The Oleo Farm

Local HistoryBelow is a story I wrote for my novel, “1957 Chester, Vermont.” It is pure fiction and not to be interpreted as fact. It is purely my imagination. Questions you might have, such as what happened to Bruce and Susie, will be answered in the novel. The illustration is by Brandy Todt.

“1957 Chester, Vermont

Ron Patch
Illustration by Brandy Todt

“The Oleo Farm was located up on Steadman Hill. Edgar and Eunice Parsons lived there with their only child, Bruce. Edgar ran heavy equipment for a living. Eunice was a homemaker.

“They owned eight acres of the rockiest, boniest land in Chester. No matter where they tried to dig a hole they hit rock. Edgar saved the rocks he excavated in piles all around the property.

“The Parsons had one of the first split level-homes in Chester and were some proud of it. Edgar bought two used 40-foot mobile homes. They were placed back to back and bolted together. Another feature was that the mobile home in the back was 18 inches above the level of the mobile home in the front. This created the split level.

“Over both mobile homes Edgar built a pole barn with a shed roof. Where you entered the second mobile home, Edgar had cut an opening six feet wide in both mobile homes so there was a nice wide entry up the steps from one level to the other.

“In the upper level Edgar built a chimney so he could hook up his old Glenwood woodstove to heat that level. The lower level had an oil-fired furnace.

“When the Parsonses entertained guests they had plenty of room. Everyone loved what they had done with the place. Eunice had made curtains for all the windows. She had bought some paisley material from Carpenter’s Store. Eunice still used an old Singer treadle sewing machine and wanted no part of a newfangled electric machine.

“The only electric appliance she owned was a secondhand Maytag wringer washer. When she needed to do laundry she rolled it over near the sink and plugged it in. When she finished washing the clothes she put the rubber drain hose in the sink and switched the machine to “drain.” All of the water was pumped through the hose and into the sink.

“Then she would fill it again with fresh water to rinse the clothes. When rinsed, she would pass the wet clothes through the wringer to squeeze most of the water out. Then she would hang the clothes out on the line to dry.

“Edgar had a workshop out in the garage. He could repair most anything. He had a welder and just about every other tool he needed. One time he decided to customize the exhaust system on his truck.

“He ran the exhaust pipes under the cab floor. Where the pipes came out from under the cab he welded a 90-degree elbow. To this elbow he welded upright pipes about 4 feet long. These upright pipes stood about 14 inches above the cab. At the top of those pipes he welded on chrome stacks.

“He then installed amber cab lights across the top of the cab. Not yet done, he ran amber lights around his license plates and his West Coast mirrors. On the very top of the cab he installed a musical horn. When he blew the horn it loudly played ‘Dixie.’

“The Parsons’ yard was rather barren. Tips of ledges protruded everywhere. Edgar had built a small barn where he kept a couple pigs and a dozen chickens. At the entrance to their driveway they had a sign that read, “The Oleo Farm—One of the Cheaper Spreads.”

“Bruce was a junior at Chester High School and rode the bus every day. Bruce got along with the other kids well. He wasn’t a troublemaker in school and tried his best to get good grades. Math was a problem, as was English, but he managed to pass his tests.

“He had a crush on Susie, a sophomore, but didn’t know how to approach her. It was an awkward time for Bruce. He played baseball in high school and Susie was always there to watch. One day Bruce hit a home run and won the game for Chester at Cobleigh Field. Susie came running up to him after the game and excitingly said, “You’re so strong!”

“Bruce replied, “Ah shucks, it was nothing.” After the game they walked over to the Chester Drug Store to the soda fountain. There they talked and laughed and agreed to have a date at the movie theater the next Friday.

“Within a month they were ‘going steady.’ Susie wore his class ring on a chain around her neck. The two were inseparable.”

This week’s old saying. “You can’t stub your toe standing still.”

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