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Peter Miller self portraitI mentioned in my last post that I am creating a book project with the working title The Vanishing Vermonter…An Endangered Species.

This book will be a witness to how our state is being reshaped. The Vanishing Vermonter is your book—you the Vermonters who made our homeland what it is with your hands, mind, humor and morality.

Over the past year the concept of The Vanishing Vermonter simmered in in my mind. The idea too shape one afternoon as I reflected on the email, telephone calls and conversations I had with folks who had read my latest book, A Lifetime of Vermont People.  After heavy taxes, energy and food costs, and so many fees, these Vermonters have little expendable income, if any at all. Recently retired Vermonters find their pension does not cover their monthly budget and younger Vermonters know that career jobs are as rare as a catamount sighting (they are a few in Vermont-jobs and catamounts).

Many Vermonters have migrated to other states where expenses, especially taxes, real estate and energy costs, are so much lower and good jobs are available. Sometime this “forced migration” splits up families. The other factor is that the last two winters have been cruel with dipsy-doodle temperature changes. Vermonters don’t like the idea of having to wear cleats to prevent an unwanted trip to the ER.

The undercurrent rippling beneath these financial woes is how our culture is morphing. Vermonters by tradition are frugal. As one veteran of the legislature in the 1970’s recalled, “The legislators were often from farms and small towns. They treated every bill as if they were spending their own money”. There was no need for fancy houses, trespassing signs, public tennis courts and hockey rinks, new civic buildings.  They were not familiar with the term “politically correct”.

No true Vermonter would think of replacing the sacred purity of our ridgelines and mountains with 300-foot tall wind turbines and large solar farms, all built in a hurry to garner rebates. These state and federal rebates brought in out-of-state corporate carpetbaggers eager to play the energy market.

The usual suspects for our high cost of living are the towns and the state legislature for over appraising and taxing and  perhaps being too green in their attempt to lower energy costs. There is over-gentrification, many claim. Trust funders and financially comfortable people have secured political positions and are more at home with lawyers and lobbyists than they are sitting down in a garage or country store and discussing the issues with average Vermonters. So people tell me.

We are finding our homes can become a liability due to the high property and education tax and maintenance expense.

“We have no life line left,” one Vermonter said to me, who runs a small business and has several real estate properties. He could not get a loan from his bank. A resident in the NEK had a lumberman cut trees down on his property so he could pay the property taxes. Then he received a higher property appraisal because without the trees, he had a better view. “You just can’t win,” he said. “Can’t win…”

What I am saying is that a number of Vermonters, some native, some who moved here, who made this state what it is, who brought such integrity into our mountains and valleys, do not feel they belong any more. The Vermonter replacing them are often well funded and well versed in working the political system. Are we becoming a state of glitterchucks, or woodcharles? I personally believe some gentrification is good for I know of wealthy people who have given generously to their communities. Even so, Vermont is on the edge of a cultural shift towards homogenized living. I never have seen Vermonters so furious at our government. Let’s lay it out. Vermont is changing and not to the liking of the average Vermonter.
All of my books tell stories through photographs and interviews. My job is to interview and photograph Vermonters, listen to what they have to say about their state and communicate to others their opinions.
The Vanishing Vermonter is their book—more than any other book I have published. I have divided the book into three sections:

A. How did this happen to our Vermont? This is an essay I would write based on my interviews and research.

B. The core of the book will be photo portraits and interviews with maybe 25 Vermonters. I already have a list—a garage owner, book store proprietor, doctor, restaurant owner, retired couple, someone who has moved out of state, farmer, newspaper editor, legislator, economist and others I will include a subsection without photo portraits but with quotes from people who have written about how this change in Vermont has affected their lives. And sure, I would run comments about how the changes in this state are good for all of us.

C. A series of interviews with Vermonters who have the expertise (or I should say experience) about what can be done so our state can regain its equilibrium. I will talk to politicians, economists, business people and just plain, common sense Vermonters.

This book is a Muench scream about saving what is dear to our hearts—our homes, our state, that sense of being a Vermonter.

1. Hard cover about 8×10 although it could be square.

2. It will be designed with photographs and text and airspace, similar  to my other books. They say a photograph is worth 10,000 words. I disagree. The photograph is a key to entering a person’s inner space; writing reveals how they shaped their lives. Yes, the book is political. Yes, it is also a book about Vermonters struggling to retain their culture.

3. Those who pre-buy The Vanishing Vermonter or make a donation will receive a signed and numbered book with a photograph. This edition will be limited to those who pre-bought or donated to help publish this book. The other copies of the book will not be limited but offered through bookstores, at events or through my website. Those who give most generously will receive a large print of one of my photographs.

4. The Vanishing Vermonter will be sold through independent Vermont bookstores and directly by my website, gallery and at events. After the book is published I will set up a speaking tour that includes a light show of images that illustrate what this book is about.

I hope you will help me shape this book. I need to fund raise to pay for the book (In the past my photography that was licensed internationally by agents covered most of my publishing expenses. Now, due to business practices and the digital revolution, that stream of revenue has disappeared.).

I have set up a bank account solely for book sales and donations at the VSECU. The account is called The Vanishing Vermonter. The money will be used for:

A. Transcriptions of interviews. I find hard copy is best for editing and also for archiving.

B. Design of the book. My usual attempt at simplicity will be to balance photographs with airspace and text.

C. Postage.

D. And, most important—raising the capital for the initial printing.

When those costs are met, then overhead and royalties for the author (me) will be paid. I have to say that with all my books I have covered expenses but little has slid into my pocket. You could say that I have a calling to do these books; it is my responsibility in my lifetime. I have now written, photographed and published four coffee table books on our state.      Yes, I work alone on this project, I don’t even have a Webmaster. I need your help. I will post  photographs I have taken, and portions of interviews I have written. You can comment on them on my blog and I hope you do. As I said, this is your book.

To Preorder The Vanishing Vermonter or make a donation:
1. Send a check to The Vanishing Vermonter, c/o Peter Miller, 20 Crossroad, Waterbury, VT 05676. You will receive a receipt concerning your gift.

2. Use Pay Pal: peter@petermillerphotography.com

Later I will set up a shopping cart.
Status of the account will be posted on this blog and Facebook.


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by Peter Miller

For 20 years I was an editor and photographer for Ski Magazine. Visited 104 ski  resorts on four continents. Won a Lifetime of Ski Journalism award from the ISHA. Wrote a book in 1972 about the Americans on the World cup in Europe called The 30,000 Mile Ski Race. I have always followed alpine racing.

I have three major ski racing heros:  Marvin Moriarty, a neighbor who raced in the 1950’s and at 16 was on the US Olympic Team; Bud Werner who I met in 1957 in St. Anton when he was on crutches, from a spill in a race and Bode Miller, who I never met but have closely followed.


All three were super athletes, way beyond the ability of the average World Cup racer. They had desire at an early age. Marvin’s first bindings were made from used Mason jar rings his grandmother gave him. Then the Mt. Mansfield Ski Patrol took him up to the big mountain and gave Marvin the chance to fly.

They trained super hard and mostly by themselves or outside the circle of the ski team. In Europe, Marvin sharpened his racing skills from the Austrian ski team, which he trained with. He won some races by five seconds.  Bode trained  with a few close friends and relatives.

All three were very independent and did not all the time agree with their coaches

(hmmm, ever?)

They went for broke on every race, for they did not race politically or for points, they raced to win, to better their own record. So yeah, they crashed often and broke bones.

They are or were magnetic personalities. They skied with excitement and elan and as individuals. On the other hand, Killy had a support group that meticulously prepared him for every race with the care given to a major battle plan. The French coach Honore Bonnet was a psychological genius for bringing the best out of his racers at the right time—just look at the 1968 Olympics. The only other racer that I observed that skied with the go for broke attack on the course was  the American slalomist Tyler Palmer and the Austrian  downhiller Franz Klammer.

They are super skiers and competitors and human beings and they are my heros.

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Ma Moriarty and the Moriarty Hat

Marvin Moriarty racing at Aspen in the 1950’s

I am finishing up my book (now I have 193 pages of 208 written and designed) and noticed in The Stowe Reporter a new group was inducted in the Stowe Ski and Snowboard Museum Hall of Fame. I looked to see if Ma and Marvin were in and no! They weren’t. So I called the Museum and the director said it takes a while and eventually she pushed for them to be in the next group.

“It’s up to the board,” she said. Sounded dark, crumbly and sniffy to me so I wrote a letter to the Stowe Reporter, which they published and here it is:

Ma and Marvin Moriarty. Did they live on the wrong side of the Mountain Road?   A Lifetime of Vermont People.  A project I talked myself into. A new book. 60 Vermonters, over a half century of words and photographs and people from rural Vermont. A legacy I am leaving behind, or it is leaving me behind, for it has taken all of this year, no I am not finished yet. 60 portraits, 60 interviews, 208 pages, 200 photographs, much more text. A lavish book to be printed in Italy. It will be finished and presented before the summer solstice of next year.

I’m sure you know some of the people who live locally and vibrate within this book’s pages.  Paul Percy and his Rube Goldberg sugarhouse—so practical, so ingenious. The telescope maker and comet finder Arden Magoon. Willis Hicks, a revisit of that wonderful auctioneer who sold the cows of the last farm on the Mountain Road. 1968 was it? An update of the Lepine sisters, retired now, still active, inquiring minds. Bambi Freeman, “Don’t let obstacles ever bother you and your goals.” should be her motto. George Woodard had a dream of turning his farm into a movie location and creating a feature film and so he did, and milked the cows everyday too. And Rusty Dewees, that logger with the ripped shirt, better known to Vermonters than the Governor. Wonderful people.

And Ma and Marvin Moriarty. I’m just finishing a profile on the hat maker and her son the ski racer. Ma knitted the first Moriarty hat and it became viral in the ski world. Thousands were knitted by Vermonters, neighbors of Ma and if they did not have the money to buy a knitting machine, Ma bought them one, told them to pay for it when they could, and never thought of charging interest.  She was that type of person, sweet but tough enough to deck a demanding, pompous customer in her Mountain Road shop.

And Marvin. On the United States Olympic Team when he was 16, won just about every major race in America, retired Mt. Tremblant’s Ryan Cup he won it so many times. Perhaps he was the most talented of all American skiers, save for Marilyn Shaw, another Stowe ski racer, her record eclipsed by World War II. Few know that Marvin designed the racing pants with the racing stripe down the side on stretch cloth, to allow more movement. He also put the Moriarty logo on the outside of the hats as other companies were ripping off the design. It was such a good idea that Nike and other large clothing manufacturers followed by putting their logo all over their sport goodies.

So I am finishing the Moriarty story and the Stowe Reporter publishes the names of the 2012 Hall of Famers chosen by the inner circle of the Vermont Ski and Snowboard Museum. (They added the word “Snowboard” for what reason I can’t imagine.) And who is elected to the Hall of Fame? Minnie Dole, who started the National Ski Patrol and worked Mt. Mansfield top to bottom. Deserves to be in. Then there is Jack and Donna Carpenter who made a fortune with snowboards; Trow Elliman, a former editor of the Stowe Reporter and was in a bunch of ski associations; Tiger Shaw, who did well on the World Cup in the 1980’s.  And the ski journalism awards were given to ski editors of the Stowe Reporter. But no  honors for Ma and Marvin. Like they never lived in Stowe, or came from the wrong side of the Mountain Road, or even existed. For ten years the museum has ignored them. Hey, what gives? I’ll take bets that Marvin could ski circles around Tiger Shaw, if they raced in the same era, and that’s not taking anything away from Tiger. Well, Marvin grew up poor. His first skis were boards and the bindings were Mason jar rubbers, used ones that his grandmother gave him to ski on the hills near the Stowe school.  He made friends with the Mt. Mansfield ski patrol and copied the style of the Austrian ski instructors Sepp Ruschp imported. When he raced in Europe he trained with the Austrian ski team. He skis with ankle power. Still does.

Well, Marvin is a gifted athlete. We could fill a book about his life in Aspen and Stowe. He lives in Stowe, with Beth McMahon, his sweetheart of 36 years, and has a place in Florida. He’s in super shape, teaches tennis at the Stowe tennis club. Hikes and bikes. At 74  he’s doing great for a man who went through a bypass and inherited the family diabetes.

Marvin was close friends with Max Marolt, a racer not on Marvin’s level, but up high enough to be on the US Ski Team. There’s a statue of Max in Aspen. Marvin saw it and said what an honor for Max and his family. Stowe has Helen Day, a bunch of fund raisers, some with big change hanging heavy in their pockets but you won’t find any statues in Stowe of Charley Lord, Sepp Ruschp, Marilyn Shaw, Billy Kidd (According to one book, he never lived in Stowe) or Ma and Marvin Moriarty. Why not, huh? If you think the people of Stowe and the ski museum should honor Ma or Marvin send a vote in to the Stowe Reporter or to me on Facebook. It’s wrong to ignore them.


Well a bunch did. After all, Ma and Marvin are, outside of Billy Kidd (more Steamboat than Stowe) are nationally known, Marvin for his ski ability, and Marvin and Ma for the outstanding success of the Moriarty Hat.  Here’s my favorite letter:

To the Editor:

Thanks to Peter Miller (Oct 18 column in the Stowe Reporter) for bringing to everyone’s attention the oversight regarding the Moriarty’s. Following are some of the facts of their legacy. Anabel not only provided a cottage industry for many in Lamoille county but was like a second mother to many of us. Some thought we were uncontrollable but Anabel always saw things in a different light. She truly was one of a kind, for which I’ll always be grateful.

Just a few facts regarding Marvin’s achievements: At age 16, he was the youngest American male to make the U.S. Olympic Team, followed two years later by the U.S. FIS Team. During this period, he was the first American male to win a slalom in Europe. He was also a three-time winner of the Kandahar series, for which he is still waiting for his diamond Kandahar pin. He was a back-to-back winnter of the Jay Peak trophy, and so retired that trophy, which is now residing in the Vermont Ski Museum, along with many other items. After winning the first time, he was relegated to start last (28th) behind all the A racers. Marv was an “Elite A”. Don’t make him mad; he blew the field away.

What an athlete. Catcher on the Stowe High School baseball team. Took up golf, and within a month broke 40 for nine holes. Certified tennis and platform instructor. Was also one of the first members of the international Professional Ski Racers association. I would hope that the powers that be would see fit to enshrine Anabel and Marvin in the Hall of Fame. The truly deserve the honor.

Frank Lamphier, Morrisville, VT.

As the saying goes, the record speaks for itself  but perhaps there are contingencies with the board at the museum. They may not even know who Ma and Marvin are.

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