Chaffee's Peanut Stand
Memories of a Night in October
by Ruth Bray (formerly Ruth Stoner Bixby)
Our country was at war 50 years ago, yet we had fun. There was gas rationing, thus we didn't
travel far. A good deal of traveling for the young folks around Portville was done by Shank's
mare (if you know what I mean).
The main gathering place for everyone was the Colonial, what we called "that pretty building that
once graced Portville's main intersection." Contained there-in was the ice cream parlor, post
office, the movie house, and various other business offices.
It was a Friday night, just 50 years ago this month (1943). We were bored with the movie
house and there wasn't any promise of a black out. They were fun too, at the Colonial.
I knew this certain young man. He lived on a farm and they had a team of horses. Plans were
made for a hayride. It turned out to be a glorious warm night. Word got around for everyone
to meet at the Colonial - probably 20 of us or more!
The happy group of young folks rode out Main Street stopping at the peanut stand. The horses
stood long enough for everyone to get a supply of warm roasted peanuts.
We continued on past the old Toll Gate and across the bridge towards Eldred. That bridge is
gone and the old Toll Gate, also.
There were hardly any cars - maybe two or three. We had a supply of flashlights for whenever
it was necessary to "light up." That's all the lighting up that was done - no smoking, no
drinking, and we had a glorious time.
I happened to be interested in the young man with the horses. He was interested in me, too.
So, there I sat, behind the horses with him. Never having been very close to horses before -
what with the tell-tale odor - I could not bring myself to eat any peanuts. I would, however,
crack them and feed them to him, which he didn't seem to mind.
We took a back road to Main Settlement, across another bridge which is closed now also,
continuing on the main road and back to Portville.
Some got off at Red and Trudy's (yes, they were there then). The rest left us at the Colonial. A
few rode on to Bedford's Corners.
I got to ride all the way to the farm. The neighbor boy was with us and he drove those last two
miles. What fun!
The next day remarks were made that the horses sure were tired. After finding the peanuts lost
in the hay, all was forgiven.
I also found out what fun it was to pick hay seeds out of a camel hair coat - another lesson
The young man turned 18 and went off to war. When he returned, we did marry; for better or
for worse, and we still are. One year, for the fun of it, we got some peanuts and drove the
route in our car - just 20 miles, which was a good trip for a pair of horses.
There are those from the gang who are gone now. There are those who, perhaps, will
remember having fun 50 years ago on a hayride.
Ruth's story appeared in the Olean Times Herald in October 1993. She was 15 years old when
she took her hayride with Len and the gang. Leonard Bixby passed away in 1998.
|The Portville Historical and Preservation Society
|17 Maple Avenue
Portville, NY 14770
Portville, New York
Ed Chaffee, or "Pop," as he was known, stands at the front of his peanut stand in 1938.
The stand was located across from Red's and Trudy's and the Old Toll Gate. The
location is about where the dollar store is now.
The baskets were full of peanuts and the quart baskets on the shelf held "suckers" for the
kids, each one a different flavor. Peanuts were roasted there and served warm.
Kids play in the peanut bin at Chaffee's Peanut
Stand in the summer of '41.
In the picture below, we can see across the road,
where the old toll gate bridge was located, between
Red's and Trudy's and the Old Toll Gate Restaurant
and filling station (to the left of the picture).
Thank you to Howard Chaffee, who provided the
Portville Historical and Preservation Society with
these great old photos.