Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Asked how she had stayed so fit, Blanche told me people had always called her a tomboy. She had enjoyed hunting, fishing and trapped foxes and coons as a girl. She fished her whole life until last year when her fishing partner was no longer up to it. That man's son sent her some perch though, knowing she'd miss it.
And Blanche likes to walk. She grew up walking in the woods and fields, walking the mile to school in Lower Cabot, home for lunch, back to school and home again ("'Course it got dark in those days, too, if you didn't walk right along home. We couldn't be fooling around on the road"), walking to town, walking for fun. Blanche has been in the hospital a few times in the last couple of years, but always comes out ready to start walking again. She also likes to garden and pull weeds and hangs her laundry outside. She swears this is OK in the winter, too, because when the clothes freeze she brings them inside and they dry out just fine.
Blanche worked in the cafeteria in high school to earn money to buy the next year's books. After school she worked as a waitress at Joe's Pond, then got married the next year. She and her husband Wilford farmed, timbered, sugared and did other jobs "to help people out".
In 1933 they moved into Blanche's uncle's house in Lower Cabot where she still lives. They added on a bit and raised their son Morris. Blanche worked in the Lower Cabot village store and did housework for mostly older folks around town "who wanted a little something". Around that time Blanche says, rich people began moving to the area, mostly for the summer, but some stayed year round. She did housework for several families, but signed on with one particular family for nearly 40 years, even living at their home after Morris was out of school. She always enjoyed work, "or I'd have told them 'no'", and had the opportunity to travel around the country with the family. Blanche stopped working at age 87 but has stayed close to the children in this family and they refer to her as their adopted grandmother.
Wilford died 38 years ago of lung disease after years of breathing wood dust.
Blanche says she doesn't care for TV and prefers to keep busy. She's chairman of the Cabot Fall Foliage Festival, a project she's been involved in for 54 years, treasurer of the Cabot Historical Society and an active fundraiser for many organizations around town. A friend takes her to the United Church of Cabot every week, but she's sorry to see the church community dwindling. Blanche is also an active Justice of the Peace and has married countless couples over the years.
Blanche is a lifelong Democrat and likes to "keep up". She remembers the 1930s as hard but says everyone worked, even if they didn't have a job. "They didn't realize they were missing things". They sang, skied in the fields, cooked and helped others out as much as possible. They made their own fun and certainly didn't have "the problem of too much stuff". Now, she says, people seem to depend on "stuff". Blanche is a great admirer of Bernie Sanders who "has a good head on his shoulders and knows what's important".
Blanche says she enjoys things as much as ever, likes to putter around and feels lucky to be at home where she can make her own decisions. "I can't complain", she says, always had work, family and fun. Whenever she thinks of the beautiful dress she might have had, she thinks of what would have been spilled on it! "You make yourself happy by helping out where you can".