Lisa Boucher had a nice article in Monday's edition (June 29, 2009) of The St. Albans Messenger about Peter Mallett, Georgia Historian. She did a good job of getting information from Peter about himself. Peter is great about providing information about the community, including Fairfax, but when it comes to talking about himself, usually that is a "no" "no."
Peter and I have communicated over the years and he is the type of individual that always follows up, not only on things he commits to do, but on things others might casually commit to do. He expects nothing in return. I had the pleasure of going around Fairfax with Peter and some other historians a few years ago to view the sites of our Fairfax Post Offices over the years. It is difficult to think that Peter would be leaving Georgia and Franklin County. Below is the story that Lisa wrote:
Georgia historian Mallett moving to Jeffersonville
By LISA M. BOUCHER
GEORGIA—July 14 will mark the end of an era for Georgia, after 57 years historian Peter Mallett and his wife, Frances, will move to Jeffersonville to be closer to their son.
Mallett, a former selectman-mer has been the town's historian since 1975, and is the founding member of the Georgia Historical Society. An ardent historian and collector, he has amassed a number of treasures over the years, much of which he has donated to the Georgia Historical Museum.
Stepping through the threshold of a room to the right of his front entrance is like walking into a mini-Smithsonian. It's festooned with antique tin cans that once held commodities from coffee to
batteries. One wall holds a framed collection of fans from the 1920s advertising businesses in St. Albans, a player "concert piano" from a Las Vegas saloon sits with quarters at the ready to give a memorable performance, and there is a large glass cabinet showcasing the wares of the "Green Mountain Renovator," a local 19th century cure-all, of which Mallett has written a book.
The Renovator display includes brown bottles, carrying case, advertisements and a two-foot long piece of cement foundation showing how the "Green Mountain Renovator" bottles had been used to reinforce the a foundation, after the company had been sold and the bottle's were no longer of use. This artifact Mallett
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and his wife harvested themselves.
There are shelves of books and binders and other relics, as well as two large desks and a contraption that magnifies pages to assist Mallett in reading.
"This thing has saved my life," he says, sliding one of the yearly tomes he's published on Georgia's happenings dating back to the 70s (that is now history) onto the glass. "It's terrible to get old, you know."
What's more amazing than the artifacts he has left at his home is the fact that he knows so much about the Town of Georgia, all the people that lived there, what they did, who they did it with, and where they lived.
Talking with Mallett is like having history come to life before your eyes. It's unlikely any high school student (before retirement he was an assistant headmaster at Bellows Free Academy, St. Albans) would get bored in class if Mallett were the guest speaker.
Given his love of the town and sharing what he knows, it seems unthinkable that Mallett would leave after a lifetime, unless there was good reason.
"This place is too big for us to take care of," he says with a hint of resignation when asked why he is leaving his post after so many years. "My son is building us a smaller place near him."
Mallett says that he and his wife won't be living with his son, but "a little ways away."
With a wry smirk and a slightly raised eyebrow, he explains that they are downsizing from a seven or eight room house to about three, encouraging his listener to do the math on the seeming improbability of it.
It is clear when speaking with Mallett, that he loves history and all that he has done over the last 35 years. He always seems to know the answer, and then some, to whatever question is asked of him.
Deflecting questions about what he will do in his "retirement," he directs attention to another point of interest within the room—a two volume hard cover History of Georgia that he penned, coupled with an explanation on how it came to be.
"I was told if I could make the time to write two hours a day I'd eventually have a book," he said. "So that's what I did."
Naturally humble, the 85 year-old did not want this bit of melancholy Georgia history to be recorded, "The paper has done enough stories on me. They're sick of reading about me," he said and he also dispelled the notion that he would be missed or that he ever provided a valuable service to the town.
"Eh, I'll be forgotten in a blink of an eye," he said.
What will likely to be forgotten is all that Peter Mallett won't be recording and cataloguing — not the cherished historian.
If you would like to see some of the results of my Tour with Peter Mallet in Fairfax and view some of the old Post Offices of Fairfax, you can click on the following link: