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“Anecdotes” by Mrs. Maude Van Duyne

Holiday in 1902 was Mid Summer Dream Compared to Similar Outing Today

Mrs. Maude Van Duyne

From the Wayland Register, Summer 1952

A holiday in 1902 included rising at an earlier hour than usual, feeding the stock and family, also preparing a lunch, then riding leisurely along winding, tree-shaded, country roads, comfortably seated in a rubber tired carriage drawn by a lively span of bay horses. One could really enjoy an outing in 1902.

There were many pleasant sights and sounds to be seen and heard, the large fields of hay and grain curing in the bright sunshine, farmers were drawing heavily loaded wagons to the barns, fields of potatoes, beans and corn giving promise of a bountiful harvest.

Skies of brilliant blue with fleecy white clouds reflected in the quiet waters of a lake, children shouting at their play mingled with the songs of birds and bleating of sheep in roadside pastures.

Occasionally a thriving field of black raspberries met the eye, and many orchards with well laden trees seemed to invite the passerby to taste their luscious fruit.

Fields of hops and sometimes a vineyard added variety to the scene.

Fences were mostly of the zig-zag type with neatly trimmed corners giving a clear view of the fields they enclosed.

Most farmhouse lawns were enclosed by neat, painted, picket, boards or fancy wire fences and buildings were well-painted and in good repair.

As time passed the sound of a dinner bell or horn from some farmhouse warned the travelers that it was near lunch time, so, choosing a wide-spreading maple tree near the roadside, they enjoyed the lunch brought from home, while the horses were unhitched and fed their noonday meal.

Refreshments finished, the journey was resumed. Occasionally a call was made upon an acquaintance along the way and the thirsty horses were given a drink at a roadside watering trough.

Sometimes an automobile could be seen approaching, then the team would be hurriedly turned into a lane or driveway to avoid their being frightened at the unaccustomed sight.

If time permitted the family would climb from the carriage and wait and watch until the auto vanished in a cloud of dust, then continue the journey.

Around 4 p.m. the horses were headed homeward, usually on another route so that different scenes might be enjoyed on the homeward trip, which ended about dark.

Though not too many miles were covered in a day’s ride it still was a very enjoyable occasion and looked forward to with much anticipation by the family and discussed until time came for another holiday.

A Holiday in 1952

Fifty years have passed.

Again a family makes preparations for a holiday which were quite unlike those of 1902.

It was not necessary to rise at break of day, as no horses had to be fed and harnessed for the trip.

After a deliberate breakfast, the family car, a handsome new sedan, was brought to the door. The travelers quietly were seated and were off without a moment’s delay.

The sun shone brightly as they whizzed along the straight, hard-surfaced country roads, minus the dust of 50 years ago.

Abundant crops were seen in some fields, other fields had been sadly neglected and were grown up with brush and small trees, while many could not be seen at all because of the brush which had taken the place of the fences along the roadside.

Tractors and trucks were operating where horses and wagons had formerly been used.

Machinery seen along the road and in the fields was scarcely recognizable to unaccustomed eyes.

Hay was being baled in the field, some of which was left lying on the ground and some drawn to the barns. Grain was being cut and threshed in one operation and quickly drawn to storehouses.

Fields of peas had been harvested and drawn to plants where they were threshed, packed in cartons and frozen.

The fields of berries, hops and many of the orchards of 50 years ago have disappeared from the scene, but if they had still been there the travelers could not have stopped to gather fruit as they rushed along the highway.

Occasionally a farm pond added attractivness to the scene.

Cars of many models, one after another, rushed at breakneck speed from all directions toward them until one could scarcely recognize an intimate friend.

Traveling at such a speed through country and town, the spires of buildings in a distant city soon come into view, slowing the speed to some extent.

Skies were as blue, flowers as fragrant and the song of birds as sweet as in days of yore, but the beer and cigarette ads, the odor of gasoline and honking of horns marred the beauty of the landscape and filled the air with unpleasant sounds and odors.

After a time the family decided to have lunch and paid $1 for a 50 cent meal, then resumed their journey whirling and whizzing on, mile after mile, catching glimpses of some historical spot or interesting place they would have liked to have visited, but being in such a rush to get nowhere in particular they had to forego that pleasure.

Turning homeward over another route they rounded a curve in the road in time to see two cars crash headon; injuring several persons. Stopping to offer assistance, they were detained for a time, later continuing their trip. Many of the same scenes met the eye on the homeward drive of about 200 miles. They reached their home, scarcely knowing where they had been or what they had seen.

So ended the holiday of 1952. It was not a day of pleasant memories. No one cared to discuss the trip nor looked forward to another similar one.

Perhaps when all traveling is done by air as we are told it soon will be there will be fewer annoyances for the pleasure seekers of 50 years from now, and a holiday trip in 2002 will be one of sheer enjoyment.

Editor’s Note: Mrs. Willis Van Duyne was a frequent contributor of historical sketches and other material to the Wayland Register. She lived much of her life in Canadice NY.

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