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Author Event: Elna Butterfield

Join us for a talk with author and Argyle-resident Elna Butterfield, who has written six books about growing up in rural Vermont in the 1940s. Elna's six book series is titled, My Times Remembered, Recollections of a 1940s Childhood in Vermont.

The snow date for this event is Thursday, February 1st. 

School Days 

We walked to school. This was no badge of merit; it was an accepted fact. Rain or shine, snow or sleet, temperatures well below freezing with a crisp wind, it didn’t matter. We walked to school because that was the only way we’d get there. School was about a mile from home.  School life in the 1940s was far from boring: Quill pens and penmanship. Slate blackboards and chalk. Wood stove and pottery water jug. Sledding and snowballs. Dinner pails and picnics. Rhythm band and pump organ. Teacher and the woodshed. This little book tells of these and so much more. These were my school days in a one-room schoolhouse in 1940s Vermont. 

Up on the Mountain

Blue Ridge stands at the northeast side of the basin where Rutland City and its environs are situated. My home on Post Road in rural Rutland Town was a short distance from the mountain. I could see the mountain from my home. It was always there, as if watching over me like a great and comforting mother figure. This beloved mountain is where I first learned to appreciate the beauties of nature. It is the site of many cherished family good times. It is where some aspects of my character were molded. As I recounted in my first writings, mine was a quite ordinary childhood for that point and place in time, the 1940s in rural Vermont. 

Country Kids and Critters

We were country kids. Barefoot in the summer, warmly dressed in woolen snowsuits and rubber overshoes in the winter, we spent most of our playtime outdoors. Although we each had home chores to do, we also had a lot of play time. With the exception of perhaps a homemade swing, a wagon or doll carriage and a few sand-pile toys, there was no playground equipment. The whole outdoors was our playground. Interwoven throughout our days during our childhood years were cows and horses, dogs and cats, chickens, pigs, geese, bees, fish, frogs, and creatures of the wild. We played with some of them, took care of some of them, ate some of them, and respected all of them. That was the way it was with country kids.

Folks Around Home

Folks Around Home is a window into the past, a view of life as it was in rural Vermont in the 1940s. This little book is about people—the people in my neighborhood, the people who came to our door, the people who helped to shape my life. My childhood was during difficult financial times. Yet we did not consider ourselves poor. We had a wealth of family and community that enriched my growing up years.

Living Off the Land

One could say it was a time of hardships. The Great Depression had hit the lives and pocketbooks of so many. It was so with my parents as they began their marriage and little family. It was so in 1935 when I was born. I don’t remember those hardest times. But then came World War II, when I was six years old. I remember those early 1940s—the war-time food rationing and gas rationing and “making do or doing without.” We survived those years quite well. Money was still tight after the war, partly because of my father’s poor health then. But my parents lived frugally and taught us to do likewise. We didn’t know anything different. Children as well as adults worked to put food on the table. We grew much of our food. In “Country Kids and Critters”, I told about the animals that were part of my childhood years, not just our pets but also those that were raised to become food on our table. In this little book, you’ll see how our home gardens provided much of the food on our table as well. We lived off the land. Throughout our growing-up years, my siblings and I were involved with gardening and harvesting our food. I have given detailed descriptions of some of those tasks, because one of my goals in writing this series of little books is to tell what life was really like then. 

Life Was Like That

Grampa’s and Gramma’s farm was a small dairy farm. Long before my time Grampa had a hired hand or two. Then as his sons and daughters grew, no hired hand was necessary. My mother, like most farm girls in her time, pitched in with the milking and plowing and the various other tasks of farming. She could harness and drive a team of work horses as well as any man. Sometimes the entire family worked together, men, women, and children, for example, during potato harvesting. Those were special family times. My girl cousins and I occasionally got involved with lesser farm chores, but it was usually just to “help” Grampa or Gramma because it was interesting and fun for us. I cleaned stalls, scraping manure into the gutter in the dairy barn, and I fed grain rations to the cows, and helped groom the horses, but only once in a while, just because it was fun to be with Grampa. I helped churn butter and press it into the special shaping boxes, and I gathered the eggs and helped bottle the honey because I enjoyed working alongside Gramma. 

About Elan Butterfield

Elna Senecal Butterfield was born in 1935 in the house her father built on Post Road in Rutland Town, Vermont. She lived with her family there in the shadow of her grandparents' little dairy farm until she left home for college, a career and marriage. Her series of six books is about her growing-up years in rural Vermont.

Event date: 
Thursday, January 25, 2018 - 7:00pm
Event address: 
Battenkill Books
15 East Main St.
Cambridge, NY 12816

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Event | by Dr. Radut