Ginger and David Isham

How I found my Williston roots


Special to the Observer 

I was born at home on Quaker Street in Lincoln, Vt. I grew up with one brother and one sister. 

My dad worked as a hired man on farms. During my eight years in elementary school, I attended five different schools. During my eighth-grade year, we owned our first home in East Monkton. 

My mom never drove a car, so we were limited in getting out to visit relatives and friends. But my parents loved to square dance and would take us with them to barn dances. My sister and I square danced and also loved to polka together two different ways. So these dances were a lot of fun for us. However, my brother always sat on the sidelines. 

It was at a barn dance that I met David Isham. David also liked to square dance and we both loved country music. 

This was the summer before my junior year at Bristol High School. I was working at Mt. Philo Inn in Ferrisburg as a chambermaid and relish girl in the dining room. I worked there for two summers to raise $110 for tuition to the Fanny Allen Memorial School of Practical Nursing. 

David began to come and visit me on weekends. When we were dating, we would go to dances in the area and at Hart’s Barn here in Williston, which later became the Goodrich Farm. We went to movies, usually in Bristol where the Brown’s Funeral Home is today. We went out to eat. He liked Charlie’s Red-Hot Bus at Battery Park in Burlington where a favorite was a hot dog with hot sauce on a roll. 

Sometimes, he would bring me to the farm just to visit with his family. When he introduced me to his family, I was over-whelmed with his 12 siblings! The first time I met them, one sister asked what my full name was. I told her Virginia Elsie Morgan (my mom’s name was Elsie). She told me I was a state, a horse and a cow! We also visited other relatives, but David always had to be home when it was time to milk the cows morning and night. 

David is five years older than me and graduated from Burlington High School. While in high school, he had to get a ride to get to school just as I did. He went to Essex Junction High School his first two years then finished at BHS, where he took a course in mechanics. His class went to visit mechanic schools in New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut for a week. This was a break from the farm chores he had to do before and after school. Later, I realized why he was so good at making repairs needed on the farm or in the house. 

When I graduated from Bristol High School in 1958, David gave me a ring and asked me to marry him. I went on to practical nurse school July 1958 and graduated in July 1959. I got my license, took a med course at Mary Fletcher Hospital (now UVMMC) so I could give medications and went to work there on the Neurological Unit. We were married in October that year. 

The Isham weddings were simple, and the reception was potluck as everyone brought a dish. After the wedding, we lived in the southern, two-story half of the house where his grandparents had lived. Six of his 12 siblings were still living at home on the farm at that time. David was earning $30 a month from his dad, and I was making $1 an hour at the hospital. 

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