Old Time Providence Stage

Visit of Former Driver Recalls the Old Stage Coach Days

          Henry Stone and son George of Brockton, Mass. have been here visiting Mr. Stone's sister, Mrs. C. N. Capron.  Seeing Mr. Stone will revive memories among us older ones of the old coaching days when Mr. Stone was a driver on the Danielson and Providence line.  He was a carrier of the mails too.  He used to leave here between 7 and 8 in the morning and arrive in Providence along after noon.  The journey was not without its pleasant features, as the passengers were leisurely inclined and took the opportunity of cultivating their social nature by the making of new acquaintances, and, oft times the renewal of old ones.

          Lunch was taken along, and often interchanged, so that the event became a kind of combination of basket picnic and Old Home Day.  The trip of course, involved an all-night stay in the city and a "putting up" at one of the "taverns"—sometimes on the Hill out towards Olneyville, but often down in the lower part of the city.  Here the pleasant social features were again in evidence.  It would often be impossible to take the return trip the next day as the stage would leave the city between ten and eleven o'clock thus not affording much time for business.  This would involve another night of tavern life, hospitalities and social cheer.  The next day came the home trip with a renewal of the lunch basket and Old Home accompaniments.  Little hostelries appeared along the road at intervals, and, at some of these, horses were changed for fresh ones—sometimes at Hopkins Mills, sometimes on the hill top beyond.  At that time many of these little taverns dealt out little glacial "smiles" at a few cents per; for liquid refreshments had not then become the financial support of the government; so it was no unusual thing to see the weary, dust laden traveler go in for a "smile" and come out smiling, smile again, and then some more, until his  hilarity became the hub around which revolved the gaiety of the entire company.  

These things were in even more complete evidence in the days of Henry's father, William, whom many of us remember as we do the men of yesterday.  We could tell much more ebbed and flowed, even as today; of the camp meeting season when the old stage coach would be crowded inside, the driver would be sandwiched in between two fat ladies, and the beaus and belles would be perched on high among the band boxes, trunks and carpet bags, doing active stunts in flirtation, as the surging, swaying old sky scraping vehicle went rolling along from the Mills up by the Foster church and Mt. Hygeia, and over the tip-top of old Jerimouth.  Stone and Richards were the great errand doers for the entire country side, and the storekeepers and postmasters, beginning with genial James G. Cook at Cook's store—now Henry Paine's—conducted the clearing houses for their entire neighborhood.

          Those days do not seem far away.  But there have been wondrous changes since then.  Our fathers were unvexed by autos or motorcycles.  They knew nothing of street-cars or electrics, of macadam or concrete.  But those were good old days.

Mr. Stone had not visited in Danielson for the past 20 years.  He is 72 or 73 years of age, suffering somewhat from asthmatic troubles, but took the opportunity while here to get around town for all that his health would permit, and to visit familiar scenes and renew old acquaintances.  He had the best wishes of many old friends not only here but all over town.

From Windham County Transcript. September 16, 1915