By Airell B. Jenks
In the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, I noticed on my way down to Woodstock on Hartland Hill Road that the creek running through Ed and Ruth Frizzells’ yard had destroyed their driveway leading to their house. The driveway was impassable, completely severed by the creek’s running through and over it, left to right. As days went by, a small wooden walkway was built, allowing access to the house on foot, but their car had to be parked before the approximately 15 to 20 foot gap in the driveway.
Then on Saturday morning as I approached the Frizzells’ I noticed about 25 or 30 cars and trucks parked on the sides of the drive leading to the house. Turning into the driveway, I noted that the vehicle license plates were all from out of state, many of them from far away. Many people were gathered, busily working on the damaged area. When I parked and approached the crowd I saw that it included about 20 or more able-bodied men, women and children, helping them. The men wore T-shirts with jeans and kahkis, and about half of them wore camouflaged trousers. They were young, fit and well groomed, and they worked smoothly together as a team. There were no apparent leaders standing around, everyone worked. A seemingly natural spirit of cooperation, team work and singleness of purpose was evident, not at all like many construction sites I have seen. The young men, straight and strong, picked up huge rocks from the stream, carried and placed them on the driveway they were rebuilding. Younger boys and girls scurried in and out of the stream above and below the gap and gathered smaller stones for the roadbed.
I asked John Bassette who was there, wearing a West Point hat, where this impressive work crew could possibly have come from. There was damage everywhere after the storm, how could such an able team possibly converge on this place? If memory serves, he said that his two sons were West Point cadets as their dad had been, and their engineering group had volunteered to help the Frizzells and others in the area.
John Doten was there too with a heavy construction tractor to move earth and crushed stone and to pack down the project when it was ready. I drove by again later in the day. The job was finished, good as new. I’m a Navy man, but I salute these West Pointers. To say they were superb would be an understatement. They did themselves proud that day.
By Airell B. Jenks