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Cymric Strain - Book 2

By Una Howell (USA - circa 1893)

Chapter 34 - Life in Elgin

Copyright Scott Dunbar 2010

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Chapter 34

Life in Elgin

Adjusting to life in Elgin was far from simple. The change from a busy teaching day to long hours in the house was painfully different. The weather was stiflingly hot that first summer. The last thing before going to bed each night, George steamed up his new toy and we drove up Chicago Street and back to cool off.


I had always been self-supporting, besides contributing to the family fund, and now I felt inferior in this role I knew nothing about. I was always afraid our maid ($3.00 a week) would discover that I knew nothing about cooking as, of course, she must have seen my experiences from the maid’s day out. I began by making jelly and jam and cake, the extra-curricular items, as it were. The fruits were a success and, after I ceased trying to economize by using Mumford’s Baking Powder (which the grocery store salesman assured me was as good as Royal or Parte, only cheaper), rose to unexpected heights, too, but I was very nervous in the process and overly tired.


The older women of Elgin, mostly Mother Cook’s friends, called during the summer. While we were at Mama’s over the Fourth my spirits rose promptly.  I had a bunch of cards under the door when we returned. I made some odd mistakes in returning the calls, for George didn’t know anyone in Elgin. I went to many old addresses and had quite a time, but everybody forgives bride’s mistakes.


It was the loneliness of doing without my family that got me down. A few friends would have helped mightily. I was really lonely during those first months and then one day Nettie Ashman, who lived a half block away, came over to see me in a folksy way and confided that the other neighbors would come if I wanted them. They were holding back because I was “rich”. I have often thought of that characteristic, not only how false it was and inconvenient, but also how it injured us in a way. People used to say, when I was sick, “Why doesn’t her husband take her to California? Surely they could afford it.”  On $100 a month?
By fall things were running better. George had taken over Dew Drops and Little Learner [David C. Cook publications], and the Pub. House moved to the new buildings over the river [on Chicago Street in Elgin]. Since the Pub. House reception, I had enjoyed going to the plant and eating in the cafeteria with George and I had blown the whistle with as much pleasure as a child would have shown. [The plant’s steam-powered whistle graced the neighborhood twice a day for many years.]


The heads of departments were flattered that I liked them and the drive of the Pub. House wagon, John Smitherman, used to bring me flowers from his garden. John had been gardener for Mother Cook in the early days. He was English, spoke with an accent, and he was very quickly m sworn admirer. As he went about on Fridays and Saturdays delivering Sunday School papers to the local Sunday Schools, he would drop in for a lite chat and bring me long-stemmed pansies and mignonette from his garden. In all my life, no one was ever more loyal to my children and me than dear old John.


My next door neighbor, Mrs. Outhouse, was a large-hearted woman, equally impressive in stature. She obviously cared nothing for calorie charts. She would run in and offer advice as to shops and people. As soon as she knew I was expecting a baby se gave me interesting data about the various physicians. She had endured a hard labor and lost her first baby. When the second was due she had engaged Dr. Pelton, a brand-newcomer, only nineteen years old. The baby proved to be twins, born easily, and she could not say enough in his praise.

Cymric Strain - Book 2, by Una Howell (USA - circa 1893) Current

Chapter 1 - Evanston

Chapter 2 - The Department of Music
Chapter 3 - Northwestern University

Chapter 4 - Beaued

Chapter 5 - Late for the 1am Train!

Chapter 6 - A Visit from Home

Chapter 7 - Bill Declares Himself

Chapter 8 - Engaged to be Married
Chapter 9 - A Grand Piano for Me?

Chapter 10 - Apartment Life in Evanston

Chapter 11 - On the Train with a Pass

Chapter 12 - Eric’s Decline

Chapter 13 - The Organist

Chapter 14 - Lilly Dies

Chapter 15 - An Unprincipled Woman

Chapter 16 - Music Critic

Chapter 17 - A Rich Young Man

Chapter 18 - Helping the World

Chapter 19 - On a Bicycle Built for Two

Chapter 20 - Mendelssohn Concerto in E Major

Chapter 21 - The Meister Way

Chapter 22 - An Admirer

Chapter 23 - Gentlemen Callers

Chapter 24 - The Scotchman

Chapter 25 - Checking on Maynard

Chapter 26 - Rich Young Man - Not so Much

Chapter 27 - A Page Removed!

Chapter 28 - The Marriage

Chapter 29 - Plans for a New Marriage

Chapter 30 - Honeymoon

Chapter 31 - A New Home

Chapter 32 - Getting to Know Elgin -1901

Chapter 33 - Our First Mobile (Auto)

Chapter 34 - Life in Elgin

Chapter 35 - Preparing for Birth

Chapter 36 - Stillborn!

Chapter 37 - Leave Leeches to Treat an Ear Ache

Chapter 38 - Winfield Illinois Sanatorium