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CHAPTER XVIII—DETROIT 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 Library.

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 well patronized.

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 Texas conference.

    1860 TO 1910

    MR. AND MRS. JOHN J. THOMAS
    Selma, Alabama

    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,
    Good engineers,
    For this our princely brother;
    Runs fifty years
    And then appears
    The second to none other.

    As on he flies,
    Danger defies,
    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.

                JOHN E. GREEN.

                 

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.


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