By Steve Joslin

I chuckle when I think about my mother’s favorite class when she taught at the Old Waitsfield High School. One might readily concur that it would be the most manageable class. Not so. The class of 1958 held a fond and warm spot in her heart all her life. Danny Bisbee, Gary Kingsbury, Spike Vassarm and Gordy Eurich were school hellions. They seemed to know Mom’s limits and she let them go to the end of the leash. To be honest, I think she gave them a little longer leash than many others got.



When Harlow Carpenter opened the Bundy Art Gallery in 1961, he asked Mom to be the gallery administrator. She was at the front desk to greet all visitors and heavily involved in the setting up of the revolving exhibits. With no formal art training she became very knowledgeable in modern and contemporary art. Later in 1970, when Harlow transitioned the gallery into the Bundy School, again she was the administrator. It was an elementary school for paying Valley parents. She so loved the youngsters and loved fostering them. I have often wondered if she enjoyed it so much because there were no high expectations to be required; just help them grow. Her attachment to the children is exemplified when nearing retirement age, she took up cross-country skiing to accompany the kids on their outdoor adventure.

Mom always seemed to be the steady income earner and worked days and long nights teaching and grading homework at night and caring for a husband and two sons. When they were married Dad owned and operated the grist mill on Bridge Street and also harvested the grain crops for Valley farmers. He was a craftsman and could fix anything mechanical. He was, however, not a good businessman and sold the mill in 1952 as he had let the farmers put more on the books than they could pay back. When Mad River Glen opened in 1949 Mom and Martha Moody, wife of Howard Moody, first manager of Mad River who bought Mom and Dad’s first home, baked pies every Friday and Saturday night for the Basebox at Mad River. Dad took the pies to Mad River Glen as he was working in the first ski shop owned by Sig Buchmayer on weekends. As if she did not have enough to do.

Mom had great foresight, which I did not realize until later. My senior year in high school she bought an old manual portable typewriter and brought home a typing book from school. She told me that my term papers at UVM would have to be typed. I could do them myself or hire someone. I learned to touch type and did them on my own. In September 1967 I was drafted into the Army and for schooling I was assigned to Radio Teletype school at Ft. Gordon, Georgia. In order to graduate you had to be able to type 45 words per minute. Her unexpected foresight appeared again.


She was very practical, mostly by necessity and some by choice. When I returned from Germany in September of 1967, I moved back home. She said she was going to charge me $15 a week for board and room. I was making $80 a week as a carpenter working for Bob Harris so I thought that was a little steep. It was later that I realized it did not cover my board or room. On the day I got married Mom handed me an envelope with a check in it for $600 which was every cent I had paid her. It was also very clear to me that if I was going to live at home that I was going to live by their rules; 24-year-old veteran or not. At 24 and 25 when I came home late, she might not be up but she was awake. I did my best not to test the limits.

She had a well-grounded Yankee reserved sense of humor. At her memorial service one of her former students got up and told a story about her. He said he asked how long the paper he had to write had to be. She said, “Make it like a skirt, long enough to cover the subject but short enough to make it interesting.” The day my brother was to get married he and I and his high school best men were sitting on her front porch along Route 100 in Irasville consuming liquid courage and assembling a pyramid of empty beer cans on the porch. He and I both knew that this was not exactly what Mom had in mind for her youngest son nor her porch. At the last minute she came out and asked if it might be getting time to get dressed. She had a smirk but we could see some concern behind it.

From 1903 until 1953 Vermont had a bounty on porcupines. I am not sure exactly what town official was responsible for paying the bounties but I remember Mom as being the one in Waitsfield. For every two porcupine ears a small cash payment was made to the presenter. I still vaguely recall local farmers and woodsmen stopping at the house, usually around supper time, to get their reward. Mom was also very active in the Joslin Memorial Library and I think she was very involved in establishing some sort of modern filing system. She was involved with the Waitsfield Historical Society too.


In the summer of 1993 Mom sold her home in Irasville and moved into the new condominiums in the Old Waitsfield High School. She was the first to select a unit before all construction was completed and had the opportunity to pick out the interior surfaces as she liked. What I found very interesting is that her bright and sunny living room was her old home room when she taught there.

When she retired, she had the chance to resume knitting, one of her passions. She knit everything from baby clothes to mittens and hats for children, ski sweaters to afghans. Her sense of tension on the yarn was such that some people accused her of using machine made items. I still have and wear some of the heavy sweaters and vests that she made. She and Fran Quackenbush and Reba Hall became explorers. They researched, found and walked many Class 4 and thrown up roads throughout The Valley. Many cellar holes were discovered and many identified. She also had the opportunity to take several cruises to places like the Maritimes, Spain and France, all with historical relevance in mind. She also went to Newburyport, Massachusetts, to visit the 1600s site of the first Joslin in America.

The writing of this has caused me to recall and think about many things about Mom that had been pushed back in my mind and to also reconsider many aspects of her life.  Many from different and a much more understanding and appreciative point of view. 

Near the end she expressed regretting not praising us enough, if I could go back, I would tell her many things I did not know or understand at the time.

Thank you, Mom.

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