By Barbara Emery Moseley
Generally, when people think of Romey and Else Racine, they think of Pine Top Ski Area, but their first business was a summer “hotel” called Stonehurst — which is today the home of Vermont Woods Studios on Huckle Hill Road.
They had left Harrington Park, N.J. buying a large number of acres from Marcia Beers, a single woman, who cared for an elderly aunt. Today, we would recognize that Aunt Nettie had Alzheimer’s Disease.
Marcia was very kind to people and animals. She had a lame white horse called Peter. After the sale, Marcia went to Deerfield, Mass. to take care of a Mrs. Stebbins, until her death. Then, Marcia and Mary Stebbins moved to Florida, where Marcia could swim and luxuriate in the warmth. Peter, the horse, was given to a local farmer.
The barn at Stonehurst was in bad shape and had to be torn down, but it had a long row of horse sheds and sheds for storage of horse-drawn equipment. Romey made it into a “garage” for the guests. Most came by car, and a few by train. One bay was converted into a pig pen. The pig was to be fed from table scraps.
Lots of renovations had to be made in what would become the kitchen. When the Racines arrived, water came from a spring, running constantly into a cistern, draining through a pipe to the outdoors, and only a wood cookstove. That was replaced by a big restaurant-style gas stove with a grill, where Romey would cook breakfasts of fried eggs and bacon, or pancakes served with Vermont maple syrup for breakfast, something new to some of the guests.
The meals were served by me, home from college in Boston, and by a young married woman whom I knew well.
I picked her up at 6:45 a.m. The two dining tables, with cloths, had been set the night before. The guests were friends of the Racines, from Harrington Park, N.J., including a Scottish couple named Jack and Nan Begg. He worked with Romey at Otis Elevator. I had a grandmother whom I never met, but whose memory was kept alive by my father, so I enjoyed their brogue.
After the dishes were done and the tables reset for lunch, my friend and I went upstairs to clean the one shared bath, and make all the beds.
The sheets and towels were changed weekly. The laundry was sent out to “Grandma Scherlin,” an elderly Swedish lady from nearby. She washed the items in her Easy Washing Machine with wringer, then hung them out to dry before ironing. No Clorox smell, just Vermont sunshine!
After the supper dishes were done, and the tables reset for breakfast, I drove my friend home to her family. Then I returned, and Romey and I entertained the guests.
Can readers guess how we entertained them? All will be revealed in my next article!