Every day during the summer and fall, we look forward to seeing Harvey and Lois in our Woodstock store. And come November, when they head down to sunny Florida for the winter months, we miss their smiling faces.
In December Harvey celebrated his 100th birthday. And since we haven’t had a chance to wish him a happy birthday in person, we asked if he’d help us celebrate his 100 years by sharing via email a little bit about his personal history.
Thank you, Harvey, for saying “yes.” We’ve so enjoyed learning more about your life adventures and are excited to share your story with our Farmers’ family. Happy birthday!
Q. When and where were you born?
A. Dec. 18, 1919, in Meriden , NH
Q. Where did you live during your childhood years?
A. We moved to Taftsville, Vt. when I was five. My father bought a 200-acre farm and what is now Apple Butter Inn was my home.
Q. What did you do for fun growing up?
A. Worked in the hay field. Got a new a Yankee rake at 11 years old and raked all summer. Mowed the Taftsville cemetery for 25 cents an hour. Milked the Jerseys. Worked on the farm and hayfield.
Q. Can you describe the types of food you grew up eating? How do they differ from the foods you enjoy today?
A. I ate oatmeal, fried potatoes and bacon for breakfast, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch every day in high school. Today I eat juice, yogurt and cold cereal with fresh fruit. For dinner, we had lots of potatoes, homemade bread and butter. We ate the meat we had dressed off ourselves: pork, beef or chicken. Today I eat more vegetables and less meat. Always frozen yogurt for dessert.
Q. What are your earliest memories of Woodstock that might surprise someone new to town?
A. There was an A&P and First National store. We had two meat markets. The undertaker was where Bentley’s is now. The firehouse was where Mont Verte is. The jail (sheriff) is where the post office is now.
Q. What did your parents do for work?
A. We had a big dairy farm. Thirty cows and 40 head young stock. My mother was the lecturer in the Grange and my father was the master. My father did all the butchering for three miles around Taftsville.
Q. Where did you attend school in Woodstock? College?
A. I attended a one-room schoolhouse in Taftsville. The Mennonite church is there today. Then Woodstock High School (the elementary school is there today). I studied math and astronomy at the University of Miami. After the war, I went two years to Tucks School at Dartmouth.
Q. What was your profession?
A. First job : I worked on US 4 in the summer when I was 16. I was a class A downhill skier and raced in Sun Valley in the nationals at 18 years old. I flew for Pan American Airlines before WW2 out of Miami (flying boats).
I entered the Air Force as a first lieutenant on Dec. 8, 1941, after the attack on Pearl Harbor. I was conscripted by the Air Corps to fly anti-submarine patrol. Then I matriculated to B26 bombers and flew 65 missions in Europe and North Africa. After the war I taught fighter jet F94 pilots out of Grenier Field, NH. Then I flew B52s for eight years in the Cold War. I retired from the Air Force as a lieutenant colonel after 26 years.
In 1956, I became postmaster in Taftsville and owned the country store until 1982, then retired.
Q. What comes to mind when you think about how Woodstock has changed over the years?
A. The police force only had one man who was the night watchman for the village. All the farms are now large home properties. The way of life has changed drastically.
Q. And, of course, we have to ask this final question: Can you share your secret to living a long, happy life?
A. Never smoked or drank coffee. I’ve always been active in some sport. Played golf all over the world representing the United States. In 1987 I was the Vermont state senior amateur golf champion and qualified in 1988 to play in the USGA senior amateur championship.
I’ve always been active in some sport until I had my hip operated on in 2015. So it’s keeping your mind and body awake everyday and ready for new experiences.