Living It Over Again
One day in the spring of 1881, after having finished the business that had called me to St. Paul from my home in River Falls, Wisconsin (where I was a railway agent and newspaper proprietor combined), I was loafing about the Grand Central Station, killing time until my train should be ready to start. The big whistle of a big boat drew me to the adjacent wharf of the Diamond Jo Line. The craft proved to be the “Mary Morton”. As soon as the lines were fast, the stages in position, and the first rush of passengers ashore, I walked aboard and up to the office. A small man, past middle life, his hair somewhat gray, was writing in a big book which I recognized as the passenger journal. By the same token I realized that I was in the presence of the chief clerk, even if I had not already seen the “mud” clerk hard at work on the levee, checking out freight. I spoke to the occupant of the office, and after a few questions and counter questions I learned that he was Charley Mathers, who had been on the river before 1860 as chief clerk, and he in turn learned my name and former standing on the river. From him I learned that the chief pilot of the steamer was Thomas Burns. It did not take a great while to get up to the pilot house. I would not have known my old chief had I not been posted in advance by Mr. Mathers. This man was grey instead of brown, and had big whiskers, which the old Tom did not have. He was sitting on the bench, smoking his pipe and reading a book. He looked up as I entered, and questioned with his eyes what the intrusion might mean, but waited until I should state my business. It took some minutes to establish my identity; but when I did I received a cordial welcome.
And then we talked of old times and new, and war times