Spring in Paris – 1903
We went to a small but good hotel on the Avenue de l’Opera. The McKessons had been there before so we had excellent service and food. The hotel was near many good stores and hat shops. Because the World's Fair was to open in St. Louis in the spring of 1904 I bought three beautiful rather elaborate handmade blouses and one simple one of the same handkerchief linen. This one had only tucks and faggoting from a staple collar to the waistline. One new idea for summer was a white-linen skirt. This had a closely fitted yoke composed of hand tucks that were larger at the waist and tapered to about four or five inches to make fullness at the hip. The skirt reached only to the ankle while most skirts were to the ground. The hat that went with this white linen outfit was a gem. It was a wide-brimmed white rough straw sailor with an inch-wide silk velvet ribbon tied in a loose knot. The ends of the ribbon reached to the edge of the brim. With other white duck or pique skirts and hats and a white wool coat and colored prints, I had an ideal wardrobe for the summer of 1903 and the Fair in 1904. Silk stockings, gloves, and some gifts for family and friends added to the above purchases used up most of my money.
I have gone into detail about these purchases because they lasted for many years. My chaperones took me to the opera and we visited the Louvre and the Musee de Cluny (Sp?) Little did I dream that the next time I would visit these famous museums would be in 1954 with my tall son William as my companion. I haunted the Rue de Rivoli and still have things I got there. We went to Boulogne to board the SS Pottsdam on May 2 and arrived in New York May 12. I had been a guest of the McKessons three and a half months! The Pottsdam was a comfortable ship with excellent food and service. We met several delightful people. Mr. and Mrs. Horace Binney and their tiny fox terrier hid a suite on the top deck. Mr. Binney's father was a noted teacher and writer. His wife was a beautiful, well educated French woman who spoke fluent English. They were on their way to visit her sister who had a cottage at Newport. (I was dining at Delmonico’s one evening before I left New York and met Mr. and Mrs. Binney there.) Lucy Lockett a very nice girl from New England, was about my age. When she found I was from St. Louis she asked me if I knew the Papin family and the Rosiers of Ste. Genevieve. I had known Vion Papin and Edgar Rosier for some time. Lucy Lockett came to visit in St. Louis some time after this and later married Vion Papin, Eugenie Papin's cousin. Another girl, Louise Barker of New England, joined us. She was handsome, athletic, and fun. We played shuffleboard together and evening games, and helped to keep Mr. and Mrs. McKesson busy and happy. I do not think Mrs. McKesson suffered her usual mal de mer on this trip. So again I was a help to my chaperones because of my ability to make friends with young people. It was a delightful trip.
I spent a weekend at Chappaqua with my wonderful friends and I think they had Louise Barker also. She lived in the east and kept up friendship with Mr. and Mrs. McKesson and Donald. Then I went to New York for a bit of shopping and a look at American styles. I returned home by train in May and found my parents and family well. There were hearty greetings from members of my family, who admired the caretta from Baron Paterno. They asked about him. Our garden was full of flowers. However a hundred feet or more of ground was dug up and piles of earth, rocks, and digging tools littered the yard. Part of our rose-bed was dug up. My father could hardly wait to take me to see the plan he had for a lily and goldfish pond. He and a garden assistant from Shaw's Garden had drawn the plans. The pond was to be long, narrow, and irregular in shape, including a small peninsula which had a precious magnolia stella tree on it. Father had been a director and contributor to Missouri Botanical Gardens for years. Each year the water lilies and other aquatic plants were thinned out from the ponds and we were glad to get some that would have been thrown away. We received Victoria Regina pink, white, and purple lilies. Some of them opened in late afternoon to perfume the night air and others in the morning to brighten and sweeten the daytime. Some of these were hardy and did not have to be renewed. The tropical kinds at Shaw’s Garden were put in the greenhouses. They always had more than they could use and often gave us some. The Victoria Regina leaf is like a planned piece of architecture. It is three or more feet wide with strong heavy bars and crossbars of a heavy fibrous growth on the underside of the leaf. The entire edge of this great leaf turns up about two inches. A snapshot of me standing on a piece of plywood fitted to the top of the leaf shows how we avoided breaking through. The leaf can hold a hundred pounds or more.
Our lily pond was carefully built to present leaks. The bottom was concrete laid over bricks. Two or three deep spots were made in which fish and frogs could hibernate and not get frozen. A small island was reached by a rustic bridge. The pond had cavernous rocks surrounding its borders. It was filled with water for testing. In case any leaks appeared it was drained and mended. It was ready for planting by midsummer and it added much beauty to our garden.