Note: attended seven grades in Elm Place School and 1 year high school, Highland Park. Three years and graduated from Girton School, Winnetka, Ill. 1 Year Mt. Vernon Seminarym Washington, D.C. Debut in CHicago, 1908. Married 1910. Resided H.P. with husband and three children until he retired in 1934, thereafter in Goleta, California, on lemon ranch. President of Santa Barbara Garden Club twice; Vice President of Garden CLub of America after serving as Director. Three years visiting nurse, St. Cecilia Club.
EARLY RECOLLECTIONS by Bessie Smith Bullard
My grandfather Orson Smith and his wife Mary Ann came west to Chicago in the early days. They lived with their six children at 1074 Wabash Avenue, where Lyon and Healy's music store stood in later years. They moved later to the southeast corner of South Park Avenue, and my other grandparents, the Edward A. Smalls lived on the northwest corner (96 South Park Avenue). Thus they met, and thus my parents met. I was born in a small white house on Cottage Grove Avenue. Mother and Father had had three children before me. Ada died in infancy, as the nurse had just come from a case on the north side, she had a bad cold and Ada caught it. My brother Edward was born later, four years following that Lora came, and five years after that I arrived. We moved in 1887 to our new house which my father had had built at 4425 Drexel Boulevard, a fine wide avenue with a park in the center, beautifully p1anted with two wide streets on either side. I remember that we had a fine cut glass door panel, a vestibule which entered into the hall and a staircase rising to the left which had the most charming animal figure as a newel post. At the right was the reception room, very formal, with a large pier glass opposite the door, pillars of bird's eye maple en either side, and the same woodwork. There was a bench under the mirror which I remember we11, as it was there that they put my father when he was brought home dead, and I was the first one to be there and see him. I couldn't see why he didn't wake up and talk to me. The furniture in this room was upholstered in pale blue brocade. We had it later in Highland Park so I remember it well. Beyond that room was the living room, large and homelike where we sat. The dining room was beyond that and I suppose the kitchen -- I have no recollection of that. Upstairs Mother's and Father's room was across the front; the entrance to my room was through a closet. My father, who was six feet tall, kept some candy which he gave to us way up on the top shelf. My memory of my room was when I had a vaccination which became infected; I was in there a long time in bed. The bath room was outside of my parents' room and mine; it was very fancy with the tub up on legs, the outside of the tub painted with roses and lilies. Back of my room was Lora's and then Edward's room. All across the back of the house was an open porch where we sat a great deal. It looked out on a yard with a fine stone stable at the end. On the third floor was the guest room across the front; it had a bath. Then there was a large room which must have been a ball room, but because my father died, we used it for a playroom. When I was four, my father had been the main speaker at a large business luncheon down town. On the way home on the street car he died of a heart attack and some men brought him home, the maid answered the door; my mother was standing at the top of the stairs in her ball gown which she expected to wear that night if it suited her. I think I was with her. This was in the fall of 1890. Edward who was nine years older than I was always very good to me and tried to look after me like a father. I remember one winter evening after his school, he nailed a box on his sled, put in pillows and a blanket and took me for a ride. I was surprised at how dark it was; there were gas street lights but I kept looking back to see if I could still see the lights in the bay window in Mother's room and was glad when we turned home again. We had German neighbors. Our stair landing window looked into their dining room and we children, Lora and I, used to watch them. They were all dressed in decollete gowns and the men wore tails. The dinner was many courses, all very grand. Their name was Weiss. In the winter of 1890 Mother thought we should move to the country to be near her mother and brother and his family. There was a house for sale - next to Grandma's. We went out on a train in the late afternoon; it was very dark when we arrived and there was a bus backed up to the platform. We climbed up the stairs and entered. There were benches on each side, hay on the floor to keep our feet warm, and a kerosene lantern at the end. The bus probably sat eight but we were the only passengers. Laurel Avenue was being paved so we drove up Prospect to Lake and around to Grandma's house. In the morning we inspected the house and Mother bought it, and got Mr. Streiber to fix it up as she wanted it. I found a napkin ring under the eaves so my day was made. It turned out to be a fine and wonderful house for us to grow up in. It was large with a reception room, living room, dining room, large pantries and kitchen with a coal stove. In Chicago we had had gas but there was none in Highland Park. The servants' bathroom was in the back hall and their rooms were on the third floor but they never seemed to mind. We had a porch all around the side and in front of the house, all screened in. It was wonderful in summer when it was hot inside. On the side of the porch we had a swinging sofa and when I had callers, we sat out there. I always sat on the side where I could see the upstairs hall and where the boy could not, because my grandmother always came down to the hall table where there was a pitcher of ice water placed every night. She would have her hair in braids and was often in her night gown as she didn't know that she could be seen from the porch. Later Mother put an addition on the back of the house for Grandma to live there with us. She had two large rooms and a bath, and there was a billiard room under her sitting room and a porch for the servants under her bedroom. Prior to this, my uncle and aunt had sold their house and had moved into Grandma's as they had five children. After buying the house we went back to Chicago until school was out and until our house was finished. I got scarlet fever while in Chicago, was very sick, I could not hear. Ward Small and his sister had had it earlier, she died and he was left deaf. Edward and Lora, when I had it, went to stay at Aunt Ada's on Michigan Avenue. They were driven out to see us sometimes and I was carried to the window to wave to them. It must have been dreary for Mother, but I got well and we soon moved to the country. Our house there was a Mecca for the family; the Moore boys spent a lot of time with us and the Smalls were next door. We were a very close family. My father had one brother, Orson, who lived on Bellevue Place. He and Aunt Annie were favorites of mine and I visited them often. They had had three boys all of whom died. My eldest Smith aunt was Aunt Sarah. She lived in Crystal Lake when I first remember her though they had lived in the north side of Chicago. Her husband was an orchid fancier and had a great collection, which he gave to start the conservatory in Lincoln Park. Every summer they had a big Smith family party in Crystal Lake; we went in to Chicago by train and then out there. There we always saw Aunt Fanny Barber and her children, Charlie, Walter, Gertrude and John, and the Crosby family who lived in Oak Park. Aunt Carrie Crosby was deaf and carried a tube into which one spoke. It was a little scary but I loved her and she was so pretty. She had a darling husband, Uncle Frank, who always were a top hat and frock coat and carried a cane. He came to see us often and always brought a box of candies that looked like little pillows. I didn't like them but I liked him. They had Ann, Molly, Grace and David and another girl who fell out of the wagon on a picnic once and it left her deranged. My best friends were Helen Messinger (Eitel), Eleanor Smoot (Holmes) and Marian Mason (Peter). Marian didn't come until sixth grade as she was in Europe, and Eleanor was a grade ahead of us. I was first in Alta School and went to Elm Place in 4th grade. When we were in 7th, the new high school was finished so they let all who wanted take examinations to see if they could skip 8th and we did and joined Eleanor in high school. We walked to school and back, a long way; if it was very stormy, the carriage and horses were hitched and we were driven. Helen was supposed to be delicate so her mother sent their carriage to school with a hot lunch for her. The rest of us had sandwiches and she couldn't bear to be different, so she ate our sandwiches and we divided her hot lunch. In our junior year, our mothers sent Helen and me to Girton, but we four remained best friends all our lives. We loved Girton and our best friends there were Marion and Barbara Deering, Marion Forgan and Dorothy Fuller. We loved it. We were a sister school to Rugby in Kenilworth where Edward Small, my cousin went. I was very popular with the girls as he was the most attractive boy in the school. We went to all of their games and at one of them I lost my glasses but I didn't tell Mother and she didn't notice so I never wore them again. After graduating from Girton, Betty Steele (Childs) and I went to Mt. Vernon Seminary in Washington. I loved it and would have liked to go back to graduate, but it was very expensive and Mother felt she could not afford it. I made many fine friends whom I had for years. I was asked to be president of the senior class if I went back. I was asked to the Michigan prom by Edward, Yale by Paul, and to Cornell by Norman Mason. The latter I could not do as one had to be chaperoned. My mother went to Ann Arbor and Aunt Ada to Yale with me. I had marvelous times. I went to cooking school that winter but the proms did put a crimp in my learning to cook. I could always sew. In those days one did not buy dresses, but had them made - by an expert for best and in the house by a seamstress for every day. The elder girls in town were wearing their skirts longer than we were allowed to. We yearned for skirts which would kick out in back when we walked, so we bought gingham and made them and walked down the street in two's, admiring the way they kicked out in back. We made these dresses when we were 14 or 15. Eleanor never learned to master the sewing machine. Helen sewed the best, but her other always made her rip it out if it was not perfect. Marion and I always finished ours first and were satisfied with them. Our parties were mostly at the Highland Park Club. Mr. Kirk was the president and saw that we had lots of dances. One day a hurdy gurdy man was in town and we asked him if he would play for a dance that night. He said he would if we could furnish a place where he could sleep so I persuaded Mother to let him sleep in our barn. He put the horse and hurdy gurdy by the front door of the club. We opened all the windows so we could hear it and had our dance. We had hayrides in summer and sleigh rides in winter, a very happy life.
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