Lunch holds important place on Town Meeting agenda

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(Host) Veterans of local politics know that no one can survive on Roberts Rules of Parliamentary Procedure alone. VPR’s Susan Keese takes a look at another engine of rural democracy, the town meeting buffet.

(Keese) Town Meetings are serious business. There are budgets to be scrutinized:

(Voter) “I’m trying to determine how adding to the budget will affect the threshold.”
(Voter) “The $11,930 figure has to be reduced by….”

(Keese) And important decisions to be made. But in Dummerston, it’s when the beans are ready that it’s time to call the question. The kitchen off the school multi-purpose room is fragrant with ham and bubbling macaroni and cheese.

(Marion Gassetts) “And those are yellow eye beans: brown sugar, white sugar, salt pork, mustard, ginger, salt, whatever. We put them soaking Sunday night and we put them baking yesterday and now we’re finishing them in time for lunch.”

(Keese) Marion Gassetts has been masterminding Dummerston Town Meeting lunches for years. The seven dollar feast benefits the local Grange. The pies are made by the town’s excellent pastry chefs.

(Gassetts) “That’s coconut cream, that’s chocolate cream, those are mostly apple, I guess, and custard, pecan.”

(Keese) Back in the multi-purpose room, the dishes are spread on folding tables. Neighbors visit as they line up, waiting to help themselves. Eighty-year-old Florence Howe made the berry pie. Her daughter made the cheese cake.

(Daughter) “There’s a lot of good piemakers in Dummerston.”
(Mother) “Oh there are wonderful pie makers. Everyone is so willing, you know.”

(Keese) On a day like this, neither woman could imagine wanting to be anywhere else.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Susan Keese.

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