‘Gramp’, A working man’s man

Ron Patch

Many Chester people will know Gramp Spaulding. Like Gordon Gates, Gramp wrote some of his memories of working in Chester. These writings include his Army service, his days at Readex (now Newsbank) and a lot about moving safes, pianos and trucking.

“My brother started school in Weston. I started in Gassetts. Then he went to North Street in Chester and I went to Gassetts for grades 1-6. During those years when I was in 3rd or 4th grade I got the nickname “Gramp” by one of the other boys. They said the reason was because I acted like an old man, and the name has stayed with me all these years. For years folks around town didn’t know who John Leon Spaulding was. It’s me, ‘Gramp.’

Gramp in his Army uniform. Photo provided.

“Valley Oil was out of Chester behind where the Soap Shed (Chester Laundromat) now is. I hauled truck load after truck load of used bricks from Walpole, New Hampshire, to Mt. Holly, Vermont.

“While working with Guy Earle, who was a mason, we put up a lot of chimneys in the Chester and Londonderry areas and built cement block foundations for houses as well.

“In 1956 I was a Vermont delegate to the National Convention of the Future Farmers of America in Kansas City, Missouri. We stopped at Swift and Company Packing and the stock yards in Chicago. Later that year I was made honorary member of the Vermont Chapter of the Future Farmers of America.

“The Congo Church at Chester has had many pianos and I moved a lot of them.

Wayne Stowell and I have moved many pianos to and from the parsonage for the church and many other pianos for people in town. John Aldrich helped me on one at the Baptist Church as my truck was broke down. It was taken to the Senior Center in town.

Furniture jobs—many, many of them!

“Wayne Stowell and I have moved many, many houselots for folks around Chester, Weston, Londonderry, Cavendish, Springfield, Grafton, Bellows Falls and other areas. Never charged much, but we helped out those in need the best we could.

“I used to haul hardwood to welfare folks and other people around the area many nights after work. I used to haul 4-ft wood to Crossman from Windham and Stratton.

“When I worked for Stevens & Thompson, they sold four-foot hardwood to people around the area. One time my boss had sent me after a load of hardwood. I loaded it and took it to Bellows Falls. He had told me to get my money before I unloaded it. Well, the folks said you will have your pay when it is unloaded. I thought maybe I will be putting it back on, but when it was unloaded the money was there. That was an eight cord load, loaded out of hellville, up behind the Grafton village, up by the brick church. I guess my back has reason to feel like it does at times!


“I hauled slabwood from Dorset, Vt. to Stevens & Thompson charcoal plant in Chester. Some days I was able to make three trips. That was tight but it could be done.


“I used to take down camps at Stevens & Thompson wood jobs and put them back up. They had a large cook hall in Grafton and many camps for the men that were built in sections. Some 4 ft. sections and some 8 ft. sections, some wood and some wood frame and metal siding. When the woods operation went out, I bought nine of them and have them in use even today.

“Trash and plowing

“For 25 years I had a trash route and had thirty-four customers I took care of. Used to do it once a month. Sometimes had to run two Saturdays. I miss seeing the folks and sometimes wonder how I found time to do it.

“The day Bob Turco moved to Munson, Maine

“Bob Turco had rented a U-Haul truck, but all of the things didn’t fit in it, so Wayne Stowell and I went to Munson with a load of items. Wayne drove up and I drove back. I had been in an accident at work and crushed my foot with the fork truck, and was hard to walk. But we made the trip up and back. Bill Burton and Mike Turco rode in the back of the truck on the way back.” To be continued….

Gramp is now at the Gill Home in Ludlow. You can send him a card at, John L. Spaulding, 8 Gill Terrace, Ludlow, Vermont 05149.

This week’s old saying is from Gramp and refers to a check. “If a person’s word is no good then their paper isn’t either.”

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