Forward to next post: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Collegium Iustitiae.
Earlier this month Doyle and I found ourselves in mid-state New Hampshire quite early in the day. We had a few hours before we were to arrive at where we wanted to be next, so the thought came to us, “Why not visit Joseph Smith’s birthplace?”
So, from Lebanon, New Hampshire, where we happened to be, we went cruising up I-89 (Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial Highway), to Exit 2 in Vermont, for Joseph Smith was a Vermonter. At Exit 2 we headed south on VT-132 to its end (not terribly far away) in the town of Sharon, an entirely quaintly picturesque New England town (as almost anywhere more than 500 yards off the highway tends to be in these parts). At the end of the road we turned west, cruising along VT-14 along the banks of the White River (best known, perhaps, from a town a bit farther downstream called White River Junction, where the White River and the Connecticut River meet; a town that once boasted seven rail lines and four depots). So we passed from Sharon into Royalton, Vermont, still along the banks of the White River.
This is farming and dairy country. Spring plowing (and fertilizing) was underway. Farther on we came to the junction of VT-14 and Dairy Hill Road (by no means a misnomer — the road had a section of 12% grade, and dairies lined the road on both sides). There, at the junction, we spotted a sign:
JOSEPH SMITH MONUMENT
Mormon Prophet’s Birthplace. Joseph Smith, founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Lattter-day Saints, was born near here on December 23, 1805. A visitor’s center and a 38½ foot tall monument, considered the world’s largest polished granite shaft, commemorates his life and is located at the birthplace 2½ miles up Dairy Hill Road. The site is open year round.
Sure enough, a couple of miles farther on, off to the right we spotted LDS Lane. That was it, all right.
LDS Lane went back quite a way from Dairy Hill Road. Past a Mormon church. Past a small graveyard. Past a field. Past the bus parking. Past yet another welcome sign. Then, suddenly, without warning, there it was on the left: The tallest polished granite shaft in the world.
They don’t make ‘em like that any more.
It was still pretty early; we were the only ones there. Up at the monument itself, starting on the south face, the inscription reads:
Sacred to the memory of Joseph Smith, the prophet. Born here 23d. December 1805, martyred, Carthage, Illinois, 27th. June 1844.On the north face, the inscription reads:
TESTIMONY OF JOSEPH SMITH.An inscription around the monument, beginning on the south face and continuing onto the east, north, and west faces, reads:
In the spring of the year of our Lord 1820, the Father and the Son appeared to him in a glorious vision, called him by name and instructed him.
Thereafter heavenly angels visited him and revealed the principles of the Gospel, restored the authority of the holy priesthood and the organization of the Church of Jesus Christ in its fullness and perfection.
The engraved plates of the Book of Mormon were given him by the angel Moroni. These he translated by the gift and power of God.
He organized the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on the sixth day of April 1830, with six members.
He devoted his life to the establishment of this Church, and sealed the testimony with his blood.
In his ministry he was constantly supported by his brother Hyrum Smith, who suffered martyrdom with him.
Over a million converts to this testimony have been made throughout the world; and this monument has been erected in his honor, to commemorate the one hundredth anniversary of his birth, by members of the Church which he organized they love and revere him as a Prophet of God, and call his name blessed forever and ever. Amen.
IF ANY OF YOU LACK WISDOM LET HIM ASK OF GOD THAT GIVETH TO ALL MEN LIBERALLY AND UPBRAIDETH NOT: AND IT SHALL BE GIVEN HIM. James 1:5
It was still early; we hadn’t had any coffee. The welcome center wasn’t open yet (and I had a sneaking suspicion that even if it were coffee wouldn’t be on the menu). So we retreated back down the hill to the town of Sharon, where we’d seen a place that advertized breakfast. Given that this was a farming community, and given that they opened at 05:30, I expected that coffee would be available. And so it was that we came to Sandy’s Drive-In Lunch.
When we pulled up to Sandy’s we were the only folks there. There’s a small inside dining room, though mostly it’s set up to be an order-at-the-window sort of place. We went inside, and got our coffee. Which was good coffee.
Mostly it was just us: me and Doyle. A gent did come in and had breakfast while we were hanging out nursing our coffees, but not much other custom. So I had a chance to talk with the waitress, Cheryl. Sandy’s only re-opened in March of this year. They’d been pretty well devastated by Hurricane Irene. Cheryl brought out her photograph albums and we paged through them. The place had been a wreck. The water level had been even with the bottom of the roof. (She pointed out the line on the wall, above my head, that had been the high-water mark.) When you consider that the White River is across the road and, on the day we were there, the water level was about twenty feet below the street level … well, I was impressed. (Amazed that the building was still standing would be a better way to put it.)
The fire station, just up the road, had apparently been devastated. (The building with the red roof to the left of Sandy’s in the photo is the firehouse.)
Sandy’s didn’t have flood insurance, but that wasn’t a bad thing, I heard. The folks who did have flood insurance never got any money out of it. Going to year-round service rather than three-season was to pay off the loans they’d had to take out to rebuild.
Sandy’s is apparently right on the shake/frappe line: They advertised both shakes and frappes on the menu tacked to the wall, with different prices for each. The breakfast special omelet smelled pretty good. But Doyle and I had lunch planned for later on, so didn’t have anything to eat right then.