Homemade Moonshine, Sin Cabins and First Snow

The boys and I spent last weekend at my Dad’s place in southern VT. I was attending a Londonderry Rescue Squad (LVRS) banquet and the boys got to catch up with their cousins. I was an EMT with LVRS for 11 years in my late teens and twenties, and was honored with a lifetime membership. The lifetime membership allows me to attend their annual banquet and picnic, which I do every year, and to keep in touch with the community of my childhood.

The Banquet was held at Johnny Seesaws a lodge/ restaurant in Peru just minutes from the farm I grew up on in Londonderry. I had been there before, to eat, to go to parties, and on Rescue calls, but I never paid it much mind. For some reason, on this night of the banquet, I picked up a brochure and read about the “Legend” of Johnny Seesaws. It was built in 1920 by Russian logger Ivan Sesow as a dance hall / roadhouse; Johnny Seesaw’s became one of the first ski lodges in the United States in 1938. I was amused to read this” family restaurant” was once the home of wild Saturday night parties, homemade moonshine, and sin cabins out back (I’m not 100% sure what a “sin cabin” is, but I think I can imagine their intended use pretty well).  Charles Lindbergh visited this lodge, and the concept of army ski troops (in the US I assume) started here. Later I checked and, sure enough, the legend is also online – I’ve linked it here.

Of course, I was there for the people, not the restaurant. I enjoy having  25 year old images come back each year while interacting with these old friends and also noting how things change over time. My Dad once told me that the most fundamental things in life are the people you meet, the interaction you have with them, and the impression that you leave with each other. These old friends, who were key in my life back in Londonderry, left impressions that are still important to me today.

I saw Pete, whose family sawmill was where I did my college internship for forestry resource management. We were edging boards at that mill when the first space shuttle disaster occurred. I remember none of us believed it. Then Andy, who was my inspiration to get my first ultralight when I was 20. That ultralight was my first step to becoming a pilot. It was made of light weight aluminum tubing, covered with nylon fabric. It had one seat, a snowmachine engine, and a wooden propeller. We often referred to it as a lawn chair with wings.  Andy had been in flight training in the Navy at the end of WWII and never got a chance to get his wings, by the time I knew him he’s switched to ultralights. Another volunteer, Kevin (who joined LVRS after I was gone), was one of the pilots I interviewed when deciding on my aviation career path…..and later offered me my first flying job.

My strongest tie now to LVRS and the community is through my family. Dad always got cross at me for leaving the work at the farm to respond to a rescue or fire call, then when I went away to college he joined both the Fire Department and the Rescue Squad!  He became a very active member; I believe he went on more calls over four years than I did in eleven!

At Jonny Seesaw’s, we watched the snow come down hard and heavy during the happy hour (my first snow of the year, Peru’s second).  A couple glasses of Pinot noir and a few inches accumulation later, all 60 of us were seated for dinner. As the snow blew around outside, I finished my Prime Rib and chocolate cake, and as I listened to the awards, I was starting to dread my post banquet drive. My oldest son, Wesley, had helped out with the driving down from Cabot – and as we switched places for me to take over once the snow hit, he commented on how depressing the early snow was. I’m not sure if I agree that all snow is depressing – but the drive back to Dad’s after the banquet certainly was! I did have my snow tires on thank goodness. There were cars off the road and it was very slow driving, but we made it safe and sound. First snow, 7″. Remember the snow storms of last year?

Now, for you loyal “Farmer Father, City Son” fans, I have fallen behind in comic posts from Wyatt. November’s issue has been published, and will be on the way to you next post! In the meantime, check my blog archives for all the Farmer Father City Son posts of the past.

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3 responses to “Homemade Moonshine, Sin Cabins and First Snow

  1. My grandparents and parents used to speak of Johnny Seesaws all the time. There was a little girl that I played with that lived there as a really young child. Lots very old, faint memories of that place. Our first house in the area was just down the hill.

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