CHESTERVILLE – Residents of Chesterville regaled one another with memories of days gone by during last Friday’s Story Night at the Chesterville Center Union Meeting House.
Helping Cecil Wheeler plow out Chesterville Hill with a bulldozer during the blizzard of 1969 has stuck firmly in the memory of Carroll Corbin over the years, and he still marvels at Cecil’s decades of plowing, and at how deep the snow got back then. Corbin’s blizzard of ’69 recollections sparked accounts by others of plowing heroics and the storm’s effect on the town.
Many paid homage to Wallace French, a home-spun road engineer and farmer who built the Chesterville Ridge Road and others that have withstood the test of time. Jim Grippe recalled having learned when he moved to town that it was common knowledge that “Wallace French got us out of the mud.” Michael Cooper extended the recognition of Wallace French by telling of the time when he was 5 years old and got all hung up in a roadside barbed wire fence and French stopped and untangled him.
Michael Cooper’s father, regionally revered large animal vet Ev Cooper, was remembered fondly by former Deputy Sheriff Bob Cox, recalling the rather distracted and swift driving of Doc Cooper; this led to further anecdotes of flapping van doors and scattered instruments in the wake of Doc’s red truck as it sped around the countryside.
A vivid portrait of life in a large family with limited resources in mid-20th century Chesterville was painted by Alison Haines. “We didn’t have any toys,” she mused, “but we knew how to have fun.” From jumping on the hoods of junk cars, to playing ball in the middle of the now-paved but then-dirt Pope Road, to sneaking into the sawmill at Farmington Falls, she and her siblings often paid for their antics with a strapping, but that never stopped them. She recalled the 2-room school house in Farmington Falls, and having the coveted job of mixing the glue – “Oh yah, everyone ate that glue!”
Anstiss Morrill and Bob Cox both reached back to long ago times when the falls were still there in Farmington Falls, when the sawmill was running, when you logged with horses and dragged the logs to the mill, when you still had cows and there were milk deliveries and butter was made at home; when you played in the hayloft, when the sweet aroma of pine from the sawmill filled the air, and there were multiple stores at the Falls village.
Two hours of shared memories passed quickly, and those gathered seemed reluctant to leave. “We feel this might lead to many more such events,” said a spokesperson for the Meeting House. “It’s awesome to be able to share memories of good times past. The memories play off one another so that by the end of the evening everyone feels they have a lot in common. Isn’t that what community’s about?”
For more about the non-profit Chesterville Center Union Meeting House, visit www.chestervillemeetinghouse.org.