Chester Chatter: Winter was for outside play

By Ruthie Douglas
© 2019 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Once, a winter storm meant putting chains on your car tires to get up the South Street Hill in Springfield.

After working a 10-hour day at Fellows Gear Shaper, my dad would do a lot of shoveling. He had to shovel out the spot under our huge clothes line especially for Monday morning washing; the path to the cellar bulkhead door, where we could get canned vegetables, bags of potatoes and bins of carrots; the path to the shed, where the kerosene oil barrel was for our cooking stove and potbelly burner heater.

Before washers and dryers, my mother hung out our wash for a family of five every week, no matter what the season. During the winter, she hung it out in the freezing cold. Of course, the clothes froze quickly. Then she brought the wash in a little at a time to dry on racks.

The wing plows did not scrape the streets bare, the snowblower had not yet been invented and sidewalks were not so great to walk on. But they were just right for us kids to slide on. After supper, when the shop workers were home for the night, we kids went out sliding under the stars and the streetlights. We came into the warm house with pink cheeks and wet mittens and we were very cold, despite the heavy wool jackets and snow pants.

With today’s fine, lightweight winter outerwear, you would think more children would spend more time outside. But they do not seem to spend as much time outside as we did.

My sister and I always fed the birds and built snowmen. My girls also enjoyed being outside in the winter. My grandchildren have always spent a lot of time skiing. Enjoy this season called winter.

Heard here and there

Our thoughts are with Bruce McWilliam on the loss of his dad, Edgar McWilliam.

Rick Howard of Virginia was up this past week celebrating grandson Jack‘s 1st birthday.

Several Legion members of Chester Post 67 attended the Winter Convention in Burlington.

Polly Freeman celebrated her 97th birthday with her daughter and son in law, Debbie and Fred Wheeler, with dinner at their home.

Dot’s Diner, a favorite place of mine for breakfast, was always worth a trip to Wilmington Dover. But last week, it was lost to fire.

The New England Patriots won and 53rd Super Bowl game will be played on Feb. 3. Good Luck Patriots!

The Wizard of Oz, the musical, is 80 years old.

It’s time for some Girl Scout Cookies. How about some Thin Mints, my favorite?

  • This week’s trivia question: What makes Montpelier different from every other capital city in the United States?
  • Answer to last week’s trivia question: Les Allen’s garage was located where Knockout Carpet now is, on Main Street in Chester.

Street Talk

What is your favorite meal on a cold winter day?

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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 40 of those years. Ruthie is also a longtime volunteer throughout the community.

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  1. Hi Ruthie. Like you, I remember the days before snowblowers (and cell phones, for that matter, and still have neither). I’m just in from shoveling snow, and feel a decade or two younger having cleared away the snow! Henry

  2. Arlene Mutschler says:

    answer to trivia question? Montpelier is the ONLY state capitol that does NOT have a McDonalds!

  3. Cynthia Prairie says:

    Bill, you are correct. That was an editing error. Thank you for pointing it out!

  4. Bill says:

    Although “Dot’s of Dover” was damaged by fire, my favorite “Dot’s Restaurant” in Wilmington is just fine. They made a heroic comeback after Irene nearly took them out.