We returned in late September as my uncle had to wait till after frost to avoid hay fever. I became busy with many activities - Artists' Guild, clothes, bees, the garden, etc. Then Elvira Houston and my brother Leonard had their engagement announced. Vie, as she was called, asked me to be a bridesmaid at their wedding sometime in February, 1907. Vie was a perfectionist - more about this later. The Houston family lived on Washington Avenue east of Grand when the Matthews family lived at Grand and Bell. Our families attended the same Presbyterian church and had pews next to each other. This church is described fully in my chapter on 1000 Grand Avenue - also the girls and boys we knew there. It is on the corner of Washington and Compton and now is a negro church.
Mr. Houston was a capable and successful business man, married to a dark-haired little lady from the deep south. Negro mammies and servants had filled her with many fears and superstitions. Mrs. Houston's education was what was considered enough for many southern girls. They were taught to write a pretty note, play a song or two on the piano, and cultivate airs and graces that ladies had to have to get a husband. She married at an early age. They had two daughters and a son - Mae, Elvira, and James. The children were all filled with fears and superstitions and their mother dominated them. She had some illness but cultivated many ailments and "enjoyed ill health" all of her life. Mae left home and married, had two sons, but had to go back home when her husband, Connor Witherspoon, left her. Connor could not stand his mother-in-law. Mae and Vie went to the Stoddard school and Hosmer Hall. Although Elvira was dominated and full of fears, she learned to do all she had to do with distinct perfection. She wore her hair brushed straight back for years. Her clothes were always in perfect order. She dressed immaculately and sometimes beautifully. She never seemed to be at ease. She kept her accounts perfectly to the last penny. When she entertained, which was seldom, everything was so perfect and in order that few could relax and if they did she became anxious.
My brother Leonard was similar to Vie in many ways. He liked order and perfection in many things and surpassed all of his sisters and brothers in this respect. He was religious as Vie was and worked for his church as Vie did. However, Len was not dominated by fear and enjoyed fun and good entertainment. Len got a job at Simons Hardware Company soon after he graduated from Smith Academy. He was determined to make money and he did. After he and Vie were married that was about all his wife wanted him to do. Leonard left Simmons Hardware to go to Shapleigh Hardware with Sank Norvell. Len wanted to travel but Vie did not want to spend money that way and was afraid to cross the ocean. So Len was never allowed to go abroad or take trips just for pleasure and education. Both Len and Vie had gone with other girls and boys before their engagement. Two of Vie's friends at the church wanted to marry her. Len had two other girl friends. One of them lived in Chicago and came to visit me at a time I was glad to have her. Leonora Woods, a cousin from New Orleans, had spent three months in St. Louis visiting at one aunt's home after the other. Long visits were made in those days because most people had servants and life was simpler then than now. Leonora was not very well and wanted to stay away from the malaria of her city as long as she could. When she asked to come and spend another month with me I told her Leonard's girl friend was coming to visit so we could not have _____ I was more than glad to have Len’s friend. That visit was pleasant but it did not lessen Len's interest in Vie. The Houston's had moved to a larger house on Maryland Avenue near Euclid where they lived the rest of their lives.
I went out more with Mr. Chambers that fall and winter. I had a landscape ready for a Guild show. I helped with the usual family activities for Christmas and the New Year. 1907 came. I went to a doctor about my frequent headaches and sick spells, but got no help. Vie and her mother and sister were busy making lovely things for an elaborate trousseau. I went in to help sew on lace or buttons now and then. The wedding plans were finally completed. Both Mae and Vie had their hair waved and wore it in a pompadour. Vie asked Mary Semple and Mattie Sproule to be the other bridesmaids. Mae Witherspoon was to be matron of honor. Len had asked his brother Will and his boyhood friends, Boyle Price, Allen West, and Bert Filley, to be groomsmen. It was to be a small home wedding. The, house had a square entrance hall with stairway going up two sides making a pretty _______. It was a pretty setting for the bridal party. Vie asked her three bridesmaids to come and talk about the gowns. The order was given to Mme. de Vroix, an expensive dressmaker who had made the bridal gown. The four dresses were made of white "oil boiled" taffeta, which does not rustle as the crisp silk does. We had a great deal of discussion about the trimming of the berthas. They were trimmed with heavy lace which the dressmaker decorated with strips of narrow velvet ribbon of pale pink or pale blue. Vie wanted pink for the bridesmaids. Mattie thought we, being past thirty years of age were too old to wear pink. Mae, who was older than two of us, insisted that she as matron of honor should have the pink velvet on her dress as a distinction. She almost cried over this and her sister gave in. It was so ineffective that it could hardly be seen across the room. I tell this because it was one of many annoying incidents with Vie. The dresses were handsome but not stylish. I felt overdressed and wore the dress only a few times. It hung in my closet in a dress bag. Years later I gave it to John Burroughs school drama department. I do not remember any parties given for the engaged pair.