5447 Cabanne – My First Trip to New York and Boston
One chilly evening in April I was studying my U.S. history lesson under a dim gas light. Suddenly father called to me, saying “Lucy, your brother Will and I are leaving at nine o’clock tomorrow morning for New York and Boston. We want you to go with us.” Greatly surprised I said, “I cannot go because I have to take an examination in United States history. I am studying for it now.” Father said, “Put up your book and start getting out clothes you will need for a week’s trip. You will learn history on the scene. Your mother will be up to get out a bag for you.” We did not have suitcases then.
The train trip of nearly two days to New York was smoky and dusty. We went to the Astor House which seemed huge and very elegant. Women paraded in the wide halls in gorgeous clothes and glittering jewels. I was quite overcome. At dinner that night there was a bewildering menu. I chose roast beef. Father said, “You can get that at home! Your brother and I are ordering planked shad. This is April and the best time to have this most excellent fish. You shall have shad!” My answer was, “I don’t like shad.” “How do you know when you have never tasted it?” So I ate planked shad and have never refused it since if I could get it. Years later I was in Florida with father and we visited some people who cooked shad on a plank over coals in a large open fireplace in their great hall. Brother Billie and I went sightseeing in New York while father attended to some business. Then we took a train to Boston where I saw many of the places of interest, mementoes I had just been studying about – Bunker Hill Monument, museums, etc. Father’s brother Edmond Orville Matthews, U.S. Navy officer, was stationed at the Charleston Navy Yard. His family lived in Brookline where we visited them. Uncle Orville had three children by his first wife, Aunt Hattie – my cousins Dorothy, Arthur, and Enid. Uncle Orville had recently married Aunt Hattie’s sister, an old maid school teacher named Zaid. She was indeed that, and knew and loved only New England. One day she asked me if we saw many Indians on the streets of St. Louis – this in 1891. Imagine my disgust over such an ignorant question for a school teacher! Aunt Zaid had one child, a fair and beautiful little girl named Lillian. Aunt Zaid was so devoted to this child that the other three children got the love and attention they needed only from their father who was a very lovable man – my favorite uncle. Aunt Zaid antagonized the three children so that we had Arthur come to live with us to go to school with Claude. He was not a good student, much to his father’s disappointment. However, he was charming and delightful. There will be more about this uncle and his children as the years during which they played a part in my life come up.
When I returned to school after this trip on which I studied United States history firsthand, I had to work to catch up and take that history examination.
I admit I felt a bit important. I worked harder at my studies and began to enjoy life at Mary Institute and invite friends out to visit me in Cabanne. They enjoyed the country place and the homemade ice cream. We kept two jersey cows, a horse and a fringe-top surrey.