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Joyce Endee

Edith Switser celebrates 97 years

Mrs. Edith Switser, who celebrates her 97 birthday this month, with her two children, Jean Abbott, left, and Wayne Switser, right. (click for larger version)
February 02, 2011
DALTON — In a hollow on the western side of Dalton Mountain, sits a small cape-cod style house. It looks like it's been there forever, but Edith Switser remembers when her husband turned this spot into their home by building a house with his own hands. Now, some 60 years later, she still lives there, and even as she approaches her 97th birthday this month, she has an active life surrounded by family and friends.

A bad leg and old age keep Mrs. Switser, Dalton's Boston Post cane recipient, inside most days, but she's far from confined. All around her are stacks of books that seem to grow up from the floor. Near the door are still more, piled in a large plastic bin, ready to be hauled back to the library and replaced with new ones. The town librarian says she has a hard time keeping up with her. She estimates that she reads, "maybe ten (books a week)?" She adds, "Not much more than one a day." She also does crossword puzzles. Mrs. Switser has always loved to read and learn.

Mrs. Switser grew up in Lyndonville, Vt., during the 1920s. She missed the extravagance of the time, as her father died leaving her mother alone to work and raise five children. "It was very hard," she remembers, "they didn't have all the help that people get now. We learned to get by with a lot less."

Still, she went to high school during a time when most young people — especially women — didn't. "I wanted to learn to do things," she said, "and that was the way to do it." Her boyfriend and future-husband, Clyde, she said, didn't go to high school, "he just went thru the grades," and then went off to work in the woods.

After graduating from the Lyndon Institute in 1931, the 17-year old Switser married and moved with her husband to East Whitefield, where they worked on a dairy farm. One of her jobs was washing milk bottles. Eventually, they had two children and moved to Dalton, where Mrs. Switser served as the town librarian for four decades.

She also got a driver's license, which was a rare feat for a woman in those days. She recalls log drives along the Connecticut River, the days when the town didn't even own a truck and farming and factories dominated the local landscape.

The Switser family was very involved in their community with Clyde serving many years as the town's moderator and Edith playing the organ in the local church. They both were active in the grange as well. She said her years as a young mother were her most memorable time. "The best time, in my life was when I had my children, my babies," she said with a chuckle and glance toward her son, Wayne Switser, and daughter, Jean Abbott, both now as gray as she is.

When asked about the key to living such a long life, Mrs. Switser said, "I don't know why? I just don't know when to quit." For an extensive video interview with Mrs. Switser visit www.WhiteMtNews.com.

Martin Lord & Osman
Salmon Press
Martin Lord Osman
Varney Smith
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