I fit in. I had no idea what I believed, but I had an inner sense of justice since childhood. My parents were traditional Republicans who protected and sheltered me since I’m so sensitive. I was ignorant about politics and war and wasn’t exposed to anti-war protests. We didn’t debate at the dinner table, unlike what my husband’s parents did.

A few years later, Vermont would contribute to my enlightenment. 

But when I was a teenager, I had my head in the clouds, distracted by raging hormones and fascinated by boys.

When we returned from Europe we began to frame in the rooms on the second floor—a 60-foot-long front great room and kitchen with two small hallways in the back, each leading to bedroom-bathroom-bedroom.

A young man my age helped Dad with the framing. His family had arrived from Connecticut to build the Turn of the River Lodge across Route 4 from the Ottaqueechee. His name was Jack Beesmans. His dad was a builder. We met the Beesmans at a local event. They sent their son Jack to lend Dad a hand in building our lodge’s upstairs. He was strong, had broad shoulders like both of our fathers, and carpentry experience from working with his dad.

While Mom and I prepared snacks and lunch, which I carried up the plank, they hammered away at the framework partitioning rooms and building the roof support. When I was upstairs and stood in the frame, Jack exclaimed, “You fit perfectly in the 16-inch space in between two two-by-fours.”

Jack asked me to join him Friday nights for music and dancing at the Pickle Barrel. So, every Friday en route to our ski lodge, my parents dropped me off for my evening with Jack. We danced like crazy to the rock bands. Later he walked me home in pitch dark unless Vermont moonlight lit our way.

Once his sweet mother invited me to go to Lake Dunmore. Jack and I swam all day and only paused for lunch with his family. On the way home in the back of their truck, the engine and noise made me drowsy. I semi-pretended to nod off and tried to rest my head on Jack’s shoulder. But the ride was so bumpy my head bounced like a ball. I was timid, inexperienced, and naive, but I must have had a little crush on him.

My brother Billie came home from France and helped in Vermont whenever he could. He worked at Killington Ski Area for the summer and jumped off the chairlift onto hay bales to prepare the slopes for winter. In the fall he returned to Bates College (luckily, in one piece) as a senior history major.

When our brother Jack returned from Vietnam, he stayed with us in New Jersey and helped Dad in Vermont for several weekends. He was readjusting to American life, although ours was rather unusual. Since our family rarely ate out, it was a very special occasion when Jack invited me for an Italian dinner. He wanted to show me how ladies are treated by opening doors, adjusting my chair, and treating me to a lovely evening—like a practice date with my big brother. The last time I’d had an outing with brother Jack was when he took me out of kindergarten to spend a stupendous day at a circus.

After he met Debbie and they married, they became the proud parents of triplets—two boys and a girl. Jack also helped thousands of injured people through his passion, the Virginia Beach Rescue Squad. It provided a positive way to process trauma and anxiety from Vietnam.

Both of my brothers helped me to appreciate and accept the sensitive girl I was. They always treated me with love and respect and demonstrated how caring relationships should be.

Once back in our work and school routines, Dad and I were ready for adventure again. We headed for Vermont despite the ordeals of hiking up our driveway in 6 feet of snow, firing up the potbelly stove until it roared and melted icicles that dripped onto the floor and soaked our pillows overnight. But it was worth the aggravation to ski Killington’s expanding slopes. I wasn’t a wiz at skiing but I was getting the hang of it. Dad challenged me with every slope, even the Cat Walk where I had to side slip.

Growing up with weekends in Vermont was like entering another dimension of life. As we constructed our dream ski lodge, exciting experiences always unfolded, never more than a week apart. My parents gave me a precious gift—the state of Vermont—which I’ll always treasure.

Marguerite Jill Dye is an artist and writer who divides her time between Vermont and Florida.  She can be reached at: Jilldyestudio@aol.com.

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