The Crooked Lake Review

May 2008

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Robert Beck's Story



Robert Beck

My daughter Emma is now much better and we are now planning a short summer trip. When I say we, I mean myself, Emma Beck, Arthur Bauder and Bertha Bauder.

We decided on a trip to Niagara Falls, Buffalo and Toronto, Canada, by way of Lewiston and Toronto by steamer and from Toronto to Rochester. We made the trip in fine shape and enjoyed it very much as the weather was extra fine and the lake was still as a mill pond. In Toronto we were well entertained at the Queen's Hotel, land] engaged a carriage to take us to all the places of interest. All [the] people were very genteel and polite, and seemed to delight in making our visit pleasant. We will always have a delightful remembrance of Toronto and Niagara Falls.

June 17th, 1907

This is a delightful June day, warm and clear, in fact, the warmest day this year for this has been the coldest spring in many years. Owing to my changed domestic condition I have neglected to write in this book for nearly two years but will now begin where I left off July 18th, 1905, and will try to describe the greatest event of my whole life. It may be a feeble effort.

While on our pleasure trip which I described in my last writing, my daughter, Emma, informed me that it would perhaps be our last trip together as she expected to marry Walter Jones to whom she had been engaged to for some time. The day was not set but the event would take place within a year. That remark certainly set me to thinking, for in the event of her marriage I would be left alone and my home would be broken up. I thought of it for days but could not see my way clear, and nothing but loneliness stared me in the face, and I became gloomy, for the thought of my dear home being broken up or my being left alone was dreadful, and just what to do I did not know, for I already had a foretaste of what an empty house means, for on my return home on June 23rd, 1905, the house was empty as Emma was sick at Mr. Bauder's house and Mrs. Gleason was also away for a long visit, and no one was in the house except myself and Mr. Gleason, but he only nights. It was indeed a lonely homecoming for there was no one to talk to or visit with, no one to extend a glad hand, nothing but utter loneliness.

On June 26th, 1905, I think it was, or about the third day of my homecoming I thought I heard a lady in the house which I took to be Mrs. Gleason returned from her visit. I went to the kitchen door to get my lawn mower but the door was locked. I rapped and a lady opened the door for me, but it was not Mrs. Gleason, but a stranger to me. I said good morning and told her I wished to get the lawn mower as I wanted to mow the lawn for it needed mowing badly. Now that was the beginning of a romance which I will relate from stage to stage.

After I finished mowing my lawn I sat down on the veranda to smoke and rest, and later in the day the strange lady that I met at the back door also took a seat at the farther end of the veranda and did some sewing. We exchanged a few remarks about the weather and some commonplace remarks. She being a stranger to me, I took the liberty to ask her her name. She told me her name was Mrs. Gleason, a sister-in-law to Mr. Gleason, and that she had come to keep house for Mr. Gleason for a few days. Now, that was my informal introduction to a lady that was to become my dear wife and lifelong companion, but that thought was the remotest from my mind at that time for I did not know that I was capable of loving and winning the hand of a lady.

My daughter was still sick at Mr. Bauder's house, and time hung heavy and seemed lonely. But as I became more acquainted with Mrs. Gleason we began to visit with each other for I soon discovered that she was a bright and intelligent lady. Our visits by degrees grew more extended and we both seemed to enjoy visiting together and relating to each other our life history. We also talked over the general topics of the day and in that way we passed the time. But somehow I began to grow quite fond of her company and preferred to visit with her rather than with the men downtown. About the first of August there was a strange feeling came over me about Mrs. Gleason. I could not make up my mind whether it was love or just plain fondness for when I took my chair in my corner of the veranda and she was not at her usual place I felt uneasy and longed to have a social visit with her.

In fact we gradually grew very fond of each other but we were both too modest to reveal the fact to each other. But whenever we were alone on the veranda, which was not every evening for Mrs. Gleason received a good many callers and visitors and sometimes I wished they would cut their visits short so we could have a visit together for I began to long for an opportunity to tell the secret of my heart. I confess that I was extremely bashful and all our talks or visiting, as we called it, was done on the veranda and at a distance of 35 feet apart. We did no courting as understood by younger folks for that was reserved for later on. But we were very much attached to each other.

About the middle of August Mrs. Gleason was called away to her farm on business and I must confess that I missed her company very much and my attachment for her was stronger than ever. In [the] course of a few days she returned and I never was more delighted to see anyone as I was to see her coming. That evening I resolved to propose to her if the opportunity came. Well, we happened to be on the veranda alone and I plucked up courage for my mind was made up to know my destiny before I started on my fall trip which would be in the course of ten days. So without any great ado I simply asked her to become my wife. We talked the matter over, and we were both perfectly calm and perfectly rational for we both knew what it all meant to get married for we were both of mature age and not silly. Mrs. Gleason made me no promises but asked for time to consider the matter. I told her she could take all the time she wanted but asked her to give me an answer before I started out on my trip which she promised to do.

A few days later Mrs. Gleason called me into her room and informed me that she had decided to accept me as her future husband, and I was a happy old boy and the future looked brighter to me for I loved the dear lady. We shook hands and we were both happy as any young couple, for it was mutual love. I informed my daughter Emma what we had been up to and found her all broken up, although she had an inkling of what had transpired. But she soon became reconciled to the fact. I also informed Bertha and she also looked surprised, but that afternoon Bertha came over to my house where there was some reconciliation, handshaking, and in the presence of Bertha I kissed my future wife for the first time.

Well, we are now engaged for sure and from this time on we were true lovers, and commenced to plan for our wedding. We both entered into that with all the enthusiasm and interest that any young couple ever did. But first we informed all our children of the great event. They all approved of our course and all agreed that it was a wise course for us to take, which pleased us very much as we both needed a home in our old age and were of sound mind and body and able to take care of ouselves.

From now on we began to plan for the future in real earnest. The first thing was our wedding and it seemed like living our lives over again, for we entered into the matter with the same interest that any young couple ever did. Just a few days after our engagement I started out on a fall trip so we did our planning by correspondence. We decided to be married at the St. James Church by the Rev. Mr. Burge on December 26th, 1905. We also decided to invite no one except our children and a few nearest relatives and Mr. D. Bauder, who was my best man. We also decided to go to New York City for a short honeymoon. We talked over all the little things connected with a wedding outfit such as clothing and all other little nicknacks, but above all it was to be a wedding without any fuss or frills.

Well, December 26th, 1905, came at last. It was a beautiful morning, the sun shone bright, and for a December day it was delightfully warm. The two carriages that I had engaged brought the friends to the church, and all were gathered and ready for the ceremony at 9 A.M. sharp. Mrs. Gleason, the bride, led by Mr. William Knapp, her son-in-law, and then followed by the others, marched to the altar of the church and [were] received by the minister, myself, and Mr. Bauder, my best man. The minister performed the marriage ceremony and the great deed was done. I took my new wife by the arm and a prouder man never lived than I was. We marched to the rear of the church where there was handshaking and the usual kissing, congratulating, and good wishes. We put on our wraps, got in the carriage accompanied by Mr. and Mrs. William Knapp, drove to Bath where we took train for New York City.

We were now fairly launched out on the deep unknown sea of matrimony. We took our seat in a comfortable car of the D.L. & W. R. R. and were wafted along towards the great metropolis of America, had our dinner on board the train, and at 7:15 P.M. landed in the Breslin Hotel, where I had [a] room engaged beforehand. The trip to New York City was a delightful one for the day was like an April day.

November 13th, 1911

Dear Reader: It is now nearly six years since I wrote the last line in this book. So now I will give an account of myself and family.

As stated in my last writing we were handsomely located at the Breslin Hotel, New York City, to stay a while and as this was the first visit to New York [for her], I concluded to show my dear wife the beauties of the metropolis as I was quite well acquainted in the city, and I am sure she enjoyed it very much. The weather during our stay in the city was perfect, sunshiny and warm, which added very much to our pleasure. So after a stay of eight days we returned home, and our entire honeymoon trip was a round of pleasure that we will never forget. Arrived home in fine order and my dear wife was regularly installed in our apartments. We are not housekeeping in the full sense of the word, but we have rooms in our own house and take our meals at Mrs. Mott's boarding house which is just a few steps from our house. We try to live in comfort and have as little work as possible. My wife takes care of the rooms and keeps everything in perfect order and I take care of the lawn, and that is about all the work we care to do.

The last of January, 1906, I started on my regular trip for the Columbia Wine Co. to be gone two months but it was a long two months, for I began to long for a home life, and my business as a wine agent was distasteful to me, and my life had been for sixteen years like a wandering Jew. Of course, the pay was good and the firm in whose employ I was treated me well. But I began to think of changing my course of life and gradually stop traveling and settle down and live a quiet life the rest of my days, as I now had a good wife and pleasant home.

In June, 1906, my youngest daughter married Walter Jones of Elkland, Pennsylvania, and of course they started out on their life's journey in Elkland. She was the last of my children to leave the parental roof and house where she was born and [which] was her constant home for nearly twenty-five years.

So after Emma had moved the household goods I gave her out of her rooms, myself and my wife proceeded to refurnish. We had the rooms repapered and painted, and when the carpets and furniture and other useful articles were placed and arranged in the rooms we thought we were very cozy and grand. My dear wife brought all of her carpets, curtains, bedding, pictures, and such furniture as we thought we would need from her farmhouse. In fact we were so cozy and pleasantly situated that I hated to leave home worse than ever.

So the summer of 1907 I informed my employer that I did not wish to travel, but four months in a year, to which he consented so I made one trip of two months in the spring and [another of] two months in the fall. But in 1908 I informed my people and customers as I made the rounds that it was my last call as I intended to quit the business for good. On my return home I informed my employer that I wished to retire from work as a traveling salesman.

Mr. Hubbs said he could not hold me against my wish, so we settled up for the year and that was the last of my selling wine. I considered myself old enough to stop work as I [had] been a busy man from the age of 10 years until I was 71 years of age. I drew down the curtain of my busy life and it is down to stay. I have never regretted that step for I have a limited income that keeps myself and my dear wife fairly comfortable.

In 1909 we began to plan a change in our house. So far we had been living upstairs. Of course, we had the parlor on the first floor but we had no cooking conveniences, and we wanted to live on the ground floor.

So we gave notice to our tenant that we wished to make a change in the house and they would have to look for other quarters.

We proceeded to make plans for the necessary improvement, and after the tenant vacated went to work with a will. We enlarged the south room for our bedroom, turned the long bedroom into a bathroom and clothes press, changed the windows and made them larger, changed the sitting room by taking out a partition which made the room larger, put a window in the bathroom, turned the dining room into a large bedroom with a clothes room attached, built a veranda at the outside kitchen door, made large portiere openings between parlor, hall, sitting room, and the south bedroom. [We] painted and papered the whole of the lower storey, also the whole of the outside of the house, also the whole of the kitchen a cheerful color. After all the work was done and everything cleaned up we proceeded to furnish all the rooms, and when all was finished our home looked good enough for a king. We felt quite proud of our dear old home. My dear wife being a fine housekeeper, she took delight in keeping every part of the house in the finest of order.

Mrs. Virginia Hastings rented part of the upper rooms and moved in the same time we moved downstairs, which was April 1st, 1910. And she is here yet, a fine tenant. We enjoy our dear home. We have about everything for general housekeeping, but we still have our dinner and supper at Mrs. Mott's boarding house, but we get our own breakfast at home. Our laundry is all done out of the house. My dear wife has a woman come about every six weeks and do a thorough cleaning, and twice a year a regular housecleaning. Every morning I assist in doing up the morning work. In short, we are trying to live as easy a life as we know how, for we know that our stay on earth is of but a few years at the longest. We are both trying to live a good Christian life. We are at peace with all our neighbors. And we both pray the Lord to teach us how to live and to help us to follow the teachings of our blessed Savior, and the Holy Spirit to guide and keep us from sin and to banish all evil thoughts from our minds.

Index to Robert Beck's Story
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