by Lauren Pidgeon
Betty Booth and the Christmas Pageant
Up Elm Street and to the right was once Betty Booth’s house. Betty moved to Norwich in 1950 and lived here until she died in 2000. It was here that she taught many local children how to ride horses.
Betty loved horses and was an influential mentor at the Upper Valley Pony Club in South Woodstock. The Pony Club was where anyone between the ages of 5 and 21 could learn how to properly ride a horse. Betty said her two favorite things were children and ponies and the Club was where she could be with the two together! She and her students once went down to Kentucky to take part in a competition and won 5th out of 12 teams.
Betty was one of the founders of the Norwich Christmas Pageant and her donkey, Smoky, took part in almost 30 pageants! One Christmas, Smoky was being very stubborn and refused to enter the barn where the pageant took place. From that Christmas on, Betty had to coax Smoky with oreos whenever he was stubborn.
Betty and Smoky also met first lady Rosalynn Carter when she came to Burlington. Smoky wore a straw hat that said “I’m a Democrat” for the occasion.
At home on Elm Street, Smoky was nicknamed “Mr. Trouble” because of his ability to cause a mess. One time, Smoky managed to turn on the faucet in his barn with his mouth and after two hours, and quite a lot of water, someone finally realized and turned it off.