Wednesday, January 24, 2007

June 26, 1883

Dearest Diary:

Oh, Diary, I am so sorry that my tears are on your pages! To-day was the last day of school, and I have received my report-card. My grades were all well, and I (illegible) my studies. I did receive an A in Composition, an A in Mathematics, a B in Fear of the Almighty Lord and an A in Sciences.

I also did most well in the behaviors:

Penmanship: A-
Posture: A
Neatness: A-
Not At All Smiling: B
Manners: A
(illegible) of A Cat Upon The Head: A
Wearing of Many Layers of Clothing With No Regard to Weather or Comfort: A
Punctuality: A
Bleeding of Sickly and Undesirable Vagrants: B+
Hyphenation: (illegible; probably an A. -ed)

My parents were most pleased, and took me to the Longacre Oyster House as reward. Yet even an extra plate of oyster-cat pie could not make me well, for I have learned that next year I am to have Mrs. Truncheon!

(paragraph illegible except for the end) -cut apart my eyes into little bits and throw them into the river!

Mrs. Truncheon is the meanest, most horrible instructor there ever was at the Sutherland School. Oh, it is the end! I am faint!

Diary, I am most sorry to have fainted upon you some hours ago. Mrs. Truncheon has made me most cross, as she shall give a stiff beating for the smallest

oh, faint again

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

June 11, 1883

Dearest Diary:

Oh, a scandal! To-day at lunch recess Rose and Helen and Emily and I were playing Gad-about. I was a schoolmaster who had kicked her husband onto the tracks of the elevated, and Rose was a nurse that choked her sweetheart with a stocking, and Helen was an opera singer who had stuck her father and husband with a pitch-fork (Diary, I love Helen so, but she can put on airs), and Emily was a seamstress who ate a boy.

It was the third or fourth turn for us to run about and yell "Gad-about!" but over came Walter. "Hullo! Are you playing Gad-about?" he said. "Why yes we are," Helen said to him. "May I play Gad-about too? I can be a druggist who has run over his wife with a lion!"

Oh, Diary, we laughed so hard that we thought our heads might split! Emily and Rose then gave Walter a sound thrashing.

Most silly Walter! Every-one knows that a boy cannot play Gad-about! Oh, it was the talk of the school by three-o'-clock! I do not know why the yard does not have a part for boys' and a part for girls. Isabella has one at her school.

Yet I do hope that Walter can return to school by Friday.

I love you.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

May 27, 1883

Dearest Diary:

Oh, Diary, yester-day there was far too much to tell. I did not even talk much of Friday! Yet to-day I shall.

I do remember some of the questions asked of Mister Roosevelt at the assembly, but I could not tell you who had asked them, as all the school was present. Yet here is what I do recall. (I wrote a part or two of it down when there.)

Question: What is the height of the bridge towers?
Mr. Roosevelt: It is 276 feet, 6 inches high, and is the tallest thing made by man in the city, but for Trinity Church.

Question: Might there be sweets in a hidden place upon the bridge?
Mr. Roosevelt: Only if there shall be a man upon the bridge with sweets in his pocket.

Question: Is it true that one may pull at the bridge with a giant cord and Brooklyn City will pull closer to New York?
Mr. Roosevelt: I have been told that this cord is stored in the Manhattan anchorage, is only to be used in an emergency, and can be pulled but once. (Diary, Mister Roosevelt then said something I could not understand about how "metaforicly" the two cities are now one.)

Question: Would you be able to guess the amount of oyster shells that can be placed upon the bridge?
Mr. Roosevelt: If I were to hazard a guess, if one were to include the promenade, the cable car road, the railway, the outer road, the tops of the towers and the ropewalks, it would be a hundred thousand million million million oyster shells. I should bet that Mister Roebling should know the answer better than I, for the bridge has been completely oyster-tested.

Question: What if there should be the showing of an ankle upon the bridge?
Mr. Roosevelt: I have been told by the police that said person shall have their ankle cut away and thrown into the river.

There was far more, but it was too much for me to know now. Yet even that was not the great thing that I shall remember!

Not an hour after we had returned to our class-room and Mister Rusk had himself locked back into his cage, I did receive a note from the headmaster's office that my Uncle Otto had taken very ill and that I would be excused for the day so that I should be with my family. Oh, poor Uncle Otto! I thought that his moustache had again grown into his mouth.

My whole family was outside the front gate to collect me. Yet we did not go to the Gramercy Hospital, or the Consumption Hospital or the Bellevue Brain-Punching Hospital for the Feeble and Insane. It was all but a fake, for Father and Mother had shut their store for the day and we were to take the elevated to the bridge and walk upon it!!!

Diary, I was never so excited in all my life.

We paid our pennies to the toll-man and began to walk up the bridge. It was most crowded, yet we could make our way. I have seen the bridge always, yet not so close! It is the most grand thing ever. I would look out at the water yet could not keep from looking at the towers also. There shall never be a thing taller, I am sure of it.

I had never seen all the cities from above, and they are so beautiful. There were more buildings that I ever had seen, and there was the Green-Wood Cemetery and I think the Prospect Park, and fields and farms past Brooklyn. There was all the piers and buildings and our City Hall behind us -- it is so handsome now that the evil Mister Mayor Grace is not within it! The river and all its boats were below us, and I have seen a steam-ship from the top!

Oh, I must sound so foolish. It is most hard to write how I felt, but it was perhaps as a sea-gull or a faerie.

Father did not talk the whole way across. I asked Mother of this, and she said that Father remembered a time before there had been any part of the bridge there at all, and that he could not believe that he should be alive on a day when he could walk the East River. Father said later that it shall be a great thing for their business, as he can now take ovens to market in Brooklyn

We shall need to be careful with William, tho, as he is magnetic still. He is pulled to the railings all this way and that. "Ma, it is a boatie!" he would yell, and then he would be lifted off his toes and stuck to the rails. A police-man had to free him with a crow-bar, but then William became stuck to that, and it was six or seven crow-bars before a man came with a hammer to free him.

Oh, Diary, so tired. Why must I write so much? I shall be more brief for awhile, as I see your pages are near an end.

I love you!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

May 26, 1883

Dearest Diary:

Oh, Diary, I shall remember these last two days for all the rest of my life!

I did not cross the bridge Thursday. Father said that tickets were most hard to get, and that he knew not one person whom had them, except for Mister Roosevelt. It was all I could think of, and I could not enjoy Gad-about so much as I do most times, even though to-day I was a ballerina who had choked her husband with twine.

Yet the day was not lost, for Mother and Father had bought tickets for a special viewing of the fire-works atop the roof of the Madison-Square Garden! Oh, Diary, I do wish you were there! It was the grandest, greatest fire-works anyone had ever seen! The crowd was as if every last family were out upon the street.

They sky was so bright and full of color that Father did take off his hat and wave it about like a little boy! Diary, I have never seen Father do that before.

My head was all twiddly-twoddly in school, as I was awake far past my bed-time. (Diary, I do think Mister Rusk was too, as he fell over in his cage and Walter in the first row had to poke at him with a ruler.) We were all most surprised when all of the Sutherland School was gathered into a special assembly at about 10, and there before us was Mister Roosevelt! He told us all about the ceremonies on the bridge and answered many questions from us (and from the teachers too)! I cannot remember most of what he said right now, Diary, I shall try to write of it to-morrow or Monday.

The greatest surprise was that there was a stack of papers on a table next to Mister Roosevelt. They were handed out to us, and each one of us did get a program of the opening ceremonies!!! Diary, I cannot believe it!!! I shall hold onto it for ever and ever.

I had thought that I should glue it to your pages, Diary, but I think I should keep it all fresh and will write down the whole program here to the letter.

of the opening of the
Thursday, May the Twenty-Fourth, Eighteen Hundred and Eighty-Three
2:00 P.M.
"Inauguration of the New York and Brooklyn Bridge March"
United States Army Twenty-Third Regiment Band, Otto Henze, Cndr.
2:10 P.M
"Almighty God, We Dread That You Shall Strike Down This Bridge at Any Moment"
Invocation by the Most Holy John Pettit, Bishop of the Archdiocese of New York
2:25 P.M.
"New York And Brooklyn Bridge Inaugural March"
New York Marching Symphony Orchestra, Morris Heathcoate III, Cndr.
2:30 P.M.
Presentation of the Bridge to the Cities Of Brookyn and New York
Mr. Kingsley (No First Name), Trustee, The New York And Brooklyn Bridge Company
2:45 P.M.
Acceptance of the Bridge
The Honorable Seth Low, Mayor of the City of Brooklyn
2:50 P.M.
"March of the Inauguration of the New York and Brooklyn Bridge"
United States Marine Band, John Philip Sousa, Cndr.
3:00 P.M.
Acceptance of the Bridge
The Honorable Franklin Edson, Mayor of the City of New York
3:10 P.M.
Response By Mr. Low
3:13 P.M.
Rebuttal of Mr. Low by Mr. Edson
3:16 P.M.
General Harrumphing from A Coterie of Men in Frock Coats and Tall Black Hats
3:18 P.M. - 3:30 P.M.
3:30 P.M.
"O, Mighty Nymph of Commerce, Let This Bridge Be the Path Towards Physical Congress With Your Nubile Flesh"
Oration by the Honorable Abram S. Hewitt
3:40 P.M.
Throwing Off of the Bridge of Twenty-Four Small Orphan Boys, Twelve Each from the New York and Kings County Alms-houses, To See Which Ones Shall Stay Afloat The Longest, With The Award of a Fine Goose Going To the Mayor With The Hardiest Orphan Boys
3:50 P.M (or after conclusion of prior ceremonies)
"The March of the New York And Brooklyn Bridge Inauguration"
Cyrus Terwilleger Marching Band, Cyrus Terwilleger, Cndr.
4:25 P.M.
"The Almighty Beseeches Thee to Buy Farm-land in Flatbush Now And Hold It"
Oration by Rev. Peter Ditmas, Flatbush Dutch Reformed Church
4:40 P.M.
"A Bridge to the Very Late Nineteenth Century"
The Honorable Grover Cleveland, Governor of the State of New York
5:00 P.M.
Procession of His Excellency Chester A. Arthur, President of the United States, Across the Bridge; Twenty-One Gun Salutes to the President from the Forts at Governors Island and Naval Vessels At Sea, Being Careful Not to Hit Either the President or the Very New and Very Expensive Bridge with Gigantic Cannonballs
6:00 P.M. (Brooklyn Anchorage)
Burial of a Time Capsule Not To Be Opened Until the Year Nineteen Hundred Eighty-Three, Containing All of To-Day's News-papers, Ceremonial Cutting Shears, Assorted Clothing Items from the A.T. Stewart Department Store, One Italian Immigrant (Bronzed), and a Base-Ball.
9:00 P.M.
Fire-works Ceremony
10:00 P.M. - 11:00 P.M.
Removal of Charred Bird Carcasses from the Bridge Deck
11:00 P.M.
Oh, Diary, that was quite a program, and I am all tired out from writing it. I shall tell you all the rest to-morrow!
I Love you.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Page 1, The New York Tribune, May 21, 1883


Mayors Edson and Low Announce that "Missy-Bloomers" Has Been Set Free

"Was Released Out Back Door When No-one Was Looking," Says Mayor Low


Solution Arrived At During "Tele-phonicular Conference" Amongst Mayors, Deputies

Much Winking Observed Amongst Mayors, Reporters At Announcement


Trinity Church Doors Opened, Remaining Parishioners Sent to Almshouse, to Be Eaten

President Arthur, Mutton-Chops "Pleased" at (Headline cont'd, Page 4)

Monday, December 04, 2006

Page 1, The New York Tribune, May 17, 1883



Ships from Near And Far Jam Upper Bay, East and Hudson Rivers; Bring Commerce to A Halt

Food Cannot Get Through -- Portly Rich Man's Neck Wattle Shrinking Mightily

Mysterious Tele-Graph Message Regarding "Missy-Bloomers" Summons All Vessels Here -- Trinity Church Besieged by Imbibing Sailors

Brooklyn City Residents Able To Cross River By Hopping From Boat to Boat -- New Bridge May Need to Open Early For Emergency Oyster Rations

SUPPLIES OF CORSETS IN PERIL -- Shall Ladies Be Forced To Stay In-doors?

NEW YORK -- Ships from all points on the Atlantic Ocean are continuing to arrive in the New York Harbor for the fourth day straight, trapping many Knickerbockers and their Brooklyn brethren ashore.

Not a jot of water can be seen betwixt two boats on the river for miles on end, and some enterprising ferry-men have built a rope-walk along the path of the Fulton Ferry.

Hundreds of new vessels joined the mammoth throng Wednesday. The new arrivals included the Wendell, the Dunlop the SS Liverpool, the SS Chum the SS Mollusk, the RMS Imperial Bastard, the Dutch frigates Ooterduyk and Piegengleut, two ferry-boats from Baltimore, and sixteen tug-boats which are tugging at each other in a futile attempt to escape.

Trinity Church remains padlocked, as it has been since Tuesday . The Rev. Prescott Root and twenty-nine parishioners are said to be trapped inside, and the TRIBUNE has learned that several of these parishioners have already been called home to the Almighty and eaten by the remainder of the flock.

Outside the church was a growing cohort of gamey and intemperate sailors, some from as far as Porto Rico, calling for the release of a "Missy-Bloomers," who is believed by may of the sailors to be a kindly but misshapen elf whom is somehow responsible for holding up the New York and Brooklyn Bridge. No evidence exists of such a creature, yet the sailors remain steadfast in their determination to liberate her, despite rivulets of excrement emanating from them which forced the closing of the Stock Exchange for the second day straight.

Much of this conviction is likely due to a tele-graph message of uncertain origin. Through numerous interviews, the TRIBUNE has pieced together the message, which was as follows:


Mayors Edson and Low were called upon to-day by the men of the City Club and the Committee of One Hundred to open bridge to-day instead of a week hence, for emergency deliveries of Jamaica Bay oysters, but the arrival of President Arthur next week has complicated matters. "Should we not wait for our president and his mighty muttonchops to open the bridge? They are the mightiest side-whiskers in all the land!" exclaimed Mayor Edson.

Brooklyn City was also besieged as Orville Steenwyck, the most wealthy and porcine citizen of that fair city, saw a marked decrease in the girth of his neck wattle. "More blarpgh!" shouted the walrus-like Mr. Steenwyck, as a carriage full of hams formerly destined for the poorhouse was hurriedly reassigned and sped to his hungry maw. A crowd of onlookers, several of them going without bread for the fifth straight day, descended upon Mr. Steenwyck and (Cont'd Page 5)

Thursday, November 23, 2006

April 30, 1883

Dearest Diary:

Oh, Diary, there is so much afoot! I do not know where to begin, so I fear this entry shall go all twiddly-twoddly. I shall number my thoughts then, so as not to alarm you.

1. Yester-day William reached the age of 4! It was quite the day. Mother and Father took him and myself to the Barnum and Bailey Circus at the Madison-Square Garden! We saw The Flying War Orphans, and Millicent the Non-Moving Cat. She does not move at all! It is remarkable! We also did see the Mercury-Swallowing Fitzsimmons Triplets (Diary, what is so odd about swallowing mercury?), and a little play with many clowns and a horse called "A Trip to the Glue Factory."

However, the great finale was what I had been waiting for. Again I have gotten to see Jumbo, the Giant Ele-phant! Hurrah! I am sad to tell you that no more can he be turn't loose upon the city, for there were many cross feelings about him crushing passer-by and eating them, as he did two years past. To-day he was instead loosed upon the audience, and he swallowed a fat man whole! Oh, what gay folly!

2. School has been well enough but a bit dull of late, as Mister Rusk has taken to teaching from inside a cage. He fears that he shall be gored by goats once more, since the Sutherland School has announced that the entire school shall return to the Museum of Natural History for the '83 Class graduation program in June. He speaks barely at a whisper, so that he shall not be heard by the goats, which may attack him at any time.

Yet to-day we had an interesting assembly, for the whole school did come to see a special talk by the Health Commissioner of New York City! His name is Mister Roland Hapgood, and he did tell us many things so that we may grow up to be fit and strong. Mister Hapgood said that we should eat a cup of veal in the morning, and brush our teeth once weekly and have a cup of rum thrice daily, except for the fifth-graders and below who should have it twice daily. Diary, he even sang us a song called "To your Health!"

Drinky, drinky, drinky, drinky,
drinky, drinky, drinky, drinky,
brush your teeth, a time a week,
then drinky, drinky, drinky, drinky!

When time came for Mister Hapgood to have questions, one of the upper-grade pupils asked if Mister Hapgood was a relation to Doctor Hapgood of the tonics and potions &c.

Mister Hapgood said it was but a coincidence that their names were similar, and then ran off the stage.

Diary, it is quite fortunate for the commissioner that he is so associated with Doctor Hapgood, is it not?

3. The New York and Brooklyn Bridge is to open next month! Oh, I cannot wait to cross it. It is all the talk of the school! Some persons have already walked it, tho it is not yet open.

What am I to do to mark this day? I do not yet know.

4. After school many of us played again our new favorite game of Gad-about! To-day I was a baker who had beat my husband to death with a rolling pin, and Isabella was Mary Todd Lincoln. Gad-about, Gad-about!

Oh, it is nearly 10 o'clock, and I was to be asleep at 9. Good-night, Diary!

I love you.


Sunday, November 19, 2006

Franklin Edson -- April 6, 1883

His Honor, Franklin Edson
Mayor, the City of New York
City Hall, New York

April 6, 1883

Hullo, Mr. Mayor! My name is Harriet C. LaMarche. I am 9 years old. I live at 91 East 25th Street. My Father and Mother have a bakery supplies store, and many ovens are stored about the house. My brother is William, and he is nearly 4 and magnetic.

My instructor at the Sutherland School is Mister Rusk. He has asked us to write you so that you may help remove the bats in our class-room. I must tell you that I have not seen them, but Mister Rusk swats at them all through the day, and he will oftentimes scream "BATS!" in the middle of our studies. Rose in the fifth row has a fear of bats, and has not come out from under her desk since February.

Yesterday we went to Castle Garden and saw the immigrants! Mister Mayor, would you know why some of them are thrown into the harbor? Mister Rusk said to us that it was because of the small-pox. Many of them are floating about and I saw one run'd over by a ferry-boat.

Have you received my tele-graph messages? I have called upon you many times and asked if you shall set free Missy-Bloomers from the basement at Trinity Church before the great bridge is open! I do know that it is not your fault, for it was the evil Mister Mayor Grace who shut her away. Yet there is almost no time, for the bridge shall be ready in weeks! Would you like the fair ladies of Brooklyn City to fall into the river where they shall catch the small-pox from a head-less immigrant and then be hit upon the head by a boat? Only Missy-Bloomers can save the bridge from falling!

My Father has talked to me much over the last week. He says that you are a Kelly man and that you have worked with a place called Tammany Hall near Union-Square. It does not sound like much of a real hall, as there is no dancing and twirling about. Three months past I saw a picture-drawing of you in Harper's Weekly (I have cut it out and sent it along to you for your pleasure) Look and see! Boss Kelly is a sled-driver and you are a little crying dog-man pulling him down a path called "Bossism and Municipal Ruination." Ha-ha, you are a little dog-man! Does that not make you laugh?

I hope that you are not a real part-man part-dog or I shall be most alarmed.


Harriet C. LaMarche

Monday, November 13, 2006

March 28, 1883

Dearest Diary:

To-day school was cut short for a visit to a rally in Union-Square Park by The Anti-Electric Light Bulb League. "Light bulbs should have in them candles!" said the speaker, and the crowd did cheer. The speaker's name was Mr. Jeremy, and Father says he is a "lost tiger" in a fight with the Kelly Machine. I have only a small idea of what Father was saying. I do know of Boss Kelly, of course -- even the first-graders know the name. But the rest is a puzzle to me. I shall ask Father about it to-night.

Mr. Jeremy was speaking and holding a torch, and he then raised the torch and by accident set a tree ablaze. This was the end of the rally and Mr. Jeremy was taken away.

It did make me think of past times, before the light-bulb and tele-phone and immigrant scooper. My first memory is of the old building we lived in on East 11th Street, before William. It was such a small place, and we had to climb atop stoves to reach the front door.

Mother and Father took me to a rally at a parade ground. I was sitting on the lawn, and everyone about me was very tall.

When I asked Mother of this, she told me it was a rally to make the parade ground into a proper park, and but a year or two passed before the park did happen! Mother said was in spring or summer of 1877, so I was but 3.

Yet in less than one year I shall be 10! That is quite a large number. Diary, the number looks odd even as I write it in your pages and stare at it. Ten. 10. 10. 10-10-10-10-10.

It is still odd.

I love you, Diary.

Diary, is it childish to tell you that I love you each day?


March 19, 1883

Dearest Diary:

To-day Isabella and I went outside after school to play a new game which is most popular with our school-mates. It is called "Gad-about," and here is what Isabella told me of it. "I shall be a widow whose husband was kilt in the Civil War, and you shall be a lady whose husband's head was crushed in a cider-press. Then we shall run all about, screaming 'Gad-about! Gad-about!' running round and round in circles until we shall crash into each other and fall into a heap."

Oh, Diary! It is so much fun to play "Gad-about!" We did play with some other girls from the third-grade class. Rose was a society lady whose husband was mauled by a lion, and Helen was a laborer girl who had her husband's fingers cut off and fed to him by her land-lord, whom then had him shot and mounted. "Gad-about" Is the most delightful game there is!

I love you, Diary.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

February 27, 1883

Dearest Diary:

To-day I awoke and a third toe had grown in back of my knee. I had been quite low about the extra toes, and was filled with great fear about what I should do. Diary, what would happen should I call upon the school Nurse and she decides that I should lose three of my normal toes so that I should again have ten? I shall hobble about like Old Man Hobble-Foot in Tales of the Meat-Packer! (1) Yet I could not go on as I were.

Mister Rusk has been teaching us of the proper and improper ways to fire a small pistol, with the use of one he had found lying about in Union-Square Park. We have learnt many interesting ways one can fell a goat, or a bat. Yet I knew I had to be a big girl and to put this off no longer, and so I asked to excuse myself so that I could visit the Nurse.

Do you know what happened, Diary? Whence I showed the Nurse my extra toes, she fell over and did faint! Oh, it was quite the sight. In time, the Headmaster called upon a Nurse from the nearby Public-School to minister to our Nurse. Our Nurse was given a healing compress and ether and was sent home for the day.

I was now most sad, for my toes remained and I had cause a Nurse to fall about. Yet by a miracle the Public-School Nurse removed my added toes! After she had "washed her hands" (Have you ever heard of such a thing, Diary? I must try it!), she offered to me some of her ether!

Diary, I remember nothing.

I must have slept two hours, for when I awoke, my knee had been bandaged and my added toes were gone! The Headmaster sent me home for the day also, so long as I promised that I would drink a dose of Doctor Hapgood's Healing Elixir of Yahweh thrice daily for a week.

Hurrah! I have ten toes once again, and they are upon my feet!

I love you, Diary.

(1) Editor's Note: For over 35 years, Tales of the Meat-Packer (1879) was standard reading for many third- and fourth-graders nationwide. Written by Arthur W. Studge, it "portrays the heroic struggle of Miles Bunting, the founder and president of Bunting Meat-Making, as he battles against trade unionists, free sharecroppers, loud-mouthed abolitionists, greasy immigrants and hook-nosed loan-sharks in a fight to accumulate more capital than any man on God's Earth." (This quote is from his granddaughter Maureen Blum's book, Shithead: The Horrible Life and Literature of Arthur W. Studge (1972)). Tales of the Meat-Packer remained part of many school curricula until 1906, when it abruptly became much, much less popular.