Location: Internet Archive Date c. 1893
This charming book on the Columbian Exposition is described as, ” A humorous fictional account of a visit to the World’s Columbian exposition illustrated with actual photographs and sketches of the buildings, exhibits, and fairgrounds.” Normally I do not include fiction in my listings , but the numerous illustrations and photographs make this an extremely worthwhile read for those interested in the Fair . Jenks provides some quite readable narrative and gives us a glimpse of not only the Fair, but traveling by sleeper car and finding a place to stay in Chicago and Chicago itself. Unfortunately, the amazing photographs (some of the construction of the Fair) are not credited.
The story begins at the boy’s school in New York…
MR. DOUGLASS wants to see you, Master Harry,” said the maid, coming to the door of the boys’ room. “What ‘s he found out now, I wonder?” said Harry to Philip, in a low tone. ” I don’t remember anything I have done lately.”
” He ‘s in a hurry, too,” said the girl, closing the door. Harry ran down to Mr. Douglass’s room on the first floor. The two boys were beginning their preparation for college, and were living in a suburb of New York city with their tutor,
Mr. Douglass, a college graduate, and a man of about thirty-five. Harry’s father, Mr. Blake, was abroad on railroad business, and did not expect to return for some months. Philip was Harry’s cousin, but the two boys were very unlike in disposition as will be seen. Their bringing up may have been responsible for some of the differences in traits and character, for Harry was a city boy, while his cousin was country-bred.
When Harry knocked at the door of Mr. Douglass’s study, he knew by the tutor’s tone in inviting him in that the teacher had not called him simply for a trivial reprimand. It was certainly something serious; perhaps news from Harry’s father and mother.
” Sit down, Harry,” said the tutor, ” and don’t be worried,” he added, seeing how solemn the boy looked. ” I have had a message by cable from your father; but it ‘s good news, not bad. Read it.” He handed Harry the despatch. It read :
Take Hal and Phil to Fair. My expense. Letter to Chicago. See Farwell about money and tickets.
“Rather sudden, is n’t it?” said Mr. Douglass, smiling.
“Yes,” said Harry, “but immense! Don’t you think so?”
” I ‘m glad to go,” the tutor said. ” It seems to me that a visit to the Fair is worth more than all the studying here you boys could do in twice the time you ’11 spend there ; and it ‘s a lucky opportunity for me.”
“Then you ‘ll go?” said Harry, to whom the news seemed a bit of fairy story come true, with the Atlantic cable for a magic wand.
” Of course,” answered the tutor. “The only thing that surprises me is the quickness of your father’s decision.”
“That ‘s just like him,” said Harry. ” He ‘s a railroad man, you know, and they always go at high pressure. Why, he ‘d rather talk by telephone, even when he can’t get anything but a buzz and a squeak on the wire, than send a messenger who ‘d get there in half the time.”
” But has he said anything about sending you before? “
” No. The fact is, people abroad are slow to know what a whacker this Fair is ! They think it ‘s a mere foreign exposition. Father ‘s just found out that Uncle Sam has covered himself with glory, and now he wants Phil and me to see the bird from beak to claws the whole American Eagle.”