April 19, 1896
LITTLE MISS BIG BONNET.
TO CORRESPONDENTS -- When writing letters to Big Hat's department for publication, write on one side of the paper only. Printers never turn their copy, and the editor has no time to rewrite half, or even part, of your letters. Give your full name and address. Anonymous letters are never printed. These rules are imperative.
GILBERT OSCAR MANDEN, Cedar Hill, Dallas Co. Tex. -- Mr. Big Hat and cousins: I will knock for admission at the Cozy Corner door. This is my first letter. I am a little boy 10 years old. I can plow, pick cotton and do lots of work. I have been plowing this year and we are about to catch up with our work. I can pick 200 pounds of cotton in a day and can play all night without being tired.
MARY MAUD MANDEN, Cedar Hill, Dallas Co., Tex. -- Mr. Big Hat and cousins: I did not see my other letter published and I guess that Peggy ate it up. I live on a high hill with lots of trees in the yard. I live two miles from Cedar Hill and twenty miles from Dallas. I like to read the cousins' letters and think they are very nice. I think that Mr. Big Hat looks nice between Peggy's ears. Come again, Miss Big Bonnet.
IDA WHITE, Terrell, Kaufman Co., Tex. -- Mr. Big Hat and cousins: I have been going to school. It was out last Tuesday. My teacher was a lady and I liked her very much. I am 12 years old and live six miles northeast of Terrell on the prairie. The ground is covered with flowers. I think some of the wild flowers are much prettier than some tame flowers. As this is my first attempt and for fear Peggy gets a bite at it I will not write more.
JOE FARMER, Rutherford, Gibson Co., Tenn. -- Mr. Big Hat and cousins: You see I have left Texas since I last wrote to the Corner. By Mr. Big Hat's permission (now, remember, Mr. Big Hat, I sent you a dime not long ago, and you must let me in) I will try to give you Texas cousins a short account of that trip. I notice it has come to be very fashionable to write such articles. I never tried to write a railroad trip before. I acknowledge I have been guilty of a great many little mean things, first and last, but I never before had the heart to willfully and deliberately inflict such a thing on an innocent and unsuspecting public. The public has had much to be thankful to me for in this line. I never was the one to ask it to gulp down the very worse of my compositions. Of course, those who, in an unguarded moment, have read my few previous articles, will doubt this, but it is true. I have long entertained a great love for the generous reading public, therefore I have carefully withheld the great mass of my literary works from the press. I do not now perpetrate this article through any malice, but I rather think it is occasioned by natural environments. At each annual return of joyous spring, when the sap of nature mounts to flush with hectic hue the maple bud, it also surges to my dome of thought, and then my microscopic brain at once becomes very sapient and morbidly active. My great intellectuality feels flush and adventurous, and longs to gambol in the field of letters. 'Tis then my mental organism secretes a dark green and abnormal flow of rhetoric, spurious oratory and such truck. I have often thought all this was a marked tendency toward spring poesy, which I am told is very prevalent among amateur writers at this season. Whatever this propensity may be, I hope you will not fail to see that it is personally responsible for thus tempting me to venture my cloven pen on this brief, and I hope you will say, lucid railroad ride, including stops, desultory observations and geographical data. I began this trip at the Texas end where it lay deep in the mud of Honey Grove. Now, I suppose you all know enough of our American way of naming things, not to be misled by that name, although it is somewhat probable that the late David Crockett, Esq., of Alamo, did once upon a time find considerable honey here in a pecan grove. Davy was sure he was right, and then went ahead and named the place Honey Grove. The rain came down and the mud came up in a very spring-like manner, as I cleaned off my feet and took the car for Paris. Paris is the modern Athens of Texas, the home of some of our good Cozy Corner writers, and a place of much refinement and learning. I often visit Paris and stroll through its classical old streets and mingle with its refined intelligence in the vain hope of imbibing some of its literary taste or of becoming inoculated with the "divine afflatus" itself. Here on the pure sands of Paris is reared Uncle Sam's great red temple of justice where the dusky Choctaw can come and hear his death warrant read, get his baggage checked through and pass on to his happy hunting ground without delay or stop over. But I must leave this city with all its glories, to glory on by themselves. Having thus slipped away from Paris without creating any sensation I felt relieved and let my mind relax and loll out at the car window and dangle over postoak scenery at the rate of thirty miles an hour to Texarkana. I took a two hours' lay-over and a two-bit lunch in this Siamese town with its two-headed government in the two states of Arkansas and Texas, with its postoffice and union depot setting sternly astride the state line. Leaving the Lone Star feeling more lonely perhaps without me, I entered the great kingdom of Arkansas, the home of the long-faced hog and the ever-soughing pine. I passed above the sullen and silt-bemingled waters of Red river and merged into an extensively damp pinery, where the bobtailed catamount and the wild sawmill loves to dwell. Still I merged on at a low rate of speed, until I finally gained Hope, and thence cautiously through a region of varied patches of civilization and strawberries, to where the picturesque and handsomely named Arkadelphia quietly resides on the Washita. It was night when I reached Malvern, where that little tap road, owned and very deliberately operated by Diamond Joe, breaks off through the mountains to Hot Springs, twenty-two miles away, at 5 cents per mile post paid. Here at Malvern, while changing the cars, I was met and personally interviewed by a gaunt delegation of about 536 hotel drummers and Hot Springs doctor solicitors. The conductor had previously handed me a little tract issued by the mayor of the Springs warning visitors against any undue and illicit solicitation on the part of this army of alimentary and medical representatives, so that, aside from filling my pockets with their hotel cards I treated the delegation with a reserve and coldness that made their system call for more hot baths. The authorities of Hot Springs, in the ardor of their hospitality, also provide a policeman to meet the trains at Malvern and distribute the mayor's warning and knock off and precipitate this pack of hotel howlers when they set upon an invalid stranger too heavily. A fresh regiment tried to harass me on the train, until I let them overhear a little conversation I was conducting with a Boston swell, wherein to please his New Englandship I casually remarked that I was an untutored bovine youth from Texas, and wore two six-shooters and a lariat under my clothes, and had a pair of horns sprouting. Then the hotel agents went silently away. I got off at these renowned Hot Springs, only to be fatally disappointed in finding it a rather cold, backward, rainy spring, about like the ordinary spring now in use all over the United States. I took out a deck of the cards I had collected, shuffled them carefully, cut out one representing a hotel that I guessed would do, and took my seat in the Hot Springless omnibuster, te-bumpety-clatter to my hotel. Next morning I diligently sauntered down Central avenue till I found an old Tennessee chum, now a doctor, in his office. He told me many interesting things relative to this great health resort. Then when we had planned a walk for the evening I went out on the street for a stroll and left the doctor doing some carpenter work on a comparatively new looking nervous system, which I learned had been wrecked by the schooner Beer. I went up the street and took a great, moist drink of hot water and abandoned myself to thoughtful observation. Hot Springs is a good place to observe, also to abandon. I am a close observer of cities, and soon noticed a pair of smoke-capped mountains that rise up very plainly on either side of the city. Hot Springs is a long, sharp city with two deep sides and a subterranean creek in the middle. At present it has a population of about 500 hotels and boarding-houses, 125 doctors, 16,000 inhabitants and, before I left, some 7000 or 8000 visitors, including resorters, doubtful invalids, dried mummies and other little scraps of our race. It is woeful to see the great mass of suffering humanity here assembled on crutches and groans, or carted about the streets in adult baby carriages. The lame, the blind, and the halt for several miles around come to this great resort to be dipped in its troubled waters and curried down by a stout yellow negro. There are said to be twenty-two bath houses and, I believe, some seventy springs, varying in temperature from 156 degrees down to good cold drinking water, Fahrenheit, with probably a still greater variation in their chemical composition. The thermometer also shows a corresponding variation in the price of hotels. I have been informed that any one who is a mind to put up with the fare can get tolerably good meals and lodging as low as $8 a day, by paying in advance, or allowing the proprietor to hold his grip. The grounds and springs are largely owned by the general government and leased to the operators at so much per annum per bath tub, for revenue only. The government also individually operates a fine flag-bestudded hospital and a well attended bathing establishment where indigent invalids can come and take the bath treatment and pauper's oath free of charge. At this season most of the Hot Springs resorters are from the icy north. Many modern and high grade patients leave their bleak homes buried in the bitter snows of Maine, Wyoming and the Dakotas and come down here to warm and resort. Here one can meet with all classes of people and patent drinking cups. He can find all sorts of amusements, from the southern clubroom and the park live-bird shooting, down to the happy-hollow donkey menagerie and "phunny photo" gallery. And leaving the busy, thronged streets he can also find some pretty good places about here to commune with nature, in her native state (Arkansas), followed a dim mountain path away up happy-hollow, and "held communion with her various forms" several times. I clambered up the rugged mountain and sat upon a hard, jagged rock and thought. I looked far out over smoke-bathed and pine-studded mountains and exclaimed, "Oh, thou mountains, rock-ribbed and ancient as the sun, with vales stretching in pensive quietness between," in tones that broke up a convention of mountain nymphs and made them flee to their sylvan retreat pell-mell. I monkeyed about over the summit of West Mountain and looked down with supreme disgust upon the wiggly little town below, and whistled "Yankee Doodle." I viewed with awe and criticism the place where aspiring man proposes to build an incline road up the mountain, and snatch cars by cable up the giddy heights to a proposed hotel on the top, with rooms to let for light housekeeping at so much per week in advance. I pondered on the profound sublimity of mountain scenery, on the deep and hidden mysteries of the god of this upheaved nature, then gathered a little bunch of mountain violets and came down. My three days of grace having expired, next morning I left this city of Bath on an early train, and sped away through a snakey bottom to Little Rock, arriving there just in time to get to wait a few hours for the Memphis train. I found the Rock a capital little city with a rather muddy river on its left side. Here I got to see a good many Arkansas travelers in the crude state, lurking hither and yon, but did not have time and apparatus to secure specimens. I meandered through the halls of the rusty old capitol building and loitered by the ever-spurting fountain in the front ground, presumably against the wishes of a large-mouthed cannon, which was zealously guarding the grass and other things sacred to the heart of Arkansas, U. S. A. Leaving this flinty Little Rock with its geology comparatively unstudied, I was jirked hence athwart the watery rind of Arkansas, by the malarious cane-brake route to Memphis. Here I crossed the Rubicon on the great iron bridge, "while the clocks were striking the hour, and the moon rose o'er the city, behind the dark church tower," or words to that effect. I was driven across town and loaded into another depot, where I was soon shot out of the Bluff city at the rate of 100 miles to the first stop. Again changing cars in the wee sma' hours of night I rode in home before breakfast.
MYRTIE KIRK, Forney, Kaufman Co., Tex. -- Cousins: Some time having elapsed since last my little star attempted to scintillate among the many bright constellations of the page, that I feel timid in appearing in such an incandescent circle of glowing lights, where my illuminating power, compared with others of the page, is like the nebulae of the "milky way" to the brilliant morning star, that rivals old Helios himself in glory. But here I come, extending greetings to all, and claiming a share of your kind consideration for a few moments while I briefly relate a bit of experience. One cold winter night in December, as the wind blew a rapid gale from the north and the earth was fast being covered with snow, we children were left alone, as our parents were away to spend the night. We were in high anticipation of a "big time," as we termed it, playing "blind fool," making "bug-a-boos" and listening to hear any). As the hour of 10 was approaching we realized that it was our bedtime. So gathering around the few smoldering embers, almost converted to ashes, some preparations were being made for retirement, when there came a sharp and unexpected rap on the door. All cast a glare of astonishment in that direction. No one ventured to open. "Perfect silence reigned within," while occasional glances of fright were being exchanged. In an instant the door opened and in the entrance stood a creature clad in white, with dark overcoat and heavy boots. Adjusted to its bead was an immense "white cap" some two feet in height, peering beneath which were two large gleaming eyes. Thus the unwelcome guest held his position until brother in almost a frenzy of terror flung open the dining-room door, thinking to escape from the monster, who was by degrees coming nearer. The old family cat just then jumped from a kitchen shelf, bringing with her a freight load of buckets, pans, lids and such like, which collided with the refrigerator and fleeing boy -- all tumbling in a heap, causing a very excitable diversion. Thinking the house infested throughout with hobgoblins, escape was deemed an impossibility by the others, and imagination ran high as to the identity and errand of the guest. While the other children assisted in removing the fallen debris from the boy and cat, the tall cap was removed by the stranger, accompanied by a hearty laugh. It was the writer who stood before them, to become the recipient of many threats. It was unanimously conceded that I be subjected to corporal punishment, but it all passed off as fun. I had accomplished my purpose, that of scaring brother, who had declared time and again he would shoot any intruder. Boys, don't say you are not scarey, for boys will run sometimes. Come again, M. C. Williams; I acquiesce in your sentiment in regard to the Lone Star state. I have no definite idea as to your age, but I just guess you are a pretty smart little trick. Wilhelmina Johnson, give us another call. You write splendidly, Marion York, your letter contained indispensable advice. Why don't more of the old writers come again? I've a subject for the cousins, which I think very desirable, and hope it will meet with approval. It is "An Ideal Boy," or "An Ideal Girl." The boys have slammed the door on my dress, and I might just as well quit as to be bothered to death.
DONNIE BELL, Channing, Hartley Co., Tex. -- Good morning, Mr. Big Hat and Cousins: I said in my other letter that I would tell who my favorite author is. It is Louisa M. Alcott. I also like Mrs. A. D. T. Whitney's stories for girls. I will tell the cousins how I learned to read. I had heard so many pieces read from the Youth's Companion and Little Men and Little Women that the first reader stories were not interesting to me. I had never seen many children nor been to school, and I thought that Daisy and Demi, Nan and Tommy were real children, and would sit and hold Little Men and beg mamma or sister to read "Daisy's Rail" to me, till one day my oldest brother came home and begged mamma to let me read it through, and if I finished it in a month, he would give me a nice dress. To be sure there were many yards, and I had to spell them, and I had read it every bit aloud to mamma or sister, but I got through it in four months and received the dress. Mamma said she thought she ought to have had something for listening to so much. when I got through mamma said I could read well enough for the third reader. Since I began writing I went to meet my brother Charles. He was coming with the mail. He let me on in front of his saddle, and the horse ran away with us. We both fell off. I sprained my ankle and he skinned his mouth and nose dreadfully, and he did not know anything until midnight. He hit his tongue so he could hardly talk for several days. Mama told him she was afraid his mustache was ruined. He is all right now. He is 10 years old. I will send 10 cents for myself and 10 cents for Charlie to go toward the Sam Houston monument. We are all Texans but my baby brother. I like all the cousins' letters very much.
STELLA OLIVER, Mount Vernon, Franklin Co., Tex. -- Mr. Big Hat and cousins: I suppose the cousins think I come rather often, but I would like to know who could stay away from such an interesting Cozy Corner? I never did see the like of new cousins! Why don't the old cousins write? Lawrence C. Fountain, come again. I like to read your letters. How many of the cousins take the Courier-Journal? If you take it, how do you like the Young Folks' Department in it? I like it real well, but I don't think it as interesting as ours. Mr. Big Hat, when is the time out for raising the Sam Houston stone fund? I was glad to see a letter from Cousin Dora Bennett again. The farmers haven't done much with their crops up here yet. I think the cousins are going too far with their pets. Some one will come in after a while and give them "hail Columbia" about it. Sister Della and I have put in a quilt, and are learning how to quilt splendidly. I think we will get it out this week. Mr. Big Hat, I send 10 cents in stamps for the stone fund. We got our new papers this evening and I didn't do anything but read. I do like to read. I read every paper we get. We take a good many, but I like The News and the Youth's Companion best of all. I will ask some questions, as I see one of my others were answered: In what country do the college and university students take pride in having their faces scarred with wounds received in duels? Who was called the Xenophen of the Texas revolution? What were the halls of the Montezumas? Success to the Sam Houston stone fund.
LANIE McAFEE, Grand View, Johnson Co., Tex. -- Oh, Mr. Big Hat, you look as if you were trying to fix the moon up on Peggy's ears! I am going to school and having a jolly good time. We girls jump the rope and the boys play ball when they are not aggravating us girls. We have a kind and jolly teacher. We had a spelling match last Friday evening and I missed "institute." One pupil missed "flea." He spelled it "flee." Sister Rener misspelled "baptize," about half a dozen missed ""tortoise," and by what they all missed you may judge our school (or the scholars). Some talk of being afraid of mice. I am afraid of anything that will bite. Willie Wight, come again. Your letters are very good. Johnnie Gile, it makes me shiver to think of an old red Indian! Miss Big Bonnet, you are a real pretty little girl, but Mr. Big Hat does not play foot ball enough so you can write often. I have a bonnet just like yours and I think they are real pretty. Myrtle Ford, you and I are keeping Peggy in food. He got my last letter and I wouldn't be surprised if he gets this one. What has become of Johnnie Price? Elmer Davis, come again. You must think that the girls are all uneasy about Herbert, but I saw him in December. We were picking cotton and something flew over. Brother and cousins said it was an angel, but I know it was Cousin Herbert. I hope our cousin from Illinois (Emma Breckenridge) will come again. I think she could make a good living in the south. Cousins Fred Burge and Roy Strong, come again. Roy, tell us something about your cats next time. Gus Ford, are you guilty of peeping in the girl's bonnet? Now, Peggy, just listen! Don't you get this letter!
MAMIE BURDINE, Bigby Fork, Itawamba Co., Miss. -- Mr. Big Hat and cousins: I will introduce myself to you by saying I am a constant reader of The News. I hail the coming of Tuesday and Saturday, for they always bring the "good News." I read with pleasure the young folks' letters and think them instructive as well as entertaining. I sometimes think I enjoy reading better than any one. I could sit and read all day and never get tired. I am deprived of the privilege of going to school, as much as I would like to, as my mother is an invalid, and I the only daughter. You may guess I have plenty of work to do, but I do not mind it. I had rather work than be idle. I think all girls should learn how to work and keep house. If any of us should be so fortunate as to marry men able to keep us from work, it would be easier for us to quit it than to learn how. I spent several months in southwest Texas two years ago, near Beeville. I like the people I met there very much. On our way back we stopped over at Houston several hours, and we also stopped over at New Orleans. There we crossed the grand old Mississippi in a large steamer, and a few hours later in the evening crossed Lake Pontchartrain, which we were told was seven miles wide at the crossing. The next place we stopped was Meridian, Miss., and from there we traveled on to Shannon, Miss., where we came to our journey's end. We were met by kind relatives, who carried us out home with them. We have a nice, pleasant home in northeast Mississippi. The farmers here raise most everything they need at home, and we have nice fruit and vegetables of many different kinds. If this finds favor with Mr. Big Hat I will call again in the near future.
VIOLA McDONALD, Eureka, Navarro Co., Tex. -- Mr. Big Hat, Miss Big Bonnet and cousins: This is a rainy Sunday evening and I am lonesome, so I will write you another letter. I have written once before, but the paper stopped and I didn't see it in print. My cousin saw it. The people are all commencing another crop here, but it has been raining so much this spring that they couldn't do much plowing. Do any of you cousins like to pick cotton? I don't like it much, but I have to help, for papa has no boys large enough to help him. Papa has built us a new house since I wrote to you, and I like it fine. My sister is living in the old one. I go to see her nearly every day. She has the sweetest little boy I ever saw. Nearly all of the cousins write about going to school, but I don't get to go much. We live so far from the school house. Mr. Big Hat, why do you ride on Peggy's head?
[Mr. Big Hat's
J. HOMER BERRY, Knox, Collin Co., Tex. -- Mr. Big Hat and cousins: I have been reading the cousins' letters for a long time, and they are all so good that I am tempted to write a few lines. I hope Peggy will be fed good just before this gets to Mr. Big Hat, for I would like to see it in print. Well, cousins, I have been living in the city for quite a while, so I thought I would come out in the country, but I do not like the country as well as I do the city. I got my uncle to subscribe for The News and I am better contented now, for I think it is a grand paper. We have a debate at Knox every Saturday night. Our subject next Saturday night is: "Resolved, that the United States has reached her zenith and is on the decline?" What do you think of that subject, cousins? And we have a man out here who believes the world is square and stationary, and he gives us a lecture every few nights. Come again, Uncle Riddle, for I know you of old. Jesse Q. Locke, I think your letter ever so nice; don't forget to write again. I send my best wishes to Mr. Big Hat and cousins, and especially to Peggy.
MAY BOREN, Addington, Indian Territory > Jefferson Co., Okla., -- Mr. Big Hat and cousins: I will again write and speak to Miss Big Bonnet also. As the bonnet fashions have run out entirely here, I will ask Miss Big Bonnet to please send me the charts of her bonnet. Mr. Big Hat, as I was reading the cousins' letters this evening I found among them one from one of my playmates of long ago. His name is Carter Bender, and he lives in Greer county, just one mile north of Red river. We lived close to Red river about five years ago, and his parents were our nearest neighbors then. I am going to school at Addington. I have got a splendid teacher. I am a girl 14 years of age.
OLLIE HUGGINS, Carrollton, Tex. -- Mr. Big Hat: This is my first letter to you. I am a little boy, 12 years old. My father is a farmer and lives near Carrollton, in Dallas county. He has lived here nearly thirty years. I will tell you of my accident on the night of the 25th of March. My brother had stretched a barbed wire across the yard, one of the first makes of wire, with barbs one inch long. A stray dog came and got into a fight with our dog. I ran out and ran against the wire and cut my throat and I breathed through the hole, but the doctor came and patched it up, and I think it will soon be as good as ever. But I don't want any more holes in my throat. If any of the cousins happen to have a like accident, don't be so scared as I was. The doctor can patch it.
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