As soon as we were sleeping in Elgin, Mother Cook began to plan a party. Parties were her delight and, whereas most people were content to have one, she gave three – to introduce us. The first was for the townspeople, the second for the church, and the third for the Publishing House. We donned our bridal clothes and stood in line for three nights. Elgin was sure going to know us.
George had outlined his relatives to me in no uncertain or complimentary terms and I was given to understand that not a one outside his own father’s circle was ever to sit at his table. They were taboo, that’s all. Aunt Elizabeth, commonly known and addressed as Aunt Maria, was his pet irritant. Aunt Maria’s hobby, besides rearing a family of ten children, was introducing the teachings of the Bible into the public schools. She was a sister of President Blanchard, head of Wheaton College and son of the founder of that institution, a tight and fanatical religious college. No smoking, no drinking, no card playing, no theater-going – just Sunday School, church, and prayer-meeting atmosphere.
On the first night I met the various members of the Cook family, the Bookiuses and Uncle Ezra. Then Aunt Maria stopped the show. George had warned me not to get trapped by Aunt Maria’s questions but she shook my hand, announced that she was my Aunt Maria, and said, “I trust, Una, that you have already established family prayers in George’s home.” I nearly passed out. I’m sure she knew from my expression that we had not done so and, without incriminating either of us, I passed her over to my new husband with pleasure.
Once we were safely launched in town, church and Publishing House, I began to sew for the baby that was expected in January. I was quite miserable for the first three months and, when we had no help, we took our meals in the neighborhood at a boarding house. That summer of 1901 was the historic, hottest Illinois ever had, and is still referred to as a record-breaker. It certainly was a corker. When we went to Evanston to spend a few days over the 4th, the sounding board of my new Steinway cracked. That was a blow that struck me hard.
As for our physical comfort, we went for a ride in our new Mobile, and that is a chapter all by itself.