Annette Chase Dimock
Widely read columnist for the Burlington Free Press, known as "Aunt Serena," from 1922 until the mid-1940s. Served in the Vermont House of Representatives from Topsham, 1925-1926.
Date of Birth03/05/1873
Date of Death05/05/1958
Annette Chase Dimock became widely known as Vermont's "Aunt Serena" for her entertaining weekly columns in the Burlington Free Press, which she wrote for nearly twenty-five years. Born in Chaseville, New York, she graduated from high school in Cooperstown, New York, in 1891, attended the New England Conservatory of Music, and graduated from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn in 1903. That year she began a career as a teacher of home economics at Michigan State Normal School in Ypsilanti, Michigan. After attending Teachers' College in New York City in 1910, she took a series of teaching jobs in the field, first at Pratt Institute and then Simmons College in Boston.
At thirty-nine while teaching at Massachusetts Agriculture College in Amherst, Annette Chase met her future husband Julian Dimock, a travel and wildlife photographer and writer, originally from Elizabeth, New Jersey. Having recently bought a hillside farm with extensive orchards in Topsham, Vermont, he was attending the college to learn apple horticulture. After their marriage on July 27, 1912, the couple began developing the Dimock Orchard while continuing to write and publish articles about country life. Dedicated horticulturists and astute marketers, the Dimocks sold high quality apples and developed a specialty in certified seed potatoes. At the same time, Annette Dimock wrote magazine articles about home economics in a rural setting and continued to teach at Vermont Agricultural College Extension Service from 1914 to 1918 and Cornell Agricultural College the following year. During World War I when farm labor was scarce, the Dimocks began employing and housing young women from the Woman's Land Army during summer and fall harvest. They maintained a tradition of training and employing women farm workers extensively until the 1930s.
In 1922, Annette Dimock began her career as a columnist after winning a letter-writing contest in which she portrayed herself as "Aunt Serena" writing to her niece "Peggy" about becoming a farmer's wife. She maintained this persona for the next twenty-five years through her columns entitled "Letters to Peggy" in the Burlington Free Press. In the early years, Dimock focused on housekeeping topics and rural life, but her interests ranged widely. She became known for her insightful, witty, and outspoken commentary on any topic, from Vermont country fairs to great literature and politics.
Early in her career as a columnist, Dimock was elected as Topsham's Republican representative to the Vermont Legislature for the 1925-26 session, shortly after women had gained full voting rights in 1920. She apparently preferred to comment on public affairs, a role she perfected as Vermont's "Aunt Serena" until the mid-1940s. Her husband Julian died in 1945, and she remained a widow until her death thirteen years later at age eighty-five.
- Writer, teacher