2017-02-16 / Features

I Remember

Labor Day 1962 Style - Part Four: Church Anyone
Peter Young

I ended last week as Bo Blodgett, Mike and the Ravens lead guitar player and at times the only adult in the room, was about to make a momentous statement. An earth-shattering soliloquy as it turned out that would forever change the history of Vermont rock ‘n’ roll as well as the lives of the Ravens. Let me explain. It was Labor Day weekend, 1962. Our leader, Mike Brassard was in New York hanging out with his new best buddy, Tommy Roe who was riding high with the country’s number one single, Sheila. Meanwhile, the rest of us were spending our days at the Blodgett household in Stowe, Vermont bothered, bored and bewildered that we had no gigs for the weekend. What could we do to break the tedium? Steve, our prolific songwriter, back-up singer and rhythm guitar player suggested we might want to “wake up” this sleepy town by causing a record to be played over the Main Street Community Churches’ robust belfry speaker system. While the three terribles, Brian, Steve and yours truly were contemplating the idea, Bo made a most, unlike him, statement.     

“I’m willing to be your wheelman. I’ll drop you off in front of the church and ride around and pick you up after a half hour or so. It shouldn’t take you very long to figure out the timing mechanism. Right?”

The three terribles’ jaws dropped in unison. John, the quiet one, Mr. Stoicism himself, just offered to join the cabal and to aid and abet the mission under consideration. This was significant as well as historic news. His proposal was like a catalyst as Brian and I promptly said, “Game on.”

We spent the next one and one-half minutes organizing the quest. Preparation consisted of (1) finding the long-playing album, (2) putting on our jackets, and (3) climbing into Bo’s car. The thought of bringing a flashlight never crossed our minds. Gloves? It wasn’t winter. Break-in tools? What for? Bo drove carefully down Route 100 toward the village about a mile away and let us out in front of the church, located near the end of Stowe’s lit-up Main Street. It would have made much better sense, of course, to be dropped off some distance away and stealthily sneak to our target. But what did we know? We were B&E rookies. It was now around midnight.

(Steve Blodgett’s memory of that fateful night differs in one notable aspect. He claims, of course, that he was not the catalyst for this affair. No. He maintains that while we were on the way back from rearranging Mountain Road patio furniture, as we passed the Main Street church, either Brian or I said something to the effect of “Now’s the night to do the church.” He was taken aback because all he wanted to do was go home and go to bed. Yeah, right!)

“Thanks, Bo. We should be out soon. See ya,” said Steve as we clambered out of John’s car. We quickly darted toward the shadowy east side of the church where a bank of large windows framed its nave. Our plan was simple: jimmy a window, climb in, find the turntable and timer, set the mechanism with a couple minutes to spare, and skedaddle to John’s awaiting car. In fact, all of our Just Plain Stupid (JPS) capers were based upon the “keep it simple, stupid” theory. Something about stupid and simple attracted us. Why we didn’t check the unlocked front door remains a mystery.

“The window’s stuck. Can’t open it,” said Brian.

“Well, try another one,” said Steve.

“I can’t reach another one. There’s a drop-off.”

“Hey, guys,” I said, “Keep it down for Christ’s sake. Ya wanna wake the whole town?”

“I think it’s painted in. Maybe if I rattle it some, it might loosen up,” said Brian.

Steve and Brian proceeded to push and pound on the window’s jambs, creating more of a ruckus.

“Jesus Christ! You guys nuts or what? You sound like a construction site,” I said.

“Aha. It worked. Help me slide it up. It’s quite heavy,” Brian said.

Steve and Brian managed to lift the casement high enough to allow us to crawl inside. The half-moon provided enough light for basic navigation.

“We need to go upstairs to the balcony where the choir sits,” explained Steve. “I think the player is next to its pews. Follow me.”

I suddenly sensed something terribly wrong. Then I realized what it was.

Hu-oh! Something terribly wrong? What could it be? You will find out next week when you tune in to the next chapter of “The Ravens Become Break & Enterers.” Or,” I Hear Music and there’s No One There.” Dial up the Northfield News, Washington County’s most prestigious weekly and sing along.

Peter Young’s new book, “Tales from the Dog (And More)” is available locally at the Northfield Pharmacy, Shear Edge hair salon and the Northfield Historical Society as well on amazon.com and Kindle. It’s a collection of short stories about Northfield and its college on the hill with a ton of vintage photos of times and people past. Take a gander and try it!

Most of Peter’s musings in “I Remember” are from his book “Flatlander and the Rise and Fall of Mike and the Ravens” which recently received the 2016 silver/second place prize from the Feathered Quill Book Awards Program in the best humor category and is also available locally as described above and Bear Pond Books in Montpelier.  It can also be purchased on the Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Kindle web sites.   

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