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The Quarry Hill Journal

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10 April
External Services:
This is the live journal of
Quarry Hill Creative Center, Vermont's oldest
alternative living group/family rental business.
We will soon have a full website but this is fun for now.

HISTORY: In 1946 Irving Fiske, a playwright, inventor, freelance writer, and speaker, and his wife, Barbara Hall Fiske, an artist and cartoonist, bought 140 or so acres of mountain, meadow, and brook land in gorgeous Rochester, Vermont. Irving had translated Shakespeare's Hamlet into Modern English, a controversial move at the time. John Ciardi reprinted some of it in the Saturday Review, mockingly; most readers wrote in in favor of it-- much to the surprise of the grumpy old poet.
Barbara and Irving wanted to create an artists and writers retreat, a gathering place for creative and freethinking people. They had two children, Isabella (Ladybelle) and William, named after their favorite poet and artist, William Blake.
During the Fifties and early Sixties, the family traveled to keep the kids out of school, which the Fiskes regarded as "Dark Satanic Mills That Grind Men's Souls to Dust." In the mid Sixties, Barbara opened the Gallery Gwen on E. 4th Street in New York's East Village. There Irving began to speak on Tantra, Zen, Sufism, Hinduism, Christianity, Judaism, and atheism-- among many other things. He soon spoke to standing room only audiences-- especially when he spoke on "Tantra, the Yoga of Sex."
The Sixties burst out in full bloom and hundreds of people began to pour through Quarry Hill, where the Fiskes rented out spaces, as they always had. They also put people up for free for periods of time if they were going through difficulties or needed a place to recover or grow personally. In time MANY people wanted to build at Quarry Hill and they did. In the 1970s Irving and Barbara divorced, but soon became friends.
The land is now managed by a rental corporation owned by the family.
Many changes have occurred over the years at QH-- it has had its own private K-12 school and its own anti-child abuse program, and it has been through many schisms and also many moments of great joy and beauty.
The one central principle upon which our thought is based is NO VIOLENCE of any kind towards children, who cannot charge adults with assault and are defenceless when beaten. We do not allow any spanking, slapping, scolding, denigrating or neglect of kids here. Also, no hunting, fishing, or animal slaughter. Ladybelle and Barbara are Quakers and oppose all violence and all war, as do many, many Quarry HIll residents.

Irving became widely known for his sense of humor, interest in philosophy and religion, and
his ability as a speaker and communicator.
He was called "The Forest Wizard" at times (someone gave him a card with that name which he liked to carry in his wallet for fun).
William is a computer programmer with a Masters Degree from UVM, and Ladybelle is a writer who has won awards and fellowships. She is working on a memoir about her life and times at Quarry Hill and among her artistic and literary friends.

Many creative, unusual people are resident at
QH today. They, with the family, enjoy the gorgeous setting-- high in the Green Mountains, with a brook, meadows,and mountains.

Life at QH is inexpensive; we can sometimes rent a room for a few months for very little. Houses are also for sale at the moment and may be for rent as well. Residents make site agreements ith the family involving long-term easements and mutual rights and responsibilities.

We have tried to make our lives energetic, artistic, open, and compassionate.
At times we've "mt the enemy and he is us,"
as Pogo says, but we've also enjoyed that "communication... hat is communion" of which the great Christian writer Thomas Merton speaks.

Irving died in 1990 after having had a lot of fun. For all we know, he still is.
Barbara married Don Calhoun, Ph.d, a Quaker sociologist, in 1989, and lives at QH and in Florida, where she draws, paints, and feeds people.
We welcome comments, memories, dreams, reflections, poetry, and errant meditations on Quarry Hill, Irving, the Fiske family, the Quarry Hill Kids (all those who grew up at QH), on William Blake, George Bernard Shaw, (Irving wrote a pamphlet comparing the two, Bernard Shaw's Debt to William Blake. Shaw loved it and had it reprinted. It is now a collector's item and critically acclaimed),Herman Melville (we liked Moby Dick), Michelangelo, Fra Angelico, Mozart, Vivaldi, (Irving's brother Milton was a classical composer), Van Gogh, the Marx Brothers, Childrens Rights, Fun, etc.
And of course, General Nonsense, the great Defender of our Cause.