Benches

Have you ever noticed how lovely our park is just now? Such green grass and sturdy shrubs, and the sycamores with fluttering leaves and restful shade! I truly think the cold and snow of winter did something for the park. And the benches seem very popular resting places for men about town – many how are alone and lonely.

Yes, we used to have benches along Washington Street, in front of almost every business house. I can recall the old miners going home at night with their basket of groceries, sitting to rest a while on one of the benches. Old bachelors they were, so many that lived on Bald Mountain or Brown’s Flat. I used to know them all by name when I was a little girl – and then – one by one we missed them along the way.

Sonora was then just a little friendly town – life was simple and sweet – everyone knew everybody. It was the custom then for families to live in the rear of their stores or shops – perhaps it was the economical thing to do – and those pioneers had to economize.

On Summer evenings families would gather on the benches in front, and visit with neighbors near by – extra chairs were brought out and soon filled with friends who stayed to visit. Sometimes the sidewalks were so crowded one could hardly pass.

Old Mr. Parsons (strange, we speak of them as ‘old’, but they seemed so, to children) was often sitting on his bench with men from the courthouse. The Parsons family lived upstairs and one could often hear merry laughter and chatter on their front porch.

Across the street was Jack White’s Saloon – I can almost see him with a typical gambler outfit – light gray striped trousers – checker vest – a flashy red tie – a huge nugget watch chain – a white straw sailor hat – he was so often sitting on the bench as we passed, going to school. There was often lovely sweet music – harp and guitar – and I used to loiter and listen, although forbidden to do so.

In front of the City Hotel there were rows of chairs, and on Summer evenings they would be filled with traveling men “drummers” they used to call them. We miss the friendly, homey simple folk on the benches and chairs along our street – Summer evenings.

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