Memories of country roads


Editor's note: Mr. Patrick, who has lived for more than 100 years, has written a series of letters about his memories through the years. We will run them periodically.

I remember when ...

I am quite sure those of you who have driven the country roads in New England have, at one time or another, noticed stone walls along the roadside, and, quite often, have seen those walls run from the main road into woods. Woods with trees as much as two feet in diameter, close to the wall on both sides. Perhaps you have wondered why anyone would build a stone wall into the woods.
Well, the answer is that no one ever did build a stone wall through the woods. The fact is that the walls were there long before the trees were. That land was open pasture land, and the walls were built to keep horses, cows, and sheep from straying away. And I remember when, about ninety years ago, I used to climb over a stone wall in my grandfather's field in Massachusetts to visit him as he milked cows in the field.

I have read that, maybe as early as 1740, there were almost 1.5 million sheep being raised in Vermont, because there was a shortage of wool in the county, and Vermont was an ideal place to raise sheep to supply the demand. Vermont had the open land, and the climate helped the sheep provide a coat of thick wool.

Here, where I live at the Assisted Living building in Townshend, there is a stone wall running along Route 121 towards Grafton. From that stone wall, runs another stone wall past our building and up a hill in the back. The large trees came much later.

I have read that the early settles used to hide money and other valuables in the walls, so that they wouldn't be stolen by gypsies and Indians.

Warren S. Patrick is 102 years old. He writes from Townshend.


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