Street Talk: Christmas memories

Visit bit.ly/1221ChristmasMemories to see this week’s video.

Kayla Hoffman, Waterbury Center

KH: My favorite holiday memory was just having the day off from school and being with my siblings. I’m the eldest of five. Most of us usually got a bike or something like Legos or a new video game. We all played Sponge Bob a lot, that was our favorite Christmas video game I can remember. We’d always have breakfast that my Dad would cook. He would always do chocolate chip pancakes with the ears and, you know, whipped cream and bits. 

RH: He was good at that, a good pancake maker?

KH: Yeah, except he’d make them giant. My family’s all big — 

RH: You’re not.

KH: No, I was the little one. So, yeah, just riding our bikes, playing with things, just kind of being together really. After awhile you’d just kind of go outside and abandon some of the toys and just be outside. In Florida, we could be outside all day. It was warm and sunny. Sometimes it would have a slight chill that was coming from the north so it was really quite magical. No snow. Lot’s of sunshine usually. Sometimes we’d have a barbecue.

Morgan Haynes, Rutland

Driving around looking at Christmas lights with my family for hours. Rutland, White River Junction. There’s no other time of year you can park in front of somebody’s house and stare at it other than Christmastime. 

RH: How do the decorations compare now to when you were younger?

MH: They’re better! Yeah! Bigger and brighter now. That Christmas spirit keeps growing. 

Trenton Spafford, Clarendon

My favorite Christmas memory is probably last Christmas because it was the last Christmas with my grandmother.

RH: What’s your Christmas wish for you friends and family here in Rutland County?

TS: For everyone to just get along despite their differences, I guess.

Bill Clark, Pawlet

Some of them go back to when I first met my wife. She was over in Gansevoort, New York. We used to go over there, and we used to have a pretty darned good time, and, of course, we had Christmas at home, too, and had a great big old farmhouse, and naturally we had a tree and presents and things like that and so forth. I always liked to take a little time off to go help the neighbors, too, to make sure everybody else was having a good Christmastime, not just us. And we still do that today as far as that’s concerned. You can’t have a real good time, I don’t think, unless you know everybody else is having a good time, too. You don’t deserve to have one unless everybody else does. A lot of people out there today, you know as well as I do, that are struggling with finances. Medical expenses are extremely high and it’s wintertime here in Vermont whether you like it or not, and there’s fuel costs and housing costs, and things like that. … I’ve been glad to see in the news how many different organizations — a lot of this I get out of the Albany stations — how many different organizations are helping people with children or with meals and everything over Thanksgiving and so forth. … I think that’s what makes America great, what makes the country great. You know as well as I do, there’s no other place in the world like Vermont. You’ve got to go back to when Vermont first started. Why do you think they came here in the first place. They were sick and tired of somebody else telling them how to like their lives, good, bad or otherwise. You can go all the way back to Martin Luther, the Episcopals in England, the Puritans, anybody who got in trouble, finally some people said that lousy pile of rocks up there near Lake Champlain, let’s go up there — we’ll do what we want to and let other people do what they want to. As long as they’re not bothering us, however they want to live their lives, that their business, not our business, and so a few people come up and settled this bunch of rocks, and you know the rest of the story as far as that’s concerned. And I just seen in your paper just the other day, Vermont today is listed as the most healthy state in the United States and maybe that because they haven’t got the money enough to buy junk food.

Rachel Bowlen, Dorset

I remember one year pretty much wanting a Toni doll. It was a doll that you could use Toni home permanent with. That was a big thing then. And I got the doll, and she came with a red snow suit. And it just so happened that it snowed that year in South Carolina. It was perfect, a perfect gift.

RH: Do you have a Christmas wish for your friends and family here in Rutland and in Vermont?

RB: Yes, I do. I wish them peace and happiness and health.

RH: Health above all! Thank you, Rachel. Merry Christmas to you.

RB: Merry Christmas to you, and to all — a good night!

Karen Ryer, Rutland

RH: Your memories of a New Jersey Christmas. You guys do it any different down there?

KR: It’s very rough and tumble down there in New Jersey.

RH: Why’s that? Were you a gangster?

KR: Well, you know. No. I’m a Sally. Oh, Gosh. I can’t remember.

RH: No memory at all. Completely blanked out. 

KR: To be honest? “Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas.” That is the ultimate Christmas to me. If you haven’t seen it, it’s done by the Muppets. It’s amazing. It’s all these little puppets, and it’s timeless. 

RH: Not Rudolph? Not Frosty? 

KR. Emmet Otter.

RH: Not Jesus?

KR: Well, I guess he’s part of it, too. He’s a big part of it.

RH: What’s your Christmas wish for your friends and neighbors?

KR: Ahh, just have a happy, healthy environment. Be with your family and friends, just make the best of every moment.

RH: And chill, baby, chill!

KR: Chill, baby, chill!

Trine Wilson, Westford

I don’t remember how old I was, but I woke up in the middle of the night. I was at an age where I was questioning Santa Claus. I woke up and I heard Santa in the living room and I heard Santa in the living room. So I burrowed way down deep and was confirmed that Santa existed. 

RH: Fantastic. And you still believe?

TW: Absolutely. Absolutely!

RH: What do you want Santa to bring you this year? More chillin’ for the willin’?

TW: Lots of hugs, lots of chill and lots of calm!

Interviews, camera and production by RH Alcott

Street Talk: Art & craft of gift giving

Visit bit.ly/GalacticToy to see this week’s video.

Craig Hahn, Rutland Town

Today is the third annual Galactic Toy Drop, however, this year we turned it into a Super Galactic Toy Drop and Character Extravaganza. What that means is, in years past, our toy drop here with BROC-Community Action was a Star Wars-themed event. This year, Star Wars is here, but superheroes, princesses, an F-35 pilot, Lt. Col. Michael Blair, from the Green Mountain Boys is here; we have Ghostbusters; the DeLorean from “Back to the Future” is here — so this is a Super Galactic Toy Drop and Character Extravaganza. We’ve got every movie fandom, every comic book hero you could think of here today, and we’re collecting toys to help the kids here in Rutland County.

Eliza Bridge, Rutland

I’m Princess Jasmine from the movie “Aladdin.” We’re here to promote the toy donation for kids, the Toys Under the Tree, and everybody can come and they can buy a toy and they can donate it right here.

Shelly Sobel, Rutland

I’m Anna, I’m Elsa’s sister and the new movie came out yesterday, “Frozen II” 

RH: What are you going to do for Thanksgiving?

SS: Just be with my family.

Eliese Bouchard, Rutland

I’m Elsa, I’m Anna’s sister — I’m the queen of the kingdom. I’ve got ice powers. I guess I can just make ice, you know, make things cold, make it winter. It’s kind of a secret. But, also, I’m a senior at Rutland High School.

RH: Are you excited about graduating? Do you have plans for the future?

EB: I’m thinking about going to Seton Hall University to study diplomacy.

Jennifer Davis, Hill, New Hampshire

I’m Jane Foster Thor, and it is based on a figurine that was done. It is all 3-D printed. My husband did the 3-D printing, and I did the sewing of the cape and some of the clothing.

Jeff LeBlanc, Hill, New Hampshire

Yes, this is all 3-D printed. You print small pieces of plastic, and then you epoxy them together and fill the seams with caulking and sand it down, and prime it and paint it — and eventually you end up with this. I’m an engineer. I largely self-taught the pieces that I needed to learn to do, and I did the programming that I needed to do the get the helmet to work correctly. I’m Tony Stark, or Ironman, from the Marvel Avengers movies. This particular suit of armor was from Marvel’s first Avengers movies, so it’s technically the Mark VII armor. That movie came out in 2012, and I’ll be making the other suits of armor as I go along until eventually I have most of them done. 

Dana Alyce-Schwarz, Burlington

Myself and my friend here are part of The Guardian Legion. We’re a group of Vermont cosplayers based out of Burlington, and we simply wanted to have more opportunities to get involved in the greater community. We’ve worked with Make-A-Wish, the Lake Monsters, Shelburne Museum, Children’s Hospital, any group that we can get in touch with and find a good opportunity to help them out at their events or to set up an event. Nobody every says ‘no’ to superheroes, we’re always a good addition. What we’re doing today, we’re helping out with the Rutland toy drive, the Galactic Toy drive. It’s our first time helping out here. We’ve done similar events in the past. We’re happy to help out a local Vermont event, to give back and to support the community.

Mary Jane Watson, Forest Hills, New York

I’m a friend of Peter Parker’s, and in some of the comic runs I do get my own suit and some super powers, so I’m here today as a Spider Person. … There are so many iterations of different Spider characters. There’s Silk, there’s Spider-Gwen, there’s Peter Parker, there’s Miles Morales. The Spider-World is so big, that now we’re just generally called Spider-People.

RH: Tell me about some of your powers? What can you do?

MJW: You know, I can sling a few webs like Spider-Man and all that good stuff.

RH: You can do that slinging part?

MJW: I can do that, but, you know, I’d rather keep my powers a surprise.

Officer Ernest LaGuardia, Rutland City Police Department

Right now we’re here with the Galactic Toy Drop. It’s a wonderful event, it’s for the community where people can drop off different toys or donate anything for families in need for Christmas, for the coming holidays. If you want to drop off toys you can go out front, if you want to drop off a check and make a donation, you can do that as well. It all goes to a good cause.

Donalee Kirk, Rutland

This toy drive is an amazing event that is a great opportunity for BROC-Community Action to gather toys for the children within Rutland County. All the toys that are collected here today will be distributed right through our offices at 45 Union St. to the local community children. And all cash that’s donated will be used to gather additional toys for the gaps in donations that arrive here … for the teenagers and the really young children so we can make sure that everybody has a great Christmas.

RH: Thank you, Donalee, and a merry Christmas to you, and I hope your Thanksgiving is bright, too.

DK: Thank you so much! And merry Christmas to you also.

Interviews, camera and production by RH Alcott

Tomomi’s Woodstock

Republished December 13, 2019

This would be the one that describes in a particularly felicitous turn of phrase Stephen Stills’ later career weight problem as “blowing up like the Hindenburg.” The only person, place or thing that actually did so was the Hindenburg itself, RMS Titanic of the air, without the mass casualties, a German passenger airship that on May 6, 1937, caught fire and ignited its supply of hydrogen gas, which exploded, killing 35 of 97 souls aboard and one station crewman on the ground at the front gate of the Naval Air Engineering Station at Lakehurst, Manchester Township, New Jersey. The passenger airship industry, although otherwise luxurious, quiet, comfortable and pleasant, was likewise killed that night. Tomomi Matsushita, the young woman in the photograph, then 20 years old, now now closer to 41, was and is blissfully unaware of the spectacular disaster, captured in still photographs, newsreels and radio reports, as are, one might hazard to guess, a good percentage of those reading this caption. The story Tomomi allegedly tells herein has absolutely nothing to do with air travel, although trips of another kind are briefly touched upon.

Photo illustration by RH Alcott

Benjamin Michael Metzger

Visit bit.ly/BenMetzger to see the video.

Published November 29, 2019

When Benjamin Michael Metzger, of Hartland, Vt., quit making art for 15 years, an unexpected hiatus, the change affected him physically with weight-gain, diabetes. “I stayed in Idaho, struggled with work, finding creative outlets that weren’t very lucrative and got married.” By the time he was 50 years old and divorced, Metzger decided to come back east and go back to school for his master’s degree. He says his live changed for the better. “I don’t feel like I’m just going through the motions every day. I feel like I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing.”

Interview, camera and production by RH Alcott

Street Talk: 25 years of stuffing buses

Visit bit.ly/GivingThanksVimeo to see the video.

Published November 23, 2019

Peter Colomb, Rutland

RH: What’s going on here this morning?

PC: Stuff-A-Bus! 25 years! Stuffin’ the bus. 

RH: What are you thankful for this year, Pete?

PC: I’m always thankful for my family and the community in general. Look at what you’ve got here — you’ve got a lot of people that are just caring and want to make sure that everybody’s got a good hot meal for that day. That’s what I’m thankful for.

Billy Gillam, Rutland

I’m the coordinator for the transportation — to get all the trucks and buses all in place, to accept all the product coming in. We now have the Rutland City Catholic churches here — IHM, Christ the King and St. Patrick’s from Wallingford. They just unloaded a whole U-Haul. On the other side we have the motorcycle club unloading into another bus. We have now just about filled five buses here already, and we have one down to Hannaford’s right now that’s almost half full already. So we are doing extremely well here. Last year we did just under 30,000 pounds. We’re probably going to get real close to that this year. That’s the goal. 

RH: Billy, what are you thankful for this year?

BG: I’m thankful that these people in this community came forward to help people who can’t feed themselves for Thanksgiving or who don’t have the money or the wherewithal to prepare for Thanksgiving, that we are going to have at least 500 meals available for them through the three charities that are doing this. Plus it fills the food shelves so we can go all the way to March. That is a big deal — to take care of people, especially working people who can barely make it. This is a great thing for Rutland City, for Rutland County.

Fr. Bernie Bourgeois, Rutland

We’ve taken a big part of our parish life to helping the poor and the needy in the area, and for Stuff-A-Bus we do a huge collection of our parishes. And we’ve got a full bus here of food that came in through the parishes — the Knights of Columbus and our youth groups and other kids have helped. You know, Jesus taught us to feed the poor and take care of the hungry and the thirsty, and the stranger, and that’s what we’re doing by being here today. I am thankful for the gift of life. I’m thankful for the gift of the priesthood. I’m thankful for the gift of these parishes here in Rutland and the generosity, and the kindness of these people who have stepped forward to bring bags of food and more than $2,000 cash that we’ll give to the agencies as well.

Elijah LaChance, Shrewsbury

I’m the state youth director for the Knights of Columbus, and I’ve organized about 10 youths from Christ the King and MSJ, home-schooled from throughout the area to come out and help people in need. We’ve been unloading a whole lot of food from the U-Haul that we arranged into the bus. We’ve stuffed it full.

RH: And how does it look?

EL: It’s stuffed. I’m thankful for a wonderful wife, a wonderful home and for a community that comes out and gives to those less fortunate.

John Carrera, Pittsford

I live in Pittsford, but I work with the Knights of Columbus to help out the people of the Rutland community for the need of food. Since 8:30 this morning we started at Christ the King Church. We were loading the van over here with food to bring down here to Stuff-A-Bus and we unloaded here in a little more than a half hour. There’s probably almost 2 ton of food. That’s about 400 pounds more than they had last year. That’s just my guess. I’m thankful for the gift of God, the gift of life and that we’re able to come here and give service to others. 

Sam Gorruso, Rutland

I was general manager of WJJR. I was also on the board of directors with Marble Valley Transit. I was president of The Bus, and one of our employees, Chris McCormack, joined the board of directors of Salvation Army, and they wanted to do Stuff-A-Trailer. And we thought that was kind of cold for an announcer. So I called up Larry Dreier, who was executive director of The Bus, and said, “Can I have a bus?” and he said, “What for?” And I said, “We want to stuff it with food.” And that’s how it kind of got named. And then we got Terry Jaye to come in and stay on the bus, solid, for two and a half days, and that was the very first Stuff-A-Bus. It was Terry Jaye, myself, WJJR, the Salvation Army and The Bus were the ones behind it, and it’s just bloomed into something just beautiful since then.  

Rebekah Stephens, Rutland

I’m the executive director for the Rutland Community Cupboard here in Rutland. This has been awesome! It’s my first year doing it, and I’m just so excited! I was telling Capt. Angela from the Salvation Army this morning that I got up at 3 o’clock in the morning, and I’m, like, “It’s Stuff-A-Bus day! I just very excited to be here, and I’m so humbled by the generosity of our community and how they’ve turned out for all this food that’s on these buses today, and I just want to say thank you to Rutland City for supporting Stuff-A-Bus and for taking care of your neighbor. Thank you so much. I’m thankful for being able to be part of this whole process of feeding those who need it. I’m blessed! I’m blessed to be able to be part of it, so thank you.

Aaron Sanchez, Plainfield, N.J.

I needed some community service hours, and I reached out to United Way and they pointed me here, so I’m glad that I could be here doing community service hours with Stuff-A-Bus. I like interacting with kids, making people’s day and seeing a smile a people’s face while they help somebody else. 

Roger Louiselle, Rutland

I’m on the Salvation Army board. I’ve been on and off the board for 46 years now. We’re hoping to break the record this year. I know that soon we’re going to be at the Salvation Army stuffing boxes for Thanksgiving … so we’ll probably stuff about 225 boxes for Rutland area people. I’m thankful for a happy family and food for everybody in this region.

Popular radio personality and original Stuff-A-Bus founder Terry “Terry Jaye” Jarrosak, of Rutland, right, accepts a plaque from John Bennett, former Salvation Army captain and original founder of Rutland’s Stuff-A-Bus program, and Capt. Tim Shaffer, of the Salvation Army, in honor of Jarrosak’s 25 years of service to Stuff-A-Bus at the Rutland Shopping Plaza Saturday morning, November 16, 2019.

Interviews, camera and production by RH Alcott

Street Talk: Super Galactic Toy Drop

Visit bit.ly/GalacticToy to see the video.

Published November 30, 2019

Craig Hahn, Rutland Town

Today is the third annual Galactic Toy Drop, however, this year we turned it into a Super Galactic Toy Drop and Character Extravaganza. What that means is, in years past, our toy drop here with BROC-Community Action was a Star Wars-themed event. This year, Star Wars is here, but superheroes, princesses, an F-35 pilot, Lt. Col. Michael Blair, from the Green Mountain Boys is here; we have Ghostbusters; the DeLorean from “Back to the Future” is here — so this is a Super Galactic Toy Drop and Character Extravaganza. We’ve got every movie fandom, every comic book hero you could think of here today, and we’re collecting toys to help the kids here in Rutland County.

Eliza Bridge, Rutland

I’m Princess Jasmine from the movie “Aladdin.” We’re here to promote the toy donation for kids, the Toys Under the Tree, and everybody can come and they can buy a toy and they can donate it right here.

Shelly Sobel, Rutland

I’m Anna, I’m Elsa’s sister and the new movie came out yesterday, “Frozen II” 

RH: What are you going to do for Thanksgiving?

SS: Just be with my family.

Eliese Bouchard, Rutland

I’m Elsa, I’m Anna’s sister — I’m the queen of the kingdom. I’ve got ice powers. I guess I can just make ice, you know, make things cold, make it winter. It’s kind of a secret. But, also, I’m a senior at Rutland High School.

RH: Are you excited about graduating? Do you have plans for the future?

EB: I’m thinking about going to Seton Hall University to study diplomacy.

Jennifer Davis, Hill, New Hampshire

I’m Jane Foster Thor, and it is based on a figurine that was done. It is all 3-D printed. My husband did the 3-D printing, and I did the sewing of the cape and some of the clothing.

Jeff LeBlanc, Hill, New Hampshire

Yes, this is all 3-D printed. You print small pieces of plastic, and then you epoxy them together and fill the seams with caulking and sand it down, and prime it and paint it — and eventually you end up with this. I’m an engineer. I largely self-taught the pieces that I needed to learn to do, and I did the programming that I needed to do the get the helmet to work correctly. I’m Tony Stark, or Ironman, from the Marvel Avengers movies. This particular suit of armor was from Marvel’s first Avengers movies, so it’s technically the Mark VII armor. That movie came out in 2012, and I’ll be making the other suits of armor as I go along until eventually I have most of them done. 

Dana Alyce-Schwarz, Burlington

Myself and my friend here are part of The Guardian Legion. We’re a group of Vermont cosplayers based out of Burlington, and we simply wanted to have more opportunities to get involved in the greater community. We’ve worked with Make-A-Wish, the Lake Monsters, Shelburne Museum, Children’s Hospital, any group that we can get in touch with and find a good opportunity to help them out at their events or to set up an event. Nobody every says ‘no’ to superheroes, we’re always a good addition. What we’re doing today, we’re helping out with the Rutland toy drive, the Galactic Toy drive. It’s our first time helping out here. We’ve done similar events in the past. We’re happy to help out a local Vermont event, to give back and to support the community.

Mary Jane Watson, Forest Hills, New York

I’m a friend of Peter Parker’s, and in some of the comic runs I do get my own suit and some super powers, so I’m here today as a Spider Person. … There are so many iterations of different Spider characters. There’s Silk, there’s Spider-Gwen, there’s Peter Parker, there’s Miles Morales. The Spider-World is so big, that now we’re just generally called Spider-People.

RH: Tell me about some of your powers? What can you do?

MJW: You know, I can sling a few webs like Spider-Man and all that good stuff.

RH: You can do that slinging part?

MJW: I can do that, but, you know, I’d rather keep my powers a surprise.

Officer Ernest LaGuardia, Rutland City Police Department

Right now we’re here with the Galactic Toy Drop. It’s a wonderful event, it’s for the community where people can drop off different toys or donate anything for families in need for Christmas, for the coming holidays. If you want to drop off toys you can go out front, if you want to drop off a check and make a donation, you can do that as well. It all goes to a good cause.

Donalee Kirk, Rutland

This toy drive is an amazing event that is a great opportunity for BROC-Community Action to gather toys for the children within Rutland County. All the toys that are collected here today will be distributed right through our offices at 45 Union St. to the local community children. And all cash that’s donated will be used to gather additional toys for the gaps in donations that arrive here … for the teenagers and the really young children so we can make sure that everybody has a great Christmas.

RH: Thank you, Donalee, and a merry Christmas to you, and I hope your Thanksgiving is bright, too.

DK: Thank you so much! And merry Christmas to you also.

Jennifer Davis as Jane Foster Thor

Interviews, camera and production by RH Alcott

Sam ‘Jojo’ Ashford

Video: Visit bit.ly/SamAshfordVimeo

Published November 22, 2019

Sam Ashford, of Brooklyn, New York, 77ART October artist-in-residence, addresses the problem of fashion on the brink of the apocalypse. “I’m a hand-me-down expert,” Ashford says. “I get all my stuff for free. That’s better for the environment, maybe, environmental fashion, recycling, re-using.” Ashford’s view is that fashion itself is especially ruthless on the environment. “All the dyes, all the production of the fabrics — it’s very bad for the world.” In the video, Ashford touches on the problem of desire. He quotes 19th-century German intellectual Friedrich Nietzsche: “In the end, there is only the desirer and no desired.” Do our appetites and our access to resources put ultimate satisfaction beyond our reach? You be the judge.

Interview, camera and production by RH Alcott

Blaykyi Kenyah

See video at bit.ly/BlaykyiVimeo

Published November 15, 2019
October 23, 2019

Blaykyi Kenyah is a visual artist from Accra, Ghana, where he lived until moving to the United States to earn a bachelor of arts degree in politics from Princeton University. His latest project, Secret Places, was a culmination of a photographic investigation of urbanity in one of Ghana’s small towns through temporal and geographic suspension and obscurity. Kenyah says, “When I decided to be an artist, I think, one big difference between me and lots of artists is, there are lots of artists who have a natural talent that they … get complimented on and it slowly grows and then they realize maybe they can make something of it, and so they do. I was not planning on being an artist until maybe two or three years ago, and when I came to it, I had never handled a brush, a paint brush. The only reason I can do this is because 1960s and 1970s conceptual artists who decided for us … that you don’t need skill to be an artist. You need good ideas, and the skill will come, the skill can be learned.”

Visit bit.ly/1115Blaykyi to see this week’s Talking Pictures video.

Interview, camera and production by RH Alcott