New Port Richey,
April 6, 1925.
Dear Cousins All:
The time for the exchange of letters has arrived again, and I think I am a little late. Our present address in New Port Richey, but our home address is 5422 South Pine Street, Tacoma, Washington.
After being retired from a long service of forty-five years with the Northern Pacific Railroad, my good wife and I thought we had earned a good rest, so we left our home in Tacoma on September fifteenth, and for the past seven months have been touring and visiting in Florida and amid the scenes of our childhood days that we left forty-five years ago. Oh, how changed they are! Many of the familiar faces of those days have gone, never to return, but I suppose we should live in the present and not in the past, and look up on the bright spots, of which we have many.
We came East over the Canadian Pacific route as we had never been over that route before. It was a grand trip over mountains and through vast wheatfields, by beautiful lakes and rivers, from Vancouver, B.C., to Buffalo, N.Y., six days and nights on the sleeper. From Buffalo to Elmira where Cousin Grace Carey and husband met us and gave us a warm welcome. We went home with them and spent the night, and the next morning Cousin Grace drove up to Watkins1 where sister Emma Buck met us. Grace took us all to the Jefferson House for dinner. This we enjoyed very much. Then Grace motored home that evening.
We spent several days with Sister Emma. Then, as the time was drawing near for the Cousins Dinner at Brother Charlie's home at Marshalls Falls2, we took the train over the D.L.&W. for Stroudsburg. It was a wonderful trip over the hills and mountains covered with all the glorious tints of the fall foliage, and through the beautiful little villages nestling in the valleys. Sister Em went with us. We were there several days before the dinner and enjoyed the visit with Charlie, Anna and Louise. Bernice was still in California, however. This we very much regretted.
The Cousins Dinner was held October fifteenth, and at the table were seated about twenty-five of the cousins. Among those present were Cousin Jessie Ellison's family, George Buck and wife, Sister Emma, Will Selph, Stella Wilbur and part of her family3, Jennie and Alta Cady,
1. Now named "Watkins Glen".
2. Monroe Co., PA (near Stroudsburg)
3. Stella's son-in-law and daughter, Ed and Eva Hills.
Myra Buck Seiders and husband and Grace Carey, C.H. Congdon and wife and daughter, Louise, and my wife and myself. Perhaps I have not remembered all of the names, but we know they were there and we did enjoy them so much. We all enjoyed the sumptuous dinner and lingered at the table for speeches, stories and reminiscences until the committee reminded us it was time to do the dishes, whereupon we who were exempt scattered around the grounds and visited the beautiful falls and the woods and rustic bridges and wandered through the quaint old Titania House.4
Some of the guests were obliged to leave that day, but several remained all night, and gathered in the parlor where a big fire-place with a bright fire blazing within and lighted candles made a wonderfully cozy and happy picture. We all hated to break away from it, but the small hours were drawing near, and so the good-nights were said. The scene will always remain as one of the bright spots in our visit to this wonderful country.
The next morning dawned bright and part of the guests left early for the long trip home. In the afternoon Myra and her husband, Sister Em and my wife and myself left for Philadelphia. It was a glorious trip, down the Delaware River and over the hills, with everything ablaze with autumn colors. We arrived in Philadelphia about dark. The city was beautiful with its bright lights and fine buildings. We spent several days with Myra and Billy, and then they drove us to George Buck's where we spent a lovely week.
George has a fine home in the quaint town of Madison, New Jersey. We had some fine drives though those old historic places. Charlie came and spent one day there with us. This we enjoyed very much. He then took the train for New York City. The next we heard of him, he was on his way to Los Angeles, California. We left George's the last of the week and spent a day and night in Binghamton with my wife's brother. Then we went to Watkins. We were all pretty tired when we got there, and so spent several days in resting. Then Sister Em, my wife and I left for a visit up the Cowanesque Valley among the cousins.
That was the most wonderful trip of all. We left about eight o'clock in the morning and arrived in Westfield about six that night, a trip of about fifty miles. I can't describe it. It was beyond description. We arrived in safety and had such a good time that we just hated to think of leaving. Our visit was all too short, and maybe they did not see too much of us because most of them invited us to come again next spring, so we have that to look forward to.
4. This was resort hotel, having 35 rooms. In 1897 its proprietor was T. J. Wolfe, but at least from 1903 to 1909, Charlie Congdon was its proprietor. At that time he was living in Chicago and had started his music and textbook publishing business, and if I recall correctly, was in charge of choral music for the Chicago schools. It was "beautifully situated in an enclosed park of fifteen acres, embracing the well known and universally admired Marshall's Falls (distant from the hotel by about 200 yards). This place has been called Hygiene Park on account of the salubrity of the air and general healthfulness. House has all latest improvements, sanitary plumbing, baths, etc.; tables supplied with the best the market affords, and fresh vegetables from nearby farms; conveyance from train when notified." I'm not certain of its status in 1925, but it was very near Charlie's summer home (or may have served as his summer home). The building still stands, and the township has purchased it and the surrounding land to be a park. I hope to go see it before long --- perhaps in October when the foliage will be as Ed described.
In the Cowanesque [Valley] it began to get pretty cold. We left Cousin Jennie Cady's early one cold morning and went to Mansfield to visit Cousins Mary Shipman and Mabel and Llewellyn Shaw. If that name isn't spelled right, please excuse the mistake. The name is almost as large as he is. We spent several days in Mansfield and has such a good time. Cousin Mary was not able to be downstairs with us, so of course we had to make her room our headquarters, and we had some good visits there. We are so glad to know that Cousin Mary is better now, and when we get back up that way will be so glad to see her walking about. Mabel and her husband made us a flying visit last summer. This we enjoyed as much as we could for so short a time, but maybe they will try to come some other time.
After our lively visit at Mansfield we went back to Sister Em's at Watkins and spent several weeks. We were there for Christmas. Then as the cold pinched us and the snow scared us, we left for Florida as we had planned to spend the winter here.
We left Watkins the fifth of January and arrived in St. Petersburg on the tenth. We stayed overnight in Washington, D.C., with Cousin Mary Snavely and had a short visit with Cousin Jennie Bosard who was very ill. Since then she has passed away. One of the salt of the earth was Jennie. Her children have our heartfelt sympathy in their loss. We also had a short visit with Cousin Ann Owlett who was staying with Mary and helping to care for Jennie. We expect to stop on our way North and spend a few days with Mary and her family.
When we arrived in St. Petersburg Cousin Tommie met us at the station and gave us a warm welcome. When we left Washington there was heavy snow and they were cleaning the streets that morning, and I think before they got it cleaned they had another heavy snow storm. There was snow almost all the way to Jacksonville, but from there on it was fine-- flowers and orange and grapefruit groves; and when we got into St. Petersburg with its wonderful climate, and the warm reception from Cousins Frank and Tommie, we certainly thought there was nothing lacking for our happiness and pleasure in Florida.
Cousins Lish and Kate have been here all winter, and that has been another big factor in our pleasant time. We certainly have enjoyed them. Seemed we has never known them before. They have built themselves a little bungalow so that when they come back next winter they will have their own home into which to go. We had the pleasure of going there for dinner the day before we left for New Port Richey where we are at present visiting with old Brainerd friends and having a
splendid time. These friends have a car and we have some fine rides.
Tommie is a very busy man. I would like to tell you of his wonderful subdivision and his work, but this letter is getting too long, and I must begin to say my adieus. I just want to say we had a room at the Campbell House and spent the winter there. Mary Shewman and her husband are running the Campbell House3 as you all probably know. We are also in love with this little place of New Port Richey. We expect to leave here April sixteenth, and I must say that we are so enamoured of Florida that we hate to leave it.
With greetings and love to all,
Utilizing Sandy Buck Garrett's 2012 transcription.
Copyright © 2014 William B. Thompson. Commercial use prohibited.