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Family gathers to keep Nana warm
RUMFORD- On the morning of the first frost of the season, 46 descendents of Chester Dolloff gathered at his home, where his widow, Mariette “Nana” Dolloff, still resides with her son John, his wife Susan, and their son Logan, to stock the basement full of firewood for the cold winter months.
For the past 25 years, family members have gathered at the South Rumford home to deliver, unload, saw, split and stack the winter’s firewood. This year was no different, with family members arriving early with their work gloves to help with the wood, their smiling faces for a visit with Nana, or a delicious autumn treat to share as part of a tasty home-cooked meal provided by Uncle John and others who contributed.
“I normally get started cooking on Thursday,” stated Uncle John. “This year I prepared a ham, chicken, pork loin, and a beef roast. I also made a pumpkin pie and a squash pie. We had peas, rolls, squash, and others brought over pies and squares. We know how to feed these guys.”
Around 8:30 that morning family members began rolling in with their wood splitters, mauls and chainsaws. The morning was filled with lots of laughter, cuddling up to the tiny babes who were making their debut wood day and, despite the cold, lots of sweat, as the wood was unloaded off cousin Kyle’s wheeler.
There was a work line of men with their chainsaws, others waiting to split, a line at the basement window to toss the wood in and another crew waiting in the basement to stack it.
“It’s a pretty good process,” stated Uncle John. “Everyone has a job and everything is done by noon or so. Then, we eat.”
While most of the men and a few of the younger women are out working on splitting, throwing or stacking, others, with the younger generations are inside visiting with Nana and catching up with one another.
“It’s neat to see the age range,” noted Aunt Sue. “The generations range in age from two months to 94 years old. This is a good thing our family does each year. It’s nice to see everyone come together to help.”
The family began the tradition a couple years before their matriarch passed in 1989. John and his family moved in with Nana in 1999 when she decided to stop driving.
“When it just became too much for her to get up and down the stairs and to be checking the stove, that’s when I decided we needed to be here with her,” noted John. “It’s worked out well. She gets to stay right here at home where she belongs.”