Chester Chatter: My resilient grandmother Mabel

By Ruthie Douglas
©2021 Telegraph Publishing LLC

My grandmother Mabel was raped. She was barely 16 years old and discovered later that she had become pregnant. This was in the late 1800s. The small Canadian town she lived in was religiously conservative; upon learning of Mabel’s situation, her mother threw her out of the house. Mabel never saw her family — including her brothers and sisters — again.

Carrying her clothes in a pillowcase, she went into town, where she spotted a sign at the boarding house that said, “Now hiring.”  She got the job, waiting tables for breakfast and supper. In exchange, she received room and board. She also got a second job working at the button factory. Perhaps for the first time, she was well-liked by everyone around her and she learned what kindness was.

When the baby came, the boarding house landlady helped my grandmother care for little Nora. One day, grandma met a man named George Tatro. On their Sundays off, the young couple would walk in the park with baby Nora and a picnic lunch. George asked Mabel to marry him and welcomed the baby as his own as well. They ended up being married for 72 years.

As a young couple, they moved to Vermont and had five more daughters, my mother being the youngest. Two of those children died of diphtheria near birth. But the family still thrived, owning an office-cleaning business in Springfield, as well as a boarding house. My grandfather also was a professional gardener, and was hired to work at a number of the area mansions.

Grandma taught herself many skills, including sewing, knitting and how to play the piano. Grandma also gained much of her knowledge by reading the daily newspaper.  The lesson in this story is to be resilient and never give up.

Scene and heard

Although it is the week before Easter, the children of the Chester Baptist Church enjoyed an Easter egg hunt behind the church on Sunday, before the rains started.

Doris Turco has died. She spent her last few years living with her son Bob and his wife Sue. Sympathy goes out to the entire family.

The American Legion Post 67 is up and running. Friday night food is fish fry and pork dinner. One can now eat inside or take out.

Chris Bohen and his family have been enjoying their back yard fire pit.

Do you remember the Easter egg hunt that used to be held at the Pinnacle? It was sponsored by the Chester Rotary.

Happy Easter, everyone.

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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. Deborah Costa says:

    What an amazing story; what precious family history! Hopefully this saga will be passed down generation to generation. Thanks, Ruthie, for sharing.

    Deb Costa and Ron Betts
    Belmont, VT

  2. Pat Schomann says:

    Thank you for telling the story about your grandmother! I really enjoyed reading about her resilience and determination to keep on going even though it was difficult. I’m glad she met your grandfather and had a good life with him.

  3. Patricia Howe says:

    Having grown up in Chester I remember the Easter egg hunts fondly. It was great fun hunting for the eggs with my older brothers. Thanks for the memories.