Stella M. Chickering and Chickering Fran

Recorded July 13, 2007 Archived July 13, 2007 32:33 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: MBX002819


Fran interviews her mother, Stella, on her birthday. Stella talks about her earliest memories and growing up on a farm.

Subject Log / Time Code

Stella’s earliest memory of ice skating on the the lake and the ice breaking
Stella talks about going to nursing school in Boston, MA
Stella remembers being late to her wedding
Stella’s religious and spiritual beliefs; Stella’s thoughts about dying and the afterlife
Fran tells a story that illustrated her personal philosophy of life
Stella and Fran sing “Sing Though My Voice.”


  • Stella M. Chickering
  • Chickering Fran


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00:02 My name is Fran Chickering. I'm here at storycorps in Concord New Hampshire with my mother on July 13th. 2007. This is a special day because it's her birthday birthday.

00:16 I'm Stella Chickering and I'm here obviously with my daughter and it is a special day.

00:24 This makes it even more special, LOL. I think we should start with your birthday because July 13th was not the date. You were supposed to be born. Right right. Now I was I was a 6-month twin and

00:43 July was not supposed to be my birth month, but I I decided to arrive early and back in those days. I was born I was born at home. And so one of the things that I like to mention is the fact that I was kept warm behind the wood stove. My sister unfortunately did not survive. She though I know very little about what the problem was in that she didn't survive but I know that she had lived a very short time. So I always say well I kicked her out didn't want I didn't want to have a sister anyway, but I find it would have been nice.

01:30 What is the story that grandma told about black and blue?

01:35 That she had fallen and she was all black and blue. Is that the store how that goes. You mean about my twin sister. The only thing my mother ever Graham ever said was that she had her arm was black, you know that to me now having medical information makes me wonder if perhaps she'd and being a 6-month twin if perhaps she had a heart condition which certainly wood would cause the difficulty that she had on her or was it from the position in the in utero and her name was Elizabeth. She was named. I thought it was I thought it was a still. Yeah. Yeah. I didn't know that. I'm glad to know I thought so though her.

02:29 Marker in the cemetery doesn't give a name. It just says baby girl. Yeah now what's your earliest memory that you have from childhood?

02:41 Well, we lived with my grandfather on the farm at which the his farm was not very far from us the one that my father ultimately purchased. And so I remember we moved when I was six years old. However, one thing that happened there that had quite an effect on me is that in a farm and when it rains the word were indentations in the fields, and we used to use those in the winter time to skate on and this particular one in the field had Frozen. However, it was very thin and I apparently decided I was going to go skating without skates and the Ice broke and I fell in

03:33 And that I can still remember the Sensation that I had with not being able to reach the bottom and being slippery and my mother said that the thing that saved me was number one my brother who is two years older than I did was there with me so he was keeping my head up above water and the dog went back and forth to the house to alert my mother that something was wrong. So he kept your head up until I hit my head up first.

04:08 I have no idea. I'm now know I don't remember it. But I know that you know, I

04:15 Apparently I was quite sick for a while. Yes.

04:19 But that didn't stop you from learning how to swim where you were. How old is Mom? Well, I am other than I thought I would we live beside the the river the White River there and nothing Hartford Vermont and we used to swim there even after we had moved down to our own from which was just a perhaps two miles down the road. We would be enjoyed the river. But for some reason if I were to get into a pool and knew that one and was was deeper, I I had difficulty with that but the river was okay, then the river was all right, but we seem to know what areas to stay but didn't you take swimming lessons in Keene? I did not once but twice

05:19 They just didn't seem to be able to get me over my my phobia.

05:26 When you were growing up with Uncle Ray me and Grandma and your father, what was that? Like?

05:34 It seemed like cuz I can't remember you know farming is difficult. It seemed like it was a lot of work and that we always had things to do and we had a milking herd and they required care they required letting out into the pasture and being brought in in the latter part of the day for milking and I have been sure and how about that always fun? But how about the chickens?

06:07 Oh, yes. I didn't didn't like the chickens, but we had at my grandfather's we had bantam chickens and hens and there was a rooster in there that used to chase me to the house every time he had an opportunity, so I wasn't really

06:26 Excited about chickens and Uncle Ray didn't like them at all. What kind of things did he have to do? He needs to have to help with the haying and help with the chores in the barn. I do know that way. It's interesting that we used to I can remember take her cup out to the barn when when my father was milking and we'd go out there and and get warm milk. And that was so delicious and the cats that we had would be there waiting for their their drink to and now I don't care for milk at all.

07:03 What was your father like he was a hard-working man. They always called him.

07:14 Razor because he was tall he was over six feet tall and then not a particularly demonstrative man. I never remember him telling me that he loved me. But as I I look at it that generation nowadays you look at looking back and in his generation, unfortunately, it seemed that something like that was not easily come by for them. They didn't speak up their emotions easily. What about Grandma?

07:52 She she was busy on the farm, but we used to have in particular in the summer time because the my uncles used to come and they would share hang time and they would hey on one farm and then they would hear it. Hey on each other's fireman. So she was she was cooking and at that time also there were doing some because we lived right by the railroad at that time. There were workers railroad workers who used to come and and Graham wood would make meals for them at lunch time. So she kept kept very busy and then we had a garden and and everything. Yes. Was there any time for fun?

08:38 Well, we can't have fun because you know we go swimming and I'm sure we had picnics cuz we all remember my grandfather's we had big old trees out in the front and we could sit out there and have a picnic in and out in the pasture. We used to go. I used to go picking wild strawberries. We like those very much but I did the same thing when I move down on My Father's Farm and how about riding horses? We we we didn't ride our horses because we didn't use tractors that we were in the age of of horses. Most Farmers used horses. Although I did have an uncle who later got a tractor and he used it down on our farm some but the horses for you is like busy doing things. It's in the summertime.

09:33 I did. However when I went to a girlfriend's house up in South Royalton, I did ride their work horses. And that was fun except that it was quite a strain on the body because you didn't use satellites of course and it was there was a I was embarrassed to

09:58 Tell anyone that really was too lame and I'm sore to do much moving and sitting what about school? I like I went to the first five grades of school right there in Centerville, which is where I found was and that was a one-room school and they had six grades there. But when I reach the age of six grand to have a go to 6th grade, they closed the school so that I went to down to the town of Hartford to their Grandma school there for one year and then on to Hartford Junior High and high school with their special teacher we had the right now escapes me about tri-lift and Sharon, which is not too far. She used to bring us.

10:53 School children to her house near the end of the summer for a picnic and she was she was very nice. I remember though there was an incident and I don't remember exactly what trip we had gone on, but she asked us a question and I pipe dried up with an answer that sounded rather smart, you know, and she she let me know that she wasn't happy with that where that answer at all but I like still

11:30 And I remember to what we were doing a play or something and I was getting getting dressed in something. It was warm and passed right out price.

11:39 That didn't please her either but I couldn't help. What about singing was that part of your school life it it was in high school. I joined the car is that was about the only activity that I did in high school only because we lived out of town and there wasn't transportation and my father was busy and my mother was busy, so there wasn't, you know a means to get to other things. So I just I did the the chorus and enjoy that very much. Yes. What about the prom?

12:14 Well, I went to I went to my brother's prom with him. I was pleased that he asked me and then I did go to my own prom and that was fun. Enjoy that what kind of relationship did you have with Uncle Ray me then as you were growing up what you say, so I would say we were very close. Yes, he when he was on the age that he could drive. He bought himself a car and I remember

12:49 That I couldn't drive but if he wasn't there he was off working or something that somebody is fine. I was brave enough to get in the car and start it up and knock it out of the garage fly. I didn't damage it is beyond me. But but with that in mind, I didn't get my license until after I was married. Yes and move back to to New Hampshire tomorrow that why didn't you I took lessons to but no I didn't think I was Brakeman.

13:26 But I do enjoy it once I got now how in the world did you come to go to Boston for nursing school? Well with living in the area that I did, of course the hospital I was always interested in nursing I wanted to do nursing that was I did like hairdressing as well as well, but I did want to do nursing and I thought I would be going to the Hanover hospital. That was the nearest to me. But Grandma had that had a friend of hers from King who and a nice lady who knew someone who was aware of the hospitals in Boston, and she know that Peter bent Brigham was a good hospital and she encouraged Grandma to encourage me to go. So, you know ahead, of course take a test and you had to be tested to determine the year.

14:23 Iknowledge in in your interest in that petition particular profession and I was accepted and so off I went to Boston but it was your choice. It was really I I didn't I didn't feel like I was choosing Hanover that she really wanted me to do that. So, of course I felt I needed to do it and what a different world that must have been for you. Absolutely we came back and forth by train and then

15:00 And it was fun in Boston. There was so much to do but then living there later. I I really tired of it couldn't be happier to get back to the quietness. So

15:14 New England what was it like being in the nursing program?

15:18 It was hard work. I recall, you know bit feeling every time that you know, where my going to my kind of I wasn't straight A student. I was an average and I really struggled and and I had a supervisor who said while you're never going to make it to know and I think she said it just to fire me because I said, well, I'm going to make every effort to make it and I did I remember how how sad I was when I flunked a final it was an important final but I talked to the instructor and she said you can take it. You can do your own studying and you can take it over and I passed it then but

16:06 It was it was hard, but it was fun. How did you meet Dad when you came back to New Hampshire? I like

16:17 Matt Heinrich make it but he being a retired telephone then he was in the telephone company and the telephone company had what was called a sunshine fund and once a year, they wouldn't have a party and it would be catered and it had music and dad was going to bring his

16:39 Record player to the party and he had a lot of Records to play and so he had two tickets for that and the girl that he had asked.

16:53 Couldn't come outside and she couldn't come so I was kind of so he gave the ticket to a nurse friend who worked at the hospital where I where I was at the time and she said would you like to go and I said, no the other have any fun so that's how we met.

17:12 And in the book that Dad wrote he said he never dated anyone after that. So no he knew right then. What was your wedding like Dad last at me because I was late, but I had a Uncle Ray me you're not coming to to stand up with me and they were like so dad always said, yeah. She was late to the wedding. Didn't know for sure. She was kind of, not I remember our little dresses to know that either Cheryl or I had red or blue wine little cherries maybe or

17:55 Vicki had his shirt and did a slacks. Yes. And so then a new chapter of your life and he offered and what was that like we moved into a summer home in sponsoring and it had been owned by a doctor and it was just a summer home and it was dark and had shutters on it and the rooms are dark but it's sad beautifully out from Route 9 and in nice area and it had four bedrooms, which was good because at that time I had I had three children and then Glenda arrive so

18:40 We are I remember we ate when we first didn't have much Furniture we ate on a small table. Can you envision five people sitting around a table about the size of this one for meals but we managed and then we got all the furniture and added on a kitchen because it was a very small kitchen and made may we had to winterize for cottage didn't we all have scarlatina or something is quarantine for a while I go out. Yes, you did. Yes. What do you think about being a parent? You must have had ideas about what a parent would be like and then you were one.

19:23 Well, I think what you do is you look at how will you parented and you take from that and make your own mistakes do the best you can and above all if you do it for love. That's the important thing and where we pretty challenging.

19:42 There were times.

19:45 As as most children are I'm sure and through this you're still working. Yes parenting and working full-time and you worked in the school system and you worked at the nursing home any stories from either of those places any of your favorite stories?

20:07 I don't.

20:09 Well, I do remember at the at the nursing home. It's kind of embarrassing because I was working days and I was the medicine nurse and but I would help that was a small.

20:25 Nursing homes that time and I would help the staff in this resident wanted to get out of bed. And so I mean I had the ability I I can help you get out of bed. So I went in I started helping him and just lost my balance the two of us went on the floor, but fortunately it wasn't hurt nor was I but it was a bit embarrassing of the staff lucky.

20:53 What kinds of dreams have you had for us kids?

21:01 I guess do what you what you're really interest what winter interest you really have and and make the most out of what you can do and be happy and can you think of some proud moments that you've had and where has many proud moments things that you've done awards that you received the traveling to different places. And so then you had to come see us. It was wonderful in a way because that gave me an opportunity to travel around the United States, which I probably would not have done. Otherwise to visit you when you were in Colorado and California. Yes.

21:49 No, great. Now I don't think so cuz you're such a wonderful mother house. Thank you.

21:58 Do you?

22:01 Can you tell me about your religious beliefs or spiritual beliefs?

22:05 Well, I know and today was an example of fact, I know that there's a there's a being up there. That's the watching over us.

22:20 And I do I do read my Bible.

22:25 But I I also know that we have family members who have passed on and in and things that I think about it and talk to them and I know that that he is watching over them and they are watching over us too. So yes, I I feel very well very settled in there my religion do you think about dying I do but I don't I don't worry about it. I know that that's part of living and maybe I want to

23:05 Have as much time as as I can but I know that that there is a master plan and when it is time that

23:15 Hopefully I will be be ready and everything will be in in line. What do you think is afterwards?

23:24 After death, no pain, no worries. Yeah. Peace. I just can't ever imagine this world without you.

23:37 If you don't go anywhere, okay, mom will have trouble enough getting here.

23:48 Is there any anything that you'd like to say that I haven't asked you about?

23:56 Any stories that you want to tell do you want to tell any Jack stories?

24:03 Oh when he was when he was so sick and we were given up by the the nursing home in the nursing home took a collection so that because he loved the the beach so much so that he could go to the beach and and I needed to go with him and they took up a collection and gave us money so we could go and stay several days and he

24:29 You seeing him in his wheelchair getting around on the beach not being able to go to Every Beach because of the texture this and and and the the ability to move around but one time we went to Uber in Revere and

24:49 No. Revere, we were in Hampton and he was going to the beach but he wanted to ride around the big Pavilion there and I drove into the parking lot and I drove in with an arrow pointing the other direction and he was so upset when there were no cars in there, but he yelled at me that I was driving in the wrong spot and then there had I couldn't say how many steps that were to get up into that Pavilion and he having lost one leg. He did it with his crutches and Sarah was with him, but I just I just couldn't see but he was that determined to do that. He was so tough. There was nothing that would stop him out when he made up you going to do so many had his prosthesis and he was struggling to

25:46 To get used to it and all the times he fell and all the things that it took longer for him to do because but he needed and a sense of humor. Yes. Yes about he and his buddy who put a put something on the top of Keene high school high school have fun. This little motorcycle gas. I think it was they also wrote a motorcycle through the Carter House and what about driving in the airport with their lights off driving really fast down the runway. Did they do that? 200? I'm sure they did. I don't recall that but I'm sure they did. Yes.

26:32 He has a great fella. I know we miss him. Yes, Miss Sandra Miss Graham.

26:38 But we stood but we feel that the kind of is our symbol of him and it is it's a joy in your heart to hear a cardinal someplace and know that he's talking to you.

26:53 I know but it's still hard to understand.

27:05 The only thing I can remember for four things that we did at home when I was little I remember one time in the winter time, of course Farmers don't have as much work to do and my we talked my father into coming out skating with us. Then the ice was thick enough and we had those crank screw on blades that makes cool under your shoes and clamp on your shoes. And we got out there and my father started across the pond lost one skate and can you imagine a six-footer falling and he fell down and that was the last time he skated we did not ask him again.

27:51 And we didn't we didn't go to the movies free much. I mean I win because I had a girlfriend and we used to go use the on Saturday. But as a family we didn't we didn't go to sit around play board games. Yeah, we would always let me know where my father was because when he was milking the cows he was app to sing and his favorite song was The Old Rugged Cross?

28:24 So I know if I Was preparing stuff for than I needed to Biggie get going because he was saying and he would be in pretty soon. That's the Q that was a coup as do you want to sing some of it, Mom know so I figured I'd thank you.

28:48 I'm there were a couple of other things that I'd like to do before we end. Okay one is because this is my one year out from treatment.

28:59 I want to tell a little story. Okay, I think I can do it. Okay, I right.

29:06 And I don't know who wrote this but I I got it in an email and I love it. I think it's very cool. And I think the proper Italian want to celebrate today. There was this woman she woke up one morning and she looked in the mirror and she had three hairs on her head and she thought oh, I think I'll braid my hair.

29:24 So she did and she had a wonderful day now the next morning when she woke up. She had two hairs on her head and she said I think I'll part my hair down the middle and she did it should one that will the next morning when she woke up. She had one here on her head. She thought to herself. I think I'll wear my hair in a ponytail. And so she did and she had a wonderful day and the next morning when she woke up doing no hairs on her head and she looked in the mirror and she thought thank goodness. I don't have to do my hair today.

29:57 And I love that story. I feel like I can say it because I was bald. Yeah. Yeah, and it's it says to me that we can't choose our challenges. We can't choose our diseases the events that happened in Carlisle, but we can choose our spirit this wonderful and and that's all any of us can do and go one day at a time and do the best that we can yes, that's what I like to to say to celebrate for today. Wonderful and then you said that you'd sing.

30:30 The song that you taught me

30:34 That's okay because it's just around and you remember you it's staying with my voice.

30:42 Play with my hand.

30:45 Let the way be open.

30:48 You'll do it Mom. Okay.

30:54 With my boys play with my love.

31:13 Where's my boy?

31:31 Where's my boy?

31:36 Where's my phone?

31:54 Play with my thank you so much, Mom. You're welcome. Thank you so much for doing this on your birthday, July 13th. 2007 is so special.

32:18 Well, I'm very thankful, and I'm very thankful for all the blessings that we have. I'm so are thank you. Thank you.