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(madison icon)1902

B. B. Clarke's Musings

from Madison, Past and Present   1902

When I landed in Madison twelve years ago last spring and first beheld its beautiful lakes and gorgeous scenery, its splendid residences and magnificent educational advantages, I wondered why the streets were not up with the rest of the things, but since the fight over the pavement around the capitol park, and over the acceptance of the Carnegie library, I have ceased to wonder. I could not realize why the mode of travel at that time was by means of dry-goods boxes on wheels drawn by little Santa Fe Jacks, whose "ye haws" sounded like the sawing of gourds. I can now better understand why it took so many years and such hard fighting to get the streets macadamized and electric cars.

But the days of the "old school" are passing away; in fact Madison now is not what it was a decade ago. Then the people did not want factories nor did they encourage enterprises of this nature, but they have awakened from their Rip Van Winkle nap, and a transformation scene has taken place. Madison today is not the same little city I first beheld on a cold day in April in 1890 when I landed in town with a crop of populistic whiskers and a grave yard appearance, causing the undertakers to wear that patronizing air so becoming to their profession, as they gently murmured: "Praise God from whom all blessings flow."

Madison has grown and broadened the gauge of its dealings with mankind until it is known throughout the utmost parts of the earth as being in the front rank of enterprise. From its monuments of learning, towering upon its hills and overlooking its beautiful lakes, veritable light houses of knowledge, it has sent forth a mighty army of educational forces, who are scattered all over the earth's surface and honored by all. ...

It was in this little city that I landed years ago, a stranger broken in health and in purse, worse than a pauper, without where to lay my tired head, unknown to a soul within its gates, that I found a refuge and a home. How well I have tried to merit the many acts of kindness heaped upon me, or how I have tried to appreciate golden opportunities thrown in my pathway by Madison people, let them be the judge. Here I have lived and learned to love its people, and their God is my God. Beautiful Madison, for all thou hast been to me, I love thee as I love no other place on earth. May you grow to be the greatest in all things as you have grown to be the greatest in many things!

Clarke, B. B. "B. B. Clarke's Musings." Madison, Past and Present. [Madison: State Journal Printing Co., 1902]. 31-32.
Held by the State Historical Society of Wisconsin: F589 M1 M32 (Oversize).