I had to smile when I saw John Curran’s story on Brattleboro’s nude problem on the front page of the Times Argus this morning.
You see, I also saw that naked 68-year-old man walking down Main Street.
Earlier this month, my girlfriend and I spent a Friday afternoon and evening in the lovely southern Vermont town for her birthday. And the first thing we saw when pulled onto Main Street was that elderly man, wearing nothing more than a fanny pack and a pair of sneakers, walking past the American Legion building.
This was the second time that I had returned to Brattleboro since moving to Montpelier that I saw an older man walking around nude. During the four years I lived in Brattleboro, I never once saw a naked person walking around the town (It is common to find naked people at the swimming holes though).
Unfortunately, I never got an interview with the mysterious nude walker. But everyone in town was talking about him that day. It seems he spent the afternoon strolling up and down and up Main Street.
Some people may scoff at Brattleboro – which rightfully has a reputation as one of Vermont’s hippie kingdoms – passing a local ordinance banning nudity in public areas. And last year, when a few teenagers decided to get some attention by disrobing downtown, I did too.
But it seems like Brattleboro is getting another reputation and that is of a lawless town where clothes are optional.
You see, during our trip this month to Brattleboro my girlfriend and I also gleefully shopped. I found a rare book I needed for one dollar at one of the thrift stores. We drank organic shakes from the co-op. For dinner we ate at the Top of the Hill Grille on Putney Road, an eatery that resembles the ewok village from "Return of the Jedi."
After dinner we stumbled upon a mass pillow fight in the Harmony Parking Lot, the spot that was notorious last year for the naked kids. Pillow feathers covered the lot and stuck to the ground, still wet from that day’s rain.
Finally, we drank a few beers with friends at Metropolis, the town’s downtown wine bar, while watching two contortionists perform. As we were leaving, a DJ was setting up his equipment for a night of dancing.
These are the things that I think of when I think of Brattleboro.
Unfortunately, they may soon be overshadowed by a different reputation.