Monica Kaigle Remembers a Lifetime Spent in Burlington [Stuck in Vermont 603]


We were all poor. Well, we thought we were poor
I guess, I don’t know. We didn’t have anything. We had a can and a spoon. [laughing] That was about it. ♪ Phil Spitalny, “Give Yourself a Pat on the Back” ♪ ♪ Give yourself a pat on the back, pat on the back ♪ ♪ Pat on the back ♪ Monica Kaigle, I married a Kaigle. I’ve lived here all my life, in the North End. 88 years. So you may remember we met Monica back in 2017 when I did a video on Mill Girls,
a play at Saint Michael’s College. Monica was in the audience, we talked to her about her parents who worked in the mills.
Monica also spent many years volunteering at the St. John’s Club and
her nickname is “Spin.” Cause I was lively. My father used to race up at the
fairgrounds, bicycle race around there. I’d always climb a tree to see him. I could
get up that tree and down that tree so fast. And I got that name there and it stayed. On my phone, “I’ll call you tomorrow Spin.” I still hear it. We’re here at the
Heritage Winooski Mill Museum in Winooski. See the oil, probably was a
machine there, a machine there. My father’s room look like that, right there. You can imagine how noisy that was. [machine sounds] And you heard that clanging all day long. Grew up in the North End, didn’t have much. Six kids in the family. Played with the kids in
the orphanage on North Avenue, at the lake – that was free. Swam all the time
in the lake, couldn’t wait for summer. Walked to school, no one had a car in my
neighborhood. But this is what we did every night,
go watch the kids play ball. And we ate fish and fish and fish. Because we lived on the lake,
fish was plentiful then. My three brothers went to college
which was very rare in that neighborhood. If you were on the wrong side the tracks,
they didn’t mingle with you. I mean your father works in the mill and you go to school and you got some rich
kids, it didn’t sound good. My father sold liquor which everybody,
lot of people did. Drive a car on the lake every once in a while when somebody was chasing him. Nice neighborhood, we played under
the street light till nine o’clock. When the street light came on, you went in the house. We sat on porches all our life. You don’t sit on a porch today. We’d sleep on this porch,
we had sleep outs. We had a lot of parks for skating. And my father would skate, he
organized the races. And everybody had a shack, they called them shacks with wood stoves. We just would sit around the wood stove
just to get out of the house. If you had a boyfriend at one of the parks
you’d go there more. You know, you did what your father said back then. You didn’t dare to say, “No” or “I’m tired.” There was no such thing as tired or depressed. Never. We had to speak French in the house. Way up to my dad passed away, ’cause he made us. Did you ever go to say the
Flynn Theatre or anything like that, like? When I found 12 cents. Yep. And was Church Street open at that point to cars? Yeah and the trolley tracks were there. Church Street was nice. Couldn’t wait to Christmastime, go up and down. Every window had animated
Christmas stuff that moved. [Winooski Falls] My dad and mom both worked in the
mill. My mom worked in the Chace Mill. He was across the road at,
we called it the Woolen Mill. Bus came and got them in the morning,
brought him back at night. Yes, he tied knots with one hand, he tried to show me how to do it. For 47 years. They blew a horn and, boy I mean, it was like an exodus of people. [horn blows] Here comes Uncle George, here he comes. Here comes Aunt Blanche, she’s coming! You know, we’d see them, out of thousands. And we never allowed him to bring his empty bag
lunch in the house because they had cockroaches in the mill. I told you they had cockroaches here. And if you made army blankets they were army color. Made Navy blankets, they were white. That yarn was so picky.
It had the wood in it, little strips. My mother made us sweaters. My poor mother, she worked so hard. Remember there’s a good woman behind every man. Burlington High was a pretty good size school. It moved out the avenue and that was a farm.
So we’d walk up to the farm where Burlington High School is now and get our eggs. McCallister was our photographer and he would do those long pictures. And move that camera, isn’t that amazing? Here’s my uncle that it worked for. I was his nanny, for his kids, 20 something years. Asked me, “Do I dance?” and I said, “No.” And I didn’t dance, so I drank. Nice guy. My father says, “He got a job?” I said, “Yes, he works for the Army.” Says, “Okay, long as he’s got a job, you can go with him.” We, as children got to play anywheres on the street. Ran around, everything was safe and fun. We sat on the porch every night with popcorn and
kool-aid or a beer or something and… After dinner, everybody was relaxed.
All the parents gathered on the porch. So anyway, that’s that. I did over this myself, every bit of it. My grandpa worked in the brush factory
down there. This is my grandpa’s lunch box. He died at 103. That’s a milk scooper and that’s a skimmer, nother one. This is to beat rugs, you wanna take your rug out and beat the crap out of it? -This is an ice tong.
-An ice tong? Yeah, they delivered ice to your house. We had an icebox, my mother did. Then we had the crank washer, your hand would get caught in there. Well, you worked them days. Well I always said I wanted to move out
of the North End, I got as far as here. I haven’t got farther. Be 89 in May. As you get older, I said to my friends, you know you’re getting old when you want to go to bed. You appreciate having a home. There’s no place like home. People just don’t, you know, they just don’t appreciate what they got. Could say worse but I’m not gonna. ♪Yesterday was full of trouble and sorrow ♪ ♪ Nobody knows what’s gonna happen tomorrow ♪ Thanks Spin for taking us on a tour
of your Burlington and we will get stuck in Vermont with again real soon. Follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram. Sign up for our weekly email alert. Gonna stay here? I mean the video series is called Stuck in Vermont so… Yeah, if you’re stuck here, if it pays, stay here. Don’t you do that to me. [film] I can’t help it, this is what I do! When that goes off I gotta tell you story…

2 thoughts on “Monica Kaigle Remembers a Lifetime Spent in Burlington [Stuck in Vermont 603]

  1. Watch it right up to the very end. What an extremely intelligent and sassy woman! I can only imagine what she was like when she was younger. Either way, she rocks. 😉

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