When my conversation in the Cambridge, VT town offices with Marguerite and George had concluded, I asked them to point me toward the center of the Village of Cambridge. The truth is, I was staying in the Village of Jeffersonville and, though both villages are part of the Town of Cambridge, I wanted to be sure that I had soaked up as much Cambridge-ness as possible.
With that, my destination was set. I was heading for the Cambridge Village Market. I nosed around a bit, before deciding to buy a loaf of maple bread, which would give me the opportunity to chat with the woman staffing the cash register, Mary.
It would be hard to be more of a Cambridge native than Mary. She was born in a one-doctor/one-nurse hospital that used to exist in town, and she has lived in Cambridge ever since.
Mary describes Cambridge as a “small community. Everyone helps each other.” She said that she used to feel that she knew everyone in town, though the town has grown. Her perspective is that “most everyone who likes living in the town is friendly” but she expressed concern that some newer residents are coming from other regions and “can’t stand the smell of a farm.” That said, nearly every customer and Mary knew each others’ names, and she frequently anticipated a request they would make for a product kept behind the counter.
Mary told me that she has traveled all over, but “this has been home and always will be home.” Her mother’s family also comes from the area, though her father’s family moved south from Newfoundland.
I mentioned I had visited Smuggler’s Notch the day before, and Mary told me she worked there for 14 years in the 1970s and 1980s, when she was one of many local employees. She notes Cambridge’s ongoing connection to Smuggs and said that folks staying at the resort are often sent over for groceries.
I stood aside each time Mary needed to help a customer, and the market’s owner, Bruce, checked in to see if I needed anything. I assured him I was fine, but it did make me feel a little guilty for taking Mary’s time and I thanked him on my way out. My conversation with Mary came near the end of my visit to Cambridge, VT, but her deep knowledge of the area gave me context for my previous chats and a few landmarks to visit as I headed home.