Green Mountain Grab Bag

Aug 1, 2019

It’s a shame that some of the things we record get edited out of our stories. So here’s an episode of lost clips: bike whistles, pewter purists, halfway houses on the border, needlework, and the grave of “Vermont’s Donald Trump.”

This Episode’s Featured Object:

A Milkweed Shoulder Cape

Amanda: So… by cape we’re talking like, a shoulder cape.

Mary: It’s a child’s cape. And it says “made of golden milkweed.” I did a little Googling around yesterday, and gold milkweed is actually a thing. Because this is probably from—we’re not 100 percent sure—but the 1840’s.

Amanda: So I wonder if we can back up. I’m realizing in this conversation, I don’t actually know what milkweed is.

Mary: What?

Images: Glenn Eames (right), founder of the Old Spokes Home bike shop with producer Ryan Newswanger.

Judi and Fred Danforth of Danforth Pewter.

Adam Krakowski has written Vermont Prohibition: Teetotalers, Bootleggers & Corruption.

Laurel Thatcher Ulrich from Harvard University.

Episode Transcript

Amanda Gustin: And, we’re recording. OK… so, what are we looking at?

Mary Labate Rogstad: We are looking at a cape that was given to us in 1987 that is made of milkweed fluff.

We’ve been producing Before Your Time for almost two years now. And we’ve featured many objects from the collection of the Vermont Historical Society. A tombstone. A jogbra. Parts of a still that Italians in Barre used to make grappa during prohibition. And then there’s this.

Amanda: So… by cape we’re talking like, a shoulder cape.

Mary: A shoulder cape. Right, it’s a pelt like a pelerine

Amanda: There’s a vocab word, pelerine.

Mary: It’s a child’s cape. And it says “made of golden milkweed.” I did a little Googling around yesterday, and gold milkweed is actually a thing. Because this is probably from—we’re not 100 percent sure—but the 1840’s. It really could have changed color anyway.

Usually we start with an object, and then tell stories related to it, to learn more about Vermont’s history and people. But this cape made of milkweed fluff is so singular and, well, strange, that it kind of needs to stand alone.

Read the full transcript.

Episode Credits

Before Your Time is presented by Vermont Humanities and the Vermont Historical Society. This episode was produced by Ryan Newswanger, Amanda Gustin, and Eileen Corcoran, with help from Abra Clawson.

Thanks to our guests: Mary Labate Rogstad, Glenn Eames, Judi Danforth, Fred Danforth, Adam Krakowski, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, and Dan Barlow.

Music is by Blue Dot Sessions, Magic Scout, and Lochran.