1934 Chester

Local History by Ron Patch. Ron Patch is a Chester native, Chester Historical Society president, and a lifelong antiques dealer. He can be reached at 802-374-0119 or email knotz69@gmail.com.

Below is a story written by L.A. Carpenter from the June 1934 Carpenter’s Store News. Lucius Allen Carpenter answered to Carp or Al. After his story, I will identify most of the people he mentions.

Carp describes a very peaceful downtown Chester. Of course, it’s gone now, but I enjoy reliving those days if only in my mind. The photo with this article is a hand-drawn sketch from the same issue.

Carpenter's
Sketch from June Carpenter’s Store News. Photo provided by Chester Historical Society

“So far as I know, the day opened peacefully with the sun rising over the eastern hills and the birds chirping merrily in the tree tops as usual, when at approximately 5:30 A.M. Waldo Stevens rolled by on the hard surfaced road with his one wheeled wagon filled with empty milk cans. This followed by a few remarks by the family watch dog announced that another quiet day had begun. Henry Davis, laden with milk pails and bottles, moves majestically up the street, Harry Balch’s truck roars by on it’s way to Weston to gather the daily cargo for the Bellows Falls Creamery (Harry, we miss those two toots of the horn), Foss Parmenter comes hurrying to open the post office to accommodate early readers of the Rutland Herald, Ralph Britton strolls down to his shop ‘under the spreading chestnut tree’, the boys speed by to the Springfield plants, Don Eddy throws his dinner pail into the car and away he goes for his day’s work, and when Isa Craigue arrives with stately tread we consider the day opened and ready for business.

  “Business gets into full swing when ‘Bob’ Dewey wears the daily inch off his broom on the walk in front of his store, which shines like a mirror. By saving the handles from his worn out brooms, ‘Bob’ provides all his winter’s firewood. The morning tasks are hardly done and the Boston paper read before satisfying odors reach the street informing the passerby that dinner (not lunch) is going on the table right away.

  “After dinner dishes are out of the way, work for the womenfolks is practically over for the day, except for what might be termed recreation.

  “Tastes vary considerably as to what form this will take – some love to embroider on socks with big holes in them, some prefer to do out the family wash or get the ironing cleaned up, others are expert with the lawn mower or garden tools, those with a taste for dressmaking find the long afternoons especially delightful for practicing the art – in fact, wide scope is afforded for most any form of useful home sport until supper time, when the ‘brutes’ have to be fed after a hard day’s work. Summer mornings are filled with meetings of the various orders, church suppers, rehearsals, movies, auto trips or just sitting on the front porch and keeping tabs on the neighbors. So the beautiful summer goes and winter is upon us before we know it.

  “City dwellers ask, ‘what can you find to do to pass the time?’ We can only answer, ‘Oh, not much. Mostly sit and think, and when we get tired of thinking – we just sit.’”

Waldo Stevens was the son of Merrill Stevens. Merrill built what we know today as the Jeffrey Barn. Waldo lived on School Street in Chester. He was in the lumber business.

Henry Davis ran a livery and feed stable on Main Street. He lived on School Street and was a rural route letter carrier. Many will remember Harry Balch. Harry picked up and delivered farmers’ milk to the Bellows Falls Creamery for many years. Harry was a rugged man. He could carry a 40-quart milk can in each hand. While many today could equal this feat, very few – if any – could hoist the cans high enough with either hand and place them in the back of the milk truck. Kathy Goodell is Harry’s daughter.

Foster “Foss” Parmenter was postmaster. From Ted Spaulding are several photos of Foss in plays held at Town Hall. Much is known about Foss. Isa Craigue was assistant postmaster and lived on Main Street. Don Eddy was a carpenter living on Main Street.

My parents’ generation didn’t have lunch; they had dinner. I remember growing up and having Sunday dinner at 1 p.m. Supper was 5 or 6 p.m. Perry Foster was always reminding me that I wasn’t going out to dinner, but going out to supper.

Peter Farrar was helpful digging up Carpenter history for me. Carp was born in 1879.

This week’s old saying: “Yesterday is gone. Today is worth worrying about.”

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