In a small room on the second floor of Yankee are bookshelves lined with the old-timers—the bound volumes of the magazine since the day we began in 1935. I came on board in October 1979, so naturally I feel more kinship with the volumes that date from my arrival, sort of like an album of family pictures where I know all the faces. The ones from before then still feel like family, but from another time, the great-uncles and -aunts I never really got to spend much time with.
From time to time I bring home a volume or two and just thumb through them. Besides a certain nostalgia and curiosity about the magazine from a few decades back, I’m fascinated to see New England re-emerge as I turn the pages. This past weekend I did just that, and I’m telling you, I was more entertained than by anything I could have put on the television.
Let me just tell you about one trip down memory lane and see whether you agree.
This came from the September 1978 issue. Its title, “Two Whole Towns for Sale,” pretty much sums it up. Yankee‘s eternally popular “House for Sale” Moseyer (whose identity has been a closely guarded secret from the public ever since I came here) had found one heck of a story. Basically, the entire village of Cambridgeport, Vermont, about halfway between Saxtons River and Grafton Village, was up for grabs. Consider what the Moseyer wrote: “On its main street, Route 121, are 14 houses in addition to the church, Bell’s garage/post office/store, and the plant of Unified Data Products Corp. Of these, a dozen are either openly for sale or most certainly available if you made an offer. Raymond Cushing owns four, including his own, and not including a fifth which he thinks he has sold. One is a little place east of the church for $13,000. Another is a nine-room brick house at $18,000… It would appear you could purchase almost all of Cambridgeport, including the old mill and pond, for somewhere in the vicinity of $200,00, probably less…”
Well, don’t you think that gets our attention today? I’m not immune to the “what-if” game we all play at times. What if you’d bought this little Vermont town 30 years ago — what might you have done with it? It’s a make-believe yet curiously real game of New England Monopoly. I think I may just have to ask the Moseyer to head back to Cambridgeport one of these days to see what happened to all those Vermont houses.