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  • Stephen D'Agostino

Congratulations to Reading’s Graduates

Last Wednesday, I got a call while I was on a Zoom meeting presenting something I had been working on for a while. The caller’s number was not one that I recognized. If I had been able to mute myself in the meeting, I would have just let it ring. I answered the call and then immediately hung up.

That ended the call; for some strange reason, it didn’t end the ringing. I put the receiver on the floor and slid it across the carpet to at least deaden the sound. It’s a good thing the camera was off during the meeting. At least my meeting mates couldn’t witness my frantic actions.

Several hours later, the same number called. Though robocalls and solicitations never ring twice (in such a short timespan), this person did. I answered it and was on my way to having the most memorable experience of the week.

The caller was Dawn Rowlee. She told me that she was having a small ceremony for Pat Vittum (the name I called her) on the field by Dylan and Abby Rowlee’s house on Thursday, June 4, what would have been her 90th birthday. She asked me if I would attend and read the Irish Blessing.

I agreed to do it, even though I am terrible at reading from a page in front of an audience. If I had the time to memorize it, I would have been more comfortable. I told her I was honored to do it. When I hung up the phone, I chuckled at the idea of a man with the name D'Agostino reading the Irish Blessing.

Like many folks in these times, Dawn had to make different accommodations to honor her mother. I imagine if we weren’t practicing social distancing, the field would have been filled with people who knew and loved Pat.

Instead, it was just Dawn, Mark Dean, Dylan, Abby, Brooke, and Sadie Rowlee, Bill and I. I printed the blessing in a large typeface with lots of space between the lines. Despite that, I still fumbled a bit. After the reading, Dawn spread Pat's ashes, and we spread wildflower seeds. Then we stood silently and gazed on the view that Pat loved.

I’ve said it before, and I will say it now. I only spoke with Pat a few times. I wish it had been more. She was a delight to talk to. The first time we met, she noted the bond we shared in the house I now occupy. I have lived in that house on Jenne Road for five-and-a-half years. That late afternoon, with a different perspective on the surrounding area afforded from a different vantage point, and with the stories that Dawn shared, I got an even deeper appreciation for the woman, the road, the town, and the state in which I live.

Abigail Merseal, one of six high school graduates from Reading.

Haley Symonds, one of six high school graduates from Reading.

Now, onto a happier—albeit unfortunately timed—life event. Congratulations to Reading’s six graduating seniors: Nicholas Bishop, Charles McGowan, Abigail Merseal, Samuel Mitchell, Hayley Mullins, and Haley Symonds. I know the end of their senior year and their graduation I are not what they expected when they entered 12th grade, but they deserve recognition for their achievements. Good luck to all six in whatever the future holds!

Here’s something to look forward to and plan for. The Reading Recreation Commission is sponsoring the Reverse Parade on June 27, from 10am to 2pm. How does this work, you ask? Instead of the parade coming to town and people gathering to see it, the Rec Commission is inviting you to go to the parade.

Similar to the Reading Safari, the Rec is asking people to participate from home. Think of what made Old Home Day so fun—the floats, the music, the patriotism, the celebration. Apply all those colorful, fun, clever ideas to your car, a bike, a wagon—all three if you want—and put your entry in the Reverse Parade on display at the end of your driveway. In the interest of brevity, I’ll call an entry into the Reverse Parade a “float.”

Instead of people throwing candy from the float in a parade, you can hand candy to people who pass by your house in the Reverse Parade. If you got on top of your float and danced to whatever music you have playing, no one would stop you. All the Recreation Commission asks is that you adhere to safety measures and protect yourself and the others involved in the Reverse Parade.

Since this isn’t a search like the Reading Safari was, the Reading Recreation Commission will provide a list of float locations. After all, every participant dancing on their float should be seen!

If you want to join in the fun, here are five ways to do so. One: Participate by putting your float at the end of your driveway and hang out to greet the passers-by. Two: Be creative in your decorations and how you participate. Three: Go out and tour the parade route. Four: Keep your floats from being political. This event is for everyone. Five: Have fun with this, whether you are a parade participant or a parade spectator!

If you want to create a float, you can let the Recreation Commission know by emailing

That’s the news from Reading! See you next week!

This column originally appeared in The Vermont Standard on June 11, 2020.

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