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Thursday, December 6, 2012

On Location: Winter in Woodstock

And then, all of a sudden, in the early, brisk winter twilight, Woodstock—happened!

Climbing out of the train Stanton stood for a second rubbing his eyes at the final abruptness and unreality of it all. Woodstock!
What was it going to mean to him?

In Molly Make-Believe, Eleanor Hallowell Abbott's charming novella about a young businessman who falls in love with his anonymous pen-pal "Molly" while recuperating from an illness, Carl Stanton’s quest to track down the elusive Molly eventually takes him to the town of Woodstock, Vermont. His trip (and the reader’s) through the town is swift, but just a few words of description—“[a] transient vista of village lights; a brief, narrow, hill-bordered road that looked for all the world like the aisle of a toy-shop, flanked on either side by high-reaching shelves where miniature house-lights twinkled cunningly”—paint an enticing picture of a charming, old-fashioned New England village on a snowy night.

In March of 1940, renowned photographer Marion Post Wolcott visited Woodstock—as part of the Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information (FSA/OWI) photography project, which sent photographers around the country to document various aspects of American life during the Great Depression and the early days of World War II—and captured images of Woodstock’s streets on just such a snowy night as the one in Molly Make-Believe.

Thirty years had passed since the book’s publication in 1910, but Woodstock as it appears in Wolcott’s photos must have changed very little, other than the styles of the cars in the streets. Many of the houses in the main part of the town date back to its earliest years, in the late 1700s and early 1800s.

Woodstock’s Civil War monument on the village green. Two hundred and eighty-four men and boys from Woodstock served in the Civil War, and thirty-nine of them died.

A farmhouse very much like the one Eleanor Hallowell Abbott describes: “…an old, white colonial house with its great solemn elm trees stretching out their long arms around protectingly all around it…”

Even today, Woodstock is known for its scenic beauty and small-town charm. Many people are probably familiar with a glimpse of its wintry scenery from the well-known 1987 Budweiser Christmas commercial, showing the famous Clydesdales pulling a sleigh through the snowy countryside, which was filmed around Woodstock.

So, does Carl find his Molly in Woodstock? Well, you'll have to read the book to find out--but it sure is a lovely setting for a romantic reunion, don't you think?

Posted by :  Elisabeth Grace Foley

Molly Make-Believe by Eleanor Hallowell Abbott
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