The old sage

Last week Ted Spaulding and I made a trip to Weston. Ted lived in Weston from 1937 to 1941 with his ancestors living there long before him. The Patches were also early settlers in Weston. Both families would have known each other.

First, we went to the Weston Trout Club. What a beautiful location. When we came down from the trout club, I noticed Albert DeCell in his dooryard. I asked Ted if he wanted to stop and see Albert. “Sure” he said.

Albert had a welcoming smile when he saw me. I worked for Albert and Karne summers when I was a teenager. Albert walked to my driver’s side door saying, “I bought your new book this morning.”

I asked Albert, “Do you know this guy?” Of course he did. Albert and Ted have known each other from their school days 80 or so years ago.

As Ted and Albert got to reminiscing about the old days I sat and listened. Try to imagine someone like myself who loves local history sitting between these two venerable sages recalling days gone by.

Weston Trout Club. Photo provided by Weston Historical Society

I worked for Albert in his painting business. I was the youngest there and sometimes picked on by the older men or made the brunt of their jokes. One day during lunch, one of the men was talking about Rocky Mountain Oysters.

I asked what Rocky Mountain Oysters were. “You’ve never had Rocky Mountain Oysters?” My reply: “No.” The next day as we sat together having lunch the painter produced a small glass jar of his pickled oysters. Well I took one and chewed and chewed. It was tough with a strong flavor. I managed to get it down and asked what they were. He told me what they were and the men started laughing at me.

“Give me another one,” I said. With that I was accepted as one of the crew. Let’s say these oysters are a venison by-product.

After we had visited a few sites Ted suggested we have lunch at the Bryant House. We were waiting for lunch when Ted recounted a pleasant memory. Ted recalled when he was a young boy on Halloween going to Mrs. Bryant’s house, now Bryant House. In those days “trick or treat” as we know it today didn’t exist. Halloween was a time when kids put on a mask and visited people they knew to show-off their mask. Not always were treats offered. Mrs. Bryant was a nice old lady and did handout candy Ted recalled.

Years ago my father gave me a circa 1895 photograph of the Patch homestead in Weston. This was a location I really wanted to find. Ted brought his 1869 Windsor County Atlas along. On this old map are seen stores, shops, and homes in Weston in 1869.

Ted located the Patch place on the 1869 map so we set out to find it. It was possible it was no longer standing. Eventually we came to an old house that has seen much modernization. Ted said, “This must be the Patch place.”

So I took a couple photos and when I got home I compared the old photo to the ones I had just taken. Both homes had a center chimney and two windows in the gable end of the second floor. After comparing the two photos it became clear both photos were of the same place only taken 125 years apart. In the old photo the windows are 12-pane over 12-pane and there is an ell on one end now gone.

Next we went to Moses Pond. My father and I hiked into Moses Pond when I was about 10 years old. I remember hiking a couple miles that day. My father quite often chose the road less travelled and we certainly took that road that day. Imagine my surprise the other day to learn we could have driven to within a half-mile of Moses Pond. My grandfather Donald Patch owned property near Moses Pond.

Ted remembers the 1938 hurricane well and the flooding that took place in Weston. Ted gave me a tour of the damage done in town. It was the day after the hurricane that Ted and his mother surveyed the damage.

Ted and I had a great time this day. In the near future Ted and I are going to tour Popple Dungeon in the same manner. Stay tuned.

The photo with this article is one of approximately 275 photos in Chester Historical Society’s new book, “Pictorial History of Chester, Andover, Weston and Londonderry.” It’s available at select stores in Chester, Weston, Londonderry, and Bellows Falls.

  Instead of an old saying I offer advice you might find useful. “If a deal is difficult in the beginning it’ll only get worse with time.” I recently walked away from a $3,000 deal for this reason. My friend Fitzie used to say, “Never beg a man to take your money.”

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