Vermont Bar Journal
YANKEE JUSTICE: THE LIGHTER SIDE OF VERMONT LAW John G. Kissane: His Uncle's Lifestyle Lured Him to the Law
THE VERMONT BAR JOURNALVolume 35, No. 2Summer 2009 YANKEE JUSTICE: THE LIGHTER SIDE OF VERMONT LAW John G. Kissane: His Uncle's Lifestyle Lured Him to the LawBy Virginia C. DownsThe following profile of John G. Kissane is the twenty-ninth 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 in Malone, New York, a community the same general size and description as St. Albans, Vermont, where I presently live. I went to school in the public schools in Malone and I guess perhaps because I was a football player, I wound up going to Norwich University and playing football over there. Following Norwich, I went to Boston University and studied law because I had never actually wanted to be anything but a lawyer. I was indeed fortunate that I had made up my mind at a very young age, probably because I had an uncle who was a lawyer and he took two months off every summer to enjoy the Adirondack Mountains and I thought, 'If that's what lawyers want to do, that's what I want to be.' In any event, I went to B.U. and after graduating in 1939, I decided I wanted to live in a community similar to the one I came from, but felt that I would prefer to do it on my own rather than start a practice in the town where my father was a doctor. With the rest of my family there, I probably could have gotten started faster but that didn't quite appeal to me, so I came to St. Albans and have been completely happy that I did select this community.
"I came immediately to St. Albans after graduation with my old friend Leo Wilson, who was then president of the Northern Baseball League. He asked me to come over and he took me around to meet some of the older lawyers on the first day of July with Horace Powers, who was general counsel of the Central Vermont Railway. Horace was, at that time, also on the Board of Bar Examiners and he was insistent that I start on the first day of July and not any later because the six-month period for clerkship started then. If I didn't start on the first it would be another whole year before I could take the bar exam.
"I worked with Horace in his office until I was invited by William R. MacFeeters to come into his office. So before I finished my clerkship with Horace I went up to MacFeeters' office, which was a general practice and much more to my liking than to just be...