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<v Speaker>Now, the leaf is what they used. <v Speaker>[music playing] And she gathered the leaves. <v Speaker>Uh if we had any kind of a puncture or a burn... <v Speaker>When I was a kid [woman]: a scrape, [man]: you used to get these puffballs that ?ya see? <v Speaker>That were actually uh toadstools that that were <v Speaker>round, you'd squeeze 'em and that dust would come out and 1 of us kids <v Speaker>would step on a nail or cut the finger [other speaker]: First, a flax seed [man]: mother <v Speaker>would take a- <v Speaker>Whole flax seed is a very pure blood purifying <v Speaker>herb you might call it, and an- it take the whole uh <v Speaker>flax seed 'n put oh, 'bout 5 tablespoons-. <v Speaker>All customs and beliefs are often considered superstitious. <v Speaker>But think of it this way these beliefs are part of folklore. <v Speaker>And what folklore really is, is that body of traditional knowledge <v Speaker>and activities which have been passed down from one generation to the next. <v Speaker>Folklore include such things as songs and fiddle tunes like those collected <v Speaker>by Mrs. Flanders in New England in the 30s, 40s and 50s and which are still being
<v Speaker>performed today. It also includes stories, beliefs, <v Speaker>customs, sayings, whether in planning lore, folk medicine, <v Speaker>recipes. All these things had to be useful. <v Speaker>They had to work or they wouldn't have been passed down. <v Speaker>After all, our ancestors were practical people. <v Speaker>They may not have gone to agricultural school and they didn't listen to <v Speaker>the local TV forecaster. <v Speaker>They couldn't go to the doctor for everything that ailed them. <v Speaker>Instead, they had to cope with these things themselves. <v Speaker>In Vermont, the weather signs that have been most useful and the cures that were <v Speaker>most effective. These are the signs. <v Speaker>These are the Vermont traditions that have been passed down to us today. <v Speaker>Yeah th- th- the old folks used to say, yeah, ya know uh, even generations before <v Speaker>my folks uh that they used to say if if there was a lot of uh corn silk <v Speaker>and a lot of uh husks around the car.
<v Speaker>If they were extra heavy, they always said that's a sign of a hard winter. <v Speaker>Eh my father always believed that that the last Friday in the month ruled <v Speaker>the next month, whatever the weather was, he believed in that and he believed <v Speaker>in the full of the moon that i- it gets cold and it does. <v Speaker>It always does. I believed in that myself and he planted quite <v Speaker>a lot. By the uh the way the moon was. <v Speaker>There was ?even uh? older people that wouldn't uh <v Speaker>plant certain crops in the spring until a new part of the <v Speaker>moon was that when the moon was growin', so would the crops. <v Speaker>I've heard my grandfather and father talk out a lot of times ?and to? <v Speaker>plant your crops when the when the moon is uh growin'. <v Speaker>Not when it's going down. <v Speaker>The only thing I remember about planting was a little story my mother used to tell about <v Speaker>her father. Course he had the farm and he was out planning his potatoes
<v Speaker>one day and this neighbor came along and he said, Oh, Lyman, you're planting those at the <v Speaker>wrong time in the moon. And he said, but I'm not planting them on the moon. <v Speaker>[fiddle music plays] <v Speaker>An' I remember my grandfather put quite a lot of stock in uh as many ?thaws? <v Speaker>as you had in January, uh would work out <v Speaker>that you'd get that many runs of sap in March. <v Speaker>I've carried buckets in certain places when the snow was ?clean? <v Speaker>up to my waist, so I know ?inaudible? <v Speaker>I've heard lot of holler referring to the time uh you call it the <v Speaker>frog run. They'd call 1 of the last 1s of ?chagrin?
<v Speaker>the frog run. It uh it ?inaudible? <v Speaker>and say, well, ?might as well take your? buckets down because uh you're all <v Speaker>your- you're all done now. <v Speaker>Ice goes out of the ponds at that season of years an' frogs begin <v Speaker>to sing. Uh nature heals the wounds that we've made in the maple tree. <v Speaker>The season is all over. <v Speaker>I remember my grandmother when spring came, she'd always say <v Speaker>it's time for you to have some ?sulfur? <v Speaker>Molasses. And I said, Why? <v Speaker>She says, don't ask questions. It's good for ya. <v Speaker>The general idea was that when spring time came, you you had <v Speaker>uh house cleaning in the house where you lived and you took some sulfur and molasses <v Speaker>to clean out the channels of your own inner being. <v Speaker>There's nothing any better for people than horseradish in the spring. <v Speaker>This is a man uh plowin'.
<v Speaker>And 1 fellow well on 1 side of the fence plowin' and so and pair of oxen, the other 1, <v Speaker>the other 1, when it come noon, 1 fellow's oxen all tired out. <v Speaker>He said to him, he says, how is it that your oxen can plow <v Speaker>all land mine can't. He said I feed 'em the same and everything. <v Speaker>Well, he said, I grate up horseradish and I put into <v Speaker>the grain. No, they don't allow land because there is <v Speaker>something about it. Good for 'em. <v Speaker>And I think it's good for people. <v Speaker>Farms were uh uh a farm was uh 12, 15 <v Speaker>cows was quite a common occurrence back then. <v Speaker>They'd have a few pigs or a few hens and a few sheep and some <v Speaker>uh oxen. <v Speaker>Uh when I was young, we kept uh uh drivin' horse to go get groceries with <v Speaker>or go to neighbors or go ?fishin'? <v Speaker>And a pair of work horses to do the ?inaudible? <v Speaker>and we also kept a pair of oxen to work in the woods with in the wintertime.
<v Speaker>I've heard my father telling about 1 the first years after he was married my mother he <v Speaker>and my mother was married. They was living up on what we call ?inaudible? <v Speaker>in Stockbridge and Dad was telling about going down to store and buying <v Speaker>a barrel of flour. 100 pounds of sugar and a <v Speaker>couple gallons of molasses and some salt and pepper <v Speaker>and they figured they was all set for the winter. <v Speaker>They done their own cooking, had their own meat. <v Speaker>Far as clothes is concerned uh I think I was probably <v Speaker>10, maybe more years old before I had bought any clothes other <v Speaker>than shoes. My mother made all of our clothes. <v Speaker>Mmm stockings we'd she'd in the wintertime, uh stockings was all knit <v Speaker>wool from her own sheep. <v Speaker>They didn't depend on uh going to the store to buy everything then. <v Speaker>They never had anything but homemade bread.
<v Speaker>And once in a while we would have a loaf of boughten bread and <v Speaker>boy, they couldn't wait till they could have a piece of boughten bread [laughs]. <v Speaker>And so we always had to save a little piece of of slice it ?inaudible? <v Speaker>boughten bread for the ?inaudible? Kids 'cause that was a real treat [laughs]. <v Speaker>[music plays] <v Speaker>They had the use for all the different things that growed like red clover
<v Speaker>and course red clover. <v Speaker>[clears throat] Somebody make off a nice wine out of 2. <v Speaker>Just take prick blossoms and put 'em into the into a <v Speaker>crock. And add these ?inaudible? and you've got the whole business. <v Speaker>And it'll work very good on me. <v Speaker>Uh 1 time, I had made some dandelion wine. <v Speaker>Gone long into the summer. I didn't care anything about it. <v Speaker>But used to like to treat people and I had a lot that lived oh, <v Speaker>boutta half a mile from us. <v Speaker>She came 1 afternoon. I put wood into the woodshed. <v Speaker>I'd also made up some root beer I liked at home. <v Speaker>Made root beer very well. <v Speaker>So [laughs] I just put down half root <v Speaker>beer and half dandelion wine in her glass and she drank it. <v Speaker>Boy, she'd like that awful lot of the best root beer she ever had. <v Speaker>Well, my father was coming home work and he saw she going
<v Speaker>down the railroad track staggering from 1 side to the <v Speaker>other. And uh he came out home. <v Speaker>And while he said, what's been going on, up ?inaudible? <v Speaker>And I said, ?inaudible? Why? <v Speaker>Well, he said uh, you've been feeding Aunt Viola a <v Speaker>little uh that uh wine dandelion wine. <v Speaker>He said, you fool said she could have fall an' broke her leg or somethin' going down <v Speaker>the track. You'd better cut that out. The next day she was up to have some more of the <v Speaker>wine [laughs]. <v Speaker>They used to use em and spice jars. <v Speaker>Now the old fashioned tea roses make a spice jar. <v Speaker>And when I was a kid, spice jars were something that I always <v Speaker>wanted to see when I got here, but I they wouldn't let us kids in the parlor without <v Speaker>somebody adult with us because parlors were just for the minister and special <v Speaker>company and funerals. And uh my grandmother always take <v Speaker>us boys in there. And on a tour of us, let us smell the spice jar, which is rose petals
<v Speaker>with ?inaudible? in it to ke- preserve it. <v Speaker>And every time that the roses like these out here were to get ready to fall, my <v Speaker>grandmother would would uh take them and put them on a screen and dry em and put <v Speaker>em in there to keep that spice jar. <v Speaker>My mother was a great herbist and she used <v Speaker>all sorts of herbs, sweet flag, garage and <v Speaker>places uh damp places. <v Speaker>Marshes. We used to pull it up and cut off the end <v Speaker>and the reeds and my mother would uh <v Speaker>slice it and dry it. <v Speaker>And during the 1918 flu epidemic, my <v Speaker>father worked for a paper. <v Speaker>He was a field representative and he had to go into many homes and he <v Speaker>chewed this dried sweet flag and he never caught the flu and neither <v Speaker>did any of the rest of us. For an ear ache, um they put some black
<v Speaker>pepper on a piece of cotton and soak it in <v Speaker>hen soil and put it in your ear. <v Speaker>I remember my father. Uh he didn't smoke, really, <v Speaker>but he always had a cigar, too, around that somebody had given him. <v Speaker>And if I had an ear ache he would blow uh tobacco smoke <v Speaker>in my ear. And this was supposed to help. <v Speaker>For sprains and bruises and reumitis all this kind of <v Speaker>thing, there was a poultice for everything and all kinds of poultices. <v Speaker>1 they baked onions until they were soft and then they mashed them up <v Speaker>and wrapped them in a cloth and applied them to the sore muscle <v Speaker>and uh kept heating it up in the oven. <v Speaker>Skunks oil was 1 thing they used to use years ago. <v Speaker>If you had a coal rubbed on your throat, you see, rubbed it on your throat. <v Speaker>Fact is, upon the farm, there's several bottles of skunk oil leftover from his
<v Speaker>grandparents days. <v Speaker>I threw 'em all out. <v Speaker>And they had an idea that if you wore ?inaudible? <v Speaker>around your neck or drank ?inaudible? <v Speaker>tea, it will keep you from getting in a family way. <v Speaker>So that was the original pill, you see. <v Speaker>And uh and then they had catnip and catnip make <v Speaker>catch and drunk and ?inaudible? <v Speaker>passionate. So they said that uh a lot of <v Speaker>uh elderly people came around to make a husband <v Speaker>and the wife more compatible, you see. <v Speaker>Yeah. They used to have catnip tea. <v Speaker>But if you aren't feeling well, I used catnip tea and they used all kinds <v Speaker>of different uh sage and like that. <v Speaker>The ?inaudible? <v Speaker>for uh colds. <v Speaker>Grips. And the home remedies seem to cure people.
<v Speaker>Some people believe for every illness that there is a cure <v Speaker>in nature if we only can find it. <v Speaker>In thinking about the past, there are 2 things that really stand out. <v Speaker>1st off, everything that could be used was used. <v Speaker>Everything in the natural environment, everything in the home. <v Speaker>In fact, there was even a little rhyme. <v Speaker>Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without. <v Speaker>And the 2nd thing is that time was never considered to <v Speaker>be worth money. You simply worked and worked and worked until the job <v Speaker>was done. [music plays] <v Speaker>It it's amazing to see uh how little work is done
<v Speaker>today by hand compared to what it was when I was 10, 12 years old. <v Speaker>We didn't think anything of going out and chopping wood all day or going out and picking <v Speaker>stones all day or building fence outta <v Speaker>trees or uh poles or anything. <v Speaker>'Cause you didn't you didn't have the money and you didn't have no way to get the money. <v Speaker>Back in the early days we didn't have electricity. <v Speaker>So uh twice a week. <v Speaker>Once on Saturday, once on Wednesday night. <v Speaker>Home from school had to wash all those lantern and <v Speaker>lamp ?inaudible?, fill them up with kerosene. <v Speaker>And in the middle of the week, I had to wash a big pan of potatoes for baking from my <v Speaker>mother to last her until Saturday mornin'. <v Speaker>I remember Doreen, 1 of the older girls, was out teaching <v Speaker>school. By the time she was 16, in fact, she married one of the <v Speaker>8th grade boys [laughs] who wasn't a bit older than she was.
<v Speaker>[music plays] <v Speaker>Ours was a simple life. But a happy life. And we were a family. <v Speaker>But where's the family gone today? <v Speaker>1 goes 1 way and 1 another. <v Speaker>Well, now if you hitch a pair of horses up. <v Speaker>If 1 wants to go 1 way in uh and 1 another or 1 wants to go in <v Speaker>the other don't? Well you really don't get to town very fast. <v Speaker>You know? <v Speaker>People used to uh ya know share work together.
<v Speaker>Uh, somebody had to have a bind fixed or somethin', everybody pitch <v Speaker>in, and they'd have it ?inaudible? <v Speaker>women to get up a big dinner and fix up the barn or build a barn. <v Speaker>And I can remember one ?inaudible? <v Speaker>there was an old couple lived up there. <v Speaker>And uh they ?inaudible? <v Speaker>around the neighborhood that uh Mr. Mrs. [Hibben] hadn't gotten <v Speaker>a wood for winter and he didn't know what he was going to do. <v Speaker>Well, we just ain't gonna let that happen. <v Speaker>And a couple of guys says well I'll go. And <v Speaker>?inaudible? fellow working for me and just my brother. <v Speaker>We all went up and cut wood and they stayed there with the sawing machine and people <v Speaker>hauled logs into wood, and split it and put it in the shed for <v Speaker>the winter and we just end up leftovers. So we had enough for the next winter. <v Speaker>I know they figured we put up 20 logs of wood there was about 40 people there that day
<v Speaker>hauling that wood and and cuttin' it up that ?inaudible? <v Speaker>Why do you see anything like that happening today? <v Speaker>You just don't. Round here. <v Speaker>They used to have help for the corn husking because it's such a <v Speaker>big job. The farmers, they used to get the corn husked. <v Speaker>I mean, they they ?inaudible? the stocks out in the field and they bring <v Speaker>it in and they dumped it in the barn floor. <v Speaker>But it took such a long time to husk the corn that the neighbors used to come in and do <v Speaker>it. They'd make a party of it. <v Speaker>The young people would do the husking and the older folks would be making supper <v Speaker>for a sort of midnight supper, you know, and then a dance afterwards. <v Speaker>So the young people would be up there husking the corn. <v Speaker>And when you found a ready ear of corn that mensch could kiss <v Speaker>your best girl or the girl ya chose, but after corn's all husked, <v Speaker>they go into the house and have music and eats and
<v Speaker>really a fine time. <v Speaker>You got the work done. You didn't even know you were working. <v Speaker>All of the neighbors would gather in 1 place. <v Speaker>They had large houses at that time. <v Speaker>They gathered in 1 place and they put all of the kids out in <v Speaker>1 bed in 1 room and they all went to sleep. <v Speaker>I don't know how they slept with all that racket going on. <v Speaker>Then they would have fiddlers, banjos, and so forth. <v Speaker>And they had they didn't call them refreshments. <v Speaker>It was a great big supper that the ladies had prepared <v Speaker>uh before they came. <v Speaker>We used to go up there on Sunday night, and after the milking <v Speaker>was done, they would um bring warm milk up from the barn. <v Speaker>And my mother an' an' Vera would have made popcorn in <v Speaker>huge, great big dish pans. <v Speaker>And we would go into the parlor where the piano was. <v Speaker>And Vera played the piano and Harry played the fiddle, and
<v Speaker>young Harry played the squeezebox and Donald played <v Speaker>the spoons. <v Speaker>And we'd eat popcorn and drink warm milk and <v Speaker>sing. Hour after hour. <v Speaker>And it was a Sunday night ritual. <v Speaker>[singing] [music plays] I remember, a lot of laughing and a lot of listening at the <v Speaker>register when I was supposed to be in bed [laughs]. <v Speaker>[laughs] And uh you know dance until midnight and then they'd stop and have uh start and <v Speaker>have uh oyster supper on the supper table. <v Speaker>Then we go to furniture again in another room somewhere and make room for <v Speaker>3 for a couple to dance and then more square dancin' and then uh foxtrot
<v Speaker>or nah 2 stepper. Uh back in my day when we was going to country dances <v Speaker>it wasn't all like the square dance like you see today. <v Speaker>Ah they had a <v Speaker>?inaudible? oh my ?fishing hornpipe? and [music plays] uh there were so many different <v Speaker>dances. <v Speaker>Some of 'em was a string dance like the Virginia Real or similar to that and or <v Speaker>some of em were 2 couples facing 2 couples and they went all the way around the hall. <v Speaker>In those days, there's more leisurely time than it is now. <v Speaker>But of course, a lot of us younger fellows in the 20s and 30s used <v Speaker>to go up some the neighbors and have what they call a kitchen junket. <v Speaker>Kitchen. They used to call it kitchen junket and kitchen kitchen ?tunk? <v Speaker>And whatever you and they would dance uh contra dances and
<v Speaker>square dances and round dances. <v Speaker>And they'd usually have a violin player, harmonica player and a piano <v Speaker>player, 2 or 3 instruments. <v Speaker>And usually had 1 of 'em 1 1 person there that would call and he <v Speaker>would sing out there. There's a singing caller we used to call him and <v Speaker>they'd played uh a lot of contra dances and very few <v Speaker>square dances. 'Course they call it the drills, but every other <v Speaker>dance was a round dancing ?used to have? foxtrots and ?inaudible? <v Speaker>and 2 step and <v Speaker>waltzes [music plays]. Waltzes was a favorite.
<v Speaker>And because they were kind of a nice swingin' dance ?inaudible? <v Speaker>Now's good music. <v Speaker>When the play had the ?inaudible?, those 1 that 1 t- <v Speaker>2 couples, it was really good. We'd get on there and do the dancing and is course <v Speaker>they got 1 piece through ?inaudible? <v Speaker>through and then the other people would get in. But they liked to see 'em dance <v Speaker>and that was what we would do after they midnight. <v Speaker>And I got home 1 time at about half past 4 in the morning, <v Speaker>went to bed at 5 o'clock. Dad trapped on the door. <v Speaker>He said, You can dance all night if you wanna, but you're gonna work all day. <v Speaker>So up I got. [music plays] <v Speaker>Well, when we were kids, we used to slide on this hill [clears throat] this hill goes
<v Speaker>way up here a long ways. We used to slide on this hill all winter. <v Speaker>Ya know uh that there were no snow plows then. <v Speaker>They rolled the roads, ya know, with a 4 horse team and these great immense <v Speaker>rollers. Well, you know what? <v Speaker>After the sun had come out and uh on that uh roll snow, <v Speaker>2 or 3 different days and then it would freeze at night. <v Speaker>And when I was a kid, I've seen people in the way in their 60s would <v Speaker>be sliding down this hill at night, sometimes till midnight. <v Speaker>Well, you know uh, this uh this hill I I've seen over 100 people sliding <v Speaker>on this hill. [music plays] <v Speaker>The producers of this program would like to thank the following people for their <v Speaker>participation. Cora Bardwell, ?Elo?
<v Speaker>Benoit, Otis Prickett, Edgar Butterfield, Lucille Ceruti, <v Speaker>Edgar Jackson, Bernice Lanphear Clark, Faye Levit, <v Speaker>Harry Morse, Vera Perkins, Anna Bates Remick, ?Mertsage? <v Speaker>Von Trubel, Edwin Wakefield, Ethel Winsor <v Speaker>and Lillian Ward. <v Speaker>And we thank the following musicians. <v Speaker>Harold Luce and Gertrude Larken Roberts for their performances of <v Speaker>Maple Sugar, Speed the Plow, Crystal ?Shotish? <v Speaker>And Phishers hornpipe. <v Speaker>Ron West and Jay West for Dreamers Waltz, Minstrels Fancy, <v Speaker>and Star Spangled Waltz. Ron West and Ronnie West for <v Speaker>Black Velvet Waltz and Russell Nut Brown and Nancy Nut Brown <v Speaker>for Redwing. <v Speaker>Thanks also to ethnomusicologist Jennifer Quinn and director of Public <v Speaker>Relations Ron Neith, both of Middlebury College.
<v Speaker>Special thanks to Vermont state folklorist Jane Beck of the Vermont Council <v Speaker>on the Arts. <v Speaker>The engineer for this program was Sam Sanders. <v Speaker>The program was produced by Bonnie Morrissey and Ed Grimes with <v Speaker>funds provided by the National Endowment for the Arts. <v Speaker>I'm the executive producer, Betty Smith, and this is a production <v Speaker>of Vermont Public Radio.
A Hand-Me-Down Harvest
Half Root Beer and Half Dandelion Wine
Producing Organization
Vermont Public Radio
Contributing Organization
The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia (Athens, Georgia)
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Episode Description
This episode is "Half Root Beer and Half Dandelion Wine. This program discusses the lifestyle in rural Vermont during the time the recordings were collected. First, they discuss folklore in medicine and the different plants and oils they used as cures. Next, they discussed farming techniques. Most of the techniques revolved around planting crops according to the lunar cycle. An anecdote is given about dandelion wine and mixing it with root beer. Finally, they talk about how families were much closer knit back then. Everyone worked together for a common goal. They recall all shucking corn together and having dances in the barn all night. The program ends with a man recalling sledding down a big hill in the winter with all of his neighbors.
Series Description
"The series A HAND-ME-DOWN HARVEST is a culmination of efforts begun in VPR in 1978 when it became known to us that a truly remarkable collection of folklore was archived at Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vt. Having only the year before been transcribed by the Library of Congress, this extraordinary collection was largely unknown even within scholarly circles and had never been widely distributed to the general public. Properly referred to as the Helen Hartness Flanders Ballad Collection, it consists of 250 wax cylinders, 1500 discs and 55 tapes, as well as letters, field notes and photos of people interviews by Mrs. Flanders in New England, beginning in 1930 at the request of the Committee of Traditions and Ideals of the Vermont Commission on Country Life and continuing as Mrs. Flanders['] life work until her death in the 1950's. In 1979 we received a grant from the NEA for the purpose of studying the collection and producing a one-hour pilot program which was broadcast locally in 1980 and nationally as part of the NPR 'Options' series in 1981. Then, in cooperation with Vermont State Folklorist, Jane Beck of the Vermont Council on the Arts, we applied for a second grant from the NEA for the purpose of [remixing] the pilot into two half-hour programs and for the development of six new [segments] designed to test whether elements of the material collected by Mrs. Flanders were still a viable part of the social fabric today. 4,000 staff hours, 18,000 miles of travel and 74 miles of recording tape later, our production team, headed by Producer Ev Grimes, has demonstrated that the heritage documented originally by Mrs. Flanders is alive and flourishing in our region. This series combines archival and contemporary material in a rich tapestry of voices, songs, stories, beliefs and traditions. Recorded actualities effectively span 50 years. The series offers an unusual opportunity to participate in traditions which can be traced back literally hundreds of years. It echoes with ancestral voices which continue to enrich our lives today."--1984 Peabody Awards entry form.
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Producing Organization: Vermont Public Radio
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The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia
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Chicago: “A Hand-Me-Down Harvest; Half Root Beer and Half Dandelion Wine,” 1984, The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 25, 2024,
MLA: “A Hand-Me-Down Harvest; Half Root Beer and Half Dandelion Wine.” 1984. The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. July 25, 2024. <>.
APA: A Hand-Me-Down Harvest; Half Root Beer and Half Dandelion Wine. Boston, MA: The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from