It’s helpful to remember

A genuine stagecoach on display at Marshall Gold Discovery SHP in Coloma, California 2004

A genuine stagecoach on display at Marshall Gold Discovery SHP in Coloma, California 2004

“In times like these, it is helpful to remember that there have always been times like these.”Paul Harvey

Today’s post is dedicated to all of us who are FED UP with:
1. traffic, gas prices and ridiculous parking costs;
2. the hassles of air travel;
3. public bus or rail system problems; or
4. all of the above.

Lest our blessings become curses to us, I hope we can get some perspective by reflecting that it could be worse, and in fact, it almost always was.  I’m not just referring to the days some of us can remember all too well, when cars did not have air conditioning and the interstate highway system was far from complete. You don’t have to go back in time very far to read some really harrowing details about travel that have been left out of our overly-romantic movies of the past.

Just for fun, read this article from the California Department of Parks and Recreation. It gives an interesting and fairly detailed description of what stagecoach travel was like. We rode in a stagecoach briefly in Placerville, California, formerly known as “Hangtown.”  I don’t think the account given above is exaggerated; if anything, it probably doesn’t begin to capture what it was like to endure such discomfort for days on end.  Maybe it will help if we think of this next time we’re stuck in traffic.

This post was originally published seven years ago today. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below.


  1. Great post 😁

    • Thanks! We’re happy you visited here.

  2. Oh, Julia, I read the stagecoach piece, and my back hurts just thinking about it! Ug! Certainly a deterrent to the elderly.

    • Yes, it was quite a rough ride and I was glad when it was over. And that was on a paved street! It’s hard to imagine what our ancestors endured.

      • True, it’s hard to fully grasp what our ancestors went through.
        When we’re young, we think if then as “old” (I was shocked to find out my grandparents were in their 50s – that seemed so old!). Thanks to a few old photographs, I have a vague impression of what they were like, back when they were crossing the Atlantic by boat, working in the iron ore mines of Upper Michigan, or playing (now my) violin.

        • Susan, I too recall thinking my grandparents in their 50’s were ancient – and thinking of anyone over fifty as being somewhat overweight, mostly sedentary, gray-haired, wearing glasses and OLD. My how things change as we age. Now when someone says the word “elderly” I think eighties or beyond. Wow, your family sounds intriguing; I’m trying to remember whence they came – Scandinavia somewhere? I know you told me you had a Bohemian background, in the literal sense of the word.

          • Hi Julia,
            The great granny that I knew well was from “merry old England” or more accurately from Cornwall. She is the one that told stories of crossing the Atlantic by ship with her husband. Although they didn’t travel first class, they didn’t travel in whatever was last-class, because they had a baby (my great aunt Mabel) and their families had been alarmed by their sailing away, giving cautionary warnings about losing the baby on such a voyage, saying “that chil’ll be throwed overboard!” They ended up in Michigan, where they stayed, he working in the mines. They had been invited to go live in South Africa where my g. grandfather’s brother had gone, but granny wouldn’t hear of it. Having lost a child here, granny couldn’t leave his grave in this country to go somewhere so far away. She made twelve pasties every day, and the older kids would run their dad’s to the mine for his lunch.
            The violin is from the other side of my family; I will have to ask my uncle if he remembers whose it was. I had thought it was from the Norway side of the family, but I’m not certain. There’s a Star of David inscribed in the back at the base of the neck.
            Thank you for jogging this trip down memory lane!
            Did you know any of your ancestors that came from other cultures? I’m sure you have some amazing family of origin stories!

            • Hi Susan, I just love reading your stories of your family background. Other people’s too. I have always been interested in history, and personal history (especially with old photographs, letters, etc.) interests me more than world history. World history, after all, is built on the millions of stories everywhere that never make it into the books. It’s a bit of a coincidence you should ask about my family background. Just yesterday, from my father’s first cousin once removed, I received a well-produced family tree of the Johnson-Bond-Mitchell families, which includes my father’s maternal line. It outlines the details of how we are related to President Andrew Johnson (my father’s grandmother was his great-niece) as well as a more interesting detail that I either never knew or had forgotten: my great-Aunt Lena (to whom I felt especially close) lost one of her two sons in World War II. For all the hours I spent with her, I don’t remember her ever talking about that. My father’s paternal ancestry is interesting, but less documented– although my father’s detailed DNA analysis, given to him as a birthday gift several years before there was 23andMe and other commercial ancestry programs– supports the family lore. His father was, by report, half Chiricahua and all of his ancestry that we know about is out west, mostly in California, my grandfather having lived in the southwest during his childhood. His physical traits, and those of my siblings — all with much darker skin and hair than mine — also support the family lore that Daddy was one-fourth Chiricahua, which we had been told from as far back as I can remember. My mother’s ancestry is almost purely Scots Irish, dating back to the 1700’s in the USA, and their personalities fit the Scots Irish stereotype perfectly. My stubborn, hot-headed nature, as well as my lighter skin and hair, suggest that I got mostly my mother’s ancestral influences. But I do have a few phenotypical traits suggestive of the Chiricahua ancestry. Back to your family — it’s that Star of David on back of a violin that intrigues me most! Who knows whether it came from a previous owner, or from one of your family? But the visual image it creates has the resonance such details always bring, almost like a scene from a movie.

Thanks for encouraging others by sharing your thoughts:

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