The Perils of Pawleen

Peter Farrar loaned me a typewritten manuscript written by Vera Lundberg. Vera documents her and her husband Eric moving from New York City to remote Andover in the early 1930s. In a July 10, 1938 New York Times is explanation why they moved to Vermont during the Depression. Eric was an antiquarian book dealer and was known far and wide for having rare books. Eric said they moved to Vermont because Vermont attics held many rare books.

It’s a great story Vera writes. I wish you could read it in its entirety as I have. Below are a couple excerpts from her manuscript titled “The Perils of Pawleen or Living Alone and NOT liking it Too Much.”

George Stowell in Windham. This would be similar to the plow Vera describes. Photo provided by Ted Spaulding.

  The snow

“There have been two memorable snows that I have enjoyed very much. One was the most beautiful thing that ever happened. It snowed all night and the next morning we woke to a fairyland. Not a flake of it was wasted. Every tiniest branch and twig had caught a good inch or two and it looked as if someone had painstakingly padded every sprig with thick layers of cotton. Everything in every direction was fluff. We tried to catch it with the camera but the results were most disappointing, so I’m afraid the beauty is lost forever.

“The Kelveerd family arrived just as Eric was taking them and either the distraction or the unfamiliarity with the camera and stale film prevented a better job. The Kelveerds had to abandon their car down by the schoolhouse and came trekking up the lane single file in deep snow. They left after lunch which they brought with them, and we escorted them back down the hill. The walk was spectacularly lovely, the trees in the lane to the mail box were as fluffed out and laden that it was like passing under a white quilted arch. From the bottom of the hill we went straight up to Kangas’ for the milk and we had many lovely vistas going and coming.

“By evening the wind rose, though very slightly but the disturbance was just enough for the overloaded branches to rid themselves of their burden and the snow came in whole snowballs not a few flakes at a time. By next morning the scene had changed completely. There was still some snow left on the trees but with no unusual effect. I suppose it is too much to hope for one just like it.”

The Town Plow

“The snow plow has only had to dig us out twice so far and that was one of the times. The next day was Saturday and we really wanted to go shopping for food in Chester but were afraid of getting stuck in the lane. The ‘boys’ finally buzzed into the yard about 8 o’clock Sunday night. It’s very exciting to hear the monster thundering up the lane long before you can see it around the bend, and then catch a glimpse of its two huge eyes in the dark as it roars nearer and nearer, shaving everything before it and leaving a nice clear path behind. We asked them in for coffee but they had just had some somewhere along the line and declined with thanks. The time before they were very cold and glad to get it. One man drives and another stands on the rear platform to guide the ‘wings’, a nice cool job on a bad winter’s night, and they work all night as a rule. When you have waited for them to release you from bondage, it’s quite a thrill to have them arrive.”

Location of schoolhouse

The Brick Peaseville School on the Andover-Weston Road. Photo provided.

The schoolhouse Vera mentions would be the brick schoolhouse recently owned by Lydia Ratcliff at the foot of East Hill. Reading about the town plow arriving to free the Lundbergs, reminded me of something when I was a kid on High Street in Chester.

If we had a heavy snowstorm the Chester town plow sometimes plowed out our driveway. The driver wasn’t supposed to plow private driveways but he sometimes did. I can still see my mother climbing up on the running board of the huge plow truck, giving the driver a swig from a fifth of whiskey. They visited a minute and then had another snort. Luckily I inherited my mother’s fine qualities.

It’s great to bring these eyewitness accounts of days gone by to print. I’ve found quite a few locally: Gordon Gates, Gramp Spaulding, George Farrar, Beatrice Farrar, and several more. I imagine most area towns had individuals who wrote their histories or memories. Please contact me if you have any local stories.

The next meeting of the Chester Historical Society is Thursday, March 28 at 7 p.m. and held upstairs of Chester Town Hall. All are welcome.

This week’s old saying was used when someone passed gas. “You can’t have intake without exhaust.”

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