It was 1978. We were rebuilding Taylor Lodge, which had burned down the year before.
Jan Abbott, section president, asked me to coordinate the volunteers for this rebuild. Nobody, not even myself, would have thought this was my forte, but I had great fun doing it. We didn’t have e-mail in those days. Our chief method of recruiting volunteers was by telephone. After eliminating people who lived out of the area, we divided the membership list into groups of about a dozen and found people to call each section. We tried to avoid calling people who were unable to help for physical or other reasons, but we didn’t catch them all. I called one man and asked him to help carry in materials, which was the major job of the volunteers. He said, “I have a bad back, but I’ll come and do what I can”. That is one key to the success of the project: everybody did what they could.
We contacted newspapers and radio stations, as well as Boy Scouts and other groups that could help. We also made posters. These were hand-drawn posters, not printed or made with a computer. Once I sent the best artist in our group to the airport near my house to make a sketch of Mt. Mansfield. People saw her working and thought she was a real artist. From the sketch, we made posters which we put up in outdoor stores, UVM, and other suitable places.
Our most unusual job was painting a billboard. At the time, there was a vacant lot at the corner of Church and Main Streets. People were allowed to put public service notices there. We got permission from the city to advertise the Taylor Lodge rebuild there. We went down Main Street with paint, brushes, ladders, etc. and spent the afternoon painting a billboard.
Everything was carried from Lake Mansfield up to the building site on four days in early June. We had a great turnout: 103 volunteers on June 3, 20 to 25 on the fourth and 31 on the seventeenth and eighteenth. There was work for everyone. Evelyn Hickey prepared a meal for the workers. Jean Lance and daughters Judy, Jackie, and Christa helped in many ways.
Jack Lance was in charge of the actual building and it was essentially done in one weekend. Ginny Yandow and I stayed overnight, the first to stay in the new shelter. The next morning we and Annie, the caretaker, put on finishing touches including building the front wall. Annie was thrilled not only to be spending the summer in a cabin in the woods but to help build her cabin.
The shelter was done but there was one more project. On September 2, we held a dedication complete with entertainment and of course food. Eighty-eight people attended. Jan Abbott was master of ceremonies. Peg Whitson and others put on a skit that included “Fashions for the Long Trail”. Al Perkins portrayed an early hiker. I stayed up past midnight painting toothpicks for my porcupine costume. (Porcupines were a major problem at shelters through the early seventies.) My first year as vice president soon came to an end.
By Dot Myer, November, 2009