RANDOLPH — Doris Stone of Randolph has lived a long, beautiful life. On Aug. 2, she celebrated her 100th birthday with family and friends who were safely socially distanced on the lawn of her residence at Randolph Manor.
Due to restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic, a traditional birthday party was not possible. But the East Randolph United Methodist Church, where she is a member, organized a drive-by car parade in her honor.
The church also honored Stone by dedicating a book to her, “The Book of Gutsy Women,” by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chelsea Clinton, that will be available at the Randolph Free Library.
Known for her beautiful quilts, Stone received a special book for her birthday called, “My Great Grandmother’s Quilts.” Created by her great-granddaughter, Quinn, the book is filled with pictures of some of Stone’s 100-plus quilts.
Stone keeps a journal where she jots down family history and her life experiences. It will make interesting reading for her six grandchildren, nine step-grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren and nine step-great-grandchildren.
Stone’s family has a special connection to Allegany State Park, beginning with her great-grandparents, Nelson and Martha Frink. She said when her great-grandmother boarded some Holland Land Company surveyors, one of them gave her 200 acres of land to show his appreciation. The property became known as the Frink Estate and included the site where the Red House administration building now sits.
Born Aug. 2, 1920, to Bessie and Clarence “Mike” Frink, Stone’s family lived in Red House, just below where Red House Lake dam sits. The property is now part of Allegany State Park, which was formally dedicated July 30, 1921.
At the time, there was no Allegany State Park or Red House Lake, but a stream that ran through the fields dotted with small farms. Stone said the farm of her paternal grandparents, Albert and Bridget Frink, was located about where the Red House Lake dam sits. Her maternal grandparents, John and Lena Sharpe, had a farm in the area of Red House Beach.
“We lived in a little house located between both sets of my grandparents,” she said. “There was no electricity or an indoor bathroom, but we had a chemical toilet and acetylene lamps. We had an icebox in the kitchen for perishable food.”
Although Stone grew up during the Great Depression, she said they didn’t realize they were going through hard times because they always had enough food.
“My mother canned fruits and vegetables, and she baked delicious breads and rolls,” she said. “We preserved beef by canning and stored pork in salt brine in a stone crock. We had chickens and fished. My father hunted.”
Stone and her late brothers, Clayton and Donald Frink, played in the fields and creeks. They sledded in winter on a makeshift toboggan constructed from a piece of tin roofing. She remembers going to silent movies as a preschooler. In the 1920s and ‘30s, dances were held at the town hall.
“In the late ‘30s, there was a jukebox at the administration building. We’d save nickels and, on Saturday afternoons, we’d go up there and play the nickelodeon and dance,” she said. “After the lake was built and the pavilion opened in the summer, there were live bands.”
When the park was ready to build the lake, all three families had to relocate but they stayed in Red House. Stone’s grandfather Frink bought farmland near the current I-86 interchange. Her family lived next door and her maternal grandparents lived across the road.
“There was a chemical factory nearby, and my father was one of the men who ran the train at the factory,” she recalled. “I remember riding on the little train that was used to haul the wood.”
Stone said when the chemical factory burned down, there was an office building remaining that her father bought and moved onto her grandparent’s land. In 1926, he built an addition onto the structure and it became their home.
According to the Allegany State Park Historical Society, construction started on the Red House administration building in August 1927, and was completed in 1928. Just a few weeks prior to the start of construction of Red House Lake, in August 1929, most of the houses were moved to the present day Red House maintenance service road where they stood until the late 1970s.
“When the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) came to build Allegany State Park, my brother, Clayton, worked in one of the camps,” she said. “One of my most vivid memories from childhood happened while sitting on my front porch. Eleanor Roosevelt drove by in her convertible roadster with her scarf flying in the air on her way to the camps.”
Stone’s father was an Allegany State Park employee. During World War II, her parents were caretakers of the Red House administration building and lived there, along with other employees and their families.
Her early school days took place in Red House No. 1, one of five one-room school houses located within the Red House school district. She attended Jefferson High School in Salamanca for three years.
When Red House school district became part of Randolph’s district, Stone attended Randolph Central School for her senior year and received her high school diploma. She pursued her dream of being a teacher and studied at Fredonia Normal School for three years.
After graduating from college, she returned to Red House No. 1 and taught there for three years before taking a teaching job in Randolph. Between Red House No. 1, the School Street school and Gail N. Chapman Elementary School, in Randolph, she spent a total of 31 years teaching second and third grades.
In 1947, she married Robert “Bob” Stone who had purchased a dairy farm on Coldspring Road in Randolph, in 1946. The couple had three children, Karolie, Doneen and Tom.
Stone’s secret to longevity is unknown but, perhaps, it’s her zest for life and the love of her family and friends.