Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Frances And General Miles

From "Roses in December," the autobiographical story of Frances Parkinson (Wheeler) Keyes, who was not only a prolific author but also the wife of Senator Henry Keyes (and Governor of New Hampshire).  As a young girl, Frances visited the White House with her mother on two separate occasions.  Mrs. Keyes (rhymes with "eyes") related what made her first two visits to the White House memorable.

Anticipating a second visit to the White House, Frances' mother warned her that she "...must avoid doing, a second time, anything which would so greatly embarrass her.... (Frances and her cousin had "briefly basked in the glory of a great impersonation" when other visitors thought they were President Harrison's grandchildren).  Benjamin Harrison was President 1889-1893.

Though Frances assured her mother that she would not embarrass her a second time,  "As the long line of guests advanced to the Blue Room where President and Mrs. McKinley were receiving...I heard someone addressing a thick-set, white-haired, red-faced man, just in front of me, as 'General Miles.'  Greatly excited at being so close to a celebrity, I leaned forward and spoke to him.  'Oh General Miles!' I exclaimed.  'I am so thrilled to see what you really look like.  I have been reading all about you in the papers!'"

From the U.S. Congressional serial set , Issue 3872

"My impetuous action had really been prompted by admiration, but the general did not so interpret it.  The papers were full of stories about the tainted meat which had caused as many deaths as Spanish bullets among the soldiers in the recent war.  Though part of the responsibility for this outrage was attributed to the Secretary of War, Russell Alger, General Miles had permitted distribution of the meat and evidence against him was also very strong.  He naturally concluded from my remark that I wished to see whether or not he rally did have horns and a tail, figuratively speaking.  Instead of responding to my greeting, he glared at me and drew stiffly away."

"Too late, I realized I had done or said something amiss and, eager to leave the scene of my faux pas, I rushed blindly ahead, reaching the head of the receiving line before my mother."

Secretary of War Russell Alger was a Michigan politician whose wife, Annette Henry, was Squier descendant as are my grandchildren.  Annette's grandfather was Wait Squier (Sr.); he was my granchildren's 5th great-grandfather.

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