The Basket Lady
My eyes are watery and my heart is heavy as I think about dear Ellen M. Snow on this beautiful morning.
One afternoon, 13 years ago, I got a telephone call from Donita St. John at Community Concepts and she wanted to know if I could use some baby things and a crib for the Healthy Beginnings Program.
“Yes, for sure I can,” I replied. Donita gave me Ms. Snow's phone number and I called her up right away because I knew of a family in need of baby equipment. Ellen dispensed with the formalities right away as her interest was in giving me directions to her house on a hill, just before you a turn a corner near an old restaurant as you drive along the lake, look for three signs and the first one will be to Harrison. Those were the directions I heard!
“Can you get here before 4 p.m.? I’m going to beano with Ivan (Proctor), and I’m never late to beano."
“I’ll be there before 4 o’clock Ms. Snow,” I assured her.
Friends, think back to 13 years ago, when a car phone was a bulky black thing that had to be re-charged from a cigarette lighter and the antenna had to be suctioned to the roof of the car to get a reception. Could make you go bananas!
To make a long story short, I left Rumford at 1:30 p.m. driving up Routes 26 and 232, feeling confident as I made my way to downtown Norway. I turned on the radio and listened to a Red Sox baseball game, looked at my watch, nearly 2:30 p.m., feeling good driving along the lake, taking in the scenery while looking for a house on a hill, an old restaurant, and a corner with three signs with one of them pointing the way to Harrison. The Red Sox were leading the Texas Rangers by two homeruns when I turned up a road filled with pot holes that curved around the lake like a Boa Constrictor. I thought, this Norway Lake seems to go on forever, hope it’s filled with some good eatin’ fish. I drove on looking for Harrison, darkness moved in and the roads became confusing. I pulled over and tried to call my Supervisor and Ms. Snow without any luck --couldn’t get a reception.
Three hours later, I found the Town of Harrison and not a soul in sight. I felt foolish and scared and figured the only thing left to do was to turn around and drive back the way I drove in toward downtown Norway.
At 7:30 p.m., I parked behind the police station and called Ms. Snow, apologizing profusely to her because she missed her beano evening with her friend, Ivan.
“Honey, go home and get some rest. There’s plenty of beanos, I’m not worried about that. You call me tomorrow and I’ll give you directions so good that’ll never get lost again coming to my house.”
I went to her house two and sometimes three times a month to pick up donations by the truck loads for 13 years and never got lost going to her house again.
Ellen wasn’t one to toot her own horn. Her life’s mission was to help others -- give and give some more. Ellen and her friend, Albert donated bikes, trikes, baby cribs, furniture, adult clothes/shoes, baskets and thousands of items that helped hundreds of individuals and families in Rumford and the River Valley.
Ellen Snow was a giver and like dear Dot Sanchas, thought of others cancer ravaged her body. Ellen Snow did all the good she could, By all the means she could, In all the ways she could, at all the times she could, To all the people she could as long as ever she could.
Ellen M. Snow, my heart leaps in joy today and my eyes weep tears of gratitude.
We miss you every day, Dot Sanchas.
Until then, smile and live in the present!