The First Forty Years
1902 - 1942
as remembered by
"Two rooms are all we need," said Julie firmly. "And why should we have a kitchen when we can get such good meals at the Aldine, only two blocks away?" "Every piece of our furniture is in, and it doesn't look crowded here. If I only had those rods for the closet ... ."
"I'm sorry I haven't any tools," said Charlie, "and I must hurry back to the office now. You call Harry Bates; he's a good carpenter. Tell him to come this afternoon."
Mr. and Mrs. Charles White, only recently married, were starting their first home, a second floor apartment in the old remodeled house at 232 N. Monroe Street. Julie had always been used to closets big enough to walk into; 232 had a brick outer wall, so thick a closet six inches deep had been cut into it in each room - one could look in when the closet door was open, if the clothes didn't fall out first.
Harry Bates responded to Julie's emergency call and one rod was very quickly put up in her closet. However, Mr. Bates disagreed as to the height of the rod in the other closet. Julie explained again very carefully, adding "You see the rod must be high enough so Mr. White's trousers can hang full-length."
"Oh!" said Mr. Bates, "you mean it's for Charlie's pants." Julie, used to the impersonal workmen of New York City, was astonished at Mr. Bates's revived interest, but pleased to hear that Harry, having been on "so many bicycle runs with Charlie White," had full knowledge of the latter's legs.
The next morning Julie telephoned Thede Brothers, the movers, saying, "Everything is ready now. When will you come?"
"Well," reflected Mr. Thede, "maybe we'd better send up the Head Man first and let him get the lay of the ground."
The Head Man came. He was also a Big Man, a very Big Man. The two rooms which had only seemed comfortably filled before he entered now seemed crowded to the bursting point. The Big Man, a handsome Negro, went back to the little hall, looked solemnly at the stairs, re-entered the apartment, went through his inspection a second time, then announced,
"No, Ma'am! It caint be done. Jus' caint twis' that thing 'round them stairs. If could, couldn' twis' it roun' that lil' hall; couldn't twis' it into this lil' room. No, ma'am!"
Julie was in distress. "Oh, Please!" she said, "you must find some way. It means so much to us." But the Big Man was still walking up and down, in and out, mumbling to himself, and at last he spoke up loudly, "Folks live upstairs in lil' house got no business havin' gran' piano."
"It was a wedding present," said Julie, apologetically. "Please try to get it in! Apartments are so scarce, and this was the only place that would let us have our piano. It means so much to me. - Don't you like music?"
The Big Man was looking out the window now, or at the window; he seemed to have forgotten what he came for, but suddenly he announced, "Have to bring it in the window. Be here tomorrow morning." And he went off.
Traffic on Monroe Street had to make a wide swing away from 232 Monroe Street the next morning. Carpenters joined Thede's men; many heavy boards and strange props arrived; many commands were given by the Big Man - and a scaffold was erected slanting from the second story (the window removed) clear across the sidewalk into the street. The piano, minus its legs, wrapped in thick covers and wound in heavy ropes, was pulled and pushed off Thede's truck onto the inclined platform - and from there on Julie could only guess what happened. The Big Man and several assistants were in her living room, pulling on a long rope; there was no space for her except in the bedroom, where she sat quivering.
Grunts, exclamations, scuffling noises, mysterious orders issued in the firm quiet voice of the Big Man - then much quick talking and commotion. "Easy now!" said the Big Man, and the piano was in! "Jus' a half inch to spare," he added, properly proud of his ability to foresee the relation of piano and window to each other. Congratulations to all who assisted, overwhelmingly bestowed by Julie; the piano, complete with legs, rested comfortably in the alcove reserved for it.
So in the early spring of 1901 Charlie and Julie White were well-housed, well-fed and set to the accompaniment of music. Julie practiced industriously during the hours Charlie was at work, and often played for him in the evening. So discreetly did she conduct herself that none of her fellow tenants objected to her music, at least offered no public complaints.
Life progressed happily for the White family (can two be called a family?). The months slipped from spring to summer, on through the lovely autumn days; Christmas came, the first Christmas together for Mr. And Mrs. White. Then 1902 arrived and with it winter settled down to business; colder and colder it grew, the whole world shivered and shook, even the mercury gathered itself together in the bottom of the thermometer as if trying to find a refuge for itself. In the middle of a way-below zero night Charlie and Julie slept deep beneath their feather comforters - suddenly a fearful noise like the crack of a pistol shot! Charlie leaped from his bed, switched on the light, then flung open the door to the living room, expecting everything - burglars, murderers - "What is it?" cried Julie, only half awake. "Nothing to see," he answered. I guess it was just due to the awful cold weather - the wood shrinking in the walls somewhere." "Oh, I'm afraid I know what it was!" mourned Julie. "A piano string broke. But it's too cold to find out now," she added. "We'll have to wait till morning."
With daylight came the piano tuner, hurriedly summoned for consultation. "No string broken," he announced, "but something more serious - a crack in the sounding board."
"I thought pianos could stand cold," added Julie, distressed. "They can, a great deal of cold, and they can stand extreme heat, but they cannot stand quick changes from one extreme to the other. Your rooms are steam heated in the daytime, then in the evening heat is suddenly lowered for the night. Too much for any piano."
Now it was quite clear. The house that Charlie and Julie were considering building must seriously be thought about, and they must be in it before another winter. The first step, to draw some plans: the first room to be considered, the one which would hold the piano, away from radiators and fireplace. Every evening, armed with paper, pencils and yardstick, they measured and recorded their thoughts and conclusions: the piano room complete, the added, "to make a compact house with no unnecessary embellishments," a dining room, kitchen and hall, with three bedrooms and a small sitting room upstairs. "What?" said their friends, "you are drawing plans without knowing where your lot will be?" "Why not!" they answered. "We know we can't have a big lot which we would like, and we have to be hear a streetcar line because we can't have a horse and buggy. We must buy a lot fifty, or not more than sixty, feet wide; our planned house will fit anywhere."
The plan was taken to Herbert Hewitt, the architect, with the request that he provide an outside for a house already so carefully designed inside. Mr. Hewitt was somewhat rebellious at first; it seemed architects enjoyed the fun of planning insides too; but he did not stand upon his rights, graciously consenting to cooperate wherever possible with his clients' suggestions.
Now spring had arrived and Charlie and Julie could hire a horse and buggy many an evening and Sundays, and drive about town looking for a place to set the house. When the price was right the location was not right; and always on either side of a suitable lot stood neighbors' houses - so near Charlie and Julie glanced at one another and went away as quickly as possible.
The weeks went by; Mr. Hewitt had the plans completed; Mr. Abbey, the contractor, gave his written word the house would built in three months from the time he started - and still no lot! Julie had agreed to visit her mother in the East in July. Mother wrote, "What is the trouble; aren't you well?" The situation was desperate. "It means," said Charlie, "if we don't settle the matter soon it will be too late to build this season." "It means," said Julie, "we'll just have to take that lot in the 300 block Moss Avenue. At least we can look across onto those big grounds on the river side of the street." Silence on the part of both; neither felt any joy in the building project.
Said Charlie, finally, "Well, let's go for a drive anyway. "It's moonlight and we can take one more look around."
"Yes," answered Julie, "that is a good idea. And let's go up Glen Oak Avenue; I haven't been there since it was Bluff Street and I was a child."
In response to a telephone call a horse and buggy were quickly at the door, and the party set off up Fayette Street. The horse's trot dwindled to a slow walk as he turned onto Glen Oak Avenue and then dug his hoofs firmly into the road for the long climb up the steep hill. He seemed pleased, too, that his passengers were so interested in sightseeing that they made no effort to hurry his pace even when level ground was reached.
The old settlers had early seen the advantages of Bluff Street, building substantial houses with large grounds; but as High Street and Moss Avenue developed the old Bluff Street passed out of attention. "There is a fine house," said Julie, "with lovely, flowery ironwork on the porch, just like my grandfather's in Brooklyn, and it has lots of ground. Maybe the owner would sell us some."
Charlie went to the door of the lighted house, and the owner herself opened it; she responded to his inquiry in kindly fashion, but preferred however to keep her place for herself; this house, she said, had been build by Mr. John Flanagan way back in 1847. She was Mrs. Williamson, his niece.
Glen Oak Avenue was level only as far as Wisconsin, but "Look!" exclaimed Julie again. (Charlie's attention was on guiding the horse over the increasingly rough street.) "That great big piece of ground with nothing on it! I wish we knew who owned that. Maybe you can find out tomorrow." Still talking, they came to a spot halfway down the hill, where a road on the right side went up toward two houses on the edge of the bluff. "We'll go up here and see how things look," said Charlie. "Oh, you can't do that!" exclaimed Julie. "There's no light in either house! Maybe the people are all in bed, or away, or-"
But Charlie, with the daring of a pioneer, was already encouraging the horse over boulders and ruts and loose stones, onto the drive and up the steep hill. As they came to a sudden stop at the crest Julie involuntarily cried, "Oh!" - so loudly, a man and woman came from the porch of the house on the right to see who was intruding. These agreeable middle-aged people introduced themselves as Mr. and Mrs. Coulson, and at once insisted Mr. and Mrs. White should come up on their porch and look in comfort at what had caused Julie's "Oh." There lay a fairyland in the moonlight; a great forest of treetops in the long valley, a wide stretch of shimmering water as beautiful as a mountain lake, and way off to the right the light like a star on the top of the courthouse dome - the only reminder that a city was near. Instead of wide and deep lawns which were on the valley side of Moss Avenue houses, here there was only a few feet of level ground, the hill descending so abruptly it shook an "Oh!" out of everyone who came upon it for the first time.
Mr. Coulson explained about the big vacant ground to the south; it seemed Wisconsin Street has long ago planned to cross this plot diagonally and lead downward like Wayne Street to the town. Many years had passed and Wisconsin still hesitated to take the steep plunge into an expensive situation. Many persons had looked longingly at the plot, but each prospective buyer saw in Wisconsin Street a possible future adversary.
"Why don't you buy some land here to the north of us?" said Mr. Coulson. "We own enough to sell you all you need. That house beyond? It's much neglected and it ought to be torn down. It has been rented for almost nothing to keep tramps from abusing empty property."
The front of this long low house was almost on a line with the rear of the Coulson house. "We wouldn't like to build so far back," said Charlie, "and it looks to me as though there weren't enough level ground to build here next to you. And the bluff continues to grow lower all the way to Spring Street."
"Fill in the front of the bluff with the dirt dug out where you make the basement of your house," encouraged Mr. Coulson. "We've filled in ten or twelve feet in front of us, and we continue to build the ground out: you can build up as high as you like on the north side."
Mrs. Coulson joined in: "Why, when we came here there was a deep gully between our property and the street. There was a bridge we had to drive over; all that ground down there we made."
"You can have thirty-five feet on the street line," said Mr. Coulson, "and that will make our present drive start on your property; no need to have two drives - and we and you can turn around here at the crest of our property. Then we could sell you sixty-five at the crest and eighty-five on the line below the crest. After all we're not so far out, only two blocks from the car line."
So much talk, so many questions, all lit by the full moon: decisions should not be made hastily, under such glamorous light! "Come back tomorrow," said the Coulsons heartily, "and see for yourselves why we enjoy our place so much. You can have the home you want, at a big bargain."
As Charlie turned the horse from the driveway back up on Glen Oak Avenue there was silence in the buggy, but only until Wisconsin Street was reached. "It would cost only a fourth as much as that lot on Moss Avenue!" said Julie, as if still in a trance. "I didn't know there was such a place in Peoria. Even the big houses on Moss Avenue only look down on the valley and other houses - no river like this!"
Charlie always maintained Julie made him promise to get up early enough the next morning so that he could buy the ground from the Coulsons before he went to work - and this is probably a true statement. The deal was put through to the satisfaction of everybody - except Mr. Hewitt, the architect. The White house dimensions and plan in general could be fitted onto the lot, but the front door would unavoidably be in the back and the back door in the front: too expensive, too late to make a new plan, the piano must have a home before winter. So Mr. Hewitt turned the back-door steps sidewise, eliminated the old-fashioned trap-door effect leading to the cellar by putting an entrance under the porch - and provided a fancy enough roof to the whole affair so that every caller in the future surely thought this was the front door. Mr. Abbey, the contractor, was ordered full-speed ahead; and not long after Julie departed happily for her Eastern visit, work on the new home was started: Mr. Abbey's papers read "August 16th," house to be finished three months from that date or a growing fine to be paid by him.
Julie would have liked to be right on the ground to watch the whole of the house-building process; but communication by letter was still possible and the U.S. Government had a substantial increase in sale of stamps. Within a week of her arrival in New York she wrote to Charlie, "Since we will now have such a wonderful outlook from all our windows, instead of just looking at other city houses, and the street, don't you think we would better use the first-grade plate glass, not the kind we chose which might make the world look a little wavy?" Charlie approved the change; but it was reported Mr. Hewitt, the architect, received the idea in grim silence. Eventually with Mr. Abbey's help a way was contrived to balance the added weight of the heavier glass with lead instead of iron, and no change of window frame was required.
A few weeks later Julie wrote, "I have spent Uncle John's wedding present for a lovely dining room set of furniture. I know you will like it. The sideboard is especially fine in design. I measured it and I know in width it will fit in the alcove; it is six feet two inches high. Please measure the height of the alcove window from the floor and if it isn't high enough, have them set it up higher so that the sideboard won't stick up in front of it." Charlie wrote back that fortunately all was well, but that the building had already progressed so far no further changes could be made - "and please do not even suggest any, for Mr. Hewitt I fear is becoming discouraged with us."
Julie returned to Peoria in September and was amazed to see how much house was already there. She loved to climb around on the roughly finished portions inside, to imagine how the rooms would look at last, to smell the fragrant odor of new wood and to watch the agile workmen. The old house to the north had disappeared, the kitchen corner of the new house overlapping what had been the front corner of the old. Mr. Coulson told her about the Garrett family, which had built the old house in 1847, the same year the Flanagan house was built.
"Do you remember," he said, "the Andrews Opera Company, which performed in Sylvan Park, right across Spring Street, in 1890? Well, several of the chief singers boarded right here in the Garrett house and they loved this view. The Garrett family had moved away in 1885." This was interesting, of course, but a house existing only in the past could not compete with a house thrusting into the future. Mr. And Mrs. Coulson were greatly interested in and approved of the new house, but they did wish the Whites would enlarge the doorway between the living and dining rooms. "There is still time and you will surely regret it if you don't," they said. "Make the opening six feet wider; then when you want to have company you can set a table the length of the two rooms - seat forty people that way. We do in our home; and we're so glad when we remodeled our house we didn't even have doors between the rooms."
Julie pleaded the need of a wall for the protection of the piano in its corner; and besides Mr. Hewitt, the architect, had frowned upon any further changes. She and Charlie preferred doors, anyway, but this she was polite enough not to say.
Many persons said to Charlie and Julie, "Why did you ever choose such an out-of-the-way place? Why do you want to be hermits? Why didn't you come over here to the West Bluff, to this growing community? Just wait till winter catches you out there!" But, Julie said, "Just you wait till we have the house completed; then you come up and see why we want to be on Glen Oak Avenue." And when his friends asked Charlie how much frontage on Glen Oak Avenue was theirs, he loved to confound them by replying, "Thirty-five feet; but our lot is so long you can stand on one end of it and not see the other."
Julie's seven-year-old nephew, Oscar, came with his parents to see the new situation; and before his parents could even say "Oh," Oscar exclaimed, "Gee! What a place to watch fires! I do hope Tante Julie lets me know when there's a fire!" Mrs. Coulson laughed when this remark was repeated later to her and said, "My grandniece wheeled her two-year-old brother up here in his baby buggy, and when she suddenly stopped - that was before we'd even filled out the level spot on top very much - Chester said, in his slow way, "Sister, don' fall in de ribber."
When Julie could walk upstairs in the new house, and for the first time looked from a higher viewpoint up Glen Oak Avenue, she realized there was not a single house on this side of the street between hers and the far-off top of the next hill, way over beyond Spring Street - just a real forest view of beautiful old trees, a view she liked quite as much as the river view. And the other side of the street had only one or two small inconspicuous houses; country life would indeed be hers and Charlie's.
The house was finished on time, and Mr. Abbey triumphantly turned it over to the White family the middle of November. The painters and paperhangers moved in - and moved out, a week before Christmas. The piano moved in, and looked so wonderfully at peace in its own corner it really didn't matter if other things were not in place. But in a few days, living rooms, bedrooms, and kitchen at least had their respective furnishings in them if not in order; and just a few days before Christmas Uncle John's gift of dining room furniture arrived. The gift, all crated as it had been for shipment from New York, appeared at dusk at the foot of the driveway. All efforts of the horses to get the heavy load more than halfway up the hill were futile; snow had begun to fall. Julie, at the dining room window, could only see the precious articles were being unloaded and left by the roadside, while horses and wagon vanished in the darkness. Mr. and Mrs. Coulson were away; their house was dark. But the Presiding Angel of Glen Oak Avenue was watching over the proceedings; for Charlie, who had exhorted the moving men to no avail and who was becoming desperate, suddenly saw a belated traveler scurrying down the street, pounced upon him and so enlisted his sympathies, he was lending two hands before he knew what had happened to him. The furniture was uncrated and all of it, even the heavy sideboard, was put in place within an hour, undamaged by snow or inexpert handling. This helpful passerby became so involved in the White family's affairs he even said he would send Mrs. Morandy, his mother, to help Mrs. White the next morning. Charlie and Julie gave never a thought to this being the first night in their new home, but fell into their familiar beds and into unconsciousness at the same moment.
Mrs. Morandy appeared as promised the next morning. Soon after her came a pleasant young man, Mr. Gebauer, who said he wished to sell milk to the White family; this he did every day thereafter for forty years, with never so much as a spoiled pint in all that time; a perfect record.
Mr. Coulson's house was numbered 1010 Glen Oak Avenue, so Charlie chose 1012 for his house; but the number, except to the mailman, meant little - could not be seen if on the house, could not be found if put on a tree by the street. Every new inquirer was told, "the second house beyond Wisconsin, the second driveway just beyond the house, a brown house right next to the white one. You have to go to the back of the house for the front door." The inquirer, in the end, might be searching for the Browns who lived in a white house, second to who-knows-what, and in complete confusion as to doors.
Except for a few relatives the Whites were left alone; visitors absenting themselves perhaps not only out of consideration for the new householders, but because "it will be better to wait till the snow is gone before we go way out there." But Mr. Blossom plowed through the snowdrifts one Sunday afternoon to give Charlie and his wife a cordial welcome to his neighborhood, for "I am your next-door neighbor on this side of the street, you know," said he. And this was true; he lived only down one hill and up another, half a mile to the north at the very end of Glen Oak Avenue! Mr. Blossom, the first formal caller at 1012, was always kept in grateful remembrance.
In Illinois one need not travel to find variety, variety comes forward on its own. Julie had been delighted afresh as the leaves disappeared from the trees and she could see the city's houses, their many golden lighted windows in the long evenings; later the snow-covered roofs or the ice-bound world after a sleet storm made new pictures. But when spring came up from the South! A faint shimmer of green hung over the valley; then followed such an uprising, a down-falling, an out-reaching of beauty it could not all be understood-the meadowlarks called in celestial tones, the cardinals exhorted with the force of Gabriel's trumpet, the rose-breasted grosbeaks spoke pure joy, the bluebirds came close and whispered sweet confidences, the red, white and black woodpeckers and the great yellow-shafted flickers, the self-assured blue jays, eloquent thrushes and simple robins, flaming orioles and goldfinches made flashes of color and music everywhere. The redbud blossomed, the wild plum covered the hillside with an ethereal white foam, the wild-grape vine spread its intoxicating fragrance - as ethereal to the breath as the plum tree to sight; and red-haw trees, large and small, crowded the woods, crying "Give us space, give us space! We too shall have fruits for you later." The skies were high and delicately blue, the cloud argosies drifting over lifted thought even higher - till the heart cried, "Wait! Only wait a little. Do not change so quickly!" Yet full summer was there again, mysteriously hiding the town under its deep green cover - only the Cathedral spires and the dome of the courthouse remained of man's intention.
Could a small piece of paper registered at the courthouse give possession of all this wealth! No, never! But the White family had surely front-row seats in the balcony for the Pageant of the Seasons: the stars of half the heavens were included, the absorbing changes of the moon; thunderstorms which approached from up the river and down the river, crashing into a titanic struggle directly opposite this balcony, rainbows of peace coloring the finale of the grand performance. Charlie had grown up along the river and its bluffs, in Utica and Ottawa; to him the Pageant was a recurrence of delights - but Julie, except for a few weeks in summers, cities had claimed her; to her this experience was Initiation.
Mrs. Tyng, an old friend of Julie's mother, came to call, stood looking down from the White house porch and exclaimed, "How beautiful! What part of Averyville is this?"
"Why, Mr. Tyng," answered Julie, "you are only a mile from the courthouse; you are looking just above the ten hundred block Perry Street."
Mrs. Tyng was silent a moment, then said, "It is hard to believe. This valley had no trees in the beginning: a few people tried to plant them but the trees died; it was 'too hot, the soil not right, trees will never grow here,' they predicted. Surely what we see now is a sermon in persistence; some daring settlers would not let environment defeat them."
Julie saw birds trying to satisfy their thirst with water left by the rain in the small hollow of the cistern cover. She bought a large, shallow enamel pan and put it at the foot of one of the trees near the back porch (no - not the front porch). Julie did not know the ways of birds, she strongly disapproved of their drinking and bathing in the same container; but the birds went ahead as it pleased them. The pan was so popular somebody had continually to be cleaning and refilling it: for soon the Glen Oak Avenue squirrels discovered it and came running down the tree, to drink still clinging to the tree trunk, heads down, bushy tails up; occasional cats and frequent dogs refreshed themselves at this new convenience - and one day Julie, chancing to look out the dining room window, saw an astonishing sight, a very large Mouth which filled the whole pan, and with one gulp took up all the water! The Mouth belonged to a cow - where the cow belonged no one ever discovered, and she never came again.
Fourth of July arrived. Family and friends arrived, invited for a picnic supper with balcony seats for the evening's entertainment. As darkness came the White house provided many Roman candles and many boxes of powder which when lighted made a tremendous red glow "almost as good as a real fire" (these for Oscar); but the neighbors along the hilltop sent up quantities of rockets and it seemed every house in the valley had rockets to send toward the stars, a really extravagant and beautiful display. The big excursion boat, brilliantly lighted, passed slowly along the river; and best of all the breeze was blowing from the south so that the huge paper fire-balloons, inflated by warm air and glowing with many colors, drifted northward over the valley and remained visible a long, long time. "How wonderful it would be if one could float in the night sky with them!" said the watchers, one to another. The fireworks ended, the last balloon drifted away - the stars gave a final blessing.
What went on inside the house at 1012 Glen Oak Avenue? Important things, of course; such things as make a true home anywhere. Sometimes Charlie's relatives, sometimes Julie's were partakers in and contributors to, its happiness; and many friends, when the guest room was available, took turns in this exchange of living interests. Julie could play the piano as often and as vigorously as she wished, even in the evenings; for Charlie would sit contentedly reading as long as the noise continued - only returning from his literary journey to remember Julie's presence if the sounds ceased, and to ask, "Where are you going? I'm coming, too." The piano rewarded its owners for all their consideration by sounding its loveliest in its special living-room corner; it submitted even to Julie's efforts at composing pieces of her own, but when her brother came it really recognized a master's hands and produced fine music. The confusion about the entrance doors of the White house was permanent; but nobody was startled any more to find a hundred pound piece of ice on the front doormat, or a huge turkey deposited there by a new butcher's boy. Equally expected was the amazement on the face of the elegantly dressed caller, man or woman, who found a hospitable reception in the kitchen.
Mr. and Mrs. Cummings had bought the large lot just north of the White property at the same time Charlie and Julie bought theirs; but Mr. Cummings said they did not expect to build for a long time; and he, like his neighbors, kept his ground in an wild and natural state, only cutting down the weeds twice a season. The White family had come to regard the whole hill to the north as a permanent part of their outlook; but in 1906 the first great change came. Mr. Huxtable bought a lot beyond the Cummings' and built a large house, suitably designed for its location and with a front door in the proper place. Mr. and Mrs. Huxtable were pleasant quiet people, Charlie and Julie like them - but the pioneer is never satisfied, he wishes the world and all held to his liking. Not long after Julie was deploring this change to a young woman she had recently met and who lived just below the bluff on Madison Street. Said the friend, "Do you know we didn't like it when you built up there! We used to come to your hill for picnics, and we liked to look up to the bluff; we thought your house was too high and it spoiled our view." This was a chastening remark, and one that Julie never forgot.
There came a Big Wind in the middle of the night, such a wind as never was before or after in all the forty years. It came from directly across the river, and thrust right into the unprotected face of the brown house. The house shivered and shook and groaned; Charlie and Julie shivered and shook in their beds but did not groan; each tried to be brave for the other. Julie had never lived in a wooden house before, only one of brick or stone; she could think of nothing but the creaking and straining of the ship as she lay trembling in her bunk when she had crossed the stormy ocean. Instead of lessening the Wind increased; now even the beds were shaking - Charlie and Julie arose and clasped each other; at least if the house was going to fly away they would fly away together and not separately. But after an hour or more the Wind howled itself into the west, and with a prayer of thanksgiving Charlie and Julie crawled into their beds - "Am I glad," said he, "that we decided to have a heavy slate roof on this house!"
Sylvia had come in from Kickapoo Creek, to help with the housework at 1012 Glen Oak Avenue. Sylvia was small and very quiet, spoke softly and few words. Julie was in the kitchen with her, toward evening of a summer day. Said Sylvia, "A wolf went by the window." "A wolf! What do you mean, Sylvia? A dog?" said Julie. "No, Mrs. White, a wolf," persisted Sylvia. "I know what a wolf looks like. I've seen wolves out at the Creek." "But there couldn't be a wolf around here, right in the city!" "There was a wolf," said Sylvia. "It went past this side window, and then across the yard and across the street, over by the Coulsons' barn." "When?" asked Julie, still incredulous. "This morning," said Sylvia. "Why, I was home all morning!" exclaimed Julie. "Why didn't you call me? I would have liked so much to see it." "I didn't think it was important," said Sylvia, dismissing the subject. A wolf it was, and it was captured under a neighboring barn the next day: no wolves ever seen again from the windows of 1012 Glen Oak Avenue.
Sylvia was "going steady" with a steady young man from Kickapoo Creek and the White household was anxious, it was selfish and wished to keep Sylvia to itself. Mr. Campbell would call for Sylvia Sunday mornings and return her on Sunday evenings - a long round trip, eight miles twice in one day with a horse and buggy - but Sylvia was worth the effort. One late autumn evening the weather had turned very cold and Mr. Campbell and Sylvia came home rather early, maybe it was nine o'clock: Charlie and Julie, sitting and reading in the living room, heard them come in and thought no more about them. After eleven o'clock Julie said to Charlie, "I heard a queer sound from the kitchen (very faintly, because the doors were closed between). Did you hear Mr. Campbell go away!" "No," said Charlie, "I wasn't paying any attention." "Is it a burglar?" said Julie. Charlie rose manfully and Julie, to protect him, followed closely behind. Charlie opened the kitchen door very stealthily, all was dark and still within; reaching for the switch he turned on the overhead light suddenly - to disclose Mr. Campbell and Sylvia sitting side by side on two hard chairs, with their backs leaning against the high radiator, and sound asleep. Charlie and Julie hastily withdrew, and Mr. Campbell must soon have gathered his wits together and gone valiantly out in the cold night toward Kickapoo Creek; for there was a gentle click as Sylvia opened the door to the back stairs, and a sound outside of a horse and buggy turning around on the graveled road.
Sylvia married Mr. Campbell; but Hattie came to live with Charlie and Julie and she became a real member of the family: she stayed for more than twenty years - till she too got married; this friendship with Hattie and her husband was one that never ended.
A path went down the hill diagonally crossing the Coulsons' lot, a path which had probably had its start under the feet of the Garrett family. It was a convenient short cut to the center of town and Charlie used it every morning, Julie very often. A small arbor was built at the top of the hill, and the path was put in attractive condition; but a path that led down also led up, and the more attractions were added the more small boys from below the hill came up to enjoy them. The Coulsons were forward looking, determined to improve their surroundings; they talked seriously of excavating the hillside's gravel and thereafter building houses on Greenleaf Street below. The Whites were backward-looking people, only desirous of keeping whatever of natural beauty remained. They decided to buy the property below their lot line, and that in front of the Coulsons' house as well - clear down to what was by courtesy Greenleaf Street, in reality an unimproved grass-grown alley overhung by trees.
Secure in this new ownership, Julie walked delightedly in the wildness and tangles of growth on the hillside, discovering constantly new beauties. During school hours she was free as the birds and rabbits; but thereafter, or on holidays, a crash of breaking trees and sounds of other violence would suddenly bring her running from the house to restore order. Boys seemed more interested in cutting down trees than admiring them; but after earnest conversation one set of boys would be lured over to protective custody, only to be replaced a few weeks later by new arrivals: the houses on the streets below were mostly rented ones and the occupants were forever moving on to other quarters. One day in school hours, Julie heard the tree-breaking noises, and went so quietly down the path she startled two little boys grievously; they could neither run nor speak. They stood petrified; even though she used her gentlest tones, urged them to come to play on the hill any time they wished "but please not to destroy things. Why this little tree you broke was probably five years old, just about as old as you. Think of that! It takes so long for a tree to grow, to make a forest like this. You see these woods belong to us, and we want you to help take care of them." A faint squeak issued from the braver boy, "We thought all this belonged to the Guv'nment," said he. Julie explained the difference between Yellowstone Park and the White property, and the little boys relaxed enough to smile feebly and retire down the hill.
There was a big tangle of wild-grape vines just to the north of the front porch, on Mr. Cummings's lot; every time men came to cut the weeds Julie begged them to leave the vines and the little tree that had gotten a good start upward amongst them. Charlie said, "Let the tree grow if you like; but it's only a box elder, very soft wood, breaks easily, no good for a permanent place. But," he added, "the boys probably won't cut it down the way they did my pussy willow." Charlie had once been a boy himself, but he still felt bitterly toward these miscreants. He had planted a willow shoot just outside the windows of his basement den, watered it and protected it from the elements and the rabbits. Proudly he announced, "The first fur-covered buds have appeared!" - and the next day no trace was left. The most charitable excuse offered by Julie, "Probably the boys who took it thought it belonged to the Guv'nment."
Charlie's basement room was truly a den; in it were his business desk and papers, his books and his curios, his punching bag. No one entered this room, except by permission or for the serious process of cleaning. But he was also generous on occasion; especially was he willing to share if Julie had a theatrical look in her eye, for he was as foolish about "Plays" as she and even took part in her shows with no protest. Julie found a child-size upright piano, only three feet tall, which had been unsalable and which she persuaded the music store to rent her when needed; placed near the furnace-room door (the stage entrance), it and she provided the orchestra, and at their left the punching bag platform was the stage, its supports an excellent place from which to suspend a curtain. Guests entered from the front hall above, to be seated in properly numbered folding chairs, the latecomers having to occupy gallery seats on the stairs - house capacity, thirty persons.
On October 9, 1911, two events of importance took place, one of somewhat lesser importance than the other but both full of meaning for Julie. She was now President of the Peoria Women's Club, and this day was to be on the Club platform to conduct her first general meeting, the opening one of the season. And on this day the first airplane was to fly over Peoria: "Watch to the east about noon," said the morning papers. "Rodgers' coast-to-coast flight should bring him in at that time." Julie, ready to leave the house for an early committee meeting, stood in the front doorway while the carriage waited, the horses impatiently stamping their feet. She lingered, torn by conflicting desires, for it was nearly one o'clock. But just as she decided duty must be her first concern and stepped to the porch a strange object appeared exactly opposite, rising above the hills across the river, and coming straight toward her. "How the world can never be the same again!" said Julie to herself. "What changes will come? Who can say surely? The Age of Air Power has begun." She watched the queer air-bird till it crossed the sky. She climbed into her carriage, feeling it already an outmoded vehicle, wishing she could stay home and think of life as the future would bring it. October ninth marked her wedding anniversary; from now on it would also mark for her the wedding of Earth and Sky.
Julie struggled up through an ocean of sleep. What was it? What was wanted of her? A hand was on her shoulder; a familiar voice called her name. "Wake up," it said. "Wake up," said Charlie gently, "I don't want to frighten you but I think you should wake up. There's tremendous fire. I've been watching it quite a while and it looks now as if the whole town might go. Turn over and look." Julie turned toward the window - not to the sky and its realm, as usual, but to a queer red-orange glow on enormous swirls of smoke. The smoke swung in great spirals high in the air, yet rushed at the same time down the streets, near the river and toward the center of town; in it were carried scores of glowing balls of fire, some of which escaped the commotion and flung themselves toward the housetops. "The fire must be close to the river and not very far north," said Charlie. Anxiously he and Julie watched the fear-inspiring sight until it was plain no houses within their view were catching fire; then since they could do nothing to stop the conflagration they looked with awe and admiration at the beauty of the spectacle. It remained thereafter in their memories one of the rare events of life on Glen Oak Avenue. And what caused the fire? Strangely enough the burning of an ice house, the old Woodruff Ice House up on the riverbank: the packing between its wooden walls adding the fiery glowing chunks which the currents of hot air had swept over the city.
But in this same year another fire was burning - far away, yet so fierce a fire its menacing sparks flew clear across the ocean. Not alone a city was threatened but half a world. The First World War was raging and every citizen in the United States was called upon to combat it. Charlie was deeply distressed that his every attempt to enter the Armed Forces was unsuccessful, at forty-eight he was too old. He offered his services to the Red Cross and in August received instructions to be in Hoboken, New Jersey on September eighth. Julie went with him as far as she could - to the Hudson River ferry dock in New York City. September eighth was a "motor-fuel saving" Sunday and none of the few permitted taxicabs could be located; after much anxious searching a horse-drawn carriage was secured and in solitary grandeur Charlie and Julie rode through New York's empty streets. They arrived just in time to catch the ferryboat, and when it pulled away the two workmen aboard closed its gate and disappeared, leaving Charlie alone by the railing. The two dock men also vanished, leaving Julie alone at the pier's edge. Two persons, watching the widening gulf between them; a symbol of war reduced to its finality - sadness and separation.
Julie stayed a few days in New York with friends and in her first week's letter to Charlie wrote, "I went with Katherine to the Bohemian Settlement House and I had a most inspiring morning. The place is presided over by Dr. Pisek, a Bohemian minister, and a church seating a thousand people is part of it; the whole place is furnished and decorated with Bohemian things, a veritable museum. He said, 'Five hundred years ago the Bohemians were fighting for the same principles of democracy and freedom that the Allies are today, but then all the European countries were against us.' You should have seen the joy in his face when he straightened up and added, 'And now all the great countries of Europe are with Bohemia!'" In the next letter Julie wrote, "Miss Hughes took me to a Czech-Slovak meeting at Carnegie Hall. It was a very inspiring occasion. The Jugo-Slavs and Poles were also represented and I learned more about them than I knew was to be known. Prof. Masaryk, who is the acknowledged leader of the Czech-Slovak peoples, spoke for them, (all of the speakers used English) Prof. Huikovitch for the Jugo-Slavs and Paderewski for the Poles. The last-named made a wonderful talk, so easy and informal, with such a remarkable command of English: he worked up to a great climax with the same consummate skill Harry Lauder did when we heard him. It seemed as if the individuals in that immense audience, (almost all foreign born and of the countries mentioned) were just waiting for someone to say for them the things that were in their hearts, and Paderewski was one thundering voice for all."
Charlie's first letter was headed "Somewhere in mid-Atlantic. I do not know where I am going, but any land will look good to me" Later Julie learned he had been on a ship licensed to carry 875 passengers but doing its wartime work by squeezing 2300 troops aboard. He arrived finally in Rome and from there wrote, "I find to my disgust I have been preceded by a cable describing me as a 'fine executive.' In consequence five minutes after reporting I was put in charge of Home Service and Communications Bureau. A fine service and doing a splendid work, but what I wanted was to be in touch with the fighting men. I have tried hard to be sent up to the front; but an Army Colonel, to whom I suggested I might better be in the Army, only grinned and said, 'if you knew how pleased your Chief is to have got hold of you, you would give up hope of getting out of where you are.' All very flattering, but --!" Charlie remained in Italy after the Armistice, traveling all over the country and down into Sicily assisting in the closing of the Red Cross work. He returned to Peoria in late May of 1919, and with a great thankfulness the brown house received him back into its daily life.
Changes in the big world, changes in the small world. Julie, focusing again on Peoria affairs, realized the skyline of the city was being altered with regrettable speed. No longer could the Observatory Building dispute its rival claims with the courthouse dome, its six stories had lost their proud position to several office buildings. And now in 1919 another building was rising at the corner of Main and Jefferson Streets, one whose skeleton-structure loomed larger in Julie's eyes than any building New York could boast: it was very mysterious and beautiful with only its form outlined, and Julie wished it could remain thus - all too soon, in 1920, it was solid and real, and most useful; and a part of the city view the brown house had known for eighteen years was obscured forever.
Then came a horrifying rumor: someone was considering buying the Cummings' lot, and building an apartment house on it! So long had the White family enjoyed the space and privacy of this lot Mr. Cummings and his needs had almost been forgotten. Charlie and Julie endeavored to be charitable in their feelings toward the unnamed instigator of this new progress, tried to think how they could arrange to buy the lot; but in their hearts knew it was far too expensive an undertaking. Julie's mother on her many visits had also so enjoyed the freedom of sight and separation from other houses this property gave; she quietly approached Mr. Cummings and settled the matter. Mr. Cummings did wish to sell, Mother did wish to buy. In October of 1922 she had the sale recorded in Julie's name. Mother took great pleasure in having the lilac bushes planted along the brow of the bluff; she bought a new birdbath which found a proper home right under the box-elder tree, that little box elder which once barely escaped the weed cutter's scythe and was now a picturesque tree able to look in the second-story windows of the house. The next summer Mother could watch the bright birds she loved coming for their refreshing drinks; but the little summer house on the new lot she could not stay to enjoy - just as 1924 was beginning Mother went away to another world, to new spaces, wider freedom.
As earlier Oscar had been the one to bring child life into the house, so now it was his much younger sister, Gertrude. She did not live in Peoria but came often to visit. When Gertrude was nine years old she and Julie met for a visit in Grandma's house, in Connecticut. It was then that Gertrude sized up Julie very accurately, in two sentences. A kindly caller said, "It's too bad there are no children in this neighborhood for Gertrude to be with." "Oh no," said Gertrude, "I don't need any. Aunt Julie is just like a child." There were also the young folks from Julie's Studio to bring new viewpoints to her and Charlie, this Studio of dance, music and dance was started by Julie and Miss Nida Hopkins, afterwards carried on by Julie and a group of friends. The little children who were a part thereof were constantly growing up and the older people as rapidly growing down, so there was much meeting of interests on levels of complete understanding. Besides managing continual "Shows" at the studio Julie coached Plays for The Peoria Players, and Charlie was always swept into the current. Charlie also delighted to take part in other Players' performances under other coaches.
Both Studio's and Players' and other creative activities were in constant commotion at the White House: Charlie's two sisters, Nona and Emily, were painters and these two artists spent one winter there before going back to California permanently. Julie's brother David and her friend Nida put lovely music of their own composing and that of other composers into The Piano, and The Piano gave back lovely music - proving again that life is based purely on the words "as you give you shall receive." Julie's Aunt Edna, who was a poet, occupied the guest room for several months in the early years. Later Julie's cousin, Ednah, created poems and plays and made wonderful masks in the little riverfront bedroom. Ednah was also a remarkable designer and maker of costumes, and that Christmastime when the Studio was to present her play, The Misers Mill, she was on hand to supervise the whole affair. Miss Mary White, Charlie's older sister, was always ready to put aside her beautiful embroidery work or her crocheting to help with the sewing of costumes. And Harry, Charlie's brother, was a master hand with tools and never too busy to build stage sets and properties: for The Misers Mill he built a splendid mill, twelve feet high, as high as the stage of The Women's Club permitted, and it had sails that really turned and a door that a big man could go through - and he built a fine doghouse which stood beside the mill, and into which the Miser's unfortunate grandchildren had to crawl one snowy evening, shortly before the Miser's better nature asserted itself on Christmas Eve.
It was well that the White house had a large attic, for after every Show up to the attic went all the costumes and properties --many to be used over and over again, some to be kept only because Julie could not bear to part with them. There was one very large wooden box which held among others some dresses of Julie's great-grandmother, grandmother, and mother as well as Julie's own, dating from 1800 to 1890; also in this box were all manner of costume accessories, ends of materials, crowns, scepters, fairy wings, queer slippers, tom-toms. "Do you need a Dutch costume? Gypsy skirt? Riding boots and a man's curled wig? Ask Mrs. White. Maybe she will let you have what you want." Usually Julie said yes, but the answer was a firm no for all perishable chiffons and silks used at the Studio. Along the sides of the attic were packed the larger properties; and another huge wooden box, a chest of drawers, eleven trunks and countless smaller boxes tried to hold personal treasures of Julie's family, Charlie's family and those of any other related family which was leaving town. "Let's ask Charlie and Julie to keep these things for us till we know what we're going to do. They have such a large attic, I'm sure they'll be willing to help us."
"But you can't!" said Julie. "There isn't any room left." "I'll find a way," said Charlie. "I have to open all those trunks," protested Julie. In addition to his theatrical interests Charlie had for after-business hours another enthusiasm - Golf. This was a word always written with a capital, and when winter weather made playing impossible he was at a loss for exercise. He bought a very heavy canvas curtain, artfully cleared sufficient space in the center of the attic, hung the curtain from the roof beams and reaching clear to the floor, where it lay in folds, and used a doormat for a tee from which to drive the balls. Thus outfitted, he and a friend whanged vigorously in many a satisfactory session.
Julie listened apprehensively to the sound of balls falling like hailstones on the ceiling above her; but the curtain was strong and the players skillful, and she was at last assured no ball would prove dangerous. When their muscles were sufficiently exercised she would hear the men talking as they came downstairs, speculating on "How many yards would that last shot have gone?" or "Which grip is better?" They would continue down to Charlie's basement room for long discussions among his clubs, balls and proudly won trophies, or reminiscences on bygone pleasures commemorated in the many golf photographs decorating the walls. Julie did not play golf but she became quite a learned listener on the subject, and could make suitable Oh's and Is-that-so's at the right places whenever this sport dominated the conversation.
The Studio was not alone recreation but a full-time work for Julie. She had long since withdrawn from the various organizations whose helpful objectives she yet knew to be so necessary. In those years there was much talk of "conserving natural resources," and to those who questioned Julie's judgement in separating herself from philanthropic causes she said, "I am conserving my natural resources. I want to do generative work, not to regenerate things or people already degenerated. In the Studio we are trying to find the balanced use of human capacities, and to that end I must use whatever capacities of head and heart I possess."
Julie's seven-year-old nephew had been pleased with the new house from the beginning. After the White family had been living in it only a month or two he surprised Julie with the remark, "I suppose in years to come we'll be saying 'It's nice to go back on a visit to the Old Homestead!'" Oscar moved away from Peoria some years later but he had frequently returned: now in 1927 he was bringing his wife and their two children for a visit in the Old Homestead at 1118 Glen Oak Avenue. (1118 - wrong number? No, after six years of existence as 1012 the City had decreed the houses north of Wisconsin Avenue were in the eleven hundred block and so made the change. Julie was never quite reconciled to parting with 1012 and inwardly still felt this number belonged securely to the house.)
Oscar and Minnette were assigned to the guest room; and Sally, five, and David, four years old, were put in the small front bedroom on the couch by the window and a cot. Their mother bade them a final good-night, reminding them once more, "Be sure you are very quiet in the morning. Don't disturb Uncle Charles and Aunt Julie. I will come for you at seven o'clock." Julie half-roused shortly after six o'clock and thought at first the dove who lived in the box-elder tree was in the house. "How could it get into the next room?" When she was wide awake and recognized the soft cooing noises were being made by Sally's little voice - such gentle sweet noises, all to herself and for herself. Then the coos were a bit louder, ending in whispered calls of "David, David, are you awake? (sleepy grunts from David) David, David dear, I love you. Wake up - Don't talk too loud, David - Whi-s-p-e-r!" Then there were two doves cooing, till seven o'clock. At breakfast Julie was telling Oscar of this whispered conversation, how sweet and loving it was. Oscar grinned but was unimpressed; he said fervently, "I could be sweet and loving at six in the morning, too, if I'd had twelve house sleep the way they do!"
Now it was 1930, and there was no one of Charlie's family left in Peoria except Mary White; so she came to make her home with Charlie and Julie, and the guest room soon was known as "Mamie's room." Julie, passing her door or going for a chat, would think again how interestingly a room could change with each occupant. When Mother had come for her longer visits the room was definitely hers; for each relative or other guest, in a stay of many weeks or few, it took on the character of the visitor. The bed, bureau, the secretary, the chairs were the same, yet even they looked different; and Mamie's yellow pillows in the chair, the green and white quilted spread made by her, the White family table and lamp and the small personal treasures each heart holds fast, all proclaimed "Miss Mary White lives here."
In those days was the world really turning more swiftly on its axis? At any rate life was moving more swiftly for human beings; all thoughts were "up in the air." Now, in 1934, not just a few but many people recognized the Air Age and its implications for the future. No longer was the crowning delight of a Fourth of July celebration the fire balloons, their soft wavering lights drifting with the movement of the winds. Airplanes were so often a feature of the sky one did not stop to call attention to them; at night their steady inflexible lights changed direction only at the will of men.
In the spring of 1934 the Peoria Players needed someone to take charge of the April program. Julie, although far too occupied with Studio affairs, accepted this extra work - on condition that she could herself choose the play as well as coach it. The characters in the play desired were all men, twenty-one of them; the action took place in one room for all three acts, and in the time of nine days. In early February rehearsals began, the first ones held in the dining room of the Whites' home. Charlie, of course, had a part in the play and he helped Julie draw out the table until it was long enough for the occasion. For the play was "Wings Over Europe" and the table no longer at 1118 Glen Oak Avenue but in the Cabinet Council Room of No. 10 Downing Street, London. The part of Britain's Prime Minister was taken by Dr. Hamilton, President of Bradley College, and his cabinet of twelve was appropriately composed of men of like distinction in Peoria's life, lawyers, bankers, business heads.
In 1928 Julie had been so fortunate as to see "Wings Over Europe" in its first New York presentation: its extraordinary drama combined with its disturbing prophetic power had remained vivid in her consciousness ever since. Its authors, Maurice Brown and Robert Nichols, she felt as friends who understood what October 9, 1911, had meant to her, and those two men had had the intelligence and the theater knowledge to place their vision before the public.
The Prime Minister's nephew, Francis, had discovered how to control the energy in the atom. He had in his hand a small instrument which he holds up for a moment before the Cabinet: it appears to be in a watch case. "I assure you," he says, "that with this I can destroy England, Europe, the entire planet, at any moment." He offers the discovery to Britain on condition that it is used only for peace. But the Cabinet hesitates; greeds, fears, and selfish interests assert themselves. Francis answers, "The day of the Takers is over, I tell you; the day of the Givers dawns. Man is free to enlarge the Kingdom of the Spirit. And do you think because the Spirit of Yesterday in you is afraid, the Spirit of Tomorrow in me will run away?" He will destroy the world and himself rather than let selfish interests get possession of his discovery.
The play was presented adequately and held, as it could not fail to, the absorbed attention of the audiences. But its awe-inspiring premises were dismissed with the shrug that meant, "Well, of course it could never really happen." - It would take another World War, and the prospect of a third, before the World would begin to understand the power within the Atom. - Julie was always glad that she had had the inspiration of working with "Wings Over Europe," and that a room in the White house had been the first to hear the words "The day of the Takers is over, the day of the Givers is here."
In all the years since the table was brought in, from the snow and cold of the yard to the shelter of the dining room, how many friendly groups had gathered around its welcome! Thanksgiving and Christmas, the days the table liked best. Now it was Christmas 1938. The table had not needed to stretch itself so much this year, but there were still enough members of the usual holiday group to make for happiness. It was ten o'clock; the guests had gone home; Mamie went up to her room, Charlie down to his. Julie sank into a big chair at the far side of the darkened living room and looked back into the dining room, lighted only by the candles. Through the wide doorway the table and its surroundings seemed a memory in time and space; she sent her thoughts back into memories - so strongly, memory set itself into a form as a camera records a picture.
Spring may have been just around the corner, but if so no messenger preceded her. It was 1939, and on the night of March 19th Charlie was already asleep under many coverings. Julie, shivering, reached for her feather quilt, gathered its warmth gratefully around her - thinking "It's certainly good I didn't put these quilts away in the attic." She seemed to have been asleep a long while when she was wakened by men's voices calling to one another. "It's those young men next door," she said to herself. "So late again! Why can't they just say goodnight to people who give them a ride home, not shout so.
Mr. and Mrs. Coulson had both died some years ago, and Mrs. Coulson's niece, Mrs. Theilig, owned the house; she had kept the lower floor for herself and made the upper into three apartments. The bedroom window at the side of Julie's room was closed, but the sound of vigorous voices still came around the corner and in the open front windows. Julie wearily sank one ear deep in the pillow and pulled the quilt over the other. She must have slept, for again a noise roused her, a knocking on the bedroom door, loud and persistent. Before she or Charlie could collect their wits the door opened and Mamie's voice said sternly, "It might interest you to know the house next door is burning down."
Charlie leaped from bed, raised the window shade and saw the terrifying flames. The fire engine was directly below and the firemen were shouting fierce orders to one another. Charlie threw on enough clothes for warmth and ran downstairs and out, to give what aid he could. The wind was blowing quite strongly but directly toward the street; if it shifted toward the north the White's house would surely go; if toward the south the Lowes' house, though not so close, would be in grave danger. Mamie and Julie dressed and waited anxiously for Charlie's return with advice as to the next move.
In a few moments he came in to dress more warmly and to report: the fire had appeared first on the side facing the Lowes' house; some members of the Lowes family were still up, had seen the shooting flames, turned in an alarm and gone to the rescue of Mrs. Theilig just in time to save her; the young men were not in their room and the other upstairs families were out of town, so no one was hurt. The wind was dying down, the firemen thought the situation was now under control. Charlie went out again.
Mamie and Julie watched the dreadful and beautiful spectacle for several hours. Later reports showed the fire must have been smoldering for a long while under the floors and within the walls, for when it burst out the whole interior was at once in a sea of flames. Nothing had been saved; the house was doomed. But there was one creature for whom the whole affair was pure joy. About two o'clock in the morning a redbird flew to the topmost branch of an old oak tree near the house, only just out of reach of the flames, and there poured forth his most rapturous song - for him spring had really arrived.
What a strange sensation, after thirty-seven years to look out the window and see no Coulson house! To have no friendly neighbors, to see at night no cheerful lighted windows. This was a sad change, one the White house had never even imagined could happen. But of course this sadness should never even be mentioned in comparison with Mrs. Theilig's crushing loss. Mrs. Theilig moved to a small apartment on the other side of the city; she said she could not rebuild and she would sell her ground when the right buyer appeared.
The following Christmas the group about the White house table still held the same people within it as on the year before, and the celebration was a joyful one. But early in 1940 Mary White found her sixty-six years too heavy a burden to carry longer: on a night in late February she laid her burden down and slipped quietly away to new experiences in other worlds. So vital a memory did she leave her room did not soon change its name, it remained "Mamie's Room."
The White house was really the Old Homestead now; even Julie had to admit it, though the years seemed so few since Charlie and she had first made plans for their home. Here was certain proof of the passing of years; in June 1941, Gertrude arrived for a brief visit and on this visit not only Clare, her husband, was with her but their three children.
Three-year-old Susan was content to stay with the grown folks in the house or on the porch; but at sight of the vast estate surrounding the White house the little boys were filled at once with the spirit of high adventure and rushed off to explore. The summer house and the big spaces round it were thoroughly inspected, and the hillside climbed down and up and sideways, the arbors and trees hung upon to the testing of both objects and boys.
However, the Charron children were city folk, used to a proper backyard and sidewalk play. On the second day Charles and Toby voiced emphatic disapproval of life in Peoria; they did not appreciate the efforts of the Uncle and Aunt to preserve the wilderness and its beauties from the onrush of civilization. They found everywhere geological, botanical and entomological hazards - "Stones, scratchy weeds and bugs," was their terse verdict.
So onto the porch came small chairs and tables, boys and books, and renewed efforts of their hostess to be entertaining. Too late Julie realized the difficulties of the situation, and how very big was the big front-door screen, which because of its size had no spring. Some grown-up voice was continually admonishing, "Close the screen door. - Remember the flies will get in. - Charles, close the screen door after you. - Toby, come back. You left the door open. - One of you open the door for Susan. You know she is too little to manage it." Close the door. Close the door. Close the door. Oh what tiresome words!
Julie remembered the man who put a very small swinging door at the bottom of his big one, so the cat could go in and out independently, as its own plans required. The big screen door should have a little screen door down at the bottom. And not only must dangerous flies be fought, this was a special mosquito year. In late afternoon even the porch was no longer a safe retreat. The Peoria mosquitoes recognized the little Detroiters as something new and delectable and attacked them without mercy.
In the last hours of the visit the children were on the porch with Julie while somebody or somebody else went back and forth, in and out, carrying coats, bundles and bags to be packed in the car. "Close the door after me, Charles. My hands are full. - Close the door. - Close the door." But suddenly at the last request "close the door," gentle Charles cried, "NO! Leave it open!" His face glowed with inspiration. "I tell you what, leave it open and let all the flies and mosquitoes go inside; then we'll close the door and we can have a good time on the porch."
As the time of departure came the children were able to say an affectionate farewell to their Aunt and Uncle; many a cheerful goodbye was called back as the car drove away, waving hands still fluttered from the windows as the family disappeared down the street. Julie could only hope pleasant memories of the visit would outweigh the troubled ones.
For some years Charlie had not been engaged in active work; now in the autumn of 1941 Julie gave up her Studio. Changes, always changes! But each change brought its own compensation. This one gave Charlie and Julie more time to be together and to enjoy each day's offering. They had asked to take as their guest a fine singer who was soon to give a recital in Peoria, and speaking of her their thoughts went back to the many interesting guests the house had seen. In the very early years undoubtedly the most distinguished was Ernst Parabo, a pianist from Boston who came to play before the Illinois Music Teachers' Convention.
Mr. Perabo had been a child prodigy, and thereafter achieved and held his reputation as the finest exponent of classical music in the United States. Now a man in his sixties he no longer went on concert tours but was still at the height of his musical power, and played occasional engagements besides teaching in Boston.
Mr. Perabo arrived late in the evening and at once was found to be a very modest, almost shy man. He looked very tired from his journey and Julie went back to the guest-room door to ask whether he would like something to eat before retiring. Mr. Perabo wished to make no trouble - please, no trouble; he was all consideration for his hostess, but finally said, "Well, I thank you - perhaps so. It might be better to take something, something very simple that will not trouble you to get. Just a little cocoa, maybe? And a little applesauce?" "Yes, of course," answered Julie and went downstairs. Cocoa and applesauce! To be found in every New England home, no doubt: neither ever in the White house. All stores closed, - what to do? Over to the Coulsons, they were fortunately still up. Yes, a small old tin of cocoa and a last year's jar of canned apples. The visit was off to a proper start.
What a treat for The Piano! To have Mr. Perabo playing on it! As soon as he was at the keyboard all shyness left him: here was authority, vigor, masterful technique and great warmth of expression. What an inspiration, these hours of music for Charlie and Julie! The public concert was beautiful indeed, but to hear such music in one's own home - that was an unmatched joy. Mr. Perabo very courteously inquired about Julie's musical interests and abilities, and on the day after the concert produced a volume of Beethoven compositions arranged for four hands. "You and I will play these," said he. "Oh, Mr. Perabo," pleaded Julie, "those are way beyond me!" But Mr. Perabo brushed aside all excuses. "I am a teacher," he said. "I know you can do it. Which part will you choose?" Julie with hasty scrutiny decided the lower part had fewer black notes to the square inch, and with utmost concentration went to work. She wished she could listen to Mr. Perabo's part instead of having to keep all her wits on her own. Several pages were turned and then - horrid surprise! A cadenza for the lower part alone. Julie took her hands from the keys. "No Mr. Perabo, really I can't play that! We'll have to skip it." "We can't," said he whimsically. "Beethoven wrote that cadenza himself. Beethoven is dead and we can not ask his permission to leave it out." So Julie played it, very slowly, abominably. How did Mr. Perabo ever endure it? But he waited patiently - and then again there was music in the air.
Just before he was to go Mr. Perabo misjudged the last step on the stairway, fell and sprained his wrist quite severely. Charlie and Julie were much distressed that their house had so rudely treated him, and begged him to remain till he could travel comfortably. Thus an acquaintance was lengthened, and grew into a lasting friendship. Both Charlie and Julie became very fond of this man, so brilliant in his art, so unassuming and naïve, so warm-hearted and generous. When the day for final departure was set Mr. Perabo came to Julie with a question. "May I ask your advice?" he said. "I like Mr. White so much and he has been so kind to me. Do you think it would be all right for me to kiss him goodbye? Julie knew Mr. Perabo's European upbringing and that it was not uncommon for foreign men thus to express themselves, so she said she felt it would be perfectly permissible. But the parting salutation did astonish Charlie.
Mr. Parabo had asked for a picture of the house with Mr. and Mrs. White on the porch. Soon after he reached home a large box of writing paper came to Glen Oak Avenue: It bore the picture and beneath were the words of Goethe -
The distinguished guest who came on November 24, 1941 was the singer Marian Anderson. She did not sing while at the house, for her rehearsal was at the concert hall and her stay was very brief. It was not as a great singer but as a great personality Charlie and Julie came to know her. There was no need for Miss Anderson to sing in order to share her gifts, no need for her to talk. Her silences were eloquent. The majestic poise of her body, the simple dignity of her manner commanded attention without wish on her part. She was one of those rare beings beyond the hurts of the world, whose presence is peace.
In the afternoon Miss Anderson wanted to press her concert gown. Politely and firmly she refused all offers of assistance, saying, "I always press my dress myself." And "Thank you, no. There is no need to bring the ironing board to me. I will go wherever it is." Julie placed a sheet on the laundry floor under the large old-fashioned ironing board and then escorted Miss Anderson and the pale blue satin gown to the basement. "Oh! That is very good," Miss Anderson exclaimed. "Such a fine light, too." Julie sat on the stairs and looked over the railing, staying - not to talk but to be on hand if anything further was required.
Presently Miss Anderson began to talk, quietly, unhurried. "I always press my dress myself now, because then if anything goes wrong only I am to blame. (Julie was fascinated by the beautiful quality of her speaking voice, so low and rich: then she forgot the voice in admiration of the unusual enunciation, the clear precise form of each word uttered: then she forgot the words in the unfolding story's interest.) When I was on a tour abroad I had a new dress made. I liked it better than any dress I had ever had for the platform. It had just been finished and sent me from the last city where I had been. It needed a little pressing and I sent it down to the hotel tailor. I told him I wanted it back in a few hours. It did not come, and each time I telephoned a new excuse was offered for the delay. By noon of the next day it still had not come, and I planned to wear it that evening. So I sent for the manager of the hotel and made it clear I wanted the dress brought up to me at once, no matter what might have happened to it. He came, with the tailor, a young woman and the dress. In the front breadth of the skirt there was a scorched mark the size of the entire face of the iron. The tailor said he had been out trying to match the silk but so far had found none like it; then he had asked a dressmaker if there could not be a large flower or some design embroidered over the mark - right in the center of the skirt! That I could not imagine. The poor girl who had scorched the dress was crying bitterly. The manager said, "Inexcusable carelessness! She shall of course be discharged at once." I said, "Why discharge the poor girl? That will not help the dress, and it will make it very hard for her to get another position." Miss Anderson went on ironing, all wrinkles vanishing under skillful hands. "What happened then?" Julie ventured to ask. "I had to wear another dress," said Miss Anderson. "Afterwards new matching material was found and a new breadth put in the dress; but it never looked just right and I did not care so much for it."
Charlie went to the concert. Julie could not go; she had already made an engagement which took her elsewhere on that night. But neither Charlie nor any one else in the audience could have received more inspiration from the songs than Julie had from listening to that little story in the laundry. Though Miss Anderson had never raised her voice, or put particular emphasis on any word, in the few moments of the story's telling she presented a drama in miniature. The anxiety of the concert singer waiting for her gown, the tailor's panic, the manager's indignation, the shame and fear of the workwoman, the understanding heart of Marian Anderson - all were made reality for the listener through the projective power and sincerity of a great artist.
Then, only two weeks after this peaceful visit, the storm that threatened the whole United States from the east swept round the world and roared in from the west with more than a threat. Now it was not alone Wings Over Europe, but Wings over the Atlantic, Wings over the Pacific. It was December 7, 1941, and citizens of the United States were shocked into a realization of the Air Age. No longer could the meaning of brotherhood be confined to the people of one nation; no longer could any nation live to itself or die to itself. All men must learn to respect the needs of all or all would perish utterly. This was reality. "But," as Francis said in "Wings Over Europe," "Man is free to enlarge the Kingdom of the Spirit. And do you think because the Spirit of Yesterday in you is afraid, the Spirit of Tomorrow in me will run away?"
Charlie had followed events of the War in Europe with utmost concentration, and new he was as deeply absorbed in the situation of the United States. That again he could be of no active help to his country was a grievous trial to him and he analyzed each new move of the Armed Forces with the solicitude of a General. He could not stay to see the outcome of this new catastrophe. As he had left Julie in the First World War for a journey to a far land, a journey on which she could not follow him, so now in World War II he left her - with no long period of waiting, suddenly, in the lovely month of May he died. Friends said, "They lived so closely together. This separation will be especially hard for Julie." But for Julie the separation was only in the visible world, the invisible was her reality - and there was no separation there.
Enormous changes in the world, great changes in the little personal world. What to do now? The house was too much responsibility for Julie to take alone; but it was Julie who had said for every change there is some compensation. Where was the compensation this time? Life has strange ways of helping its children, and there is never a break in the continuity of the plan; before an end arrives a new beginning has been made.
The injustices of the prelude to war in Europe had compelled a man to leave all that had been dear to him and to seek safety in the United States. By chance he had arrived in Peoria. By chance? No, it must all have been part of a plan. Julie had met this man, Mr. Hoeniger, through a series of amusing events, and he had been invited several times to visit with Mr. and Mrs. White in their home: indeed he had been their guest at that last Thanksgiving dinner in the White house.
Now it was early April: Mr. Hoeniger called to tell Mrs. White a young woman, whose misfortunes like his had brought her to America, was in the city for a few days. He had known her in their home town, Frankfurt am Main, only in her professional capacity as nurse assistant to a prominent doctor. He and Miss Champain had met by chance (?) in Chicago, neither knowing the other was there. After being in Chicago four years Miss Champain wished to live in a smaller place for a while. Would Mrs. White be willing to talk with Miss Champain and advise her as to the chance (?) of getting a position in Peoria. A time was set for the meeting, and in the early afternoon of the next day Charlie called to Julie, "A lady is walking up and down the street in front of our house; she seems to be looking for a house number. I'm just going out, and if it's Miss Champain I'll ask her to come in." So, by chance again, Charlie was the one who first met her; and he also saw her a second time, when she came with Mr. Hoeniger to dinner. Julie was able to direct her to a position and she left Peoria planning to return the first of August.
When Julie was wondering how to carry on her life without Charlie, in the house they both had loved, why should Miss Champain have come into her mind? It must have been the plan of Life; it was not chance. "Miss Champain," thought Julie, "could have a room here." It was as simple as that; and Miss Champain came - only three weeks after Charlie went away. In scarcely more than twice three weeks Julie and Miss Champain found they had so many similar tastes and ideas their relationship became one of real friendship, not one based only on their mutual comfort and convenience.
Julie was on the couch in the upstairs sitting room, looking out the north window into the Box-Elder Tree. It surely deserved its name in capital letters now. How much pleasure it had given with its graceful shape and its welcome shade, how would the birds have prospered without it! The wild-grape vine had loved it, too, and hung like a curtain from the higher branches to the ground:
"Coo-oo-oo! Sang the dove, so gently,
But finally the vine was too great a weight for the Tree, and Charlie had to cut it back and make it stay to itself on the arbor. Julie had seen the little dove going in his entry, right across from her window, though she never saw him come out - perhaps he had a back door somewhere. The doves did not like the Tree as well after the vine was taken away, but they still nested nearby.
Julie turned to look down at the birdbath. Once she had seen a red bird, a yellow bird and a blue bird, a thrush, a robin, and some sparrows perched at the same time on the rim: of course, the picture changed before she could call witnesses to see it - but it did happen, in that specially hot and thirsty summer. Some little birds merely stood on the rim long enough to take a few dainty sips, then off and away. The robins waded right into the middle and settled down with the water almost covering them; like ducks they were. Charlie took care of replenishing the water supply when he was home, but if it were not done promptly the birds made their reproaches eloquent and some one had to run quickly to right matters. After a thorough splashing the birds would rise into the generous shelter of the Box-Elder Tree to settle their feathers for further flight.
Julie remembered the day she looked from this same window but could not see the familiar round pool of water - nor the empty bowl. What was the matter? Had someone put a cover on the bowl? Then the cover moved and a head with a great beak lifted, wings quivered; a big hawk had settled down with wings spread wide, tail fanned out, reaching completely over the circle of the birdbath. The extreme drought must have brought it to the one source of water; but how it was guided there Julie did not know. While she went quickly to call others to see this wonder it disappeared, and never before or since was there a hawk on the place. Like the lone wolf of the early years it was a visitor to be remembered with astonishment.
Sitting at the top of the stairs, a pleasant drafty spot in summer, Julie could look right into the silvery pool of the birdbath, framed in one of the windows on the landing. Of all the pictures offered her, the loveliest were these:
Moon - Bird -
In September Julie had to admit her heart could no longer keep up with her. It had done such good work for her so many years it was only fair she should stay at home and take care of it now. Miss Champain gave up any work for other people and was to be both right and left hand as well as feet for Julie. How unforeseen had been this situation, and what a blessing that Miss Champain was there, ready and willing to draw on her many skills and meet every emergency!
The cold days came and Julie, as in every winter, gave thanks for the oil burner which had been installed in the furnace in 1925 and which kept everybody comfortable with no work at all and a minimum of supervision. In the first twenty-three years the furnace had been fed by coal; and a tribute to Charles Hafner, the Furnace Man, should here be gratefully set down. In every degree of cold, from freezing to sub-zero, he would put his key in the basement door and by five o'clock have the fire started for the day. He returned at noon and in the evening --and he had missed no more than a handful of days, because of illness, in all the twenty-three winters. Such hard unpleasant work! Going from hot furnace rooms to the severe outer contrast of the cold, in and out of the houses of his twenty or more employers! No other furnace man in Peoria was so dependable. Yet with all his help there were many times in the coldest weather when Charlie would have to answer a hungry cry from the furnace. And if Charlie were not there Julie would keep the home fires burning, wielding a junior-size shovel: she understood what a demanding servant a coal furnace was, and she praised the oil burner advisedly.
December 7, 1942: One year since the United States had been sternly required to take an active part in the quarrels of the World; and the terrible tragedies of War continued to mount. Julie understood more fully now why Aunt Edna had said, "Julie, I am ashamed to be living on this Planet!" Julie had often longed for a globe which would represent the World the way it really was, just water and land, without all the lines of latitude and longitude that seemed to find it and interfere with a clear concept of a whole. Julie, too, was ashamed of the Planet, but she was also very sorry for it: that is why she wrote:
Poor World! Poor tired World!
What could one little creature do to help a World? Well, at least try to be cooperative and cheerful in one's own surroundings. This Christmastime should not be one of sadness; if often retrospective, then only because of joyful memories.
When Charlie and Julie were children a Christmas Tree was still a pagan interloper on the solemn beauty of the Christmas celebration. Julie had never seen one until she was more than ten years old, and that one had been carefully concealed until its candles had been lighted on Christmas Eve. Then what a wealth of surprise and incomparable loveliness for the children! Charlie had never had a Tree in his home, as Julie planned one for him on their second Christmas in the new house; she placed it on a little table near The Piano, and played the proper tunes to accompany it. Later it was discovered that the stairway landing was the ideal spot for a Tree; one had been there almost every year since, and in November of 1918, while Charlie was in Italy, Julie had made a little piece of music of her own - "A Song of Thanksgiving to be Sung at Christmas" - and this she played every Christmas morning.
When Julie found that Clara Champain felt just as she did toward a Christmas Tree it was at once decided the house should not miss its usual ceremony this year. For nine years Clara had not been able to have a Tree and she was delighted to take full charge of the preparations, which Julie could not. Julie sat on a bench in the upper hall and watched Clara fasten on the familiar silvery ornaments, clasp each little candleholder firmly to a branch and place the white candle securely in it. Different ornaments had been used in succeeding years for the very top of the Tree; this year none seemed quite right. Julie made a six-pointed star, the Star of David, and covered it with silver paper; and Clara, with reverence for all who loved the Light, placed it at the highest point.
There would be only a Christmas supper this year, since Julie could not go down stairs; but David, her brother, was present, and three of the old friends, Nida, Nina, and Juliett, and Clara, the new friend.
The window shades on the stair landing had been rolled up, so there was a dark background for the Tree and after supper Clara lighted the candles, staying close by to guard the flames. The other guests sat downstairs and looked up to the Tree; Julie sat upstairs and looked down - either way it was just as beautiful. The Star seemed not to be attached but suspended in the air above, sending light earthward like a real star. Julie could not play her "Song of Thanksgiving" on the Piano, but she could hear its music and its words singing inside her:
The First Forty Years had come to an end; but this Christmas marked the beginning of another period. What day could make a lovelier beginning?
It was like Noah's Flood; Water covered the face of the earth. Then most of the Water ran off leaving just a Big River. Then the Big River flowed away and there was just a Small River, the Illinois River in the gentle Illinois valley. But the Big River had left high bluffs, its former shores; and at one spot the ground sloped away from the bluff on three sides leaving a Little Peninsula a few hundred feet long. Then the green growths came; the grasses, the bushes and the trees took over, covered the bluffs and their river slopes, covered the Little Peninsula. Then the Animals found the Peninsula, all manner of little four-footed creatures and larger creatures, the fox, the wolf, deer - who knows? Maybe even the buffaloes stood on the high ground here and looked off to the River.
Where the Animals went the Indians followed. Nobody knows; but surely some Indian hunting the deer and the buffalo found this Little Peninsula and thought, "This good for teepee. Many springs near." Then came the White Men, exploring, eager for new land; more and more men came, till Animals and Indians moved on - always farther west.
One man, way back east in Connecticut, must have heard about the opportunities offered by the State of Illinois. Perhaps this man, Augustus Garrett, may have noted, too, that his son Auren was born the same year Illinois became a State, 1818. With his family he went to Chicago in 1833; but two years later decided the settlement was too small - "it had only a few scattered log huts, few white people and native Indian tribes, the land about it swampy." Peoria, it was said, was attractively located; twenty-five families were living there, in seven frame houses and three times that number of log dwellings. Indeed by 1834 Peoria was having a boom; forty houses were now erected, and newcomers arriving in such numbers that by mid-summer of 1835 the town could boast of its five hundred and fifty inhabitants.
Augustus Garrett moved to Peoria where his high character, his business ability and his enterprises soon gave him a valued place in Peoria's unfolding history.
Auren Garrett, his seventeen-year-old son, found an outlet for his youthful energies in a journey with U.S. Troops to escort a group of Indians two hundred miles beyond Council Bluffs. Auren returned, to make Peoria his home, though twenty years of his life was to be spent on the water as an Illinois river pilot. He married Medorah Hall, said to have been the first white child born in Chicago; and he built his first home at 1000 Perry Street, well away from the center of town. By 1847 he needed a larger house, one still farther away from others. Together with John Flanagan he bought ground north of the city, and from his twenty acres selected for his own dwelling the high north end of the bluff - the Little Peninsula. Perhaps this spot reminded him of the high ridge on which his boyhood town of Litchfield was built; but surely he chose it also because he liked to look down on the river which he knew so well. He and John Flanagan started building their houses the same year, "their wagons cutting the sod for the first time" on what was to be Bluff Street. An early directory gives the address of Auren Garrett as "first house south of Spring Street." Here he lived, with his wife and two young daughters, Caroline and Medorah, both of whom were probably born in this home. To the north of the house was planted an apple orchard, across the road to the west was a pasture for his cows, and he cut down many trees on the hillside to open up the river view.
And now years later, now for the first time, a photograph of the house is shown to Julie - this house which she had scarcely noticed on that moonlit night so long ago, remembered only as a house in a dream, less substantial than a ghost. Here, by contrast, this sun-caught picture held on a bit of paper is reality itself. Julie feels she actually stands before the house ready to go in. It is a friendly house, long and low with a low-pitched roof, a house suited to the brow of a bluff; it has a rather high basement and only one story placed above it; a broad flight of steps in the center leads up to a porch of equal width, for this is the front of the house, facing the river. It is summer, the windows are open; on the porch sits a young woman with a big curly-haired dog beside her, two little girls with their dolls are on the top step, at the foot of the steps on the right two other women, and a young girl at the left. Judging by the women's dress the time must be somewhere around 1870.
The young woman on the porch is Caroline Garrett who was an invalid for most of her life; it is she who married Robert Burdette afterwards of nationwide fame as a reporter, writer and preacher. (The Peoria Library has the biography, "Robert Burdette, His Message," and Caroline's life is portrayed in the book.) Medorah is at the right of the steps with Mrs. Garrett (Wilhelmina Sanderson), Mr. Garrett's second wife, and the three girls, Augusta, Wilhelmina and Sarah are the children of this marriage. Julie stares long at Augusta Aurena, for she is the future Mrs. Muir and Julie is acquainted with her grandson. There is a rose bush on a trellis by the porch: Julie remembers, in her early days in her bluff home, pushing into a tangle of bushes on Mr. Cummings' lot, searching for some papers blown there - right before her face was a cluster of many-petaled little white roses. "Somebody planted this bush," said Julie. "It isn't a wild growth." Every year for many years she gathered a handful of fragrant roses for her table. Which was more real now, the pictured roses on the Garrett trellis, or the roses in Julie's memory? Why had she not long ago been interested to learn more about the Garrett Family? Auren Garrett had left the bluff in 1885, building another home at 1000 Hale Street (Glendale Avenue). He did not die till 1905; Julie, taking a short cut over the hill to the center of town, had passed his house all unknowingly time and time again. How much she would have enjoyed long talks with him!
Julie was thinking about her Grandma Proctor; Grandma was visiting and when Mother apologized for leaving her alone so much (Grandma could no longer see to read or sew), Grandma said, "Do not worry about me. My mind is well furnished." When Julie was asked a question as to dates of happenings, or whereabouts of articles put away for summer or winter storage, she would often say, "I don't know," or "I don't remember." Charlie would advise, "Leave her alone a while. She'll go up to her mental attic and come out with the answer eventually." Yes, Julie's mind was furnished, and maybe furnished with good things; but in a most incoherent fashion, very much like the attic in the White house. ... Julie was not even hunting in her mental attic; but suddenly, months after she had been shown the photograph of the Garrett house, she feels herself back in the year 1887 - a twelve-year-old. She is riding an Indian pony from the livery stable - side-saddle, of course - her hair in a braid down her back, a sombrero on her head. She is listening to the chatter of the girls who ride beside her: the pony has crossed Spring Street and is slowly climbing the hill. Julie, faced toward the left side of Bluff Street, is vaguely conscious of a house; it catches her attention because it is different from any others she knows - some bright pans hang on nails against the back of the porch, some clothes are hanging on a line. ... What an odd little memory to find tucked away under the eaves of her mental attic! Why should such a picture have been kept in storage for more than sixty years? It is undoubtedly a picture of the Garrett house on its service side, two stories high on Bluff Street because of the downward slope of the ground. Julie could not have guessed she was one day to live on this same hill, to be another pioneer on the Little Peninsula.
The Green Grasses, the Animals, the Indians, Auren Garrett and his family, Charlie and Julie White - Pioneers all, on the Little Peninsula. Now another Pioneer is on the ground, a pioneer in the life of the spirit as well as in the things of the material world: this one has left a far country and come among strangers, having to learn the strangers' language, to work at the humblest tasks, to overcome privation and loneliness. Clara Champain is soon to become a Citizen of the United States! For many months the house at 1118 Glen Oak Avenue has been listening to conversations about the Constitution, the Republican form of government, the lives of the Presidents, the history of Illinois. Clara had made application for citizenship only two weeks after arriving in Illinois, and she had come directly from the ocean voyage to Chicago. The last work Julie had been helping in before she was obliged to remain at home, was that of a Citizenship pageant: again and again she wished some preparation could be devised to give those born in the United states the same enthusiasm for citizenship that Clara had: to be born to riches was not enough, one must undergo a test of worthiness to possess them. And when the day came that Clara returned from her naturalization ceremony, bearing her Certificate of Citizenship, Julie wished that such a look of proud and solemn happiness might be on the face of each native-born citizen when voting age was reached.
Now it was becoming apparent that even with all Clara could do to help, the White house was too great a responsibility. It was not easy to make the decision to leave it; but Julie remembered what she had written about Lot's wife, "who from looking backward was turned to crystal" and quoted firmly to herself, "But one word - Forward!"
Who should take over the house! Well, Life would always attend to a continuity of events, and a new beginning was always made before there was an ending. Somewhere the right family was looking for a new home.
The Child lives only in the present, Youth in the present and the future, but to these divisions Age could add the past, and in that three-fold space move with three-times-three the power and joy. Immediacy, Anticipation, Retrospect - how complete and wonderful was Age!
Within herself Julie went to and fro, about the house and through the years. Nothing was lost, all was precious; and all was there to be drawn on for contemplation and inspiration. Memories coming and going, in unpredictable sequence:
To Noah had been given a Bow of Promise in the skies. But the Divine Promise was not confined to one alone. Julie has learned that a Rainbow is the peculiar possession of him who beholds it - a Rainbow for each person, each person the center of his own Rainbow. Many a splendid Rainbow had she seen in the past forty years: she is looking now from an upper window of the house at the queer light over the river valley and on the storm-tossed sky. Miraculously there is presented to her then the most beautiful Rainbow of all the years: it is of tremendous height, its arc complete; one end disappears in the trees at the north end of the valley, the other sweeps across the river and goes down behind the hills toward the south. But the pot of gold is not hidden under either end - the wealth is in the heart of him who beholds the Rainbow.
Here they are! According to Julie they have walked right out from under the rainbow. These are the very people the house has been waiting for - Mr. and Mrs. Borchelt and their children. Now there will be plenty of activity in all the rooms, and if energies need still a greater space the outdoors will have a safe welcome ready. The Second Forty Years are off to a good start. It has always been confusing to describe the White house, since it is not a white house, but a house with a brown shingle coat. B is for brown, B is for Borchelt. Where is the Borchelt's new home? On Glen Oak Avenue, just beyond Wisconsin, on the river side of the street; even if you can't see the number you can't miss the house, a brown shingle house.
The Piano! Around it the house was built. Is it to be left behind? Though The Piano is forty years old, a ripe old age for such an instrument, it has still a lovely voice and much music stored away in its heart. But Julie is no longer able to play it, the rooms to which she is going have no proper place for it. David has come from New York to help Julie with the moving; it was he who gave her the Piano as a wedding gift, and he agrees with her now the wise thing is to sell it, to look for someone who really can enjoy it. Such a search was soon ended; a family with several musical children was in great need of a piano. The family's Father and Mother came to make inquiries; the Father asks all the proper business questions, David takes over the salesman's position; Father does not play the piano, will David play for him so he may hear the tone? David does so. Father consults briefly with Mother and says, "We will take the piano provided the pianist goes with it." Since this request can not be included in the bargain a suitable price is finally arrived at solely on the merits of the instrument. The Piano leaves at once, escorted to the home where it will be appreciated and cared for. Music has always been at the center of Charlie and Julie's home; The Piano has sent its message permanently throughout the house. Julie is content.
All the old and cherished furnishings have been moved out - the house is ready to receive the newcomers and their possessions. Now Julie goes. She leaves behind her for the Borchelts only A Song of Thanksgiving. She takes A Song of Thanksgiving with her.
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