A Life Enjoyed
98 Years Of Love, Family And Fun
The birth of 98-year-old Doris Frink Stone took place in her parents’ home on property that is now part of Allegany State Park, almost exactly one year before the park was dedicated. Her family’s home was located where the Park’s bridge and dam are now positioned at Red House Lake. The house had no electricity, but did have acetylene lamps. There was a chemical toilet on the upper floor. Perishable food was kept in an icebox in the kitchen.
“When the creek was frozen over, the men cut blocks of ice. It was stored in a building packed in sawdust,” she recalls. “I can still smell the sawdust.”
Both of her grandmother’s homes were nearby and all three families had to move when the new state park was ready to build the lake. All three eventually became neighbors in their new location, still residing in Red House, a few miles from their original homes. Mrs. Stone’s father moved a building from a fire chemical plant office one mile to his parents’ farm, before building on additional rooms to make it into their home. The new home had the luxury of electricity, indoor plumbing and a wood furnace with a large register that heated the home. They had a telephone, which was on a party line.
Her father was an Allegany State Park employee and during World War II they actually lived in the Park’s administration building, along with other employees and their families.
Simple, wholesome activities were enjoyed by her family and friends such as sliding down a snow-covered hill while sitting on a piece of tin and she recalls fudge making sessions with the neighborhood kids.
“I loved to go ice skating and when I was about seven, my father made me ice skates by putting some blades on a pair of boots. My mother made snow pants for me from my older brother’s pants.”
She can remember going to silent movies as a preschooler.
“People would try to read (the subtitles) to me and I hated it because I could read,” she says. “I wasn’t allowed to go to movies or dances on Sundays.”
Mrs. Stone’s mother picked dandelion and cowslip greens early in the spring, before they blossomed.
“They were so delicious after a long winter.”
Her mother planted peas, onions, lettuce and spinach in the spring and later carrots, beets, Swiss chard, beans, turnips, tomatoes and potatoes. She picked wild blueberries, blackberries and strawberries in the fields and would can both fruits and vegetables. Sometimes her dad would dig a hole to fill with sand and straw for a place to store the vegetables. They preserved beef by canning and stored pork in salt brine in a stone crock.
“My parents went fishing often and my mother would go alone until she was 70-years-old. The fish she cooked was so good,” she shares. “My dad would hunt for squirrels, rabbits, pheasants, quails and mom would cook them. We always had chickens.
She has fond memories of her grandmothers.
“I just loved them.”
Her grandmother Frink was Canadian-born.
“She did her work in the morning. She wrapped her hair around cloth to make ringlets and would let it down in the afternoon after the meal.”
She also put on a clean apron in the afternoon and would then sew aprons, pillows, etc. About 80 years ago, the granddaughter was given some quilt tops by her aunt that her grandmother Frink had started.
“They must be 150 years old. They were made from cloth sugar bags that she had dyed. I made three quilts from them.”
Her grandmother Frink boarded some of the men who were involved with building the dam and her great-grandmother Frink boarded a land surveyor from Holland Land Company who was so appreciative he gave her 200 acres of land.
“Grandmother Sharpe’s first house was were the beach at Red House Lake is. She had children about the same age as I was. In fact, the youngest son was younger than me. She was an excellent cook and her second husband, John, was very musical,” she reflects. “He had the first battery-operated radio in the area and the men would gather around it and listen to fights.”
In the 1920s and 30s her entire family went to dances at the town hall.
“John Sharpe played the piano, cornet and violin. Uncle Bud Wentworth was on the drums and Uncle Forry Fuller played the cornet. They played jazz music and music for round and square dances. Vern Frink called the square dancing,” she says. “My dad and mother were beautiful dancers. I liked to watch them do the Scottish.”
Doris Frink married a dairy farmer named Bob Stone in 1947. They went to dances in the Kennedy, Ellicottville, Fluvanna and Gerry fire halls while they were courting. In later years, a group of 18 friends, including her brother and sister-in-law, went to Gerry for monthly dances, continuing for many years.
“Refreshments were served at 11:30. Sandwiches, cookies and sometimes Swedish people brought homemade rye bread and egg salad. Mmm, it was good. The kids stayed home and sometimes cleaned, cooked or baked. Often they had Chef Boyardee pizza.”
The early years of Mrs. Stone’s education took place in Red House No. 1, one of five one-room school houses located within the Red House District.
“There was a recital bench in the front of the room where we sat to recite lessons and a round stove sat in the middle of the room. There were no lights and there was an outdoor toilet. The children could go outside by themselves at recess.”
“There was a piano that my aunt, who was a little older than me, played. She taught me how to do the Charleston, which I would do into my nineties,” she says with a grin. “I loved to do it!”
She studied in Salamanca for grades nine, 10 and 11. Unlike her years at Red House, where very few books were available, a library was just a block away from the school.
“It was wonderful,” says the bright-eyed nonagenarian.
Red House became part of the Randolph Central School District by her senior year, making it necessary for her to change schools one last time before graduating. Her art teacher, Miss Lundberg, taught her to draw with a pencil calling it “pencil therapy.” A year later, when Miss Lundberg became Mrs. Congdon, she had to leave teaching because female teachers were not allowed to be married.
A few years ago, Mrs. Stone’s daughter took her to a craft supply store where she purchased drawing pencils and she has been doing pencil therapy ever since. “I just love to do it.”
After graduation from high school, she continued her education at Fredonia Normal School, where she studied for three years to become a teacher.
“All my life, starting at five years old, I wanted to be a teacher and I always wanted to play school,” she says. “My teacher wore old-fashioned clothes. I said ‘when I became a teacher, I would wear fashionable clothes.'”
Interestingly, after graduating from college, she returned for three years to teach at Red House School No. 1. One of her eighth-grade students, Frank Godfrey, was in the school when she was a student. The teacher and student were reunited last year when Doris moved to Randolph Manor for Adults, where Frank had been residing.
She taught a total of 31 years between Red House No. 1, Randolph’s old School Street School and Gail N. Chapman Elementary School. Her years at Randolph were spent teaching second and third grades, with the exception of a semester when she remediated seventh grade students. After she began teaching in Randolph, she traveled by bus or train to Buffalo on Saturdays and during the summer to finish her education.
“I wouldn’t get married until I had finished.”
Bob Stone bought a farm on Coldspring Road in Randolph in 1946, the year before the couple married. The massive 1800s farmhouse had 10 bedrooms, that the original owner’s daughters added by raising the roof to make room for boarders.
With a picnic lunch in hand, Mrs. Stone would meet her husband, an avid horseman, and their three children when they were trail riding. The wife and mother was proud to watch her four riders dressed in white shirts, black pants and cowboy hats as they rode in Memorial Day parades. Sadly, she has lost her husband and her son.
The retired teacher has always stayed busy. She estimates she has made 100 quilts, counting quilted pillows and dresser scarves. For 20 years, she attended Vicki Redding’s art classes and has several pieces of her artwork displayed on the walls of her room.
“This is my favorite,” she says as she points to a dew-kissed iris hanging above her chair.”
She is a regular participant in all of the activities offered at the adult home where she resides. She especially enjoys doing yoga. She loves to read “just good reading” and is an avid Buffalo Bills fan and has attended one game with her son and daughter.
“I always watch all of their games.”
She has been jotting down family history and her life’s experiences in a journal.
She has six grandchildren, nine step-grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren and nine step-great-grandchildren. She is a member of East Randolph United Methodist Church.