A Community Inheritance

If we can define a town by its boundaries, boards, committees, ordinances, and-yes-tax bills, how do we arrive at the measure of a community? One could say that community is the sum of all the things the inhabitants of a town do that they don’t have to! Our town is just as surely defined by all of the individual acts-whether in full view or privately shared-of kindness, generosity, and dedication performed by its residents, as it is by the common metrics of size, population, or budgetary factors.

One such community activity has a pedigree that reaches across the years. The greening of the Lord’s Hill bandstand is a sometimes stealthily executed tradition that nevertheless is always noticed and appreciated by those of us living in the neighborhood and those passing through during the holidays. Currently Emelyn Albert marshals a crew to decorate the tree and bandstand, but she has a story to share of her involvement, and how she inherited the Christmas candle.

The bandstand on the Parade Ground was constructed, as best as we can tell, in 1880. At this point in time the Tavern opposite the Bandstand was run by Mr. and Mrs. J.C. Leavitt 2nd as a boarding house commonly known as the Green Mountain House. At the home diagonally across route 153, heading down the hill, J.M. Leavitt, a doctor who cared for many local people and trained numerous colleagues, was likely just beginning his practice. These two men and their families were probably involved in establishing our bandstand, and stand as middle mile markers on a long road of Leavitts in Effingham-beginning with Captain John Leavitt, whom our “Plantation” was original named after, and continuing through one Larry Leavitt, Jr., the last named Leavitt to live in the Doctor’s home and be put to rest in the family tomb across the road.

Larry Leavitt held for some years a tradition of providing and decorating a Christmas tree in the Bandstand for the enjoyment of the community. Since history is fueled as much by supposition and speculation as by the vital or random passages that arrive to future generations as fact, let’s assume that some of these trees might have come from his tree farm, itself connected to the earliest days of the land-grant Leavittstown Plantation. Larry Leavitt, himself a grandson of Doc Leavitt, passed away just shy of Christmas in 2003.

In the fall of 2004, Emelyn Albert was passing through the village, riding with George Mueller, formerly a Selectman in town, and George, noting the darkened bandstand, suggested that a tree be placed in Larry Leavitt’s memory. He provided tree and lights and Emelyn engaged the help of Pat Parker and Janet Normandeau to decorate. Thus a tradition was passed and reinvigorated. This trio faithfully completed the chore each year, and soon were doing it with George Mueller in mind following his passing. This year we can thank Emelyn, Nancy Goodreau, and Virginia Wrabel for their trek up the Hill from the Huntress Bridge neighborhood to green our Bandstand. Jack Williams assists, and Pat and Janet are still on board in taking the tree and window box greens in after the season passes.

This is one story among many, each and all contributing to the story of a community. As with many traditions, it survives with a blend of obligation to those who are no longer with us, and a continual and expanding inclusion of new participants who hear the call, and see the value in building a shared inheritance. Best wishes and many thanks to our greening crew, and Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday Season to all friends and neighbors of the Meeting House.

We would love to hear of any anecdotes our friends may have to add to the story of the Bandstand. Please e-mail info@lordshillmeetinghouse.org with memories or photos you may have!