Sunday, March 20, 2016

Windham, Vermont … Circa 1890

This bucolic scene was the hometown of my great aunt Hattie who was the Windham Post Mistress for many years beginning in 1890. 

The office was in her home, an old white farmhouse sitting close to the road. My sister Mary, who died a few years back, remembered staying with her one summer when she was a 10 year old child. She told me that many times meals would be interrupted by patrons picking up their mail, buying stamps, sending packages or simply passing along the latest news. I guess that the volume of mail must have been low enough that Aunt Hattie could handle it by herself but it was certainly a full time job.

However, it didn’t take all of her time because early in her days as post mistress she added a new dimension. She was a great reader and had an extensive personal library. She conceived the idea of cataloging & displaying her books with the idea of setting up a lending library so that her neighbors and friends could enjoy them too. I love the picture of the small library as my sister described it to me. She said that Aunt Hattie had hand-made wooden step ladders propped against the wall. The steps of the ladders made perfect shelves for her books and they were displayed in alphabetical order by author. Our family has been told that it was the first public library in Vermont, although I have never been able to confirm that.

I imagine that Aunt Hattie's home must have been a bee hive of activity and that makes me smile because, although she never married, I'm sure she never lacked for companionship !


Blogger Marie Smith said...

Imagine the influence she had with her library as well. Providing books to people who may not have had any themselves. How wonderful. She made her life count!

5:53 PM  
Blogger NCmountainwoman said...

I love Aunt Hattie already. My great-uncle was a postmaster in a similar situation. His home is now a Bed and Breakfast filled with old photographs of his postmaster days.

9:33 AM  
Blogger Arkansas Patti said...

She was a woman who made a difference. That to me is the meaning of having lead a full life.

12:48 PM  
Blogger possum said...

Sounds like she would be a relative of yours!
Great story!

5:28 AM  
Blogger Anvilcloud said...

She sounds wonderful, but I don't know about her being the town's mistress. ;)

7:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like the sound of Aunt Hattie. I wonder if anyone is named 'Hattie' today ?

8:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a great post. Kind of like Lark Rises to Candleford.

1:19 PM  
Blogger Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Aunt Hattie was the kind of person I would have liked to know having lived in a small town myself. And letter writing and reading are among my favorite activities even today.

6:59 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home