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Thompson, Oscar T. / Home town : some chapters in reminiscence
(May 1942)

Chapter 5,   pp. 9-11 PDF (920.7 KB)


Page 10

neighbors and we had the most
amicable relations. Charley Avery,
for many years bookkeeper in the
Hyde & Brittan Bank was then
living with his sister, Mrs. Tuttle.
He was a great gardener and loved
to go out hunting with his gun.
I might mention here that Mrs.
Pound (Miss Eva Tuttle) and her
sister, Grace Tuttle, with two
Pound children, lost their lives
in the Iroquois Theatre fire in
Chicago. I was a bearer at the
funeral and it was the coldest day
I ever experienced in Beloit.
Hank Talmadge was also a well-
known citizen. He lived at the
corner of Bluff street and E street,
now St. Lawrence avenue.
On July 4th, 1875, there had
been some big celebration at Mad-
ison, Wis., A company of Chicago
militia men had taken part in the
celebration. That night the train
carrying the soldiers back to Chi-
cago was wrecked at the old stone
quarry, three miles north of Be-
loit. There was a terrible storm
and the rain weakened a culvert
there and the train went down.
The engine ran into the river. The
engineer was drowned and many
of the soldiers were injured but
I believe none of them died. The
morning after we saw the soldiers
down town walking around or ly-
ing on the grass on High School
hill. They all left for Chicago
that afternoon.
On July 21, 1876, my father's
factory in Third street was com-
pletely destroyed by fire entailing
a loss of over $60,000, with very
little insurance. Most men would
have given up and quit, but not
so my father. He promptly de-
cide to go ahead and build a
larger and better factory and the
business continued to grow and
flourish.
I graduated from the High
School in 1877 in a class of 13
members, all of whom are now
dead excepting Mrs. Julius Trues-
dell (the former Cornelia Riggs)
and myself. Mrs. Thompson and
I called on the Truesdells some
years ago at their home in the
Blue Ridge Mountains down in
Virginia. They had a lovely home
overlooking the valley below. We
had a fine visit talking over old
times, and Mr. Truesdell had a
great fund of stories covering his
newspaper experiences in Wash-
ington where he had been en-
gaged almost his entire life.
In September, 1877, I left for
Luther College, in Decorah, where
I stayed only one year as I did
not feel at home there. This was
a Lutheran training school, and
specialized in the study of lang-
uages-Latin, Greek and Hebrew
in the ancient classics; all of which
I have long since forgotten - and
Norwegian, Swedish, and German
in the modern languages. All of
these languages are still with me,
doing good service. I never took
French at college, but in 1918 I
took up the study of French by
myself and acquired a very good
reading knowledge of the language
and have ever since greatly en-
joyed French literature.
I might add that Luther College
has since those days modernized
its curriculum and is now a very
good school.
For the reasons stated, I did not
return to Luther College, but went
to Europe in the fall of 1878 cross-
ing the ocean in a small cargo sail-
ing vessel commanded by my cou-
sin, Captain Flack. It took us
23 days from New York to St. Na-
zaire, France. We had three vio-
lent hurricanes on the trip over.
I spent a month in France, and
visited the Exposition Universelle
in Paris in October, 1878. From
there I went to Norway, by way
of Hamburg, Germany, and spent
a very pleasant year in that beau-
tiful country. My cousins had a
sailboat, a yacht, with one mast
and two sails, the main sail and
jib. We sailed up and down the
coast and far out to sea. I became
quite proficient in handling the
sails and maneuvering the boat,
and can do it to this day.
In the winter we skated on the
fjord. The Norwegian young folks
were surprised that I could skate
backwards, cut circles, and figure
eights and other stunts on skates.
I had a pair of American Club
Skates, which they had never seen
before, Their's were the old style
of Dutch Skates. I also learned
to slide on skis, but did not become
very proficient in this sport.
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