Dinner in Vermont

ONE of society's messages in the '80's sometimes seems to be that this is a cold world where complicated electronics is the hub around which people revolve. Nonsense. Individuals still hold center ground; it is around them that computers, robots, and other technological marvels rotate.

The relevance of human resourcefulness in a technological era was driven home this week to a big-city couple we know. They'd meandered up to a Vermont village , population 187, in search of ancestors and the ancestral farmhouse, armed only with desire and two 56-year-old photos of the building. They marched first thing into the local post office, where everyone took an interest; they were sent along to the resident who'd lived in the hamlet longest.

Out her door she bustled, a genial great-grandmother wrapped in personal warmth and an enormous apron. ''That's my house!'' she exclaimed of the photos. ''It burned 40 years ago. Come in and I'll tell you all about it.''

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She did. For hours she and her husband shared memories, photos, and documents. They steered the couple around town and to their ancestors' graves. Most of all they shared themselves: not blood relatives, the two couples became instant family.

Before they left for home late in the afternoon of the second day the city folk stopped off, by prearrangement, for a goodbye. They found the Vermonters making a surprise supper: ''You have to eat somewhere,'' the wife said. ''Have a bite with us.''

At the parting there were hugs and warmth all around. And a gift: two beautiful silk roses the Vermont wife had crafted. ''Every time I look at them I'll think of you and your friendship,'' the city wife responded, very much touched.

In our supposedly cold and impersonal society, three New Englanders and a New Yorker over 24 hours had shared a kinship through a maze of time and circumstances no computer could have programmed.

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