By Tonya West
A defining – and missed – characteristic of the now-Vermont Music Library Archive is the two large plate-glass windows that were eventually boarded up over time. Back in the 1970's, it was the home front of Hervey and Olive Hanson and was often photographed by folks traveling through Starksboro.
“They’d think it was a flower shop,” laughed grandson Brady Hanson, 42, of Williston. The windows were filled with “everything, you name it: Geraniums, African Violets, La Hoya with its pink clusters draped all around. They smelled so sweet,” recalls Ada Pierce, 85 of Monkton, Olive and Hervey’s eldest daughter. “People would always stop and take pictures. Daddy said she used to talk to her plants.”
(Photo: Ada Pierce, Olive and Hervey Hanson’s eldest daughter, shares memories of what visiting her parents was like.)
Olive was known for more than her green thumb. She was called “The Doughnut Lady” in town and known for her “huge chicken pies.”
“All of her sisters were like that,” said David Mason, 79, who moved nearby when he was eight years old and still lives in the same house. “They could make something out of nothing. Little bit of this, little bit of that.”
(Photo: David Mason, longtime resident of Starksboro and neighbor to the soon-to-be Vermont Music Library & Shop Archive.)
David says the ruins on the VMLS property are the remains of the Post Office and one of Ada’s sisters, Lois, can remember when it was there. “It moved so many times and used to be in the General Store,” said Ada.
Ada also remembers Fred Currier’s barber shop being there and another couple living there. “I don’t know how they stood it,” she laughs. The home had a history of being very cold. “They had an old-fashioned oil pot burner and the kitchen had a neat old stove that was converted. My nephew has it now.”
Both Brady and Ada remember the Sunday family gatherings with fondness. The Hansons’ eight children and their children would converge on the village every Sunday. “It’s just what we did,” said Brady. “And, you wouldn’t believe the Thanksgiving Day dinners we’d have there,” said Ada. At some point the small home was so overwhelmed with family and guests the dinners were moved to the Meeting House.
Brady’s weekend travels to visit family still take him through town. At first, it was difficult to drive by his grandparent’s house. It hadn’t occurred to him it was being restored into the VMLS Archive; rather, he thought it was being torn down.
One of the most often asked questions about the storefront is whether the windows will be replaced. And the answer is a resounding, “Yes!”
(Photo: Olive Hanson making her signature doughnuts in the kitchen of her home.)