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Q&A: Thunder Road’s Dick Blake

Written by Sky Barsch on . Posted in Way of (Vermont) Life

Dick Blake and his wrecker. Photo by Ken Burris.

Dick Blake and his wrecker. Photographed by Ken Burris.

When the stock car racers at Barre’s Thunder Road get into trouble, it’s Dick Blake and his wrecker crew who get them out. At 84, Blake runs the tow truck at “The Nation’s Site of Excitement,” where fans of all ages enjoy fast cars, fried dough and checkered flags.

VL: How long have you been running the wrecker?
DB: This will be my 53rd year. I was going to retire after the 50th year, but Ken Squier and Tom Curley said I’ve got to stay with ’em … as long as they own the track. I said as long as I’m able, I’ll do it.

VL: Is it a job or volunteer work?
DB: We volunteer, but I get a little gas money every once in a while, and I get good advertisement after all these years, and I enjoy doing it.

VL: Have you ever had a car stuck that you couldn’t get out?
DB: Never. We’ve seen ’em over the fence into the parking lot a couple of times; they’ve been everywhere. I’ve probably picked up a car on every inch of that track over the years — on top of the wall, over the bank in the trees. We’ve seen some pretty mysterious accidents and have been lucky nobody’s been killed.

VL: Where’s the best spot to watch the races?
DB: Off the fourth turn. That’s where a lot of the action happens, or starts to happen.

VL: Do you ever get a sense before you go in for the night if it’s going to be a big wreck night or pretty mellow?
DB: Generally if you have a full moon,

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Vermont by Design | Why is a global landscape business based in Saxtons River?

Written by Kim Asch on . Posted in Entrepreneurs, Outdoor Recreation and Nature

In 2004, Julie Moir Messervy, a prominent figure in the esoteric realm of high-end design, uprooted from the Boston area and moved her business to a speck on the map called Saxtons River, Vermont. The decision was a gamble — she was already well established where she was, with a client list that included Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts and celebrity cellist Yo-Yo Ma — but the chance to live in Vermont’s open spaces and natural beauty seemed worth the risk.

Julie Moir Messervy, second from right, at work in Saxtons River with members of the creative team at Julie Moir Messervy Design Studio Inc. Photograph by Ken Burris.

Messervy, who was 53 at the time, had raised three children with her first husband in bustling Wellesley, Massachusetts, writing landscape books and drawing designs at her dining room table while tending to her family, in the latter years as a single mom. Now that the kids were launched, she told her second husband, longtime Vermonter Steve Jonas, that she would relocate so they could make a rural home together. “I had lived in cities and I had lived in suburbs, but I had never lived in the country,” she says. “I realized that a landscape designer should learn the real fundamentals of living close to the land.”

Together, Messervy and Jonas toured southern

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Mobile Munchies | The Truck Stops Here

Written by Melissa Pasanen on . Posted in Taste of the Landscape

Once largely a source of greasy all-hours sustenance, food trucks now drive food culture, anchoring movies and television shows and offering some really good food. Here are four very different operations from around the state.

Common Kitchen's Feisty Meatball. Photo by Samantha Sheehan.

The Common Kitchen’s Feisty Meatball
Known affectionately as “Ballinda,” this new truck is a project of Warren’s Common Man restaurant; it serves lunch from their parking lot. Chef Adam Longworth offers a rotating menu of meatball sandwiches, including classic beef topped with red sauce and mozzarella on a crusty, chewy Red Hen roll; vegetarian made with mushrooms, cauliflower, pine nuts and beans served with a spunky chipotle red sauce, sour cream and cilantro tucked into a pita; and Buffalo chicken with a Frank’s Red Hot cream cheese spread and blue cheese sauce on a soft potato roll.

Photo by Samantha Sheehan. 

Habiba Kassim of Fork in the Road. Photo courtesy of Burlington School Food Project.

Fork in the Road
The winningest food truck team has got to be the beaming high school student crew working with the Burlington School Food Project’s fledgling program to build job skills in the culinary and hospitality field and improve food-system education. With support from, the truck served up locally made “Farm Franks” with various

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