Be it resolved: Debating social security

By:  Kathleen Phalen Tomaselli

PLYMOUTH NOTCH — It seems fitting that debates about the future of Social Security would take place barely 11 miles from the home of Social Security’s first recipient.

“Who was the first recipient?” former Vermont Gov. James H. Douglas asked an earnest group of 109 debaters at the President Calvin Coolidge Historic Site in Plymouth Notch on Saturday morning.

“Ida May Fuller,” someone called out.

Fuller, who grew up on a farm two miles from Ludlow and was a classmate of Calvin Coolidge, received the first check for $22.54 in 1940 and earned a total of $22,888.92 in her 35-year retirement.

The debaters, aged 14 to 18, were visiting Vermont from the Debate Institutes at Dartmouth for Coolidge Debate Day.

“For most of our students, this is a once in a lifetime experience,” said Dartmouth Debate Institute Co-Director Nicole Wanzer-Serrano, who is also the executive director for the Dallas Urban Debate Alliance. “The students come from all across the country and many have never seen an area like Vermont. The students are diverse and they will each take away something different.”

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