Chester Chatter: After WWI, Johnnie Walker finds home in Vermont

By Ruthie Douglas
©2021 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Johnnie Walker fished the Williams River in front of my farmhouse and many times would seek a ride back up to town.

That gave me a chance to really get to know Johnnie. At one point, my editor — I believe it was at the Black River Tribune –wanted me to do a profile of Johnnie. We set up an interview at the Pioneer House, where Johnnie lived. As it turns out, that interview will live in my memory.

Johnnie began speaking about his parents, who had been born into enslavement. After the Emancipation Proclamation was issued and after Johnnie was born, his parents did not register his birth with town hall.

When Johnnie was a young adult, he signed up on a ship to serve in World War I. For the next two years, he hardly saw the light of day. Way down in the bottom of the ship, he peeled tons of potatoes and other vegetables. He never was issued a uniform or a paycheck.

At the end of World War I, he was released from service. As Johnnie left the ship, the officer told him what a nice job he had done.

Johnnie finally landed in Chester in the late 1950s, after working in a school in Jamaica in the early 1950s. He was greeted with much kindness and caring.

Scene and heard

American Legion Post 67 is so happy its meeting place is open with some restrictions. It will be great to see friends once again.

Our family cousin Angus Johnson has died after very much suffering.

This winter, many snowmobile rigs from all over have passed by my house.

Skip Forbes, the longtime road commissioner in Andover, has died. Skip had many friends. Much sympathy to his family.

Flora Anderson of Bartonsville has died. She always helped the Bartonsville Grange on its fund-raisers. Many will miss her.

Can you remember S&H Green Stamps?

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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. Twyla Putnam says:

    My Mom would collect S&H Green Stamps pretty sure from the Esso station in BF that is now the Shell near red light. Seems like maybe a grocery store too. Can remember helping to put them in the book.