A Letter From the Past



This article appeared in the Journal Herald on July 7, 1979

 

A LETTER FROM THE PAST

A ‘good menny people’ came for the unveiling

By Roz Young

 

     The summer issue of the Gem City Saver came out this week.  It is mostly photographs of outdoor art, some of which we see every day and have not thought of as art and some no matter how often we see, we will never think of as art.

     The first page is devoted to the Steele lion, which was moved from its place at Steele High School to the grounds of the Art Institute, when the building fell to the Great God Parking Lot.  Hard by the lion in his original spot stood the Civil War veteran on his pillar at the intersection of Main and Monument.  That statue was moved amidst great controversy to Sunrise Park.

     By a coincidence which is always popping up in life, in the mail the other day came a note from Ivan Greenfield, 66 West Third Street, West Alexandria.  He enclosed a letter he said we might use.  I hope you like to read other people’s mail as well as I do.  In this one I have not corrected the spelling, which gives it a special flavor of it own.

 

     August 22, 1884

     Kind parents and sisters & brothers

     I take my pen in hand to let you know that I received your kind and wellcome letter and where all well.  I am very well now.  I have had better health now than I have had for a time.  I was real sick for about two weeks when back from home.  I had a awful cough and spit up like if I had the concomtion.  Then I dockerd with doctor Beck in Dayton and i am interal well and fell good.  I was at the reunion in dayton on Thursday in the afternoon.

     there was a good menny people and the string broke when they went to unveil the Monument then there was a man climed to the top of the Monument 80 or 90 feet high and stood on his arm and took the vail off with his hands and then kissed him and set up on his head and waved at the crowd below he was 2 1/’2 hours a getting up it it was to be unvailed at half past 2 p.m. and he got it unvailed at half past 4 p.m.  I went to a party last night with Weaver Amando Olver Charley Edward and his girle and Olver wife and her sister had a nice time well nina i tell you I have a fellow out here to he is a good fellow he dose not come to see me at the house for he is a kind of beckord but he shines around me when i am at partys o he is onely a friend he is Charley Weaver he never went with a girl in his lief for he is a kind of basheful but he thinks a goodel of me and I of him for he is about he onely fellow around here that I would go with and he is a cousin you know o well nina tell no persons.

     I thought I must say something to fill up the letter i am a going to church a Saturday night here o i woold not come home and live in the back woods there and old house there when i can get better well leaving.  tell Jaine that i woold like to see her real bad am nearly sick to see all of them tell her I send my love and best regards you can read her this letter to her when you see her or enny of them i hope there all well tell them I am a coming to see them be fore I get married so if they don’t get to see me for a while yed they know that I hent married ennow I am a lively as ever and tell them will i will quit asting my foolishness now po how is your crops corn wheat and tobaco there are done cutting here and has nice to his tenents done yet have nice tobaco Lensving did not tell me nothing about the crops a tole that is what i want to know and how you are a getting along in youre work tell nina when i get rich i will give her them dresses and then if she heast svted I wount give her enny i am glad to hear that the baby is big and fat she will soon ketch up with me i weigh 130 will i be leive this is all for this time it is after 9 pm i send my love and best to you all from youre a way Daughter Amando write again.

 

     We include the letter in its entirely because it is romantic and deciphering the meaning will give some English major a term paper subject.  Besides, it is an on-the-spot account of the unveiling of the monument, which took place at the climax of a three-day celebration.  The first day a 13-gun salute was fired, speakers eulogized the war dead and Dr. William A. Hale offered prayer.

     The second day President Rutherford B. Hayes, Gen. W. S. Rosecrans and Gen. Robert P. Kennedy came to see the monument and on the third day a parade of soldiers and lodge members began the program, which consisted of speeches by Gen. Joseph R. Haley and Col. E. A. Parrott. George W. Houk turned the monument over to the people, somebody pulled the rope, and the shroud covering it did stick.  A fireman named Ward from the nearby engine house climbed up and unhooked the rope.

     When the monument was moved to its present position, a fight broke out in the city commission.  The copper box in the base of the monument was the center of controversy.  The Historical Society, headed by E. E. Brownell, did not want it opened because Brownell thought the air would destroy the contents.  The city commission did want it opened and placed on display.  City Commissioner Fred Speice voted “No” twice, once as a commissioner and once as a member of the city historical society.  Harry Munger voted to open the box.  Dr. O. B. Kneisley, of the Historical Society reminded the commissioners that the disposition of the box belonged to the society and not the commission.  A verbal free-for- all broke out and Brownell and Speice walked out of the meeting.  The commissioners then opened the box and found that it contained exactly what the list they already had said it contained.  They shut up the box again and put it in the base of the monument in its new location.  If you want to know what was in it, ask me.