On Tour with Queen Marie



THESE ACCOUNTS OF OUR STAY in Chicago are going to sound as hectic and rushed, as compact and cut short, as were our activities while there. We were met on every hand with such an abundance of generosity and interest and Western cordiality that the days we spent there held enough of events to make a book alone and cannot be, any one of them, dwelt on at fitting length here.

Julian Street says, "Imagine a young demigod, product of a union between Rodin's Thinker and the Winged Victory of Samothrace, and you will have my symbol of Chicago." Surely he has hit upon the right and fitting figure, for in this dynamic, urgent city the two spirits roam free, strength and civilized beauty, side by side. The two spirits were once as separate and distinct, as unamalgamated and suspended in solution, as two opposite elements well could be; nowhere was strength civilized by beauty, nowhere was beauty rendered more vital and less potent by the intrusion of savagery. They simply existed, both integral, in every phase of the city's life. Recent years devoted to intensive culture have done much to merge these two distinct characteristics. The famous Art Institute which critics everywhere acknowledge would do credit to a city baptized back in the Norman era instead of being, as it is, the comparatively recent thought of a metropolis built within the memory of living men, speaks of the new spirit of the city. Whatever its citizens do is sprung at with a fury of energy, a durability of will and a high purpose that stops at nothing but the best for their Chicago, the great sprawling darling of the West which they themselves have built up bit by bit, like fitting together a fascinating puzzle to a perfect whole, instead of inheriting a city ready-made, like an old collection of horse-hair furniture which only a family feeling could cherish. There is in it all through the complete divergences of youth and maturity, strength and spirit, ease and gaucherie. When the world shivers in alarm at its element of lawlessness, let it be remembered, even if it can hardly be credited, that the miracle of a city stands now where no more than one hundred years ago was a wilderness. That is the complete explanation for Chicago, naive, new, at the awkward age perhaps, but the heir of all the world's civilizations and clever enough to know it. Chicago may well be puffed up over her far-sighted Plan Commission of three hundred picked men, working, planning, thinking ahead for Greater Chicago, for the days when she will be more than the fourth city in size in the world. They take the marsh and water on the lake edge and by man's magic they turn it into broad boulevards and drives as beautiful as any the world over, with all the added beauty of the fresh and the new; they force their way across an old and crowded section with a wide carefully lighted thoroughfare that links up with all the city's arteries. Nowhere are they content to accept the shoddy and ugly because it is old. They are building for a super-city and what does not fit in with that plan must go. Wacker Drive is one of their latest achievements in accordance with their project to spare nothing in gaining beauty for Chicago. The city could with honesty boast of that unparalleled cooperative spirit that makes "Chicago!" a battle cry of her citizenry, a rallying point for all differences of opinion to settle for the city's good. The effete attitudes of the East are lost here in geniality, force, enthusiasm. So often criticized from a '"high brow" level, Chicagoans have learned to be critical too, like small boys that pretend chestily that they do not care what anybody thinks of them, the lack of reverence that hides real awe. All of these opposite, composite Chicago traits had been impressed on Her Majesty Queen Marie, and she with her entourage seemed to look forward to a more personal contact with all that the city typified.

We arrived there at 5:30 on Saturday, November 13, to find the city outwardly dismal, full of that sooty atmosphere so characteristic of Chicago, but the Committee who met us were cheerful in spite of all these unpleasant features. It was delightful to see the smiling faces of many old friends among them. There was the lovely Mrs. Francis Johnson, the charming Mrs. Chauncey Blair, Mrs. Joseph Coleman, so typical of the efficient society matron of Chicago, and Mrs. Robert McCormick, the wife of the editor of the Chicago Tribune, who has al ways been one of the women I admired for her cleverness and style. Mr. Morris was General Chairman of the Committee here, but Arthur Meeker had taken the lead and arranged a great many matters in his absence. Everything was gay and happy. I felt this all the more, I suppose, as Chicago, after my many years there, has always seemed home to me.

Colonel Tryggre Signeland, who had been appointed aide-de-camp to the Queen while in Chicago, awaited her at the station and was most efficient in escorting her through the dense crowds.

At City Hall we flew up in an elevator to the Mayor's private office, where we were literally pushed in by the crowd. This was not the usual formal reception we had in every city. Here the Mayor extended his hand to the Queen and greeted her as friend to friend, and their conversation was not intended for the public. After a few moments of it, we dropped down again to the waiting cars and faced a rough crowd in the streets. We were told later that there had been some unpleasant demonstrations outside City Hall by groups of anti-royalists, but we were not conscious of any unpleasantness excepting the terrible downpour of rain.

Arrangements had been made for us at the Lake Shore Drive Hotel where everything pleased the Queen. There was some complaint among the entourage as the trunks had not arrived, and it was due to their lack of knowledge of the enormous distances of the city that they could not understand this.

The dinner given by the Committee that evening at the Drake Hotel was an exceedingly smart affair, formal and at the same time characterized by Chicago's individuality. The table was magnificent with massive silver ornaments, and the feast was fit for the gods. I sat between Colonel Carroll and Mayor Dever, who told me many interesting details about the political situation in Chicago, and events preceding the Queen's arrival and contingent to her reception at the Mayor's office, which were not so pleasant on account of the demonstrations of the Socialists opposing her visit. These demonstrations were in progress during her reception in the City Hall that evening, I was told. Mr. Morris introduced Mr. Meeker as Chairman, and gave him and the efficient Committee credit for all the arrangements, which so far have been faultless. After his welcome, the Queen expressed her pleasure at being with them and said she had been told that Chicago was the biggest city in America. But as she under stood that each place she visited was the biggest or the best or the finest, she hardly knew what to believe! There was a reception to about twelve hundred later. My son and his wife were there and, as the young people had never been there together before, they greatly enjoyed meeting all our old friends. To me there is no delight like the hand clasp of a friend.


Sunday, November 14.

This morning we saw the artillery station them selves opposite the hotel and very soon there was a tremendous cannonade—the royal salute of twenty-one guns. It started us off with enough spirit to tackle the day with a dash. We led off to Lincoln's statue, that great masterpiece of Saint Gaudens' which is one of the gems of Chicago. From there we went on to inspect the Daily News Sanitarium on the shore of Lake Michigan, where the poor sick babies lie. The Queen took up one in her arms and, of course, the photographers were on the spot, having no consideration for the babies, filling the air with the acrid smoke from the flashlights. Never have I seen such a pest as these photographers in Chicago. It was positively brutal, but since the Queen did not object it had to be tolerated. We stopped at the Historical Museum—where the President of the institution presented Her Majesty with a book on Lincoln. The building contains some of the interesting mementos of Lincoln including the bed in which he died.

When we arrived at Mrs. Rockefeller McCormick's house for luncheon, the perfect appointments had a soothing effect after the insane screech of the motor-cycle police through Chicago. In all our travels we had not encountered such complete disregard for traffic regulations as here. The affair at Mrs. McCormick's was delightful, the excellent lunch, the magnificent service of gold and the decorations lent a most festive air. Here I saw our old friend Mr. Samuel Hill again, seated opposite me at the table. He had come from New York to see the Queen. Mrs. Carroll and Mrs. Shipley were also here, all old friends. I was between the Prince and Dr. Petresco at one end of the table near Mrs. McCormick and the Queen. The conversation around us led up to psychoanalysis, in which Mrs. McCormick is greatly interested. The Queen described a recurrent dream of hers which so filled her with joy she did not want to wake from it. She was running through corridors filled with people of every nation and she had a feeling of such exaltation that her feet scarcely touched the ground. Presently she saw many Bolsheviks, but as she approached, they fell on their faces to the ground and let her pass unharmed. I was much impressed with her graphic description and wondered if there is any truth in Freud's idea of the indication of dreams as interpretative of the inner soul. I promised to send the Prince a new book by Jung, for his mind, alert and responsive to any idea, is interested in the subject. We loitered after lunch, chatting with friends, when suddenly I realized the Queen had left and I hastened to join the procession which was bound for the Roumanian Church. We drove for miles. I had not before realized the great stretches of Chicago. We passed boulevard after boulevard until we penetrated the West Side where stands the simple structure of the church. The service was held by rather gaunt-looking priests, and the congregation looked poor and oppressed by cares. We went from there to a large public school where many Roumanian children attend. Twenty minutes was allotted to this school and I have never seen so many things done in so short a time nor with better planned precision. The photographers were nuisances again; the only place they were not allowed to do their worst was in the Roumanian Church whence Mr. Morris ejected them in fury. After a few words from the Queen to the school children, we dashed out very unceremoniously as the schedule had to be observed at any sacrifice.

We stopped next at a Norwegian Art Exhibit, and from there hastened to the Roumanian Jewish Synagogue, at least half an hour behind the scheduled time. We found this service of the most unusual interest as many present had never seen the like. The men, all with their silk hats on, and the women in their best peered eagerly as we marched down the aisle and the Queen took her seat in the throne chair on the platform with her back to the shrine where the Holy Writings are deposited with much reverence. The Rabbi welcomed the Queen and expressed the greetings of the church. From the fine-looking building and the prosperous-looking people, the congregation must be a wealthy one. The Governor was introduced and took advantage of this opportunity to praise the good citizenship of these people and to say they are a credit to Chicago. This address was followed by that of a judge who was a member of the congregation. An old man rose next, wearing a Roumanian decoration which he said he wore on his heart always. He presented the Queen with a souvenir book of the synagogue. The Queen seemed touched with it all and when she spoke she told them the King should hear of the honor they had done her. At that the shouting was so loud and hearty I felt it could be heard clear over Chicago. This great demonstration showed me that some Roumanian Jews are not of the opinion that Roumania is persecuting them, and it seemed to me like a real victory on the Queen's part. It appears that this congregation has always competed with that of another of our cities, but as the Chicago synagogue was loyal to Roumania in the last Jewish crises, the Queen honored them with a visit.

Exhausted as we were, upon leaving the long program at the synagogue, we hastened again through miles of streets to a huge reception of Roumanians awaiting the Queen at the Congress Hotel. The large ballroom was crowded to the doors with them, a company of soldiers had to force an aisle. Again there were speeches by prominent ones, and again the Queen spoke to their loud spontaneous applause. I had no notion there was so large a population of Roumanians in Chicago. If their enthusiasm was an index to their loyalty to the throne, I do not see why they ever left Roumania.

That evening at a theater performance a Russian ballet was given at great expense, the lovely little ethereal ladies in crinolines swooping about to the dying falls and tinkling cadences of Chopin's music. Contrasting with this old-fashioned setting were the ultra-modern futurist numbers. I am afraid we were all too tired to enjoy any performance but bed. The Queen looked rather sad and depressed, and wore a gown in keeping with her mood. It was of black velvet. On the long string of pearls reaching to her waist hung the large diamond cross with its pendant pearls. I noticed a gold key attached to a bracelet on her left wrist and this, I am told, unlocks the book of her memoirs.