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CHAPTER XVI—MEMPHIS AND COLUMBUS. AT THE TOMB OF WASHINGTON

ON March 18, 1906, the younger of our two girls was married in the room in which she was born. Her sister, who had to cut short a season of "brushing up" at her Alma Mater, the New England Conservatory of Boston, in order to hasten home for the event, and the groom's youngest sister, were the only invited guests; Frances and I being on hand, as a matter of course. We have not lost our daughter, as she will always live near us, but have gained another son.

In the month of May following, my life partner and I again started off to attend the G. I. D. of the B. of L. E., held this time at Memphis, Tennessee. We arrived there on the morning of the eighth between ten and eleven o'clock, and very hungry, I remember. So the first thing in order was something to eat, after which we made our way to the Gayoso Hotel to give the hand of welcome to our friends, and to see what was on the bulletin. The usual opening exercises were held the next day at two P.M., there being some sweet singing by engineers' children, and a double female quartette led by Mrs. Cassell, which called for hearty applause and several encores. Memphis then claimed a population of 183,000 and had much to interest our large delegation, especially those from the north and west. The parks are numerous and have many entertaining features. One day we were all given complimentary tickets to East End, where we witnessed quite a wonderful contrivance. This side attraction was called Hale's Car. We presented our tickets at an ordinary looking railway coach, and entered. The seats were arranged in the usual order, and we sat down to await developments. The time passed and I began to think it a was a hoax. But pretty soon the car was filled with passengers and we began our ride on a railway train. The whistle sounded, the bell rang, and we were off swaying from side to side, with cool breezes coming in, and everything true to life! The sights on our journey were seen ahead of us. We rushed by trees and houses, saw people getting out of the way of the train, and on a trip to Ceylon, could see odd little depots on the way, and natives jumping into the water. I thought it the most entertaining show I had ever seen.

While in Memphis, I also rode on one of the small park trains for the first time, and learned that the engineer used just one bucket of water and one of coal for a round trip. Some of my spare time was most pleasantly spent at the home of one of Selma's old citizens and an ex-engineer, jovial Tom Gatchell, who a short while ago went his way to "That undiscovered country, from whose bourne no traveller returns."

I could usually be counted on for church services at the conventions, but never having been a Sunday-school attendant, didn't lean that way. Frances was very anxious for me to go to the Methodist School with her, which was presided over by Mr. J. R. Pepper. She argued that I was sure to be interested as he was said to be the finest superintendent in the South, but I hadn't forgotten my boyhood's experience, so she set out alone. After attending, she was enthusiastic in her praises of that school, and I think went every Sunday while we remained there.

Our first outing was a boat ride on the Mississippi to the Mound City, ten miles away, when our B. of L. E. poet and fun maker, Shandy Maguire, highly entertained the party by various manoeuvres. One of his "capers" was getting on a wagon to which a mule was harnessed with ropes, and having his picture taken in company with several ladies. One night we were delightfully entertained by the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen at Jackson Mound. The place is right on a high bluff overlooking the Mississippi River, of which it commands a very fine view.

We were given only one excursion at a distance at this convention, namely, to Hot Springs, Arkansas. The crowd was divided, some going over the Rock Island Railroad and the others by the Iron Mountain Route. We were on the latter train, leaving Memphis, Saturday morning, and arriving at our destination near sunset, thus having some time to look around before night. Hot Springs is charmingly situated in a valley between two mountains, and abundantly supplied with springs and wells. One of the springs contains water so hot that we had to wrap a handkerchief around the cup in order to hold it. Our party thoroughly sampled the water, and several got sick from drinking so much, not being accustomed to it. We spent the night there, starting back early the next morning, well satisfied with our outing, and ready for renewed work.

A few days later the Convention closed, and we journeyed homeward.

The next spring I decided to take Frances with me on "grievance business," as she had only spent a day or so at a time in Washington, while passing through. Some of the other committee men were going to be accompanied by their wives, and I knew she would have company while I was occupied. Washington was an "old story" to me, but I enjoyed showing her the sights of the city, especially the Congressional Library, of whose beauties one never tires, and we took besides some pleasant out-of-town trips.

One was to Cabin John Bridge, seven miles out on the "Conduit Road." The structure was built by the United States Government to convey the water supply of the city of Washington across a deep ravine. Coming from Great Falls ten miles beyond, the nine-foot stream flows into the receiving reservoir with an eighty-pound pressure to the square inch.

Previous to the construction of the conduit the city depended only upon wells and cisterns. At the time of its construction the aqueduct was the largest single arch span of masonry in the world, and a wonder to engineers. The bridge is 450 feet in length, and 105 feet above Cabin John Creek, while the length of the span is 57.26 feet and its width 20.4 feet. On the east abutment is this tablet:

"UNION ARCH
CHIEF ENGINEER CAPT. MONTGOMERY MEIGS
U. S. CORPS OF ENGINEERS
Esto Perpetua."

The bridge is so called from the creek it spans. By its side formerly dwelt a hermit, who came from no one knew where, and after living many years in an old hut, disappeared leaving no trace. He was known as "John of the Cabin," hence the name of the creek. Work was begun on the bridge in 1857 under the direction of the War Department, and together with others the name of Jefferson Davis was carved on the side of the stone work, he being Secretary of War at that time.

After the interruption of the Civil War the Interior Department was given charge of the work which was finally completed in 1867, at a cost of $254,000. One day Caleb Smith and a party went to view the new bridge, and some of them being incensed to see the name of Jeff Davis on the main tablet, the Secretary ordered the contractor Robert McIntyre to cut it out, which was done. Last year it was restored by order of a special act of Congress.

Another trip was to Mount Vernon. We went down the Potomac, and after a pleasant hour's ride landed on soil sacred as having been the home of Washington. A hundred yards' walk brought us to the tomb, where rests all that was mortal of America's greatest son and his wife. As we paused beside the plain vault with its simple inscription, "George Washington," one thought was uppermost in my mind, that, though throughout the entire range of modern history, only two other names have been placed upon the height he attained in generalship—Napoleon and Frederick the Great—still more than for his greatness, we revere the memory of his goodness. A wonderful combination! Passing into the mansion, across the lengthy, old-fashioned gallery, we entered the reception room, in which only a few of the original furnishings are to be seen; among them the mantel ornaments, Washington's chair, and a mirror which undeniably shows its age. Many old deeds and wills were there on exhibition, bearing the signatures of the Washingtons. In the hall-way hung the keys of the Bastile, presented by La Fayette to his friend, and to the right of the entrance is the room occupied by him during his visits there. Upstairs we saw the room in which the ex-president died. The old-fashioned bedstead with its high posts, the little wooden trunk used in so many campaigns, and the old boot beside it seemed to bring back in some degree the presence of the beloved dead. In the corridor adjoining stood a case containing various pieces of wearing apparel worn by General Washington, his sword, etc., and a couple of fire buckets that were in use in his time.

The room formerly occupied by Nellie Custis (the adopted daughter and niece) was very quaint and tiny, and we saw her harpsichord and guitar, also a flute that her uncle used to play while she accompanied him.

Mounting the steps to the third story, we visited the room in which Mrs. Washington died. It had heavy draperies, small windows and a low roof, but, nevertheless, wore a pleasant aspect. It is said that she always used this room after her husband's death, as from it could be obtained the best view of his grave in the old family burying ground. Upon descending we went through the flower gardens laid off in odd-shaped beds, after the plan used over a century ago, and stood under the magnolia tree said to have been planted by Washington just before his death. The entire trunk had to be encased in wire netting to protect it from relic hunters.

We returned to the city by an electric car, Frances saying that she had never enjoyed seeing anything more than Mount Vernon.

One afternoon we went around to the Richmond and Danville depot to see the place where President Garfield was shot by Guiteau. The spot in the wall where the bullet entered is shown, and a star on the floor marks the place where the President's head rested when he fell backward after the fatal shot.

Upon her visit to the Treasury building, Frances was much impressed by the fact that the vaults contained forty-five hundred tons of gold and silver, as much as nine of our largest engines can pull. She said the knowledge gave her additional confidence in "Uncle Sam."

Columbus, Ohio, had been selected as the next place to hold our convention, so on May 11, 1908, we again set out, going by way of Chattanooga and Cincinnati. We greeted many friends on the way and still more at Headquarters, the Southern Hotel. The convention was held in Memorial Hall, and we located quite near with a Mrs. Yoder, a German lady. The usual entertainments were given the B. of L. E., balls, theatres, and so on. We never attended the two mentioned, as Frances does not approve of such things, but there were many things left to enjoy without them.

We began our sightseeing in Columbus with the State Penitentiary, which at that time contained one thousand six hundred and thirty-seven inmates. The buildings cover twenty acres of ground, and are surrounded by a wall twenty-five feet high. We were taken by the cells, shown the chair in which electrocutions take place, then through the various work shops where we saw numerous articles made by the prisoners out of beef bones. These were for sale, and a great number were purchased by the members of our party as souvenirs.

The first Sunday our entire delegation (with our wives, I am sure the number did not fall far short of a thousand) started at ten o'clock to walk to the Christian Church where we had been invited to service. The distance was twenty-one blocks, but I walked until I got tired, then several of us boarded a car and rode the rest of the way. We heard a good sermon. In the afternoon, I attended a Y. M. C. A. service in Memorial Hall. It is customary to hold these Sundays services at these conventions, when our Grand Officers are invited to participate and occupy seats of honor on the rostrum.

About this time, one of the ladies, a member of the Grand International Auxiliary to the B. of L. E., was starting to the hall one morning, when her foot slipped on an uneven place in the pavement where it was damp from a light rain, and she fell, hurting one of her wrists. The doctor pronounced it a silver fork sliver. She was kindly cared for by sympathetic friends, but went home in a day or two. The name of this unfortunate lady was Mrs. C. E. Perkins, of Atlanta. She died shortly after reaching home, the sad news being received with deep regret by all the convention people, among whom she was a general favorite.

After arriving at Columbus, we heard a great deal about a man named Hartman who originated the so-called medicine "Peruna," and were shown the immense white marble building where it was manufactured. I often saw the huge wagon loads of bottles passing along the streets, and decided that I would like to go out to the Hartman farm. Taking a High Street car, we rode some distance to the German village, and from there we boarded another car going four and a half miles farther. We found it very interesting at the farm, seeing hogs, cows, and horses in great numbers, and the very finest specimen of the latter that I have ever seen. He was a very large, glossy, black animal, weighing 2280 pounds. The hogs were of every variety possible, some black, brown, brown and white, and spotted. Some wore straight bristles and others curly, while some had considerably turned up noses. We very much desired to see the poultry, but learning that it was four miles farther, omitted the inspection of the feathered portion of this extensive farm. That night I witnessed a fine display of the Westinghouse Air-Brake Company, stereopticon views being used to illustrate the work.

One day, while I was at leisure, we went out to visit the State University. There are many fine buildings, quite a distance apart, four hundred acres being comprised in the property. I was overjoyed to find a spring of water on the grounds, and drank several times, as the water in Columbus is not good unless filtered. The gymnasium strongly resembles an ancient castle, and is admirably fitted up. In fact, it seemed that in all departments of the institution everything possible was provided for the comfort and happiness of the pupils.

We were given a trip to Cleveland, and it having been announced that we would start at an early hour, there was a good deal of "skirmishing around" for such a large number of people to get something to eat at such an unseasonable time. At length, I succeeded in procuring a light lunch, enough to stave off hunger, and we went on to the station. We failed to start as early as expected, it being six-thirty when the trains pulled out. Four hours later we arrived in Cleveland and proceeded at once to a large hall where we had the regulation speeches, then all scattered to find dinner. At one-thirty we again gathered at the hall, and went in a body to take the train to a park where we were present at the ceremony of unveiling a monument erected to the memory of Senator Mark Hanna. Later we accepted a most cordial invitation to go through the various rooms of the Grand Office, and were well pleased to note the order everywhere displayed, and the exquisite precision that enabled all concerned to carry on the vast amount of work that is done there. Each visitor was asked to register and in return received a card from the office written in handsome lettering. We had time to get a comprehensive idea of the city of Cleveland and reached Columbus shortly after midnight.

At this convention we enjoyed music to a greater extent than at any other, as this was the home of the "Convention Song Bird," Mrs. Cassell and her Euterpean Chorus of young ladies. They assisted in most of the entertainments, and their sweet voices were often heard in the evening at the Southern. There was also one peculiarity of this convention that is worth mentioning, viz.: That in the election of Grand Officers, all of the old officers without exception were re-elected by acclamation.


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