Chester Chatter: Tater Hill was work, but also a party

By Ruthie Douglas
©2020 Telegraph Publishing LLC

In 1974, Tater Hill Country Club was up and ready for tennis and golf.  It was decided to hold a grand opening complete with fireworks. I think that Windham had never had a traffic jam before then nor since.

It turns out that the fellow who said he knew how to shoot fireworks actually did not. Fireworks were skittering under the private airplanes that sat nearby. Some fireworks landed on the clubhouse roof and at one point some of the fireworks turned and headed for the crowd.

The audience soon began to feel as though they were on a battlefield. Come morning, a terrible mess faced the grounds crew.

Since the golf course was not complete, the first few months were filled with tennis players. The tennis players were a great bunch of folks. But they didn’t drink because it put them off their game.

When we held dances at the clubhouse, you can believe that our bouncer, Hank Mauti, had his hands full. One day, when the Bondville Fair closed for the evening, several men from the fair showed up for the dance, but they couldn’t even stand up and we would not serve them.

When we closed for the night — and I was cleaning up — the liquor inspector showed up. When I asked him “What’s up?” the inspector replied, “What about him? pointing to a customer who was passed out on a couch. Next to him sat a beer with his teeth soaking in them.  I immediately called his mother and the inspector gave us a pass on this slip.

We had many fun times at the club. One night after dinner, customers sat around visiting. Out on the golf course were millions of fireflies. I went into the kitchen, washed glass jars and divided the group into teams to see who could capture the most fireflies within 20 minutes. Back at the clubhouse, they lit up the room and made a perfect setting for a round of drinks before we let the fireflies go.

One summer a mother bird built her nest on the deck overhang. But it fell down with four babies in it. The mother did not return and I put the babies in a box, which I set on the bar. We fed them, they grew fast and became famous, with their picture appearing in The Message for the Week.

Dr. Spinrad had left detailed long instructions explaining how they should be handled and the owners of the club ended up flying them to their home in New Jersey.

Those summer months, despite the work, still seemed like a party every single day.

Scene and heard

Congratulations and best wishes to Kailey Benson and Matt Natole on their recent marriage. Kailey is the daughter of Kim and Brian Benson.

Chester is a town that supports and is run by women. We have women in high places: as town manager, as town clerk and two on the Select Board and the superintendent of schools. We also have many women business owners, a few ministers and lawyers — one who was once a judge. And of course there are all the teachers, nurses and the volunteers in so many fields.

We’re thinking of the family of Terry Goddard who died recently, especially his mother Lois and sister Mary-ann.

My daughter Jean and I are having a wonderful time talking to our relatives Kim from Texas and Mike from Arizona on Zoom.

The American Legion is hosting a craft fair and flea market in the legion field Sept. 26 and Sept. 27. Cost of a booth is $25 a day. Call 802-384-0128 to reserve a stop. And there will be chicken barbeque available.  Masks and social distancing per state rules will be required.

Friday, Aug. 28 was the 9th anniversary of Tropical Storm Irene, which killed two in Vermont and caused so much damage this area. And this past week was also the 15th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated Louisiana and killed more than 1,800 people.

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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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  1. Walter Spinrad says:

    Ruthie, thank you for the stories, you brought back many amazing memories from my summers at Tater Hill.

    My condolences to the Goddard family, we grew up together. May Terry find his peace and happiness on the other side.