An opening reception for Frog Hollow’s traveling art exhibit of ‘A Lifetime of Vermont People’ will be held, Wed, November 20, 6:30pm – 8:00pm at Norman Williams Library, Woodstock. Photographer Peter Miller celebrates his new book with a slideshow which features well known Vermont images from the past 60 years. Books available for purchase. This display runs Nov 15 – Jan 2.
This story was first published in the November 21, 2013 edition of the Standard.
Ogden One Of Author’s ‘Vermont People’
By Katy Savage, Standard Staff
HARTLAND — Herb Ogden Jr. grew up on a 147-acre farm in Hartland without electricity. His late father’s mill was powered by a snowplow until he later got a waterwheel.
“It was weird going to school learning about the days before electricity when you were living in them,” Ogden Jr. said.
Ogden Jr.’s first job was shoveling apples in bins the size of a living room for his father, Herb Ogden Sr., the owner of Ogden’s Cider and Grist Mill.
“It was a great place to grow up,” Ogden Jr. said. “Always things to do.”
One squeeze of his father’s oversized presses produced about 130 gallons of cider. And his mill ground about 200 pounds of wheat a day.
Ogden Sr., a World War II veteran and state senator, became known for his cider. Cars filled the yards on weekends in the fall.
Ogden Sr., who died in 1996, is just one of the people featured in Peter Miller’s book, “A Lifetime of Vermont People,” a collection of black and white photographs and stories of 60 Vermonters that call the Green Mountain State home.
“I just got buried into it,” Miller, 79, said. “I had an assistant. He thought I was crazy.”
Miller features celebrities such as Rusty DeWees and Fred Tuttle, and farmers such as Deb Ravenelle. Most of the people Miller knew or heard of.
“What I learned from being in Vermont is do it yourself,” Miller said. “I think a lot of people I know have done that.”
Miller started taking pictures when he was a teenager, living on a 25-acre farm in Weston. He photographed Will and Rowena Austin, his neighbors and hillside farmers, when he was 16. “I was photographing the end of a life, the effects of a lifetime of two people living together on a farm,” according to Miller’s biography. “There was beauty here in the way the accoutrements of the past were displayed.”
It wasn’t until much later that Miller realized his photography talents were marketable. He started taking pictures of Paris while serving in the Cold War and then wrote his book, “The First Time I Saw Paris,” 40 years later.
“Sometimes I would just be there for a long time while not moving,” Miller said. “People would look at me and they’d forget me… I was too shy to go up and talk to people. Still am.”
His newest book is a collection of photographs and memories Miller has kept since he was a teenager. The Vermont he sees now is much different from when he was a child.
“I was talking about change in Vermont and how we’re losing a lot of the people that made Vermont what it is,” Miller said. “These are a lot of self-employed people.”
Miller met Ogden Sr., one such self-employed person, by visiting his mill every year.
“He did everything himself,” Miller said. “He knew cider backwards and forwards.”
He remembers talking to him about politics and how he refused to use special government license plates after he became senator.
“He wouldn’t compromise at all,” Miller said. “He was a very stubborn man. He fought hard for the things that he believed in.”
Ogden Sr. also had a reputation for being a conservative senator who oposed funding education with local income tax. He was a newspaper editor and publisher and also opened a bed and breakfast.
Miller will be at the Norman Williams Public Library Nov. 20 at 6:30 p.m. to sign autographs and talk about his book. He believes that the icons he writes about are “endangered.” Today on Jenneville Road in Hartland, there is a red mill with a water wheel that doesn’t turn. The number of Vermont cider mills has dropped to 30.
“We are losing those Vermonters who have made this state unique,” he writes. “These are the people who love their state for its beauty but they revere it more for the freedom and privacy it has given them.”
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