During the summer Louise and Oscar chaperoned a large house party that I attended. There were six couples and an odd man or so. We went to "The Cedars", a large farm in the Ozarks. Swimming in the river, tennis, baseball, walking in the lanes, and dancing in a big barn were our activities. The food was good and plentiful. We went on Friday afternoon, returning Sunday evening. Holliday Wear was my "steady" then. He was good looking, pleasant toward everyone from morning till night, but not as interesting to talk with as some others. There is nothing better than a house party to help people get acquainted. One of the brainiest men in this group was the least attractive in the mornings. He may have been a bit grouchy because another man there was attentive toward Emma Whittaker. Neither one married her in later years. Edith Collins and Claude Kennerly attended this house party and they married a few years later.
Irving McKesson had married a New York girl named Mary whom I had met during one of my first visits in New York at the McKessons. I do not remember her full name. She lived in Yonkers but often visited the McKessons at Monmouth Beach. One glorious morning Mary and I walked on the beach together. I enjoyed letting the salt breezes blow my hair. Mary was petulant and trying to restrain her hair. She talked constantly against Mrs. McKesson. Finally I stopped and turned toward her and said, "You are talking against your mother-in-law and my very dear friend, and I can't take any more of it - good-bye!" I turned and walked the other way. She and Irving left in a day or so. I felt that I had made an enemy and might have caused their sudden departure. When I told my hostess about this spat she wiped a tear from her eyes and told me that she and Mary had not gotten along well from the first and she did not know what to do. A baby was born after a year or so and the McKessons were joyful over their first grandchild. The relationship improved a little, but Mrs. McKesson told me that it was only after the death of Mary's mother a few years later that Mary began to accept her motherly attentions normally. Mrs. McKesson did so want a daughter.
The autumn was a pleasant one, with an opening at the Artists' Guild and some of my oil sketches were in that exhibit. A new man had come into my life. He was John Boyle, a mining engineer. He did a great deal of assaying of various ores that came to his office. He belonged to a well known family who lived on Washington Avenue when we first knew them and later built a handsome house on Lindell near Kingshighway. He was very serious-minded and loved poetry, could recite it well, and did some writing. He took me to the theater in the family carriage now and then. I enjoyed dancing with him because he was about the right height and had a good sense of time. Mother liked him because he had such a nice quiet manner. He was frequently out of town on some mining interest.
Rumors came from New Orleans about my gay cousin Mary Matthews who had visited us the year before. She had recovered from her infatuation with George Scott. Nat Ewing was in New Orleans again, and it may have been through Nat or his friend Dudley Avery that Mary met Ned McIlhenny. Mary had known Dudley Avery for many years but had never met his brilliant cousin. Edward Avery McIlhenny had a fine mind and went into research in forestry, bird life, and mining. He was largely responsible for interesting people connected with all three of these fields to come to Avery Island. The salt mine, most important during the war between the states, was just dragging along. There was very little growing of the small red peppers for tabasco sauce. This pepper sauce was being produced in an old barn in a large old-fashioned churn with a hand plunger to mash the peppers. The island was covered with every kind of growth from various mosses and palmettos to great live oak, willow, and cypress hung with the weird-locking Spanish moss that became useful. Bird life was extensive. Edible oysters were found near some of the shores. A cannery was built for these and the crabs and shrimp. It was a veritable Garden of Eden.
Rumors reached St. Louis of a possible engagement between Mary Matthews and Ned McIlhenny. None of Mary's St. Louis cousins were the "social butterfly'' type, and they could hardly believe that our cousin would finally choose such an outstanding man. However, a few months before Christmas I received a letter from Mary telling me much of what I have just told about her beau. She asked me to be a bridesmaid at their wedding on June 2, 1902. Mary's father and mother were pleased over the engagement, and Uncle Will wrote a glowing account of his prospective son-in-law. I looked forward to another trip to New Orleans and visiting my favorite New Orleans aunt and uncle.