Vermont Bar Journal
Spring 2009 - #15.
Ralph Foote: A Would-Be Journalist Turns to the Law
THE VERMONT BAR JOURNAL Volume 35, No. 1 SPRING 2009
YANKEE JUSTICE: THE LIGHTER SIDE OF VERMONT LAW
Ralph Foote: A Would-Be Journalist Turns to the Lawby Virginia C. Downs
The following profile of Ralph Foote is the twenty-eighth in a series published in the Journal under the general title of "Yankee Justice." The profiles are based on interviews of the members of the bench and bar conducted by free-lance writer and oral historian Virginia Downs in 1978 and 1979. The project was proposed at a meeting of the Vermont Bench and Bar in April of 1978 to tie in with planned bi-centennial celebrations of the state's legal beginnings in 1779. It was in that year that Stephen Bradley and Noah Smith were sworn in as Vermont's first official lawyers. The profiles include biographical material and anecdotes from the interviewees' legal activities.
"I was born down in Proctor, Vermont, because that was where the hospital was. Having a baby in a hospital was kind of a novel thing in those days. Later when I was Lieutenant Governor, Asa Bloomer used to make a big thing of it each of the several years I presided over the Senate and he was president pro tem. He was very proud that he, too, had been born in Proctor.
"Our family made its living in the telephone company business. My father ran a small company completely unassociated with New England and Ma Bell down in Orwell and Shoreham.
"I went to a grammar school down there and to Middlebury High School. My folks had been natives of Middlebury. I went down to Amherst College for no particular reason except that our local Congregational Church minister had gone there and I kind of admired him. He had recommended it to me. I got through just in time, by accelerating summers, and went into the Marine Corps and served for three years in the Pacific.
"When I came back, the GI bill was available. If it hadn't been for that, I would never have gone to law school. And, in fact, I hadn't intended to. My first thought was journalism. I looked for and got a job on the Springfield Republican in Massachusetts. I got it through the agency at Amherst that helped people get jobs. The day that I was supposed to report for work, in the fall of 1946, I can well remember that they were...