Chester Chatter: My 1st farmhouse Thanksgiving

By Ruthie Douglas
©2020 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Time has gone by but today I am reminiscing of a long ago Thanksgiving. The farmhouse kitchen was the nucleus of the whole house. It was there that we gathered often.

About this time of year, delicious smells filled the home. My mother-in-law was getting ready for the family Thanksgiving dinner. She often started by making fudge, at least three kinds. My father-in-law’s job was to crack the butternuts, which we ladies had gathered from under a tree down the lane.

This was my first Thanksgiving on the farm, having lived in Springfield. With my eyes wide open I watched everything that was going on. We ground up ingredients for mincemeat, including deer meat, fruits and nut, out of which we made pies and canned mincemeat. We made homemade cranberry sauce, from a cranberry bog we owned. And the turkeys we also raised ourselves.

We set aside all of these dishes in the pantry, which was cold like a walk-in cooler.

The big farmhouse kitchen had nine doors leading into it and just two — yes two — electric outlets.  There were no countertops. But we had a large table sitting in the middle of the room with an electric cord hanging from the ceiling. Then there was a big electric stove with two ovens that was hardwired into the house.

Saving for the end of the meal were at least five kinds of pie. We used our own lard for the crust, apples from our trees, blueberries from the garden, mincemeat, a “pecan pie” that was actually butternut and a lemon meringue pie that we made from store bought ingredients.

We would have 15 to 20 people — or more — around two tables. And we made enough for those who dropped by. Our day was made special because everyone enjoyed the good meal and each other’s company. Our dinner was homegrown and organic, before that word became commonplace.

Scene and heard

Carl Amidon is a patient at Dartmouth Hospital.

The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree in New York City came from Oneonta, N.Y., and is 75 feet high.  It has been a tradition since 1933.

Perhaps your Thanksgiving holiday will not be the same as in years past. But we can all be thankful we live in Vermont.  For me it will be different, but I have much to be thankful for.


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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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