At the University of Vermont, where he received his undergraduate and graduate degrees in History, Jeff served for 17 years as an administrator for the College of Arts and Sciences as well as Lecturer in the History Department. He worked in the Dean's Office and taught courses in Latin American history, US history, Cuba history, and Central American history. Since its founding Jeff has been a member of UVM's Center for Research in Vermont.
At UVM he met faculty members who had worked in Africa and sought to convince him that he should trade his MG Midget for a Land Rover. After all, they noted, Rovers North, a Land Rover specialty company, had just opened up in nearby Westford.
Why rely on a British car as a daily driver in Vermont? Jeff was immersed in vision of Land Rovers as a child, courtesy of his mother's upbringing in England and her family's insistence that she receive a flood of British publications. His father always brought home sports car magazines, culminating in an unsuccessful lobbying effort for an Austin Healey 3000 as the next "family car." A request for a Land Rover was dismissed out of hand as yet another Buick convertible was purchased instead.
As any veteran of the BMC-Triumph-British Leyland-Jaguar/Rover/Triumph corporate wars remembers, you needed to have an intrepid spirit to run a British car as a daily driver. The pullout of Land Rover in 1974 from the US market did not ease fears that your car could be hung up for parts and service. It was hard enough to get parts for an MG, which annually exported nearly 20,000 cars to the US, let alone Land Rover, which barely sent 1,500 cars here each year. Yet Jeff persisted in relying on well-used sports cars as daily drivers; at times, it made for a lot of walking to work.
Jeff left UVM for New Hampshire Public Television in 1987 and moved to Maine. The commuter car of choice was now a 9-year old Triumph Spitfire. Within a year it had spun a bearing ("Yes, it's a weakness in that engine."), but the rebuilt engine performed admirably.
Jeff did not mind taking risks, but when he went out on his own in 1990, he knew that a Triumph Spitfire might be the car for travel throughout New England. When you absolutely, positively had to be somewhere at a specific time, in all seasons and all weather, a Spitfire might not be the best choice.
In 1991 his Land Rover, the QE I, entered his life. It has taken Jeff to speak at over 1,000 humanities, early childhood literacy, prison education and adult new reader programs. It has traveled to Colebrook, NH, in blizzards. and pounded on frost heaves on the only road to Ft. Kent, ME. It has cruised the interstates into Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New York, taking him to airports to work throughout the US. Off road, the QE I has humped through bogs, ravines, streams, snowy trails, rock faces and logging trails in Vermont, New Hampshire, New York and Maine.
Jeff moved to the island of Vinalhaven in 1990. The wide range of his work continues: editing, writing, public humanities programs, house painting and caretaking of summer properties, web site development. He has also worked as a commercial fisherman, a newspaper writer and reviewer, the executive director of a national business organization, a consulting software trainer, and a public school principal.
The QE I is still the daily driver and the work truck on the island, and can still be seen often on New England roads. In 2005 it was joined by Land Rover #2, the QM I, a 1966 Series II-A Hardtop, which joins in the work duties.