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Eminent Domain in Ascutney, Vermont | I Will Not Leave

Eminent Domain in Ascutney, Vermont | I Will Not Leave
13 votes, 4.23 avg. rating (84% score)

For us today, Romaine Tenney’s death is the story of “imminent” domain–a story told hundreds of times a year as neighbors face some new road, big-box store, or cell tower. It’s the story that’s being played out right now in the battle over New Hampshire’s Northern Pass power-line project (see “‘My Roots Are Deeper Than Your Pockets,'” p. 92 in this issue). Somewhere this week or next, someone will approach the microphone in a tense public meeting and say, “I was born here and I’m going to die here. I won’t sell out. All I ask is to live in peace on this small plot of land. Why can’t you let me live in peace?” And at those times, Romaine Tenney is in the room.But that’s not the whole story, either. Talk of Romaine’s death overlooks his life, obscuring his gentleness. What people don’t see about this bachelor farmer is that this is a love story. “It’s all centered around love and dedication,” Rosemary said. “He was born there. He loved the land. He loved farming. He loved–I’m talking truly loved. He worked hard every day, seven days a week, and it was all out of love–not out of duty or commitment or need.”

“We put that on his gravestone,” Joan said, “and it’s true: ‘Guardian of his land & friend to all.’ And that’s what he was.”

“It was the love of the land,” Rosemary said. “That’s all it was.”

And that is what makes Exit 8 on Interstate 91 in Vermont just about the saddest spot along thousands of miles of highway.

Please Note: This article was accurate at the time of publication. When planning a trip, please confirm details by directly contacting any company or establishment you intend to visit.

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2 Responses to Eminent Domain in Ascutney, Vermont | I Will Not Leave

  1. Carl Rachel September 6, 2014 at 8:29 pm #

    This story about Romaine Tenney’s stand against the State of Vermont is a masterpiece of writing. As a writer, myself, I know the challenges. Howard sculpted a perfect aura for a personality that stands tall in the legends that Vermont has to offer.

    Just last month, I made a spontaneous trip to Vermont for a few days. One of the main reasons was to visit Exit 8, I-91 South. It was early afternoon when I arrived at the Park & Ride lot that now stands quite indifferently on what was sacred ground. Sacred to a man who knew the value and blessing of that very spot.

    As I walked the perimeter of that bland commuter lot, southbounders on I-91 roared by in ceaseless drone, unaware, most of them, that they were flying across precious history.

    I spotted what I’m quite sure is that lone standing remnant that Howard mentions: The 36-inch Tenney Maple. It was there that I spent an hour in meditative trip back. And, yes, and takes very little in such a state of mind to detect the spirit of one of Nature’s own patriots. Romaine is still very much there. And I am happy about that.

    As I left, I turned around and picked up a piece of aged bark that had fallen from that massive, elegant maple, along with a few small branches, and a glittering piece of what likely was a ledge stone that Romaine walked by, daily. They are here on the desk as I write this. Romaine lives. As we all do when our passion lifts our spirits to a level only truth admits.

  2. Sharon Heitz September 16, 2014 at 4:36 pm #

    What a wonderful story of Romaine Tenney. The end of his life was sorrowful but all the years before he spent doing what he loved best.
    I was 13 years old when Mr. Tenney died. He was my neighbor. He gave me lifetime memories of sliding and skiing on his hill in the winter and I learned to skate on the ice ponds. In the summer my friends and I hiked his hills and had picnics with beautiful views. He was so generous to all of us.
    I truly regret that I never told him thank you and that he was such a big part of my childhood.

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