Super Senior: Carol Richards

Published: Feb. 4, 2021 at 1:51 PM EST
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WEST HAVEN, Vt. (WCAX) - A picture captures a moment in time. A snapshot shows how the world has changed, or how little it has in West Haven, at least at first glance.

West Haven is a community of just 250 people in western Rutland County. “It’s not a very big town,” said Carol Richards. Her life has been at this house and everything you see out the window.

“I gave piano lessons for several years in my house,” she said, pausing as she played the organ. “I played at our church up here for over 50 years. I played up there too.”

She and her husband Ray had a dairy farm next to the store. Besides milking cows, Richards had another job in the house -- town clerk. “They’d come in my kitchen door usually,” she said. “I had a big library table over there.”

That’s right, when Richards was elected in 1967, the West Haven Town Clerk’s office moved to her kitchen table. “They would sit at that table there or they would sit at my kitchen table actually,” she said.

Reporter Joe Carroll: Would you offer them coffee?

Carol Richards: Well, if they were here during a mealtime and stuff, I’d have them -- more than once feed somebody.

The town’s safe was in the back shed. Richards wouldn’t know when people would show up. Back then, the town clerk sold hunting and fishing licenses. “And night before deer season, I’d have people, some people, lots of them that come out of state here, 11, 12 o’clock at night get their hunting license,” she said.

Of course, time doesn’t stop for anyone. The family sold the dairy operation next store. “Oh I miss farming, God I miss farming,” Ray Richards said.

Richards’ farm chores may be over, but not the town’s business, at least for now.

The town clerk’s office was in Carol’s home until 1993. Now it’s at the community hall. But after 52 years as town clerk, it will be Richards’ last.

Reporter Joe Carroll: What are you going to miss?

Carol Richards: Meeting all the people.... I’ll miss just seeing the people, you know?

She says it’s just another transition carried down through the centuries. In the safe that was once in her home, written records go back to entries from perhaps the first town clerk in 1793.

But it’s February of 2021 and Carol Richards is still making a little history of her own. “It’s going to be hard to replace her, I think,” Ray said.

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