Remembering Warren Blaisdell

February 09, 2012

Warren Blaisdell lights a pipe In the summer of 1977, an auction was held for the benefit of Bethany Church in Randolph. In this time before the church had any space beyond the drip edge of its meeting house and parish house across the street (now Chandler Gallery), a site with enough room for display and a small tent, in the event of rain, was needed. Day’s Funeral Home provided the tent and the location, out behind their barn.

Objects of every type imaginable were donated. Bikes and toys, antique furniture and garden implements, old radios, a small printing press, dresses and art work were all part of the mix that day. As the auctioneer, I remember hearing from Gil Blaisdell early in the week of the auction.

“Dad would like to contribute a dairy calf, if you think it might bring in some money,” he said over the phone. The Blaisdell Farm in Peth was widely regarded as having one of the best Jersey herds in the area. We enthusiastically accepted the offer.

I’ve auctioned quite a few things in my lifetime, but never before or since a dairy calf. The sweet young thing caused quite a stir among the crowd as Warren Blaisdell gently lifted her off the back of his truck. The bidding was brisk. As I recall, $70 was realized from the calf, in a time when $200 was considered pretty good weekly wages in Vermont.

Warren Blaisdell died this week on Monday morning. He was surrounded by his dear wife Bea, all seven of their children, coming from as far away as Michigan, and many grands and great-grands. I saw him last on Sunday evening. A fighter to the last, he was still hoping to get home.

Since Warren’s passing, I haven’t been able to get out of my head the image of him with that young calf. This man had a remarkable way with cows. You could say he spoke their language.

Many years later, in 2000, three Randolph Jersey farms were selling out: Hodgdon, LaBounty, and Blaisdell. I remember visiting Warren and Bea to take some photographs. Their barn wasn’t the prettiest by a long shot; doors hung askew, paint and shingles were wanting in more than one location. Warren’s love for his cows, however, is all that I remember. Together with Bea and their children Mary and John, Warren milked the herd, silently talking with each cow in turn, settling them, helping them to be at rest, at home.

Anticipating the selling of the three herds, Perry Hodgdon told me that the Blaisdell’s would bring much more than those of the LaBounty and Hodgdon farms. He was right. They realized twice the price, and were kept together, all being shipped to a new home out west.

Warren Blaisdell was a Vermonter, a great dairyman, and spoke pure Jersey.

Warren Blaisdell contact sheet

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