A Lady in Boomtown: Miners and Manners on the Nevada Frontier - Page 99
lean and sunburned; miners and cowboys and businessmen; all the types that represent “ Nevada” pressed forward to shake the hand of the governor. For me the launching of the battleship that bore our state’s name was the high point of Governor Oddie’s term of office. Hugh and I were invited to attend this event as members of the governor’s party on July II, 1914. The day we rolled into Boston, we were escorted to the Copley Plaza Hotel. The room reserved for us was much finer than anything we had ever seen before, spacious and high- ceilinged. In a few moments there was a knock at the door, and a neat little maid entered. She informed me she had been assigned to me for the time of my residence at the hotel. I was staggered! I thanked her and said I was unaccustomed to a maid, and my simple wardrobe could not make use of her services. And she departed. For three days we were dined and wined like royalty. Many celebrities were present, among them Josephus Daniels, then Secretary of the Navy, and a tall blond young man, with very upright carriage and a flashing smile. He was a real personality - the young Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. On the day of the launching, we were breakfast guests of Charles Schwab, president of the Bethlehem Steel Company. During the meal Mr. Schwab asked for ideas for a present for the little sponsor, Tasker's twelve- year- old niece Eleanor Siebert. I called across the table suggesting a wristwatch. After breakfast, at Mr. Schwab’s request, I accompanied him down into the business district of Boston to one of the fashionable jewelry stores. There we examined several exquisite watches and selected one of blue enamel, the face of which was surrounded by a circle of diamonds. In its velvet case, the gift was entrusted to my care until the time of presentation. No one who bore any responsibility toward the launching of that great battleship felt more important than I. Speaking of the launching reminds me that it was here I made the prize “ boner” of my life. As we all stood on the platform waiting for the great dreadnaught to slip majestically off the ways, I turned to the young man at my side and said, laughingly, “ Suppose she sticks?” A look of genuine pain came into his face, as if he had been stabbed with a knife. He muttered something in a strangled voice. I was appalled at his reaction, and much more so when I learned afterward that he was the engineer directly responsible for placing the stulls ( the timbers) that held the ship rigid on the ways. If she stuck, he would be to blame. Days before the event the fear of such a catastrophe grows progressively greater. The engineer can’t sleep or eat. He is overcome with nausea. In my ignorance, I had said the unforgivable words to the one man to whom they should never have been said.
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