Monday, May 22, 2017

Heart of Jericho Center - Remembering Lil Desso, Storekeeper

Folks gathered around the Jericho Center Community Green on May 6, 2017 to dedicate a rock play area in remembrance and appreciation of Lil Desso, Storekeeper (along with her husband, Gerry) of Desso's General Store (Now known as the Jericho Center Country Store) for 30 years.  

  Lilian Desso was a large part of making Desso's Store, the heart of Jericho Center.

Publicity poster for the event designed by Tracey Campbell Pearson, author of The Storekeeper.

                                                       The event program.

Tracey Campbell Pearson

Bob Schermer, President of Jericho Center Preservation Association, thanking the audience,  Gerry Desso and his daughters - Kim and Karen and the many volunteers who constructed the play area. 

Chris Cleary
took time on short notice to engrave 

the large stone facing the general
store in remembrance of Lil Desso.

Charlie Siegchrist and Nate Ely, designer and contractor for the project, who along with Jim Bedell, Dennis Beloin, R.J. Wheel (contractors), volunteered their time and equipment to move large rocks from nearby Bolger Hill Road and construct the play area.    

Tracey Campbell Pearson and Bob Schermer read Tracey's book, The Storekeeper.

Terry Hook, Secretary of The Jericho Center Preservation Association,
assists with the reading of The Storekeeper

"Who would like a copy of The Storekeeper
 by Tracey Campbell Pearson?" "Me, me, pick me!"

Gerry Desso and his wife Lillian were not just owners of Desso's General Store for 30 years - they were also stewards of the small Vermont community.

Linda St. Amour - current Jericho Center Country Store owner -
who with her son and their staff 

carry on the proud community country store

Poem read at the dedication.
Lighting the Green

 It is the usual gray of a late November sky
settling into a day-long dusk by late morning,
making it slow to move
around the maze of what must get done
in a Vermont day already an abbreviation of yesterday--
the walk to Desso’s General Store at noon
to fetch the mail, a late fall journey.

In the center of the village green, as if standing guard
over the white clapboards of the Jericho Town Library
and the plain red brick Congregational Church,
a towering spruce inches its way skyward as Gerry Desso
and men from the village road crew swing aloft,
hanging ropes of outdoor lights already aglow
in reds, greens and blues against dense green branches.
In not so many years from now,
Bunk Bedell’s bucket loader
may fail its reach to light the topmost branches
of Jericho Center’s Christmas spruce.
          What then will send out ribbons of light
          through branches steadily accumulating snow
          to undo the darkness of these days?

Across the street from the tree
with its growing glow of lights,
Lil and Nancy, Judy too, move around the front
and sides of Desso’s General Store
where they find spaces to hang wreaths
from every surface, red velvet bows
blowing into the winter wind.   Balsam firs,
freshly cut, lean against the clapboards, trees
to celebrate the Yule, thick
with pungent green aromas.

Before I push against the door
to wind my way toward the rear wall
of postal boxes, before I edge
sideways through aisles narrowed
by racks of mittens and children’s boots,
I pause in the gray cold, caught in the sudden throb
of warmth for these rituals of preparation
that mark our days around this village green.

Mary Jane Dickerson

Excerpts from a letter about Lil Desso.
I had major surgery. The day after I got back from the hospital, there was a knock at the back door. Two men I’d never met were standing there holding boxes full of milk, muffins, juice, ice cream, fruit, instant pudding, soup and other goodies. “Lil thought you might need these.” 
To me, she [ Lil ] embodied kindness, dignity, an amazing work ethic, and a strong sense of responsibility to her family, neighbors, employees, co-workers and the entire town. I heard someone describe Lil as the “heart of Jericho Center” – and that was truly what she was.
~Maeve K.

Read about the current store and its history on the Jericho Country Store website.

Guestbook obituary postings in

Lilian Desso Obiturary in Burlington Free Press

History of Jericho Center Country Store - BFP article. 

Jericho Store still thriving after 207 years. Article on Happy Vermont blog.

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