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New-York tribune. [volume] (New York [N.Y.]) 1866-1924, October 30, 1904, Image 44

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83030214/1904-10-30/ed-1/seq-44/

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both o' you stretched out amongst the turnips, an"
as fur as looks went, there didn't seem to be much
difference betwixt you, 'cept that the bar had a hole
in him you could 'a' rolled a punkin in without much
trouble.
"The perceedin's, Benjamin, that follered the goin'
off o' the gun was that you've gut your right shoulder
out o' loint, an' your cheek swelled up big as a hornet's
nest, an' blacker than your Sunday-go-to-meetin' hat,
an' your one eye shet up tight as a snuff-box, an* your
giner'l system sprung out o' plumb worse than a
V
By MARSHALL P. WILDER
A Sunny Old City
A HOSPITAL is not a place that anyone would
visit if he was in search of jollity, yet some
of the merriest' hours of my life were spent
some years ago in one of the surgical institutes
of Philadelphia. I was one of about three hundred
people of all ages, sizes and dispositions who were
under treatment for physical defects. Most of us
were practically crippled, a condition which is not
generally regarded to be conducive to hilarity; yet
many of us had lots of fun. and all of it was made
by ourselves. I was one of the luckiest of the lot,
for Mother Nature had endowed me with a faculty
for finding sunshine everywhere.
Yet part of my treatment was to lie in bed, locked
in braces, for hours every day. and each of these
hours seemed to l>e several thousand minutes long
So many other boys were under similar treatment
that an attendant named |oe was kent busy in
merely taking otT our appliances.
These were locked, for between
pain and the rcstiveness pecul
iar to boys we would have re
moved them ourselves or for one
another.
Joe was not a beauty, yet I
distinctly remember recalling that
his appearance was that of an
angel of light, for I best remem
ber him in the act of loosening
my braces. Whenever the sur
geon in charge was absent, we
would beg Joe to unlock us.
"Just live minutes — just a min
ute, " and sometimes he would
yield, after making us promise solemnly not to tell
the doctor. The result recalls the story of the old
negro who was seen to hammer his thumb at intervals.
When asked why he did it. he replied:
" Kasc it feels so good when 1 stop!"
To keep from thinking of my pain and helplessness,
I kept looking about me for something to laugh at.
and it was a rare day on which I failed to find it.
When there came such a day 1 had only to dose mv
eyes and look backward a few months or years —I
was sure to recall something funny. Then 1 would
laugh. Some other sufferer would ask what was
amusing me. and when I told him he would also
laugh; some one would hear him. and the story would
have to be repeated.
Soon the word got about the building that there
was a little fellow in one of the rooms who was alw.iv
laughing to himself, or making others laugh, so a!!
the boys insisted on being "let in on the ground
floor" — which, in my case was the fourth floor I
made no objection— was there ever a man so modest
that he didn't like listeners when he had anything to
say '
So i; soon became the custom of all the boys
who were not absolutely bound to their bods to con
gregate in my room, which would have comfortably
held not more than a do. i n.
Yet daily 1 had fifty or more around me. The
earlier confers tilled the chairs, later arrivals sprawled
or curled on my bed. still later ones sat on the In ad
board and the foot-board, the floor accommodated
others until it was packed, and the belated ones
stowed themselves in the hall, within heating dir'ance.
SUNDAY MAGAZINE for OCTOBER 30, 1904
knock-kneed hoss — all because you're so terrible sot
in your ways. "
Benjamin pondered over the question for awhile,
and then said ■■.Mother, you was ;i s ''.U. Nine would
'a' been a-pler.ty! "
Pete having returned by this time with the doctor,
I rose to go on my way.
"I'm jest more than obleeged to you." said Mrs.
Benjamin, shaking hands with m.\ "lor ghin' me
the lift with Benjamin. He's powerful sot; but when
he finds he's wrong he owns up like a man."
'Twas a hard trip for some of them. po«.r fellows, f. >r
there were not enough attendants to carry them all.
and three flights of stairs are a hard climb for i rip
ples. So, t<« prevent unnecessary pain while I was
outdoors taking the air. I hung a small American
Hag over the stair rail opposite my door whenever I
was in This could he seen from any of the lower
hall-. 1 learned afterward that it was the custom
of royalty and other exalted personages
to display a Hag when they were "at home."
but this did not frighten in in innm.rv of
those hospital days, I always display a flag
at my window when I am al>!e to see my
friends.
Boys are as fond as Irishmen of lighting
for the mere fun of it. so we got a lot of laughing
out of fist tights between some of the patients.
The most popular contestants were Ciott Dewey
ft Khnira. New- York, and a son of Sheriff Wright
of Philadelphia. Both were seriously arili. ted.
though they seemed not to knew it. Wright was a
cross-eyed paralytic, while Dewey had St. Vitus
dance, and was so badly paraly/ed that he had no
control over his natural means of
locomotion. He could not even talk
intelligibly, yet he had an intellect
that impressed me deeply, even at
that early day. He could cope with
the hardest mathematical problem
that anyone could offer. IL- read
much, and his taste in literature
and everything else was distinct and
Vet, still being a boy. lie enjoyed
a tight, and as he and Wright wire
naturally antipathetic by tempera
ment they were always ready for a set-to. These
afTairs were entirely harmless, for neither could hit
straighter than a girl can throw a stone. The result
ot their efforts was "the humor of the unexpected,"
and it amused us so greatly that we never noticed the
pathetic side of it.
His Appearance 'Was
of an Angel of LigKt
These two Ikjvs did me
the honor to become fond
of me. Why they did it I
don't know, unless because
1 never did anything in
particular ftf t Wright. Yet
lie was always t.-asiug
Dewey. who was proud and
Svlf-reliant, and insisted
upon doing everything for
himself. That he might
serve himself at table, a
little elevator was made
for his convenience, and I
was mischievous enough to
<ii> -ivr.mge the machinery
so tint food intended for his mouth should rea^li liis
ear. Vet he loved me dearly, and dashed at me
affectionately, though erratically, whenever we met.
I was muiMe to jjet about without erutehi-s. so i
frei|uentlv fell. If Dewev was in sight he woiild
hurry to my assistance, with disastrous results to
both of us. Often Wright would ojTer assist ance at the
same time, and the two would fall over each other
and me and attempt to '•fight it out." while 1 would
become helpless with laughter, and the three of us
would lie in a heap until some attendant would separ-
ate the warriors and set me on ray feet and a •;•
One rule of the institute was that no patients m :
In |MWi the building on Sunday — the day oa whi. :
the physicians and attendants got most liberty 1
enforce this rule there was a doorkeeper named Sno
He was a dwarf, hardly four feet high, who on Sand
\\<>ul<l curl up in a box under his desk ami mbk
could have a mouthful or more of whisky, air]
a little of it would put him sound asleep and I
thc doot unguarded against anyone who iand t«
mH, Flow whisky got into the institute to be ■
upon Smith I don't know
I recall a Sunday when we three. IXwey. V. '<
and I, conceived the idea of going to church. T .
was a church directly across the street. s<> w, •
for it a few moments after throwing a s..p .i
to our Cerberus. We had several misha; -
way. due to my friends' well-meant but mi ■ 1;:
efforts to assist me. but passers-by kindly pal
our feet again. We got into church early, a; 1 |
up the aisle and entered the front pew.
Soon after the service began a joonfl " ■
our left compelled our attention by eying us ii
apparently she thought us the newest thing r;
Tame Graces" line. Something moved me to ; .
Dewey and tell him to stop flirting with thai ;
Apparently he thought I was trying to !*■ fumy •
he began laughing in his peculiar laugh. wh» h
sputter, with which no one familiar with i* «■■.
help being amused: so Wright laughed h»- at
which it was impossible for me to keep •|ui> t. V\
really were reverent little chaps, so we tried bar.l
suppress ourselves; but boys will be boys.
Suddenly we three exploded as one. \\V „
hear tittering around us: the minister stopped » •'
middle of an eloquent peri*»d, raised his fJUiiiii i. .■• ■..[
shall never forget his pained expression <>f asU>ru
ment as he caught sight of us for the first tiin. >■
denly there appeared a platoon of deacons, two »■
whom attached themselves to each of us. an*]
were conducted down the aisle, facing an jrm ■ >
array of hymn-books, behind which the . i
tion were endeavoring to hide their own kuirht. r
He Said \
It Was \
"Very Good '
Water
years ago on reaching a Philadelphia chun h « ! ■
members I had been engaged to "entertain, r!
committee of arrangements met me antl said ti <
wished to prepare me for the unusual appearance
their chairman. He had endowed the church, r!
told me. and was almost idolized by the people ?'. i
many noble qualities of head and heart. yet h. «
paralytic, and his visage was shocking at tir>>
Suddenly the chairman himself entered th. ■
md I saw my old friend Gott Dewey. At the
instant he recognized me. He dashed at ntv i i
old way. My arm instinctively caught him a- ii !
done hundreds of times Wfore. The commit t..
posing I was frightened, endeavored to svpafati
M wt weren't easy to handle, so there was .» .:
mix-up, m wnu-n tru- i!« .ir >
boy. with tears s?n ■.«• ■.:■
down his checks, ti:tU;r. t><
to explain that wo v. m
friends. Then lie t»>M ?iu- l!
he hud read my l>i»>k " IV ■
I've Smiled With." aim! I •
so greatly amused |.\ r ri
he had suggested my «n>:^
ment to entertain Ins »!,.
people, yet he had i
imagined 1 was tl,« \\\
boy of "The Crinkles' 1..
ace. "
It took him fifteen tun •
to say all this and »<>•!,;
his emotion. Then In- v. ant.
to go on the platform and tell his people tJbtmt n>
and what old friends we were. 1 realized that it h
was to do it I should never reach the platform niw ■::
>.» pcrsiKido.l him In Iri oh Id llh su.ry. He\-«.
sented. but insisted on accompanying me, ami tear
fully confirmed everything I said. So with him I <>:.!
me. for "local color," 1 got along so well that th« •
was not a dry eye in the house. It was an im\|>r. -
ible relief to me to set everyl»ody laughing aitvrwar.l
for I never needed a '* bracing up"* more than ■:.
that night. Dewev had always longed to be a law\. r
There Appeared a
Platoon of Deacon*
The next «lav :••.•
church sent fin- •■
stitute a (>•:: ■•:•
earnest re<m«>t r'r-.r
no more «rij.f!>- I .
permitted t«> attvn*!
service in tii a t
m — — • m
« nurcn. i n Ti. a
h
After Waving tht
institute 1 lost si-! ■••
»»f Dewev. tin >::-.'!! i
never forgot his hi-arty \\.:\
of greeting mo whtiuvt-r ' ■
met me. a lw nilji 1 1 nhi ■
caused him to tumM« Jl
over me and «-«»m{., ■" -•!
me to put out my ami ' •
save him from lullitv'. !•": . •

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