We took a road trip last weekend to our teenage haunts, and on a whim drove past a country inn about 10 miles from the old home, on the edge of a Vermont lake, where we spent two summers working to save money for college. It was a magical resort, the location of early romances (the inn had more than a dozen waitresses compared to us few “handymen”), and had the old-fashioned entertainment that once ruled vacation spots in New England. Boat rides. Shuffleboard. Thursday evening picnic and talent show by the staff. Necking on the shore.
Trouble is, the inn is gone. The main building has been razed, the dance hall removed, and in their place is an empty lawn on one side of the lake road and a new McMansion on the other.
We drove back to reality and Googled “Rutledge Inn, Vermont,” to try to find a record or photos of what we remembered. A big wraparound porch. A dozen cottages hidden in the trees. A laundry outbuilding out back that once caught fire, and made us a modest hero for seeing the blaze and rushing in to stop it.
All of this made us realize how new today’s information nimbus of the internet is. In 2008, you can find almost anyone or anything of note online, with reviews, photos, histories of communications, an entire wikipedia on almost any topic. But that all began back in about 1999, and before then, anything you remembered either made a book, or hopefully a few photos in a cupboard.
Anything before the internet is fragile and fading fast. The Rutledge Inn stood for about a century, generated untold love tangles and perhaps a few children, and Google has barely a whiff of its passing. Some engineer named Paul mentions it briefly on his cycling blog, but that’s it.
We wonder if today’s blogs and electronic records will really be more lasting than old photos a few decades from now. We also wonder if Paul dated the same waitress.