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at Night
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Fireside Stories

A Young Visitor
Months in Ten Languages
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Anna Stuart
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Way back in the late 1800's all the people decided to have a big fair for the whole world.  They chose Saint Louis, Missouri for the site.  They  chose to celebrate the Louisiana Purchase's 100th anniversary, or "Centennial" is another word to use.  At the time, they started advertising that the World's Fair would have the best, the biggest, the brightest exhibits the world could put together,

Anna was just a baby.  Pearl and Harry were saving up every dollar they could in order  to go to the fair.  St. Louis is a very long way from Sparks, Nevada.  It would be a wonderful train trip on a big black steam engine with a dining room, and they were going to get beds on the train to sleep in. It would cost quite a bit of money, so they all were willing to save for the trip.  My grandmother Pearl told me lots of stories about the fair, but I was very little when she told them to me.  When I grew older I asked my mother to tell me what she remembered since she was so little when they were going.  She told me most of this and then I read a couple of books, too, when I was older.  But this story is mostly memories.

Pearl had brothers working on the Railroad who wanted to go see the biggest round-table in the world.  They worked on a very big one in Sparks.  This is a very big wheel.  When a train comes that is going west and has to go back east, they put it on the turn table (big wheel) and turn the wheel.  Then the steam engine is going the other way.  In those days it was a very interesting, and really important thing to do... work for the railroad I mean, because it was only a few years since they had had railroads all over the United States.  It was the main way people went to far places.  There were hardly any automobiles at all in 1900. There were no airplanes at all. There were streetcars, the older ones pulled by horses. but some cities were putting in electricity and running their streetcars on an electric rail. Pearl and Harry went with their children Roy and Anna.  Anna was just six-years-old and she was very excited .  One thing she remembered all her life, even when she was old enough to have great-grandchildren, was her new clothes .  We have that picture for you great great grandchildren to see of Anna Stuart going to the fair. Your mom, Leslie can get a library book that shows all the pictures of the places your ancestors went, including the really Grand Palace which had the world exhibits  from each country showing what they were proud of.  There were many palaces.  One was the Palace of Electricity where all the new inventions were.  Harry spent a great deal of time looking at all the new inventions, and so did Pearl. There was a huge one for  the railroad exhibit.  Pearls brothers, Jim and Ben went there every day.  Then they would go see the other exhibits. They saw electric things of all kinds that were brand new.  It would be a long time before everyone had a telephone, a toaster, a vacuum, a washer.  These things were like magic to Pearl Rae Stuart and her little girl Anna.

They were really amazed, too, at the Science Palace.  Pearl stayed many hours at an exhibit of Home Canning and Cooking Safety.  She learned why her jelly got mold on top.  She learned why  she boiled her bottles.  She always did, but for the first time she looked through a microscope and saw little tiny bugs that make people sick.  This was all so new.  Pearl never forgot and told me a lot of stories about keeping  clean.  So one day when I was a little girl about 4 years old, I was in the yard playing by the edge of the road.  The snow was melting and running down the graveled gutter.  My little brother put his hands together to make a cup and started to take a drink of the water and I yelled "Grandad, come quick!  Howard is going to drink the water full of Germans."  We all thought that was funny when my Grandad told it when we were bigger children.  We all learned many things because my Grandparents went to the Fair and learned how the world was changing and advancing with new science and inventions.  It is amazing to think of a little girl from Nevada who lived 92 years and saw all the things come true that they were predicting way back in 1904.

She saw cities get "electrified."  She went from horseback to an automobile that her father bought in 1918.  She saw airplanes win the First World War and she saw the zeppelins.  She got a phonograph you wind up, and then a radio, and then the magic of moving pictures for a nickel down town turned into a television set in your house.  I can't imagine the great changes that took place from that little ranch where my grandfather ran his contract harvest business with his McCormick steam combine pulled by his horses and mules, to her 92 birthday.

All the Stuarts and the Seymours learned many things to take back home to Nevada and use the information to have a better life.  .Pearl also told about going to see the food exhibits from around the world. Anna was one of the first children in the world to have an ice-cream cone because they were made first at the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904.  When the ice cream man ran out of paper cups and spoons, he put the ice cream in a rolled up waffle or cookie thing which the man in the next booth was selling.  At least that's the way I remember the story  I didn't look it up anywhere to see if its true but Anna said it was.   

Anna stayed beside Pearl and leaned many things too. She loved the lectures they heard about what food has in it and why it is good for you. It made her say she wanted to be a Dietitian when she grew up.  Instead she had six children to cook for and feed, and she  told us things like "You have to eat your orange because you will get scurvy if you do not and scurvy makes your teeth bleed and sores in your mouth.  You must have vitamin C.  If you can not eat that then we will give you a dose of vinegar." WELL any child would rather have an orange or a glass of lemonade, I think. My friends' mothers just said 'EAT its good for you.'  My mother told us WHY. All because of that FAIR stirring her to have a life long interest in what makes food "good food" or not so good for you.  Of course this was really very good for us children too.  Even in the winter when there was no sun, and we lined up every  morning at the front door, ready to run up the hill to school,  Anna, our mother, stuck a spoon full of COD LIVER OIL in our mouth as we left. You, my darling great-grandchildren, have it easy with your chewy vitamins, and all your good food even in the winter. 

The fair made many changes in my grandparents lives and their families too. The new inventions from around the world were never going to be useful unless ever place had electricity, so there was a huge exhibit about electricity that my grandfather and uncles were very impressed by.  In the meantime they continued to use steam power and helped their friends and families accept all the new ways of doing things.   

Anna remembered best her really nice new clothes.  The train ride was very much in her memory too.  And one other thing was really impressive for her. It was called the "observation wheel."  Now days, if you go to a fair you will call it a Ferris Wheel.  From the top of the wheel you could see all the fairgrounds.  In a newspaper article about this that I read, it said most of the people were going twice.  The first time they got there, just like Anna and her family, they rode  the wheel to see the whole fair.  Then after a day or two, they rode it at night because with all the electric lights on and fountains spraying in the light it looked like a fairyland.  And in 1904, people were not use to all those big signs lighted up.  They only had gas lights for the street lights.  And at home most people still had lanterns and candles.  Imagine a little six year old girl from a little town like Fallon or Sparks in Nevada seeing all this, and seeing it with her family who also had never seen anything like it.  The newspaper said it was the very favorite thing to do for pure fun at the fair. Anna said she had dreams in color of the sight of all those lights all her life.
All her life Anna remembered some things about the fair and told us.  My Grandad, Harry Stuart, and my Gramma, Pearl Rae (called Nana), also told many of the things they were interested in.  And sometimes the grownups just talked to each other about the wonders of the World Fair in 1904 in St. Louis.  Anna had a wonderful singing voice, and around the campfires at night she would sing songs to us when we were little.  One was "Meet Me in St. Louis" which is a wonderful song about the fair.

If you want to know more about the fair you can look it up in the encyclopedia, or you can go to a web site and see pictures and read about the fair on the computer.. This is what a wonderful world you live in today , because there were people in the world before you who were like Harry and Pearl  Stuart who believed it was important to learn all they did at the fair and bring it home and teach their neighbors to accept and build a new way of life. Anna was a wonderful mother, and now I look and see wonderful Great Grandchildren of mine.  And, it is so lovely to tell you my memories so someday you can tell your children.  It is like a string of beads. Indeed. 

Written down by your Great-Grams Faith Pyle aka Rogers.

Faith Pyle
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