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DOWN TO 'DERRY: Coming of Age in Vermont by Jeanne Heffron Slawson

DOWN TO 'DERRY: Coming of Age in Vermont

by Jeanne Heffron Slawson

108 pages
Girl’s Vermont life brings joy, adjustment, adventure, disappointment, laughter, loss.

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Category: Autobiography
(requires Adobe Reader)
About the Book
When the Heffron family moved to Vermont in the 1940’s, Jeanne had already spent eight summers there. But now she was living a very different life, on a real farm, with chores and the care of horses and other animals, trying to ignore the fate of most of them. Having ridden for years, her love continued to be horses. At the end of that first summer, she won a significant award, but it would not be a sweet victory for long; she had made a serious mistake.

Entering the local elementary school in third grade, Jeanne was a stranger wondering how to fit in with children who had lived such different lives. Learning in a multi-grade classroom was new, and her first sight of the teacher filled her with dread. The school was highly rated, but she would witness several shocking episodes she dared not share at home. There were lighter moments, though, like the day she joined classmates in turning hot lunch into art, inciting a certain lady’s wrath.

Country life brought many bizarre and funny incidents, such as her swim classmate’s unique solution to immersion in icy water, or the revelation that some horses may lack an appreciation of certain music. Even a ram with a low IQ had entertainment value. There were idyllic days as well, when all was well and life was sweet.

Jeanne was the middle child. Her brothers loved to tease, but they also provided company for games and chores on the farm, and made good riding companions. Paul was the big brother she looked up to—her champion when disaster loomed, calming her when a drunk threatened and rescuing her after a riding accident. Mark was a smart, little-brother nuisance until he showed his loyalty in a remarkable way.

As the years passed, Jeanne still yearned for her mother to express love and confidence in her, yet puberty brought more reason to doubt her status. Her father, who now worked from home, became closer and more important to her, though on one occasion his pride in her brought near-disaster. From about age ten, a recurring and disturbing dream made her wonder if dreams can cause things to happen. It was a premonition as well, as the family’s life took an unexpected turn and Jeanne learned the ephemeral nature of happiness.


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About the Author
Jeanne Heffron Slawson Jeanne gained an art degree and worked as an art consultant, later changing careers and becoming Director of YWCA Career Services. She then maintained a private practice. Upon retiring, she found writing, fulfilling her artistic aspirations by painting pictures with words, where her spatial relations problem is not an issue.



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