Delivering the mail

Below is more from Vera Lundburg. Here she describes the mailman’s perils in Andover in the 1930s. Wilt Holt was the mailman she mentions. Much is known about Wilt Holt.

Vera Lundburg
Wilt Holt going for a Sunday drive. Photo provided by Ron Patch.

The mailman

“Occasionally the mailman has an insured package to be signed for and then brings the mail to the door. He’s pretty cold, too, some mornings and twice has come in for a ‘kup of tay.’ We like him very much. He’s been on the route over twenty-years now and knows everybody pretty well. I always feel sorry for him having to climb and descend that awful hill every day no matter what condition of the road, and of course it’s even more precarious further on up, over the crest. He says he used to worry about it the night before so that sometimes he couldn’t sleep. But with the confidence of the years behind him, he thinks nothing of it anymore.

“Time was when he used a team and sled. He had four horses and alternated the team. It was awful tough going then, and it took him all day to cover his route. (He now gets back to Chester for the noon mail.) He says the winters used to be much more severe here anyway – much colder and much more snow – and that it was here – and that it was 10 o’clock at night before he really got warmed through thoroughly at home. So now when the weather is bad, he cheers himself very readily by thinking of the old days which were so much worse.

“He used to live down here in the village, had a lot of older brothers and was very, very poor. Says he can remember when he was about six years old helping saw wood with his brothers over here on our ridge. They cut it down and sawed it up for fifty cents a cord and he had to balance one end of the cross cut saw while his brothers who weren’t much older than 12 or 15 did the real work. He remembers doing 15 cords for one man. The old meany, imagine taking all that labor for so little and when they needed it so badly. I’m glad he looks prosperous now. Mrs. Kangas told us he makes butter as a side line and I thought she meant he had quite a dairy, but was much disappointed to find out that he has only one cow and all the customers he can possibly provide for. But he said in the spring and early summer he might be able to sell us some so we are on the waiting list.

“We have a devil of a time to get nice fresh untainted butter here and I find it a real hardship to put up with second best of that particular tidbit. So I’m in the market for some homemade if I can get my hands on any in the vicinity. What we get in Springfield is an improvement but now that Wednesday trips there are no longer compulsory, we are thrown back on what Chester has to offer. Of course I haven’t tried all the stores there and suppose I should on the chance that some one of them knows how to keep butter fresh.

“One parting shot before we leave Mr. Holt – he has a very pleasing local “tang.” For “there wasn’t” he always says “there want” (a-as in calm.)”

Explanation of wan’t

Vermonters have always been economical with our use of words. What Vera spells as ‘want’ should be ‘wan’t.’ Wan’t is a contraction of the contraction ‘wasn’t.’ Using wan’t requires one less syllable than wasn’t. It works for me.

Why not you come we house

In the early 1900s, many Finnish immigrants settled in the Andover area. Vera was fascinated by the Finns as expressed below.

“I don’t know what there is about Finnish pronouns that differs from English but they have a gawd-awful time with them. Wherever they use the feminine gender, they top it off with ‘he.’ And when they want to say ‘our’, it is always ‘we.’ For instance, ‘we cat’ or ‘we’ house, ‘why not you come we house?’ they will say most hospitably. Or ‘come to in.’ It is quite cute and I am beginning to think with a broken accent. They have some trick names for the gals – really pretty ones I think Aili ‘Eye-lee’, Saima ‘Syma’, Hillia, Elena ‘El-eenah’, Helvy, etc., etc.”

The next meeting of the Chester Historical Society is Thursday April 25, upstairs of Chester Town Hall at 7 p.m. See you there.

This week’s old saying. “You can lead your son to college but you can’t make him think.”

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