December 1, 2013
The Demise of the Country Store
Hopedale in November
Directions for making a shuttle lamp.
Hopedale Community Centennial pageant, 1942 - with lots of familiar names from that era, including
Dennett, Draper, Billings, Lapworth, Lilley, Scribner, Allen, Smith, Hall and Connolly.
Draper open house, 1951. Many visitors as well as employees in the pictures. Cub Scouts, too.
Miscellaneous Draper photos from the 1940s and 1950s.
Now and Then - The Town Park.
Memorial Day, 1947 in Mendon. It's quite a look into the past. Nice job by David Moriarty.
Recent additions to my Hopedale history site include - Ernest Dalton's Hopedale Community articles
(six additional articles, plus improved copies of most of the others) George and Hannah Draper
(photo of their house at the corner of Hopedale and Draper streets added) Wickliffe Preston Draper
(a picture of one of Draper's hunting trophies on a wall at the Community House; it's the same picture
as the one with the c. 1950 Campfire Girls) Now and Then - Hopedale Coal & Ice (picture of office
with Rockwell sign added) Recent deaths
Twenty-five years ago - December 1988 - Pan Am Flight 103 is blown up over Lockerbie, Scotland,
killing 270 people.
Hopedale Country Club signs new lease with town. Will pay $18, 167 next year.
Cheryl Daudelin's defense and rebounding key in Hopedale girls' 42-18 victory over Grafton High.
Selectmen support plan for wheelchair ramp at Town Hall.
Fifty years ago - December 1963 - Kenya (formerly British East Africa) gains independence.
Surveyors in Milford laying base line for Route 495.
Arthur Spofford, 60, killed by car while riding his bicycle on Route 16 near the home of Dr. Cicchetti.
Bernie Stock scores 22 and Steve Sardell, 17, as Hopedale loses to Nipmuc, 79-77.
New in 1963 - Valium, audio cassettes, Washington-to-Moscow "Hot Line," liver transplants, zip
codes, lava lamps, steel tennis racquet frames, existence of quasars discovered
In January of 1969, Chester Walker of Upton was the guest speaker at a meeting of the Hopedale
Community Historical Society. He spoke of the vanishing country store -- the Henry L. Patrick Co., and
others in this area. Titled, "Goodbye to the Country Store," Walker held his audience in high interest
with this commentary.
"You have to be a senior citizen to have savored the joys and delights of the now-vanished country
store. Such emporiums were at their height just before World War I and before World War II had
ended, so had the country stores as we knew them in childhood days.
"This area was once rich in such establishments, most especially right here in Hopedale, where
Henry Patrick operated his main branch and his renowned Corner Store, both of which most of you
patronized. Along with Adin Ballou and a host of Drapers and Dutchers, Henry Patrick remains as one
of Hopedale's most famous citizens - a colorful character, a man of keen business ability, but a
thoroughly stubborn man.
"Nor did a slight speech defect, his frequent stammering help. Often at odds with George Draper and
Frank J. Dutcher, his father, Delano Patrick fought but to no avail, the division of Milford and Hopedale.
Peter Hackett, Blackstone Valley historian, describes this paternal inheritance to Henry Patrick's
constant controversy with the Draper-directed establishment. In 1903, Patrick sued the town which
had taken some of his choice land for park purposes. The town valued the land at $900. Henry said
this was hardly enough and sued. The court ruled that the land was worth $2,500 and the town also
had to pay $1,750 in lawyer fees.
Patrick was a forerunner in the profit-sharing plan for employees. In 1919 he incorporated his
business, selling shares only to employees.
Walker continued, "Because of a family tie, there was a close link between the Patrick enterprises and
Eben T. Hall's store in West Upton's Post Office Square. Henry Patrick married Milly Hall, Eben's sister
and Patrick's money went into the Hall business on more than one occasion.
"Over in Uxbridge, Taft Brothers store became an institution. Long manage by the late Fred and Silas
Taft, it did a tremendous business in grain and groceries.
My father often told the story of how George Birch, a Milford meat man, handled the complaint of a
Hopedale matron who declared the chicken she had just purchased smelled a bit 'frowy,' as she put
When such butchers as the late Perry Kingsley of Mendon made his rounds with his cart, soup bones
were free for the asking as were big shin bones which made excellent stews. And there was free liver
for the cat at many a market.
All the butchers wore straw hats with straw wristers along with their white coveralls and aprons. Eddie
Baker of Upton was seldom seen without that garb. The charm of the old fashioned store lay also in
its casual, friendly atmosphere. Most rural stores once boasted the hot stove around which the
villagers sat in cold weather discussing news of the day and local politics. There were crackers to be
had and sometimes a purloined wedge of cheese to go with it. Or perchance, the pickle barrel stood
nearby and one could extricate a large juicy dill without bothering the grocer or his clerks.
Walker said that the grocery business has undergone a complete revolution. Everything is packaged
now, even meat. Cookies no longer are displayed in tilted bins with glass tops to be sold by the
pound. In the old days, everything was sold "loose." Peanut butter, for example, was dipped from a tub
with a paddle. Few items were in jars or boxes except perhaps dried beef and Beardsley's codfish
which came in a little wooden box with a sliding cover.
Detergents and the laundry products of this modern age were unknown. the familiar Fels Naptha
wrapper stood on the shelves and beside it the likewise familiar bottles of Sawyer's Bluing, and ever-
present help on mother's laundry day.
The conglomeration that some country stores displayed for sale was truly amazing - such things as
horse blankets and buggy whips arrayed beside tins of baking powder or boxes of Jello. And
alongside stood the cheese wheel on a heavy wooden block.
In the era when Billy Marden's bakery was doing a flourishing business in Milford, fresh baked bread
and pastries came to Upton daily on the electric express. Broken in two, each sold for the sum of five
cents and even the five cent portion was larger, heavier and tastier than the modern loaf.
What is now Upton's Legion Hall once housed the fanciest grocery this side of B.F. Arnold's store in
Worcester or the famed Protective Union. It was Charles Temple's Boston Grocery. "I was impressed
by the fact that Mr. Temple sat on a kind of mounted throne to which he ascended by a curving
staircase," Walker said. There he could watch every part of the emporium from the long dry goods
counter where the customer sat on a revolving stool, to the boot and shoe division on the other side,
and the meat counter at the end. One of Temple's specialties were oranges which he maintained
came from his own Florida grove.
"This was never verified but the fact remains that Temple's oranges were always larger and juicier that
his competitors. He also specialized in Jordan almonds and Blue Banner chocolates."
In decades past, post offices were quartered within grocery walls. This was long the case in Upton's
Arcade Block. There, Grovelon D. Richardson dealt in provisions along with his postmaster duties. So
did the late Abiatha Bowker,who kept both store and post office at several Upton sites.
"Moroney's store in Central Square still stands, now the Ramsey woodworking shop," Walker
continued. John Moroney doubled as rural free delivery carrier and no errand was too trivial for him to
Lyman Stoddard and Col. Elijah Stoddard kept earlier general stores in Upton Center and Major Eli
Warren, who also owned and operated the "Longest Tavern in the World," the Warren Tavern, ran a
general store in the West End.
There was also a version of the 'company store,' owned and managed by William Knowlton & Sons.
Some stores were the prey of fires like that of Henry Corbert in Upton Center.
Today, the country store is only a shadow of its former self. True, they may be found at Sturbridge, in
Southboro or in Weston, Vermont, where Vrest Orton operates one of New England's most famous
The tantalizing odors, the bustle of delivery wagons and trucks, the cracker barrel and pickle crock are
now only fond memories in the minds of our senior citizens. Milford Daily News, December 4, 1995
Patrick's Store Patrick's Corner Store Ezine Menu HOME
Henry L. Patrick's Store, Hopedale Street.
In this view, Patrick's, on right, had been bought by Rico
Calarese and renamed The Food Center. George Mongiat's
Rexall Drug Store in the Harrison Block is on the left.
|Demise of the Country Store
By Gordon E. Hopper