Recollections of the Henry Patrick Company

                                                                               By Leola Stearns

    My father, Allen Washburn, began working at the Henry Patrick Company in 1914, when he moved
    from Lynn and married my mother, Lillian Fletcher. They moved into the small house in back of the
    store’s parking lot, which was removed later when Rico’s Food Center was built. My brother, Donald,
    born in 1916, and I, born in 1922, lived there until the family moved to the apartment above the store
    in the late 1930s.

    On the front of the second floor of the building there was a room used by the store’s dry goods
    department for storage, a barbershop operated by a Mr. Shippee, and a small rental apartment. Our
    apartment, which was on the back and side of the building, had six rooms, a bath and a porch. The
    living room was above the store’s office and there was a hole in the floor with a removable cover. If
    my father heard a suspicious noise in the store, he could remove the cover and see what was
    happening! I do not recall if he ever had to do this. I suspect this was an early security system!  After
    my father had retired, the family lived there until the 50s. It was my residence until I graduated from
    college in 1944. so I have many memories of the Henry Patrick Company!

    My father for many years was a “traveling salesman” for the store, going from door to door throughout
    the town obtaining orders for items which would be delivered within the next few days. In early years,
    horses and wagons were used for delivery and later replaced by trucks which were stored in garages
    in the store’s parking lot. The horses had been stabled at the Patrick estate on Hopedale Street. I
    remember one winter day having a ride in Patrick’s sleigh up Hopedale Street to the pond, and that
    was a special treat for me!

    Patrick’s storage building was located behind the house where we had lived. It was close to the
    railroad tracks where the supplies would be unloaded. My father became acquainted with the train’s
    engineer, who offered him a ride to Grafton. I was fortunate to go with him on my first train ride and
    remember the many miles of woodlands we traveled through on our way to Grafton.

    Patrick’s was an important part of my childhood and teenage years. During my college Christmas
    vacation I worked in the dry-goods department with Louse King and Maisie Moore, so I knew firsthand
    how the store operated and its personnel who were hard workers and loyal to the company. At
    holiday times the men would work around-the-clock to prepare the turkeys and food orders for
    delivery.

    It was difficult for the residents of the town to witness the closing of the store, for it had been so
    important in the historical development of the community. And for my family, it was an emotional loss
    – for it had been my father’s “life”- beginning as a clerk and later to become a director and a vice-
    president.

    Leola W. Stearns

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