Here I give the history of the old Jiffy Mart location in Chester. In the 1869 Beers Atlas of Windsor County, I see a “Boot Shop” at this location. This would be Chester Boot Company.
At the historical society, we have several photos of this building taken over the years. In the 1883 Child’s Gazetteer, I see George Hall and Charles Walker were running an undertaking business at this location.
John Greenwood was a prosperous man in the boot business. Greenwood was a partner in the Chester Boot Company. Greenwood lived in the house we know today as Gingerbread Apartments.
In this home over some of the interior doorways are what we call “Stick and Ball” architectural features. In the center of the stick and ball is a large letter “G.” I was there one night in 1979 when I first saw the G.
I didn’t know what the G stood for so I asked. The tenant didn’t know, but she quipped, “Gingerbread!”
“Have another beer,” says Henry. The G stands for Greenwood.
In the 1912 Chester Business Directory, Greenwood is listed as a traveling salesman. Howard Peck told me a John Greenwood story that I can’t repeat here. Let’s just say, “He was a colorful character.”
Walker ran a furniture store at this location along with his undertaking business. Walker lived in what we know today as the Adams Funeral Home. At the historical society, we have a photo of his house. In white letters on the negative is “Walker Manor.”
The next business to occupy this site was Guild’s Store. Guild was running a store here in the early 1900s. I don’t know how long Guild was in business here.
Eugene “Gene” Cray owned this property in the 1940s. Cray was in Bellows Falls and at the time a major dealer in fuels. Cray owned many Texaco stations in Vermont and New Hampshire in those days.
I went to see Ted Spaulding to see what he knew about the old Jiffy Mart site. It was in 1939-1940 when the Texaco service station was built. Ted told me it was first occupied by Phil Haus.
Many will remember Donald Buswell “Buzzie” running his Texaco station here.
Move it on over
The building you see with this article was moved back and turned 90 degrees to make room for the new Texaco station. This would be 1939-1940. When the building was relocated, the gable roof was removed. This roof was replaced with a flat roof. Anyone my age or older who lived in Chester will remember this as the tenement building. I remember this building was an unattractive edifice.
It was in the late 1960s to very early 1970s when this building was torn down to make room for the new stone bank we have today. I don’t remember the exact year.
In the photo with this article, if you look to the right you’ll see the side of a white house. When Ted’s parents sold the Town Farm in 1965, they rented this house for a short time. When the stone bank was built, this home was also torn down to make room. This house was next to Jake Howe’s Barbershop.
My classmate, Larry Howe, is Jake’s son and grew up here. Larry told me a story that I recount here. After the tenement house and the white house were torn down, workers were surveying there to prepare the site for the stone bank.
Jake was in his barbershop cutting hair when he noticed someone right next to his house driving stakes in the ground. They were on Jake’s property. Jake wasn’t a shy man. I understand Jake set these surveyors straight as to property lines. He then returned to his shop and finished cutting his customer’s hair. I imagine he was sputtering some.
I was in Lisbon, Portugal in January of 1986 when I saw on television the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion. I was in Portugal buying antiques. I mention this because when I returned from Portugal a couple weeks later, the Jiffy Mart had just opened. They had torn down Buzzie’s and erected the vacant building you see today.
The photo with this article is one of 18 photos in the Chester Historical Society 2020 calendar. They are available at The Framery of Vermont, Lisai’s Market, Erskine’s Feed Store, Chester Hardware, and Stone House Antiques Center.
Last week, I saw my first robin in Bellows Falls. Today, March 1, I have several robins in my field where the ground is bare.
This week’s old saying is from Nelson Kendall. “Just live like you’re going to live forever.”