It all started with a photograph...Recently lifelong village resident Marion Worthing Rubenstein, born 1922, stopped by Local History with an old photograph. Taken circa 1932 on East Filbert Street, it shows Marion with her father’s horse, Sammy, and Marion’s brother Byron and friend Wilbur Cooper in the sleigh. While we talked about the picture, Marion shared memories of past winters in East Rochester. She reminded us that much of the property near the Worthing home — Lincoln Road — was still not developed, and the farm fields provided great places for sledding and sleigh rides.
Like any small community in the early 1900s, winter found village residents taking part in many outdoor activities. Sledding spots included the areas of the present Eaglehead Road and Bluff Drive to Whitney Road, and of course, Eyer and Edmund Lyon Parks. Skiing often meant using a single piece of wood strapped to boots. Favorite ice skating spots were: the pond in Forest Hills, the field where the current high school parking lot is located, the pond behind what is now the press box and the base of the hill in Eyer Park.
Coal was the fuel for keeping homes and businesses warm. Delivered by companies like Steve’s Coal Co., the fuel was delivered by wagon or truck and dumped down the coal chute into the basement. Staying warm meant sitting near the furnace or stove. Coal ashes were collected by the DPW and used in place of road salt. Roads were not plowed often because there were few vehicles driving on them. And yet wooden plows pulled by horses did remove snow from village sidewalks. Because the village was still surrounded by open farmland, winter winds could cause much blowing and drifting. For example, buses traveling south on Lincoln Road could get stuck in snow near what is now Northwood Ave. Another bus would have to be sent out from the city to help passengers continue their trip.
After being outdoors, warm food hit the spot. Old cookbooks made by women’s groups in the village such as the Despatch Cook Book — created by the Ladies’ Aid Society of the Baptist Church — and the Women’s Exchange Cook Book — circa 1911, written by the Rebecca Lodge of the Odd Fellows — include many hearty recipes. Some of these are: tomato soup made from canned tomatoes and sweet milk; sweet potato pie made with one pound of sweet potatoes, two cups of brown sugar and one cup of cream; and cookies with ingredients including sugar, a teacup of butter and sour milk — delicious recipes made from scratch.
In those days without television and smartphones life seemed much simpler.
Food for thought...