Every Monday night there is a familiar site at the White Church in Bethel. Maybelle Dumont knows her way around the kitchen and she should. She's been cooking the Rotary Club's dinner right here since 1976.
"I get a lot of satisfaction from doing it," Maybelle said. "It's fun; it's a lot of work!"
Maybelle gets to the kitchen at 11 a.m. and mostly works alone. Her friend Donna will serve later.
Reporter Joe Carroll: How many folks are we going to have tonight?
Maybelle Dumont: You never know. We may have five; we may have 25.
On the menu: chicken potpie and all the fixings. It's comfort food. And at $10 a head and all you can eat, it's a deal.
"If they don't get enough it's their own fault," Maybelle said.
In many ways, Maybelle represents the men and women of Vermont. The ones who give their time cooking meals at social functions and fundraisers for little or no money, doing it for the love of their community.
Joe Carroll: You're not getting rich doing this, are you?
Maybelle Dumont: No!
After paying for the food and the hours spent preparing the meals, Maybelle will leave with little profit. But that's OK for her.
"It's just rewarding, it is rewarding," she said.
She's the queen of the kitchen and I'm one of her loyal subjects for the night. She puts me to work.
Joe Carroll: These are big pieces.
Maybelle Dumont: Well, yes, I don't want to skimp.
She is most proud of the thousands of meals she's prepared for free.
Maybelle was born in Royalton on a farm and still lives in the town. Her food foray started in 1969 in a diner. She was a dishwasher, but wanted to learn to cook.
Maybelle Dumont: Now, the chicken pie is my own recipe!
Joe Carroll: Is it a secret recipe?
Maybelle Dumont: Sort of.
She also made the meals for her husband, Richard, who passed away two years ago, and their four children. Maybelle is at home in the kitchen.
"It's just a matter of waiting," she said.
The Rotarians trickle into the hall and they come hungry. It's a small crowd of 12. After the Pledge of Allegiance it's dinner time precisely at 6:15 p.m.
"Never had a bad meal," one diner said.
"It's down home cooking," said another. "It's delicious."
In 38 years of cooking Rotary meals, she's only missed a few. One of them was after open-heart surgery. Maybelle was back the next week.
"My whole week would be screwed up if I didn't have the Rotary," she said.
Comfort food for the community. Nothing fancy, just good and hearty-- just like Maybelle.
"Take me as I am, don't take me as a phony," she said. "I don't put on airs, just me.
Maybelle won't dish out her exact age except to say she's between 70 and 80.
PO Box 4508