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   Chapter 19 No.19

The World As I Have Found It / Sequel to Incidents in the Life of a Blind Girl By Mary L. Day Characters: 7466

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03


"And the night shall be filled with music,

And the thoughts that infest the day

Shall fold their tents like the Arabs,

And as quietly steal away."

Our hearts beating with high hopes and expectant joys, we once more settled down to happiness in Milwaukee. A joyful trio were we, my husband, Hattie and myself. Our location in the Lake House, then one of the most popular little hotels in the city, augured well for a pleasant sojourn.

Mrs. Towle, the proprietress, was one who had deeply drank of the cup of sorrow, the first draught coming from the hand of one who had vowed her his love and protection, and who, after twenty-five years of wedded life, deserted her. When, with apparent penitence, he returned to her, he was received to her forgiving heart, and then came the draining of the bitter dregs in a second desertion.

With her two children as her only dower, she patiently took up the burden of life, and bravely bore all, supporting and educating her two daughters, and never losing dignity or caste.

No more delightful summer resort could be found than Milwaukee, familiarly known as the "Cream City," from the light straw or creamy tint of the brick, which forms so large a part in the architecture of that city, and gives an air of charming cleanliness to the buildings. This shade is said by chemists to be the result of the want of the usual element of iron in the clay of which it is made, and so curious is it to strangers that it has become a familiar saying that few people leave Milwaukee without carrying away "a brick in their hats," this being doubtless in part a jesting allusion to the apparently all-pervading spirit of the gay Gambrinus apparent there and the numberless manufactories of the foaming lager. Yet methinks this is no longer a more striking characteristic there than elsewhere, in spite of the predominant German element.

The word "Milwaukee" signifies rich land, and the truthful significance of the appellation is amply testified by the rare flowers, green gardens, fertile fields and towering forests in and around it, all of which are the outgrowth of its soil of rich alluvial loam.

Milwaukee is a city whose animus is in striking contrast to the daring, dashing spirit of Chicago, but its substantial wealth, cash basis, and slow, careful, steady progress, have led it on to sure success, so well attested by the quiet and substantial elegance of its business buildings, the palatial proportions and exquisite finish of its private dwellings, with their appropriate appointments of cultivated conservatories, gorgeous gardens and rare works of art. The well stored libraries evince an advanced degree of cultivation, and the literary coteries a prevailing element of the dilletante spirit, while the plain, rich habiliments, and the elegant turnouts with liveried attendants, indicate a degree of fashion and style unknown in many larger cities; and their manufactories and business houses suggest great mercantile advancement, their elevators and shipping a high order of commercial greatness.

Their harbor is one of the finest in the world, and by travelers is said to resemble that of the beautiful Naples. Indeed, the extended view from the drive upon Prospect Street is without a rival. Beautiful Boulevardes were then in quite advanced process of construction, and in time must rank among the most shaded, flowery walks and drives in the world.

Swiftly sped the summer hours in fair Milwaukee, with its gay gladiolas and blue skies, its crystal waters and grand old forests, until it ceased to be a wonder why so many health and pleasure seekers made it a resort, and that it became, during the warm season, a fashionable watering place.

One of

our most frequent rendezvous was upon the lake shore, where, in a sweet secluded spot, far away from the throng which resorted there, a rough log for a seat, we were wont to sit for hours, listening to the music of the bands upon the excursion boats as they came and went with their scores of pleasure seekers, and the still more harmonious melody of the waves as they rose and fell at our feet in low, soft, musical murmurs.

Among the many attractions of Milwaukee is that of one of the several noble institutions erected by our Government and known as National Soldiers' Homes.

It is located four miles west of the city, and is accessible both by Elizabeth Street and Grand Avenue, two of the most delightful drives of Milwaukee.

Its eight hundred acres are beautifully enclosed and finely cultivated, being laid out by one of its former chaplains, according to the most artistic rules of landscape gardening; every coil and curve of avenue being a line of beauty, and its fifteen miles of drive startling the eye with its grouping of lake and garden, bridge and stream, fern-clad ravines and sunny heights.

Amid its dense groves are fairy pavilions, in which its maimed and scarred veterans discourse sweet music by a silver cornet band, without one grating sound or discordant note.

Without the rigid discipline of active array life, these veterans have sufficient military discipline for comfort and order, and one cannot fail to remark the systematic precision which characterizes the performance of their daily duties.

I cannot say all I should like to say in regard to these institutions, but suffice it to say that I found many sympathizing and some old friends among the blind, and was glad to learn that these soldiers, as a class, ranked among the most cultivated inmates.

I cannot close my chapter upon this subject without alluding to the magnanimous generosity of the Milwaukeeans in their donation of one hundred thousand dollars to the National Home Fund, the proceeds of a Sanitary Fair, in which white hands and deft fingers, faithfully and patriotically wrought, for the benefit of the disabled soldiers, and few cities could boast of a nobler donation. I must also allude to the high appreciation in which the Homes are held by foreign dignitaries.

Miss Emily Faithful, the fair amanuensis and confidential friend of Queen Victoria, while visiting America in an official capacity, spent a day in socially visiting and carefully inspecting the Soldiers' Home of Milwaukee. Astonished and entertained she pronounced it the most pleasurable day she had spent in this country.

The Grand Duke Alexis left upon its register the only autograph written in person in a public place, bestowing upon the institution the most extravagant encomiums, both himself and his suite of traveled and titled gentlemen pronouncing it a wonder and a marvel!

The Reverend Doctor Smythe, of Dublin, Ireland, when in attendance upon the Evangelical Alliance, visited the Soldiers' Home of Dayton, Ohio. Examining its magnificent libraries, seventy thousand dollar chapel and its hospital, the finest in the world, he was spell-bound. Going to its music hall and listening to its band, inhaling the perfume of its conservatories, visiting its grottoes, bowers and springs, rowing on its lakes, seeing its aviaries with birds of all varieties of plumage and song, and driving in its parks inhabited by buffalo, elk, antelope and over five hundred deer; he exclaimed with evident fervor, "In the Old Country, libraries, conservatories, bands and parks are for the nobility; in the new world they are for the soldiery." And what nobler compliment could he have paid to our country and its institutions?

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