"AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF AN UNIMPORTANT PERSON"

BY MINNETTE SLAYBACK CARPER

 

Part IV

 

Sympathizing with my interest in singing my brother-in-law Arthur took me to a

 production of Lucia di Lammermoor, starring a delightful young prima donna, Mlle

 Romeldi. She was fine.

I had been studying vocal practice all winter under the guidance of

Mrs. Kate J. Brainard, who was the instructress at Mary Institute for general

classes. Every spring we had what was called "The Rehearsal", meaning just

a rehearsal of the sort of singing work we did in those classes. There were two

concerts, which in 1885 had taken the form of "The Flower Queen." Now we

were to have a conventional program, with two soloists, Lucia Merrill and I

having that honor. Tickets were presented to their friends by the pupils making

an audience of four or five hundred people with the boys mostly in the gallery.

The girls sat in rows on the platform, tiers of white dresses and looking very charm-

ing, but forbidden to even whisper to each other till the intermission. And then,

the storm of chatter that broke forth always brought a round of amused applause.

Mrs. Brainard had obtained for me a quaint, old-fashioned son called : "Gather

The Sweet Rose Of Love,". It was quite precious and she considered it just a sweet,

simple ditty, but she was not prepared for the effect it would have on a gallery

filled with my college acquaintances.

THE DIARY: When I began singing, I was so scared, it was as if the lights

danced up and down and the platform seemed to rock beneath me. I was

encored and applauded like everything. Twice after the song I had to bow and

then Mrs. Brainard bowed twice. That would not stop them, and so she began

the next piece. I did not get any flowers, but neither did Lucia Merrill. I was

consoled because I got most applause."

A week later came the second concert and the diary says:

"If I was a success last time, this week I was a triumph. Sister says I am

awfully conceited. But when a person is applauded and applauded and receives

two gorgeous bouquets, one of Marechal Neil and one of Katherine Mermet

roses, and when after she has bowed and bowed and smiled and Mrs. Brainard

has bowed many times for her, and a new song is begun and they clap in the

song and hiss it - what else can she think of that night? So."

The newspaper called it a great success and said: " Miss Minnette Slayback

and Miss Lucia Merrill sang beautifully and were heartily applauded." But I con-

sidered that putting it very mildly.

I had been sick in bed all week and was rather doubtful of my success,

but after Lucia sang and received two bouquets I rallied all my powers and was

bound to have some applause, anyway. And when it did come it quite took

my breath away, for with it came the lovely flowers, one from "Daisy, Hord and

Idalie," one from Capt. T.T. Turner, Nancy's father. Oh! I am so happy! I wore

white, with jacqueminot roses, lovely ones, too. I am quite overwhelmed with

compliments and " 'taffy'. Katie says my head is hanging on my left shoulder."

One week later the school gave a "hop", the seniors being entertained

by the juniors. I was told afterward that I was the prettiest girl on the floor. I

invited Mr. Love because he had been very nice to me, and he gave me a huge

bunch of red roses which went very well with my pale blue dress. My card was

filled to overflowing, with twelve extras, and in the midst of the names was that

of Henry Blossom, who was one of my not yet famous friends. That party ended

at midnight, and we went from there to another one and danced till two.

One amusing thing became apparent after that concert; the younger girls

had always been nice to me, but now they became my adoring "fans." It was very

gratifying to see them flock to meet me when I came to school in the morning

and cluster about me in little groups when we were in the yard at recess. Several

of them became my ardent friends and remained so. Just because I could sing!

Isn't it funny? I never knew just how to meet that sort of thing. Confidentially

it was a little embarrassing.

On the fifteenth of May I saw my first complete pantomimic ballet and

I was quite excited over it. It was the "Silvia Ballet" with Theodora de Gillert

as the leading figures combined with the ballet was an opera: "The Marriage

Of Jeannette, " with L" Allemand in the title role, William Lee the tenor. Eviden-

tly it was very delightful.

On the ninth of June school was over. Daisy Brookmire graduated at

this time. I sang in a double trio at the exercises. In July I went to Lexington,

and found that Professor Xaupi was teaching dancing there. He sent word

for me to come to his class. When I got there he asked me to dance with him

and we circled around before the pupils. Then he made me dance with one

of the little girls while he played the violin. The dancing class made a differ-

ence in our amusement. They had evening affairs and we enjoyed them.

Again I began to ride horseback, which I liked better than anything. We had

many picnics and in fact the old town seemed to have awakened. There was a

stranger in town, a Mr. Seth Serat who was a mining engineer and who had a

sophisticated air I found very interesting. Diary says:

"He is very entertaining and dances divinely."

Meantime Katherine had been visiting Birdie in Chicago, and now she

arrived in Lexington. Diary says: "She is much changed for the better as regards

conversational powers." Of course we soon found ourselves attended by cavaliers,

seven one Sunday afternoon. We continued to go driving and riding and had a

wonderful time enjoying country diversions. A great crowd of us went to the

circus when it came to town. We had never enjoyed Lexington so much.

I went to the home of my uncle John Waddell for a visit, this house being

in the town proper and we had a jolly time. One of the great diversions was

driving in a farm wagon drawn by two young mules. One night when the moon

was brilliant and unclouded and the mules were fresh and swift, seven of us in

the wagon went the usual four mile circuit around Lover's Lane and after re-

turning to town had some ice-cream soda. Katherine and I had been asleep

for about an hour when we heard some delicious music, and aunt Betty inform-

ed us we were being serenaded. It was lovely. We had a great deal of company

and hated to leave and go home. Early one morning six young men came to

see us off. Diary says: "So many people seemed to be really sorry to see us go

that it was the one pleasure of going."

My friend Talbot was not there that summer but there were several

people I had not known before, among them the celebrated editress Rose

Young who afterwards lived in New York. George Kreihn lived there, a clever

boy of German extraction who afterwards became a professor at a New York

College. Lee Davis also lived there and afterwards he and Seth Serat were

almost inseparable in their attentions to me. They came to call together, and

they combined forces to tease me in a clever fashion both irritating and amus-

ing. I had a correspondence course with all of these people in the winter time,

and Seth Serat particularly was an interesting correspondent. And this time I

hated to go home. Diary says: "Here I am at home, writing this! How dreadful!"

And of course school was the purpose for which I came home and that soon

chained my devotion, with music and the eternal vocal culture exercises taking

much of my time.

I had advanced certainly in my music, and now Mrs. Brainard organized a

singing group that she called the K.J.B. Quartette. My voice was a mezzo soprano

and she asked me to sing the second soprano part. We each got five dollars when

we sang in public, and on the side we had a very delightful social time. I was the

youngest of the four women, and of course this was just something more to get

Minnettte Slayback in the papers. On the seventh of June, 1887 was the follow-

ing item:

"Mrs. Brainard's musical complimentary to her pupils at Mary Institute

was a charming affair. The music room of the Institute had been arranged and

decorated for the commencement exercises of the following morning, and the

audience, composed of well-known ladies and young girls all in pretty summer

costumes, giving a very gala air to the occasion. The program ran as follows:

"The Blue Bells of Scotland", Schilling, the K.J.B. Quartet. "Last Night",

Kyerulf, Miss Slayback, " "The Tempest," Buck, Mrs. Mosher," Ave Maria "Abt,

K.J.B. Quartet," "T is I," Pinsuti, Mrs. Anderson. "Stacato Polka," Mulder,

Mrs. Philips, "O Sing, Sweet Bird, "Mazzinghi, Mrs. Brainard, Miss Wait and

Mrs. Anderson. "Water Sprites," Schumann, K.J.B. Quartet. "To The Woods,

"Alary, Mrs. Philips and Mrs. Anderson. "Now the Day Is Over", Barnby, K.J.B.

Quartet. The numbers were all delightfully rendered and the work was a

credit to Mrs. Brainard."

I continued taking private lessons from Mrs. Brainard and also sang in

the choir of the Unitarian Church under the able direction of Professor Ernest

Kroeger. Needless to say I learned a great deal about good music from these

two activities, Mrs. Brainard had a nice taste in songs and chose delicate small

classics of Europe gems of songs of which I never grew tired. I learned the

works of Edward Lassen, Adolph Yensen, Franz Abt, Meyer-Helmund, in addi-

tion to better known composers. Mrs. Brainard was a stickler for enunciation

and intelligent rendering of the poetry of a song, and if perhaps she was not

the genius for the building of a voice that she might have been, she could at

least teach you how to express your song. And so, during that winter I con-

tinued to practise faithfully and was connected more or less with things musical.

During the summer of 1887 I became ill with dysentery. I lost nine

pounds rapidly, and did not recover my health for some time. All my life I

suffered from colonic condition which the doctors failed to recognize, or kept

to themselves, and to me it was some mysterious dragon in a cave which

occasionally filled me with dread. I continually caught cold, I knew nothing

about diet, and did not realize that it was a catarrhal condition of the colon

that might have been remedied , till I was an old woman and ran across a

doctor's column in a newspaper that helped me to take care of myself properly!

I found that I should not have eaten sugar as I did. In my young days I would

get a sort of sugar thirst, and I would cook a pot of fudge or buy some caramels,

or stay with a box of candy till I finished it. But the trouble that summer was

caused by some fruit, and I was quite sick. Arthur Adams attended me and he

was a good physician, but the trouble returned and lingered.

Birdie Slayback came to visit us, and during her visit we learned to smoke

a cigarette, doing it secretly and with great caution, as if it was something

wicked and wild. But smoking never claimed me as a victim. It got in the way

when I worked and tasted like dead flies in my mouth in the morning. So I did

not smoke. When Birdie returned to Chicago I accompanied her, still shaky and

uncertain, and not knowing what to eat, and evidently getting in trouble with

my relatives because of it. A letter to my mother after the railroad journey says:

"Chicago, July 7' 1887

"My Dear Mama:

 

"We had the nastiest , dirtiest trip you ever heard of.

I grew rapidly better on the train, and when I was sickish, once, I took a little

Syrup of Rhubarb and it made me feel better. But the seats were so small one

could not lie down, curled or any other way, so I did not get to sleep once.

"Uncle Charlie and Aunt Annie met us at Thirty-Ninth Street, -

and I had my cloak on. I had resisted all fruits and similar temptations on the

train, in spite of Birdie's teasing offers, and when we reached their very pretty

rooms, lo, and behold, they had spread out an exquisite little lunch for us:

fruits, pickles, olives, sliced ham, sardines and wine, bread and crackers. I

took some ham and bread and one olive, and later, when the ice-cream came,

some cake, but I did not touch another thing except some port wine. On top

of that I took my tonic and some paragoric. To tell you the truth, in two

minutes I was "swimming," that is, my head was. Then we went out and saw

the moon rise over the lake, then we came in and went to bed and This

morning; (after sleeping well by the way,) I quite offended Uncle Charlie by

not taking cracked wheat. He gave me a lecture. But I would not eat it.

"I came through Pullman on our route and it struck me as being

a beautiful little city. Everything is new and prettily built, and the town is so

well laid out.

"Birdie said the lake did not look pretty, but I say it did. The

sunset was red and reflected pink in the sky; the lake is east of Chicago, and it

reflected the pink sky clear to the horizon, but there the sky was a beautiful blue.

Oh it was lovely!

"Birdie's room is charming. It is rather small, but, as one of her

friends told her "it just suits a little body like you." It is furnished in light furniture,

and has a closet and a wash-stand (stationary) in a closet. So it is very nice.

Tell Lon there's a little boy outside my window who looks just like

him; and all along the lake shore as we came through the suburbs on the train

I saw little pink naked fellows in bathing.

Everything is so delightfully clean here. They have gas lamps

about every fifty feet.

"Oh! this is lovely air; I feel much better already. I know I'll get

well. Aunt Annie says she is going to put me on the train and send me home

if I get sick. But I won't get sick. May I eat cracked wheat? Best love to every-

one and do write soon.

Your Loving daughter

Minnette Slayback."

I remained in Chicago for three weeks and very much enjoyed that visit.

Amongst Birdie's friends was a young college student named Jim Todd. He

was interested in Botany, and finding that I was, he brought his herbarium to

show me and it fascinated me. In it he had a number of ferns, amongst them a

"Pellea Atropurpurea", and a "Walking Fern," both of them strangers to me, and

I resolved I would find one and have them for my own.

My family had gone from St. Louis to Lexington and gave orders I should

join them there. I went by way of St. Louis, on the fourth of August, stopping

overnight at Susie's house. I was very much amused at her cute, pretty little

girl, Alice. Alice was just talking nicely. She said: "I tan't, "No'm, I ain't," "Gim"

me fat meat," and Let do my hand." The parrot allowed her to fondle her

without biting the child. On the sixth of August I made an entry in my diary

at Lexington. I surprised Katherine, who did not know I was expected.

I went to Aunt Juliet's and immediately began to enjoy the happy-

go-lucky life I led in that place. But every time I stirred I had a return of my

intestinal ailment, and aside from the pain it caused, it depressed me and made

me blue. I was so afraid of typhoid fever. But I continued to lead the frivolous

life in spite of it. I saw a great deal of Mr. Davis and Mr. Serat, both clever and

stimulating young men. I rode horseback. But I did not get well, and my drug-

store Uncle thought he could cure me. He induced me to take the following

dose: "Whiskey, castor-oil, turpentine and laudanum." All the next day I lay in

bed and contemplated my sins. But I did not remain there long. The young

people in town were very active and my indisposition did not seem to hamper

me. I went on a hay-ride and to an archery meeting, and had company of

both sexes continually. The diary mentions one caller and says: "I sang a great

deal to him. I am so glad I can sing. It helps wonderfully in entertaining."

Meantime Katherine had been invited to visit some relatives in north

western Missouri at a town named Lawson. I continued to have a good time

where I was, but always fighting my intestinal trouble. I wrote to my doctor

brother-in-law describing my symptoms and Arthur sent me some medicine

by express. It seems I had been resisting the functioning of my liver, so now

he gave me a prescription to affect that organ, and after that I began to recover.

I was in a Shakespeare tableau as Portia. Then Katherine wrote for me

to join her at Lawson at the Watkins Place. They owned what really was a ranch,

a huge farm of thirty-two hundred acres, where they raised cattle, fine horses and

fine pigs. Katherine and I were together. We rode horseback continually, and ate

enormously, especially of some very fine peaches that particularly appealed to me.

I gained eighteen pounds and returned to St. Louis feeling like a new person.

That sojourn in the real country showed me more of the beauties of nature

than I had ever enjoyed before. We were always roaming around on horseback,

and I explored the land in a way I had never done. In the midst of the rolling

country was a hummock of limestone rock that I climbed and examined. It was

here that I found a Walking Fern, and a specimen of the Pellea Atropurpurea,

both at the same time, because of the fact that I had seen them in Jim Todd's

Herbarium, and knew what to look for. The joy of finding the Walking Fern

was a real thrill. I dig it up and took it home with me. I had it for years. Later,

in moving about I left it behind, thinking I could find another. But it is not so

easy to find. It does not grow at all in some parts of the country because it likes

a limestone foundation. For years I looked for it again, without success. Finally,

in northern New Jersey, in the limestone hills of Sussex County, I found it again,

and if I had struck gold it would not have given me a greater pleasure.

The ranch was not far from Excelsior Springs, and one afternoon Cousin

John took Kate and me to the celebrated watering place. We started about

four o'clock in a gay humor.

Diary: It seems that he always drives like mad, and always with two horses,

so we fairly flew. Reaching the Springs we walked to two of them and drank of

the water and started back. The roads were very bad and it grew late. To save

time he made a "cut". All went well for a time till we came to a dreadfully steep

place, with a rut on the left, and a smooth rock about four feet square on the

right. The horses began to cut up and would not straddle the rock, but pulled

into the rut. Katie sat on the left, I on the right of Cousin John. First thing I knew

I felt him slipping and then saw Kate fall out of the wagon on to the road! Cousin

John jumped out immediately, and as she said she was not hurt, helped her back

into the vehicle. But tonight she limps and has a good many bruises.

My record notes my appreciation of that country life as having a romantic

appeal. It was like being in a story book, and the small adventures we had deligh-

ted me and filled me full of material for much writing. I wrote a story called

"The Country Girl," later published in the Waverly Magazine. I also wrote a poem

called "Autumn Evening," which was published in the St. Louis Republican during

the following November. So, altogether, that visit gave me an immense amount

of benefit.

While in Lawson we were visited by two young lady sisters, the Fairleigh

girls, also relatives, who came from St. Joseph, Missouri. I returned with them to

pay a short visit at their home in St. Jo, and while there the whole town seemed

to try to entertain me. The Fairleighs gave ma a delightful party. There were

two hundred guests present. I performed a feat that astonished them because

when they were departing I remembered all their names. I had an uncanny

memory for names and faces, and it amused me that they thought it unusual.

With pleasant regrets I left St. Joseph and returned to Lawson, where Katherine

was waiting for me, to go back to Lexington. There we joined in with the rest

of the family and returned to St. Louis.

I was rather at loose ends. In some manner I had managed to spend too

much money and needed eighty dollars for tuition if I were to go back to school.

I had been painting pictures and I wanted frames for them. It was easy for me

to obtain a charge account, and I found myself in debt at the framers, and I am

positive I paid one bill twice. Leaving the receipted bill on the man's desk, he

sent me a second bill and I had nothing to do but to pay it again. Katherine

always had money. It just happened that at this time she had some extra

cash on hand and my mother persuaded her to lend me the money for my

schooling, but I had wasted so much time deciding what I was going to do, that

I did not get back to school till the second semester, and I was obliged to take

private lessons in German and Physics in order to get back in my class to graduate.

Not that I was idle, for my fussy glands would never permit me to be that. I am

quite sure that I changed more during that year I was nineteen than at any other

time during my whole life. I grew up. My brain seemed to unfold, and I was full

of inspirations to accomplish things. I had made up my mind to be a writer, and

although I was continually overcome by a desire to paint a picture and although

I would set up a study and go through to the completion of it, I had no intention

of being an artist, and Mother threw all her weight to the encouragement of my

literary talent. Fortunately I had the power of concentration, which was a good

thing in that large and lively family.

Sister Susie had gone away from the house next door and lived in the

block below, still on Olive Street. But she had left a certain small, walnut desk

behind, and I "made love" to that at once and it filled my requirements to a

nicety. For the time I believed that I was not to return to school, and so I began

a systematic effort at writing. I always felt the urge to use my pen on a Monday

morning. Formerly I had written letters at this time, but now I began writing

stories. I laid in a supply of the proper kind of paper and if the creative streak

was impatient I wrote in pencil and copied the manuscript in ink. There was no

type-writer to simplify matters.

My first attempts at real literary work were very amusing. I had read so

much fiction that I was saturated. I had come to the point where I could not

read without wanting to write something myself. The compositions I wrote

at school were not love stories and adventure, and I wanted to create romance.

Among the friends of my sister Susie we saw much of a family named

Mitchell, refined and lovely people, quite literary in their tastes. Webb Mitchell,

a young man verging on bachelorhood had always been my particular friend.

We were affinities. When he came to call on Sister we always had a chat before

she came down, and I lingered as long as possible to talk to him. He was a sweet

man, and it was to him I turned when I wrote my first story, knowing he would

respect my confidence. My story started out with a girl walking up a road -

going somewhere. She entered a house and another girl began talking to her.

I became interested in the affairs of the second young woman, and finished with

her. The story ended, and I was quite surprised when Webb Mitchell said:

"But what became of the girl who was walking up the road?"

I can still hear his charming laughter.

Of course I did not do that again, but I continued to write and was soon

pouring forth a host of sentimental romances that I didn't know what to do with.

The Waverly Magazine was a modest publication, filled with nothing but roman-

tic tales, and I sent them one called "Five O'clock in the Morning." It was accepted

and later was published, and with the introduction: "Five O'clock in the morning is

charming." But my joy was incomplete because they didn't pay for their contribu-

tions.

The editress of the magazine, Mrs. Duchemin, liked my work and encour-

aged me, and for the time being it was the best I could do. I did not know any-

one who wrote for publication and I was ignorant of what to do. However, my

stories looked good to me in print, and I continued with the Waverly Magazine

until I had seen seven stories in that publication. I then decided I wanted to

have money for my writing. I had things printed in several other small maga-

zines, one called: "Fashion and Fancy" one "The Home Record", also in "The

St. Louis Spectator", a popular weekly, and I found I could write indefinitely

if I gave the material away. I was inexperienced and did not appreciate the

policy of getting my name into print. It seemed to me that if I did not get pay

for it, it placed the stigma of unworthiness on it. At school the teachers had

been much interested in my writing, and I always got 98% and 100% for a

composition. One of my teachers was Miss Hilda Clemens and she encouraged

me to write as much as possible, and after I was through with school and she

was married we continued to be devoted friends.

My first publications were before I left school. It got into the society

column and made me locally famous. The stories were the silliest little love

tales and a poem or two, but they furnished a lot of talk. I quote on excerpt

from my scrap-book.

"Talking of books reminds me that I heard during the week many pleasing

comments upon the literary ventures of Miss Minnette Slayback, the gifted,

beautiful daughter of the late Col. Alonzo W. Slayback, whose literary talent

she seems to have inherited. The Young lady has a short story in the Boston

Waverly Magazine of December 10th, called "Five O'clock in the Morning."

That the story was accepted and published in the literary 'Hub' is quite a feather

in the young lady's cap. Success to the bright girl in her literary role!"

My first money came from a sad little tale called "Not Available." In the

S.S. McClure Syndicate. By this time I was subscribing to a professional writer's

magazine, and together with the proud ideas I had developed about money

for my work, I was encouraged to fight for my rights. I think it was Mary Roberts

Reinhart who was so patient with S.S. McClure when he was struggling to estab-

lish himself, and afterwards she was rewarded by his assistance. But I was not

that canny. He did not pay me for months for "Not Available", so I wrote to the

Writer's magazine and asked what to do about it. They wrote a letter to McClure

and under that pressure he sent me a check. But of course it closed that avenue

of publication and I was innocent of what I had done. He would never accept

another manuscript.

The Waverly Magazine was edited by Mrs. Amelia Duchemin. She wrote

me a helpful letter:

"Miss Slayback:

"I am glad to be able to tell you, consolentiously, that your sketches have

genuine merit. They are sweet and pure, and gracefully written. The Waverly

does not pay; but there is no reason why you should not succeed in other quarters.

Send one of your sketches to Mrs. Frank Leslie, and I am sure it will be read.

Sincerely yours,

 

Amelia Duchemin,

Literary Editor, Waverly Magazine."

I thereupon sent one of my stories, called: "Aleck's Love" to the Godey's

Magazine. At least I had some luck and I received fourteen dollars for this

manuscript, and in a most satisfactory way, but not for a long time after I sent

it away, not till the next summer, and in the midst of a tennis match, that was

rather going against me. I had never seen anyone play tennis, but I had read

about the game and wanted very much to establish a court. I was at Aunt

Juliet's and we had a fine piece of grass that I could use, so my cousin Walter

and I marked it off with lime and I bought a net and racquets and we were

launched in a persuit that remained with me. (Eventually it graduated into

Badminton, it is true, but at seventy I still play Badminton.) There was a girl

in Lexington named Maisie McGrew who also established a court, and we play-

ed together with great enthusiasm, and were always trying to prove superiority.

She got up a special tennis match, and just because it was a contest, with

spectators, my nerves interfered, and I did not do so well. I was feeling blue

and discouraged, and temporarily out of play, when someone brought me my

mail. I opened an envelope and out came a check for fourteen dollars for

"Aleck's Love." After that tennis did not matter. This occasion has always been

one of the bright spots of my life.

The little poem called, "A Slumber Day" I wrote at school in line of

composition duty. It was afterwards published in the Waverly Magazine. The

one called "An Autumn Evening," inspired while at Lawson in 1887, was pub-

lished that November, in the St. Louis Republic, and was the first poem in print.

I was nineteen years old.

A short story called "Marie," made part of my literary history. I sent it to

the St. Louis Republic. They did not like to accept literature from local talent.

(They afterwards told me they got their material from the east, sent there to a

syndicate, I suppose, from the west.) The returned my story, but it got lost in

the mail. It was some time before I established that fact, but when I was satis-

fied with it I sent the story to the Waverly Magazine, and it was accepted and

published in February 1888. "Not Available" was syndicated in several papers,

among them being the Chicago Tribune. My Uncle Charles Slayback saw it

there and sent me the clipping, very much pleased.

After January 1888 I began studying to return to school in the last

semester, but I still continued the part of Sisyphus, trying to write literature.

I took private lessons in History, Chemistry and German. My former teacher

Miss Clemens, now Mrs. Archer Douglas taught me German. We would read

for three hours at a time. I belonged to the choir at the Church of the Messiah,

a Unitarian Church, because it was conducted by the famous musician, Ernest

Kroeger, a brilliant man in many ways. From this association I benefited much.

I labored at my singing, with Mrs. Brainard.

DIARY: Took my music lesson this morning. Mrs. Brainard told me that

now my purity of attack of tone was perfect. After years of trying to overcome

that terrible "glide!" And now I am studying portamento, a near relation to the

glide, but what I may call a swell relation.

But the dear lady said my corsets were too tight. Regularly pounced on

me, going so far as to declare I might get another teacher if I could not wear

looser clothing - when she would not give me up for pay! And tough I tried

to convince her that I was not one bit tighter than usual, she regarded me with

the calm eye of unbelief.

I took part in another cantata called "The Snow Queen." All I remember

about that performance was my beautiful dress . It was of white canton flannel,

with the fuzzy side out, and stitched to it occasionally were bright silver icicles,

usually worn by Christmas trees. There was a silver crown, which I made myself,

of pasteboard and tinfoil. But there must have been something more to it, for

Mr. Kroeger was there, and the next time I went to choir practice Ernest gave

me some very nice compliments about my singing in the part of the Snow Queen.

And in the halls of my heart is the memory of my small sister Grace who had a

part in it and not only sang like an angel, but looked like one, with her halo of

red gold hair. She was twelve years old.

My intimacy with Georgie Towner continued to flourish. I know I had too

much company, but I could not stem that tide. I merely kept afloat with it. The

diary notes Bertie one Sunday afternoon, and four young men in the evening.

I have referred to the surmise that the young men who liked Daisy Brook-

mire seemed also to like me. At this period I had two instances of that. Jack was

one of them and at the time he like me I think she like him very much, and perhaps

a word from her ended it for me. It began at a party given at the Mary Institute.

I had a marvelous time, according to the record.

DIARY: I went with Will Matthews and Kate went with Jesse Hendel - in

separate carriages. Lovely time will not describe it. My dress was a pink albatross

cloth skirt with fern green silk rosettes over it. The short waist of the green silk the

low neck filled in with pink tulle, and pink tulle forming sleeves in short puffs to

the wrist. In my hair a pink feather aigrette. My card was filled to overflowing -

fifteen dances, - thirty-seven names on my card. Oh! The fun! Danced with

Jack. We had lots of fun together. And I am proud to say it was a thoroughly

enjoyable party to me. Will Matthews gave me a fan which he brought from

Japan. Oh! I am tired!

I was writing at about one o'clock.

The next day Jack accidentally crossed my path. The night before he

had accused me of not speaking to him on the street so I bowed and said:

"You see, I am speaking, today."

We stood talking for a few moments, then I said:

"Are you just roaming around? I knew he was. The I put in a stroke of

quiet audacity and said:

"Come and roam with me."

"Where are you going to roam?"

"I'm on my way home"

"Don't go home."

And I didn't. We went out the Boulevarde past Donaldson's and it was

a delightful walk. He walked home with me and I asked him to call. I was not

sure that he would. But he happened to live in the region where Georgie

resided, and it seemed inevitable to meet Jack every day. Or at times to see

him pass under her window. It was remarkable how often he caught up with

me as I came or went from her house. Once he whistled just as I rang the door-

bell, but the door-bell was not answered and we talked for several minutes. At

one time my diary complained I had not seen him for two days. Georgie was

always surrounded by a bevy of girls, and they began to be suspicious of the

way I watched out the window or came to the house accompanied by the young

man, and naturally they teased me about him. I tried avoiding him and his

immediate corners, but he seemed to sense that I was in the neighborhood and

would turn up on other streets and join me. And then, one day he asked if I

would be at home that evening. Why of course I was. He did not know that I

was dated to a rehearsal of Jarley's waxworks at the church, but it was auto-

matically cancelled as soon as he spoke.

 

Minnette's Journal

Scott's Time Portal to Old St. Louis

Copyright 2001, Carol Jane Belding, All right reserved.  HTML and graphics edited by Scott Williams. Transcription by Deanna Adams Holm