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LYDIA DEVORE

There are a few characters who enter into the story of the Arnold family, as it is recorded in my memory, that it seems appropriate to give some of them at least a paragraph or two, even though they may not be actually related by blood or marriage. One of these is Lydia Devore, a music teacher in Montpelier, who was in her early twenties when I came on the scene, and who it seems to me as I look back, was an intimate member of our family, at my earliest recollection. I have never been able to figure out how she came into such a close intimacy; probably my father could have explained it, had I ever thought to ask him, and I never thought to ask her anything about it when I saw her in later years.

My recollection of her is as a big, dark-haired, somewhat masculine type of girl, with a fairly well developed mustache. How she came to be my particular pal is attributable to my mother's illness. In order to lighten her burden, Kit Johnston took my brother Henry under her wing and Lydia fell hers to me. She was a devoted foster-mother and had exclusive care of me, subject to the demands of her music teaching, for what seemed to me a long time, although it was probably only a matter of months. How much she loved me, I do not know, but I know that she made herself beloved by me and so I suppose she held me dear.

When I went to Montpelier in 1928, I found out where she lived and went to call. She met me at the door - the same big masculine type of woman I remembered - and of course did not recognize me. I asked if she were Lydia Devore and she said "Yes", pretty gruffly and with some suspicion. "Nonsense", said I "You aren't old enough to be Lydia Devore." "Well, I am seventy-two years old - who are you anyhow?" I said that she certainly ought to know me; with that her suspicions were still more aroused and she said: "Come in here ‘til I get my glasses and I'll soon find out who you are." I went into the house with her, she found her glasses, took a good long look at me, then opened her arms and took me to her bosom, just as she would have forty-odd years before. We stood there and wept on each other's shoulders like a pair of cry-babies and then sat down and told each other tales of my mother, my father, and my grandmother for an hour.

When I came to leave, she accompanied me out to the car and, as I started to drive away, I leaned out of the car, took her in my arms, and kissed good-bye. A pair of flapper-sized kids, passing at the time, pretty nearly giggled their heads off as they went down the street. I suppose they thought it a great joke to see big, masculine looking Lydia kissing her sweetheart good-bye. I have often wondered if they ever found out what was going on.

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