Chester Chatter: Time moved slowly, and a steeple clock dazzled

By Ruthie Douglas
© 2017 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Growing up in a hill town of rural Vermont in the 1920s, life moved at a slow pace. My mother-in-law Helene told me many stories of her growing up in Windham.

Her father was a sawyer at the mill, and her family included three brothers and her parents.

Most kids attended the one-room schoolhouse and, in good weather walked to school barefoot, carrying their shoes with them. They also carried their lunch in lunch pails, which were just that — pails that had once come with lard in them. Often times, lunch consisted of homemade bread sandwiches with jelly and sometimes included a cookie.

Helene’s home had no electricity, telephone or central heat. In the evening, her mother read stories to the children as they sat around the woodstove.

Helene’s family did not have a lot of money, so vacation trips were out of the question. One Sunday, her father offered a surprise trip. Her mother packed a lunch and the horse wagon was hitched up. “We’ll ride into Chester,” they were told. What a trip they had, having never been that far before. “Kids, a surprise is coming up,” their father said as they came into town. “Look up!” And there it was: The steeple of the Congo Church with a clock on it!

They hitched the horse up off the Green. And after eating lunch, the kids got to walk to the swinging bridge. After quite a day, they headed home just before dark.

The one room school house in Windham taught up to the 8th grade, after which the students were on their own. My mother-in-law got a job caring for Mrs. Douglas, who was crippled. She was able to attend high school, live at the farm and care for Mrs. Douglas. The Douglas son fell in love with Helene and the rest is history.


A happy birthday to Jimmy Benson, who celebrated with a party at the American Legion in Chester. Friends and family gathered to wish him well.

Bev and Butch Jelley celebrated their 37th wedding anniversary on Oct. 25.

Ed Peterson celebrated his birthday at the Chester American Legion with family and friends. Happy days Ed.

Get well wishes to Sibbie Fletcher.

Classmates from Springfield High Class of 1959 met for their monthly luncheon at Riverside Restaurant. It’s always a nice time.

  • This week’s trivia question: Where was the nursing home once located in Chester?
  • Answer to last week’s trivia question:  Bernie Mowrey is Chester’s oldest citizen. He will be 100 years old in January.

Street Talk

If you attended a Halloween party, what would your costume be?


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Filed Under: Chester ChatterCommunity and Arts Life

About the Author: Ruthie Douglas is originally from Springfield but has called Chester her home for 58 years, and has been writing the Chester Chatter column for more than 40 of those years. Ruthie is also a longtime volunteer throughout the community.

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