CHAPTER XVIIIDETROIT AND NIAGARA. THE GOLDEN WEDDING
THE next May (1910) we again set out for the B. of L. E. Convention,
held this time in Detroit, Michigan. We made a quick trip, our
longest stop being thirty minutes in Cincinnati and soon after
arriving, we made our way to Hotel Wayne where we greeted our
friends. Detroit, first called Fort Pontchartrain, was founded
July 24, 1701, under the patronage of Louis XIV, and protected
by the flag of France. It is now a city of four hundred and fifty
thousand inhabitants, so not much time was consumed in securing
a comfortable location, and we were soon at liberty to look around
and get our bearings before business started up.
There are plenty of places where one may go for pleasure and
recreation. The parks are numerous and attractive as in all large
cities, and one day we came upon a small one near the City Hall,
where stands a brown stone chair locating the site of the original
building, constructed in 1835 and occupied until 1871. We greatly
enjoyed Palmer Park with its white peacocks, log cabin, California
tree-trunk with windows and doors cut in it in imitation of a
house, and various other curiosities. Belle Isle can be reached
by boat or street cars. The aquarium was well stocked with different
varieties of fish, and the conservatory presented a lovely appearance
when we were there. The Water-works Park came in for its share
of popularity, with its tower, landscape gardening, and Circulating
One favorite trip of the ladies of the party, was the boat
ride over the river to Windsor, Canada. Many souvenirs were brought
over by them, and sometimes the people would go beyond the duty
limit and get into trouble, thus bringing about little incidents
that were quite laughable. A never-failing source of interest
was the continual passing of vessels of all kinds, which could
be seen every five minutes during the day. A tunnel was being
cut under the river for a railroad, and it commenced nearly two
miles away. It was nearing completion when we left there.
Speaking of the Detroit River, brings to mind a most delightful
excursion given us on its waters. We went in a large boat to a
place, the name of which I cannot now recall, but the country
through which we passed was indeed lovely. The Government had
constructed canals in great numbers, and little toy-like houses
were perched on the bank's shore, some being connected by bridges,
while others had to be reached by boat. Upon landing, we found
a pavilion for dancing, a place for eating, and so forth, and
at a little distance were Indians of different ages selling articles
of their own manufacture. It is needless to say that they were
There is an extensive art gallery in the city where we often
went to pass an hour or two. One picture that I found especially
attractive was entitled, The Last Hours o f Mozart. It
represents a man playing the piano, one singing, and friends standing
by the chair in which Mozart reclines. He is very pale and is
holding out one hand.
Our delegation took two days off and went over to Cleveland
for the purpose of dedicating the B. of L. E. Home for Disabled
Engineers. As I was not feeling well, we remained behind and took
dinner with friends the day the crowd left.
The excursion of this convention was the one given to that
great wonder of our country, Niagara Falls. On May 21st, we started
at six o'clock. Our train was in three sections, and we made the
record run of 229½ miles in 224 minutes. We viewed the
Falls from several points, and though we had seen it all before,
none the less were we overwhelmed with feelings of awe and wonder
at beholding this masterpiece of Nature's production under the
sway of Neptune's trident. Frances is musical, and while close
to the American Fall, said she could hear rhythmical notes in
the mighty rush of waters, with an accompaniment of deep organ-like
notes, and that the little Bridal Veil gave echo an octave higher.
Be that as it may, it made enough noise to sound like a terrific
storm to me.
The inhabitants of Niagara will tell you there is no change
in the volume of water, that it is like it was ages ago, but I
could see that the water had worn a wider space at the Horseshoe
Fall that when I had seen it fourteen years before. The total
energy of the Falls is calculated at 16,000,000 horse power, and
the work of utilizing this power has been a most stupendous feat
of engineering. In 1895 the first dynamo was run at full speed,
two hundred and fifty revolutions per minute, and ten weeks later
the first electrical power was sent to an aluminum factory a mile
distant. Other developments followed and in less than a year the
Niagara Falls Power Company was lighting the city of Buffalo,
and at the present time great transmission lines carry power to
various cities of New York and Canada for the operation of street
railways, factories, and street lighting. There is now an electric
line around the Falls, so that one need not miss an iota of that
marvelous scenic picture. I was struck with the fact that though
we have the grandest Falls, Canada has the view in all its magnificence!
We were shown the "parting of the waters," where the
river flows one way to the American, and the other to the Canadian,
or Horseshoe Falls.
Niagara River connects the two lakes, and is thirty-six miles
in length, Niagara being situated fourteen miles from Lake Ontario
and twenty miles from Lake Erie. The town claims a population
of thirty-five thousand, while three hundred thousand tourists
are said to visit there annually.
After many pleasant days spent in Detroit and vicinity, the
convention came to an end, adjourning June 4th, and we started
for the "Sunny South." The weather had been uncomfortably
cool all during our stay, and we left in the rain. Stopping over
in Cincinnati, we took in the sights of the Zoo, together with
our friends, Mr. and Mrs. Glenn, from whom we parted with much
regret upon continuing our journey into Dixie.
About two months after our return home began the stir and bustle
of preparations for the celebration of our fiftieth marriage anniversary.
For some time the members of my family and intimate friends had
urged the reprehensibleness of taking no notice of such an occasion,
so I decided to have a "blow out." Then commenced a
busy time. Invitations were sent to three hundred friends and
acquaintances; the house had to have a little furbishing up, and
some additional furnishings to play its part in the coming festivities;
and no end of committees had to be arranged so that things would
"go off well," as my daughters said. Then as the day
approached, materials and flowers for decoration were ordered,
and put in place. We were really due to celebrate on October 16th,
but as it fell on Sunday, we issued invitations for the 17th.
At length the evening arrived, as balmy as our Southern climate
usually gives us in autumn, and beautified by perfect moonlight.
The house gleamed in gold and white, and gold and white refreshments
were served. One of my best railroad friends had requested me
to wear a dress coat. I did so, but can't say I felt at ease in
it. It gave us great pleasure to gather our friends around us,
and we would have extended the list of invitations had the capacity
of our house been greater. I had lately bought a larger house
down town, but when it came to the point, could not make up my
mind to leave the neighborhood of the railroads and this little
home where we have lived almost two-score years. We thought it
best to invite people near our own age, with the exception of
engineers and conductors and their wives. I made the list of engineers
as long as possible, and tried to take in all of them. Of course,
as on all such occasions, some names will be overlooked, but it
was unintentional to slight any of "the boys." Invitations
were also sent to the president of the Southern Railway, and the
members of the Grand Office at Cleveland, Ohio.
Several days before the golden wedding beautiful gifts began
to come in, making us feel as if we were getting married again,
in reality. The first present to arrive was a lovely gold bonbon
dish and spoon sent by Mr. Finley. It was greatly admired by all,
and our hearts were warmed by our President's kind thoughts for
us. From Division No. 223 of the B. of L. E. came an exquisite
full set of white and gold Haviland china, containing 119 pieces,
while members of the local Order of Railway Conductors gave us
a handsome china cabinet. I cannot enumerate our many lovely gifts,
all of which we prize highly, not so much on account of their
worth, but because they represent to us valued friendship and
good will. There was one small clock sent by an engineer's wife
from a distance that gives my wife a great deal of pleasure. She
has named it "Corinne" in memory of the giver. Another
gift with which she was delighted, and which frequently adorns
our table upon special occasions, was sent by our worthy Master
Mechanic. It is a set of gold-lined salt cellars and spoons. Frances
says he seemed to know her partiality for little things.
By no means, the least enjoyed offering were the following
stanzas written by a lifelong friend who was formerly a Brother
Engineer, but who has been for years a prominent minister in the
1860 TO 1910
MR. AND MRS. JOHN J. THOMAS
A lucky day
For good John J.
On which he won "My Frances,"
For on life's way,
I dare to say
Her value still advances.
And none the less,
Should she now bless
The time when he came wooing
That she said, "yes,"
To his address,
She 's found no cause for ruing.
For this good pair
Of mortals rare
The nuptials board be spreading;
Friends here and there
Now make the prayer
"God bless this golden wedding."
Let friend and guest
Do their full best
To brighten this occasion;
One from the west,
With highest zest,
Would join a loud ovation.
Then give three cheers,
For this our princely brother;
Runs fifty years
And then appears
The second to none other.
As on he flies,
All orders well obeying,
His good wife's eyes
Look to the skies,
For him she 's ever praying.
By constant care
And earnest prayer,
He 's long been safely running;
And to be fair,
No pains she'd spare,
No Christian duty shunning.
On all their days,
May Heaven's rays
A constant light be shedding;
Where we may raise
God's lasting praise,
Be the next Golden Wedding.
The applause was most hearty when these stanzas were read that
evening, and we only lacked having the writer with us in person.
Our friends at the time, and since, have expressed their enjoyment
of the event, and as for us, it will always be remembered as one
of our most gracious milestones along Life's Way.
Table of Contents
| Next Chapter | Contents