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Small Town Living: Sharing Memories With Clint Jennings
photo providedFamily, to this day, is what keeps Clint smiling. Shown here is his 90+ year old brother and sister who make the trip over to see him regularly)
photo providedYoungest of 10, Clint Jennings learned many life lessons from his father, nature, and growing up in small town Vermont in the 1930's.
Monday September 3, 2012
By Marissa Andersen
Some of the best advice Clint Jennings received when he was a young boy was from his father, who told him “Live Right, Do Right”. Taking these words to heart, Clint continues to this day to profess that small town living and his father's advice is a blueprint for happiness.
Born in Bolton in 1923, Clint Jennings was the baby in a family of 10. Growing up on the family farm, he was involved with many of the household chores, which included caring for the cows and horses and stacking wood. Clint would also do machine work and help his father with his work as a blacksmith. After a long day of working, Clint recalled looking forward to his mother's salmon pea-wiggle and fried bread dough. A benefit of working on the farm was that it allowed Clint to be close to nature. At 89 years young, Clint to this day would “do anything to be in the woods”.
Clint believes that one of the most important parts of being a Vermonter is “the willingness to work”. As a child, not only was Clint helpful at home, but at school. Clint attended a one room school house, which he had to walk to every day. At school, he would help gather wood and water. After completing the eighth grade, he would continue to help his father with his work as a blacksmith, until he decided to get a job at the lumber mill. “Small town living is knowing your next door neighbor and helping them.” Clint explained. “You are not a Vermonter if you don't do that.” Clint would demonstrate this philosophy by leaving his job at the lumber mill and enlisting in the military, where he joined the Army's medical core to help treat soldiers at Fort Dix.
Returning to Starksboro, Clint continued his lifelong association with small town living. Starksboro was a small town, which Clint liked. Clint remarked, “The best part of living in a small town is knowing everyone”. It was in Starksboro where he met his wife of 64 years, Esther Wells Jennings. They have 3 children together, 2 boys and 1 girl (or “1.5 of each”, as Clint joked). To Clint, marriage is a commitment “Marriage is for life.” he explained. “If they fight, they have to work it out.” His brother Sid (who is 97 years old), has been married for over 70 years. Clint also described marriage as teamwork. While Clint would work outdoors, Esther would help with the children, alongside Clint. Sadly, Esther passed away in 2004.
Two additional jobs Clint was involved in was working at General Electric and constructing the
Appalachian Gap Road with his older brother Clarence. Clint and his brother worked on the road for about 6 months. Cutting logs, Clint would make about $4.50 an hour, which he described as a “good wage”. While his skills offered Clint the opportunity in many fields, his personal favorite was a 20 year stint at General Electric, where he worked on the production of army contracts.
Many of his family recently gathered at a birthday party in Clint's honor at the private care home he resides in Vergennes. Happily soaking up the presence of 4 generations of Jenkins, Clint quickly joked that “it's a good thing that not everybody came, because they would need a bigger house to put the whole family in.” Firmly centered in the traditions of rural Vermont, Clint identified 5 components of what he believes makes Vermonters unique and special. “The willingness to work is only one aspect of being a Vermonter.” reflected Clint. “You must also meet your fellow man on equal ground, don't take advantage of other people, and fix things when they break.” Lastly, Clint felt an appreciation and a stuardship of the land is the hallmark of a true Vermonter. Looking back, Clint finds that his father's philosophy is important for the current generation just as it was for his. With 2 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild, it is clear that Clint's father's advice of “Live Right, Do Right” and his strong work ethic are being preserved by future generations of Jennings that call “small town Vermont” their home.
The Valley Voice is proud to introduce its readers to the writings of the newest staff freelance member Marissa Andersen. Marissa is a junior at the University of Vermont majoring in English and is passionate about sharing the stories present in the Green Mountain state.
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