Object Thursday: Sledding in Saylesville

Children on sleds at Bleachery Pond, Saylesville, RI, 1921. Print from a nitrate negative. Negative Number RHi S275 265

Children all over Rhode Island are looking forward to a snow day, and wondering why some of them had school today, when (it seems to them) Friday just must be a snow day! In 1921, these children knew how to make the best of snow: sledding!

In my Providence neighborhood, there is hill where everyone goes to sled when the weather is right– it’s a private hill, but the gates are open, and sledding, for now, is tolerated. In 1945’s The Pageant of Benefit Street, Margaret Bingham Stillwell writes of the sledding and coasting that successive generations of children enjoyed on the steep hills of the East Side of Providence.  She writes of College Hill and Hopkins Street in particular, “In the early days, it is said that is the way was clear, one could shoot straight across the river; and in later times one little girl shot through an open door into a South Main Street Store.” (page 40)

There’s too much traffic today to risk such adventures, but as we prepare to dig and salt and sand our way through this snow storm, I hope we can take a moment to enjoy the stories of excellent Rhode Island sledding, if not the sledding itself.

~Kirsten Hammerstrom, Director of Collections

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