Chester Chatter: Remembering Helene Douglas

By Ruthie Douglas
©2021 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Helene Douglas was a wonderful woman. She became my mother-in-law when I married her son Don in 1957. We all lived together in a big farmhouse.

For the first month or so I thought I was something special, floating down the staircase, ordering my breakfast like I was at a restaurant and taking my coffee out to the porch to read the newspaper. Lounging around was my avocation. Finally Helene had had enough. She began to teach me how to be a wife, a farmer’s wife in particular, and then most important how to cook and keep house.

Helene’s kitchen had no countertops. But she did have a refrigerator, which used the only electrical outlet in the kitchen, a stove, a large black iron sink and large round maple kitchen table that served many purposes.

When the kitchen became mine, I had a light installed above that table that came with an outlet. We’d plug in our toaster at the table for our morning breakfast or an electric frying pan for our evening pork chop dinner.

The pantry was just off the kitchen, a great help it was for large meals at holidays, but it felt just like a walk-in cooler.

Usually, at the holidays we had 15 to 20 guests, including family and friends, around that large table, made larger by two leaves that could be dropped in. Those times were all about the laughter, the love and the wonderful smells that lingered in that kitchen, sometimes for hours, sometimes days. No fan could clear the aromas from that kitchen.

That was my long ago holiday gatherings, but they just were not the same without Helene and her delicious food and love of laughter. I enjoy closing my eyes and remembering those days with her.

Scene and heard

Happy birthday to my daughter Jeane and to my classmate and dear friend Judy Henning.

Harry Smith, a former music teacher at Green Mountain Union High, has died at his sister’s home in New Jersey. He was such a talented teacher and musician.

After supper, take a short ride around the Chester Village Green. How beautiful it is. Every time I go by, it lifts my spirits.

Have you finished your holiday shopping yet? I’ll brag a bit: I have! And I did it by catalog instead of the internet.

I would like to send good wishes to my friends at Springfield Health and Rehab: the LNAs, the nurses, the service people. What wonderful folks they are.

Also, Merry Christmas to Carl, my good card-playing friend at the Rehab.

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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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