April 20, 1899

April 20, 1899

Dear Mamma,
Did you ever hear of having such beautiful weather this time of year? Where have been our April showers? I hope that it doesn’t mean that it will rain all Commencement week. Had such a glorious time all last week. Going over to Haughton & Mifflin’s was so interesting. Saw them make books even from setting up the type to putting gold leaf on binding & gilding the leaves. It was especially grand seeing them make the different bindings. Saw “Prisons of Hope”, “Bird’s Christmas Carol”, dictionaries, school books, edition of Keats, Atlantic Monthly for June besides lots of other books in the works. It was so pretty to see them “marble” the paper used for lining dictionary covers. They had a huge tank filled with water with thin oily paint floating on top, took a bunch & spattered drops of red paint on the top, then dashed on spots of blue & then yellow etc. Then he took a big comb sort of thing and drew it through the liquid. Then by stirring up the liquid with other tools he got all sorts of pretty patterns which stuck to the paper when it was laid on top. It was so fascinating to watch the big machine which folded up the pages quick as a flash, etc. etc. I was sorry they didn’t make colored plates as I did so enjoy watching them put the colors on. Then we visited the brick building at the World’s Fair. I wish I could go to that Fair again. I would know more what things to see and what things to miss. On the way back from Cambridge we stopped in Boston for a little while and went to Keith’s. Saw some trained cats and dogs which were so good. Then too they had some very good things in the Biography – Return of the 8th etc. They had one picture of beach where people were diving and swimming around & having such a good time. Then they put the picture in reverse and it was funny to see the people springing up out of the water, turning somersaults & then landing on their feet on the top of the pier and then carefully climbing down the ladder into the water again! And then the “Liquid Air”* lecture! Oh we did have the grandest time! Frances Hughes, Georgia Ralph, Anna Blackmer, Catherine Andrews, myself & Dr. Roberts were the only ones in the party first, but Corinne Wagner & Mary Neal asked to go with us so we had a grand little company of 8. Left Wellesley at 7:16 reaching Lamont Temple in plenty of time for the lecture which didn’t begin at 8 as advertised. After waiting about 20 min, the man appeared and the wonderful things began. It wasn’t really a lecture. He just did all the experiments referred to in McCall’s Magazine and explained them as he went along. As a man he is so conceited, he made me tired and he was very slangy though I suppose he had to be rather facetious to interest a popular audience. He is not a real scientist but has got an instinct for inventing as has Edison. But the experiments were wonderful. I have a piece of a rubber ball which he froze & then smashed. He froze flowers, beef steak, whiskey alcohol, mercury, etc. Passed around some liquid so everyone could see it & dip their fingers in it. It is bluish in color and is very cold, but does not feel wet to the touch. The prettiest thing was when he turned off the lights & burnt a piece of steel in liquid air in a tumbler made of ice!!! There are loads of things I might tell you about but I will wait until I see you. I just wish you all could have heard the lecture. Then stereopticon* views of Mr. Siple’s laboratory etc. were shown. We had grand seats & a grand time. Dr. Roberts was so lovely. She is thinking of sending for some liquid air & having some experiments here at college. I hope she will. Barn Swallows last night was so good. Gave a very funny farce. Dr. Roberts wore some of my arbutus to the lecture!! You must thank Casper for me again & again.

Love to all
Mabel

What prospect of a girl.

*liquid air – air in a liquid state: it is intensely cold and bluish in color and is created by compression and cooling.
*stereopticon – a slide projector that is designed to make one picture appear as the other picture disappears.

Letters were made available courtesy of Wellesley College Archives.
Transcribed and footnotes added by Heddy Panik.