Edmund Frederick Erk.

A merry crusade to the Golden Gate : under the banners of Allegheny Commandery, No. 35, Knights Templar, Allegheny, Pa. : a complete story of the Twenty-ninth Triennial Conclave, Grand Encampment, Knights Templar, U.S.A. ... and a tour of ten thousand miles through the wonderland of the West online

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Online LibraryEdmund Frederick ErkA merry crusade to the Golden Gate : under the banners of Allegheny Commandery, No. 35, Knights Templar, Allegheny, Pa. : a complete story of the Twenty-ninth Triennial Conclave, Grand Encampment, Knights Templar, U.S.A. ... and a tour of ten thousand miles through the wonderland of the West → online text (page 38 of 38)
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played. It may be truthfully stated that there might have been incidents
of unusual interest during that long tour, which escaped the eye of the
writer, and if such oversight has wrought to the disadvantage of any, due
and humble apology is hereby made.

If the writer has been guilty (in some instances) of exaggerating
some of the incidents of the tour, it has been for the same reason that
artificial cultivation often aids nature in rearing flowers and vegetation to
their fullest and ripest bloom, and for the same reason that fruits attain
larger size and more appetizing appearance under nursed conditions
that they may be more fully appreciated. Should any members of the
party feel disposed to deny their guilt or participation in any of the inci-
dents with which they are associated in this work, the writer stands ready
to accept any such denial and will himself furnish an alibi by admitting
his own guilt of anything of which the pilgrims might plead innocence.

As the writer sat in his home, night after night, far into that vast and
mysterious void which men call sleep, preparing this work, scenes of
the tour arose before him and brought back vivid memories. As he
looked about him and again saw those same bright, wholesome, congenial


faces, how he longed to give proper expression to those feelings and
to depict the pleasing scenes that arose before him. There was a great
and impressive something that occupied his mind and stirred his very,
soul. His mind seemed to wander over that vast realm of space which
the pilgrims had traversed, presenting a symposium of a thousand most
happy incidents, scenes and events. He felt that he was on the tour
again. He saw the prairie land blend into the picturesqueness of Yellow-
stone Park and emerge into the sea of desert waste. The verdant valley
of the Sacramento then carried the writer into the gala conclave city of
San Francisco, where the carnival of joy and festivity reigned supreme.
He heard the ocean's roar and the beating of the waves upon Seal Rocks,
but above it all higher, louder and clearer than Nature's rhapsody, rose
a babel of voices, which in one accord, to one another, beckoned: "Pil-
grim, I greet thee." He felt, once more, the touch of the warm hand-
shake of fraternal and brotherly hospitality, and while basking cheer-
fully in this delightful vision, the fairy of dreamland beckoned him
come how reluctantly he followed and escorting him through rare and
beautiful gardens to enjoy, for a moment, the sun-kissed breezes of Del
Monte, ushered him into the City of Los Angeles to again mingle with
the dear fraters who dwell therein. But what a brief visit it was for
just as the sea of friendly faces smiled forth their ever-ready welcome,
the scene blended into a luxuriant valley of fruits and flowers, only to
emerge again into the dreariness of the vast arid desert. But out of this
wearisome vista, as if touched by some magic wand, sprang forth the
majestic, gorgeous and inspiring spectacle of the Grand Canyon of
Arizona, attired in its most enchanting mantle, under the light of the
setting sun ; and as night seemed to come, the writer saw the canyon
fade into the distance heard a chatter of foreign tongues as the
imaginary train winged past the city of St. Louis, and as the vision
of scores of dear ones offering a "Welcome home" arose in vivid real-
ity, he reached forward to grasp the extended hand of welcome only
to find himself alone.

That the members of our party, both young and old, were as con-
genial and desirable companions as could be chosen, was so clearly dem-
onstrated as to be beyond the slightest doubt and what delightful and
wholesome companions they are at home ! What a privilege and pleasure
it would be to have them on another tour, considering the personification
of good cheer and fellowship that prevailed throughout the California pil-
grimage. So it behooves the writer to declare with all the sincerity and
emphasis at his command, nothing would afford him more delight than to
be with them again, and once more enter into the full enjoyment of
another such pilgrimage.

It would be well if such an excursion were made every year, and
the system regularly inaugurated. Travel broadens the mind and encour-


ages wholesome, charitable views of men and things. How many people
die annually who have never been 20 miles from their own homestead.
What do they know of the world? Nothing, absolutely nothing, except
what they read in history or learn by hearsay. It is the duty of all to
rise from their slothfulness, shake off any nightmare, go forth and view
the Almighty's great creation, and they will bless the day that they have
taken steps to larger and more comprehensive ideas.

And there is no pleasanter mode of traveling than the one by which
we made our pilgrimage. There was no changing of trains and com-
panions almost constantly. Unlike ordinary travelers, we were not com-
pelled to forsake comrades whose diverging routes cause a separation
soon after an acquaintanceship and companionship is formed. Nor
were we compelled to break the attachment one always has for a
particular train and its crew. The unpleasant duties of directing
baggage from point to point and from train to train were lost to our
party. We packed our trunks but thrice in our tour of six weeks
when we left home, when we entered Yellowstone Park and when
we emerged from the park. We estimated how long we would be
gone and figured, with mathematical nicety, the amount of clothing
we should need.

It never became necessary for us to seek companionship, for our
"happy family" was a large and harmonious one. Often we sympathized
with those who were compelled to travel alone and who yearned for the
companionship of strangers. In desert or fertile valley, on the plains or on
the prairie, in the city or in the open country, the cheerful "Allegheny
Special" was ever ready to greet us with all the hospitality of a home,
and offered an invitation of peace, comfort and satisfaction that never
failed to appeal to us and which we were always eager to enjoy.

Only the most enthusiastic words of satisfaction and appreciation
came from the tourists when commenting upon the pilgrimage. Not an
incident marred it; not a jangle or discordant note was heard in the tune
of good fellowship. It was indeed a "big, happy family," with the fullest
confidence in all its members, all of them united in the common endeavor
to extract from their journey all the pleasure, all the happiness and all
the information and instruction possible. This was demonstrated not
only by word of mouth, but by expression of faces with the soul and
mind satisfaction of an ambition fulfilled, a goal reached.

Too much appreciation cannot be expressed of the admirable arrange-
ments under which we traveled and which relieved the minds of the tour-
ists of all the many details ordinarily incident to traveling. The slightest
fault could not be found with the manner in which our tour was conducted.
Its program was faithfully carried out yes, and more. Those who so
loyally and royally served us as our committee Sirs Harry W. Lowrie,
Oscar Schulze and Herman Flechsig are so well known that no words


can make them better acquainted. With hearts full of sympathy and
good will, they were ever ready to make life pleasant for the pilgrims
under their care. In them was the authority, and as a committee
the responsibility justly placed. To them we are largely indebted for
the complete and successful carrying out of the joyous pilgrimage.

The frequent mention of the gentlemen portion of the roster and the
apparent oversight of the ladies might bring forth a charge of ungal-
lantry, but the best cards are always played last. Too much tribute can-
not be paid the nineteen ladies who accompanied us, and whose very pres-
ence lent cheerfulness at all times.

It seems almost incredible, but it is none the less true, that from the
time we left Allegheny until we returned, moving as rapidly as we did,
up in the morning early, making close connection here and there, not one
single moment of detention was caused by the ladies. Never a word of
complaint, even as to weariness or fatigue, was expressed by them during
that entire tour, but from one and all there came a pleasant, smiling,
cheerful "Good morning" with the opening of the day, while at the close
came the wish for a "Good night" with equal cheerfulness. To each indi-
vidual lady do we attribute much of the pleasure enjoyed by us during the
trip. The sunshine of their faces, as well as their deeds, blazed our path-
way across the continent and return. And their kindnesses were of the
practical kind ever ready with needle, thread and button to do us a
much-needed service. With them near, we felt as though we were under
the protecting wings of our own dear mothers, while any little headache
or trifling ailment brought a corps of nurses that furnished hurried relief.
A dozen mothers stood ready to give us parental attention at all times.
As we passed through the train, rode the stage coaches through Yellow-
stone Park, dined with them at hotel tables or greeted them on the streets
of a score of different cities, we were constantly reminded of home
expressions wreathed in smiles ever beamed from their countenances.
From our hearts we earnestly wish that the very smallest portion of
earth's sorrows allotted to poor humanity may be the share of their dear
hearts, and that their lives shall always be bright, clear and sparkling as
the rivulet which flows from its cool mountain home, and as the dew
drop upon the leaf, glistening in the glad morning sun, which shall never
dim nor fade away, is the heartfelt wish of their fellow pilgrims.

So here ends this recital of a memory that will remain long with the
writer, and no doubt with every member of the party who participated
in the pilgrimage. The grand tour has ended and taken its place among
the things that were. Its varied scenes and manifold incidents will ever
linger pleasantly in our memories. Always on the wing flying as it
were, merely pausing a moment here and there to catch fitful glimpses of
the wonders of our country ; we could not hope to receive or retain vivid
impressions of it all. Yet our flight has not been in vain for above the


confusion of vague recollections, certain of its prize pictures lift them-
selves to continue perfect in tint and outline after their surroundings
have faded away.

More than a year has flown since our notable pilgrimage has end-
ed. The writer has often thought and as he sits here thinking see-
ing the same good, sweet friends, he is moved to confess, that day by
day, the mass of memories have grown more and more a pleasure. If
another call for a like tour were issued, nothing would gratiiy the
writer more than to be numbered among the party with the same Sir
Knights and companions yes, and the same dear, good-natured sin-
ners, of which he cheerfully confesses he was one.

IFn flfoemorfam.

"In the midst of life we are in death." The evidence of this oft-re-
peated truth again becomes apparent with the sad duty of chronicling in
these pages, the death of a worthy Sir Knight who was numbered with
our party of happy tourists who made the pilgrimage to the Twenty-
ninth Triennial Conclave

of McKees Rocks, Pa.

Reaped in his full harvest of kindness and loving attainments, Sir
Steinmiller was called to the Asylum above, November I, 1905; having
ended his long pilgrimage among his fellowmen. We are all pilgrims
moving in the same great procession to that unseen land from which
none return. The final voyage to that harbor of everlasting life offers
itself as a privilege to the most deserving. It is not appropriate that we
go as unwilling captives bound to the chariot wheels of all-conquering
death. There is no occasion for us to lift up our voices in wailing and
terror when the message comes that calls us away. If we trust in Christ,
who giveth victory, our departure will be a triumphal march and the close
of life will be a coronation. Who would not wish to have the last stages
of earthly journey adorned with the surpassing grace and glory of Chris-
tian hope? Who would not choose to pass away in light and joy, as the
leaves put on their loveliest hues when about to die ; as the morning star
melts into the superior glory of the coming sun ; as the rosy dawn bright-
ens into the full day ? Who would not wish, in dying, to go as Sir Stein-
miller and others before him have gone, to prepare a place for those
who must stay behind, and who will be ever ready to say to us, when we
pass into our reward : "Pilgrim, I greet thee."

(320 )

Un flfoemorfam*

In His tillage, God cultivates many flowers, seemingly only for their
exquisite beauty and fragrance. Some, when bathed in soft sunshine,
burst into blossom, only to be gathered from earthly fields by the Divine
Hand, and reposed in crystal vases in the mansions above. January 28,
1905, such act of Providence following shortly after the conclusion of our
transcontinental tour, took from our midst one of the dear pilgrims of our
"Big, Happy Family"

of McKees Rocks, Pa.

While those who are dear and near to us pass beyond some in the
sweet bud ; some in the fallen blossom none are taken too early to make
Heaven fairer and sweeter with their immortal bloom.

By her every endeavor to administer to all by kind word or sisterly
act, Miss Steinmiller had endeared herself into the warm recesses of
every heart not only among those who shared the pilgrimage, but
among all who had the good fortune to know her. Her ever-cheerful
"Good morning" and kindly "Good night" on every day of the tour of six
weeks, were pronounced with the true ring of sincerity, while her willing-
ness at all times to lend her aid to benefit one or all, helped make our
pathway smooth and pleasant.

She now speaks in the ear of memory and affection. Friends we have
loved pass from sight but they live in memory and in our hearts, while
their voices come back, richer and more impressive than we appreciated
when seeing their moving lips.

She passed away, gave little warning ;

A last "Good Night ;" and in some brighter clime

Awaits to bid us, "Good Morning."


Online LibraryEdmund Frederick ErkA merry crusade to the Golden Gate : under the banners of Allegheny Commandery, No. 35, Knights Templar, Allegheny, Pa. : a complete story of the Twenty-ninth Triennial Conclave, Grand Encampment, Knights Templar, U.S.A. ... and a tour of ten thousand miles through the wonderland of the West → online text (page 38 of 38)