April 9, 1925,
5:30 A. M.
Half an hour ago I awakened with the thought "I'm leaving on the 10:10 train for Vienna, Austria,-packing is not finished and a letter must be gotten off now for the cousins or it won't catch the 'S.S.Mauretania' sailing Saturday." Isn't that enough to rouse a man from his downy bed?
Since I last wrote you our little family has made many moves and many plans, and at times it seems our lives have proceeded at a fast and furious gait.
On April twenty-fifth last year Catharine and I sailed for America, leaving the children in Paris. We were home about four weeks. During my stay I visited Mother and William in Elmira--a mighty good visit it was, too.
Just before Decoration Day1, Mother, William, my live-wire nephew Wilfred,(Bill's one and only) and I drove to Nelson armed with red geraniums for Father's grave. I always like to reminisce, so to speak. So when we drove up to the cemetery my thoughts ran back night unto forty years ago when I used to go to church with Grandpa, John H., as they all called him, and sit back in the corner near the choir. Mr. Armstrong preached the sermon, Lena Seely, Benny Blanchard and Charlie Blackwell, if I remember correctly, were part of the choir, and Cousins Mark and Jim Losey2 passed the collection plates. Didn't Mr. Losey's shoes squeak at times? Another thing I remember, too, how pretty were the little girls, Clara and Florence Baxter3! Well, I mustn't ramble too much or I won't catch my train. That day Mother had prepared a delicious lunch of cold chicken with all the rest of the fixin's. We ate on the porch of the little farm house across from the pine grove just before one reaches the railroad tracks on the way to Elkland. We stepped in on the way back to say "Hello" to Cousin Mark. The old store looks just the same--the candy counter is in the same place4 and I think the coveted showcase of jackknives has not changed its place. And Cousin Mark was there, too, his same genial self. That day we saw Cousin Stella down at the little house where I first saw the light of day and, from what Mother says, where I first learned the delight of wandering.
Well, to get back to Europe, we arrived in Paris about the middle of June and immediately took the family to Fontainebleau where I studied all summer. After our return to Paris it
1. The original name of Memorial Day.
2. James Taggert Losey (1843 - 1911) was the brother of Mark's wife.
3. Clara & Florence Baxter weren't "blood relatives", but they were "connected." Clarissa Madge BAXTER Smith (1883 - ?) was a friend of my mother. I have lots of photos ---- very pretty. Florence E. BAXTER Davis (1886 - 1946) lived in the nice house with Grecian columns near Nelson's Presbyterian church. I visited her many times with my mother. Clara and Florence were daughters of Dr. Calvin Scott Baxter (1860 - 1921) & his 1st wife, Harriet E. Elderkin (1861 - 1888). Calvin was the brother of Eva BAXTER Foster Hazlett. Calvin was a son of Hon. Geo. Henry Baxter (1824 - 1892), whose first wife was Sarah Clarissa CAMPBELL Baxter.
4. I have a photo of Mark's store that shows his candy canisters.
was not many weeks before Catharine had a very serious illness, and to make a complete recovery it was necessary to get into a sunny climate. All my singing life I have had the desire to study with the great master and tenor, Jean De Reske. For ten years Jean De Reske has been teaching in Nice, here on the sunny coast of southern France. It seemed the one logical place to visit, so here we have been since the first of the year.
I got on so famously with the master we made plans to be near him this coming summer and for another year, so Catharine and I again made arrangements to sail in April for a four weeks visit home, leaving the family here in our apartment in Nice.
But--our dear master has passed away and is being buried today in Paris. M. De Reske caught cold, congestion of the lungs set in, and the poison from that got into his system and--we lost him. It was a great loss to his family, his household, his students and the world. Everybody paid him tribute at the service in Nice on Monday. The whole gamut of the social scale was covered; King Manuel of Portugal, the Duke of Connaught, down to a couple of beggars Catharine says she saw there saying a last prayer for a man beloved by the whole world.
With the passing of M. De Reske my plans were changed. I cancelled the sailing for next Wednesday and made application for another to include all of us in the "De Grasse" leaving Havre, June twenty-fourth. During the interim before that date there is much to do.
I want to prepare one of my operatic roles in Vienna which is a great musical center. The Austrians are not Huns5, and they are fond of the Americans; thus, I have no compunctions about going there. In a month I shall be back here in Nice, thence to Paris for a few weeks, and then home to family, friends and hard work.
It is 6:37 A. M. and that baggage is not packed.
5. Used during WW1 as a disparaging term for 'German'.
Utilizing Sandy Buck Garrett's 2013 transcription.
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