A Veteran Woman Tells Her Story
Edward H. Joy
This is a selection from the unpublished manuscript,
'Our Fathers Have Told Us',
some early-day stories from The
Here is a
story told by an American veteran woman Salvationist as nearly
as possibly in the words which it first reached me; it is
altogether too good to be entirely forgotten.
“Headquarters informed us,” she said, “that we were to do what
Horace Greely had advised young men to do – ‘Go West!’, and
so, though we were in the midst of a much needed furlough, my
husband and I packed up our few bits of belongings, and
started off on the long – and then tedious – journey needed to
bring us to our new appointment.
“I had often heard about the Wild West, and had imagined that
my pictures of Western life had been overdrawn, but my eyes
were soon opened to the fact that not half had yet been told.
We should ourselves in a town where the newspapers were
full of the most objectionable and untrue tales of The Army,
some of them so vile that, if it had not been for the
upholding grace of God, I would not have dared to walk down
the street, - o vile that respectable women instinctively drew
back their skirts as I passed them!
“There was one story that was true, however, and this was that
we were on the job in an endeavor to close down all the
saloons, and we soon found that all the saloon-keepers were
thoroughly scared, and that they would leave no stone unturned
to get rid of us.
I think they regarded me as a second Carrie Nation, for I did
not mince my language about them.
In most of the bars there were notices to the effect
that ‘Free drinks would be served to all who helped to turn
The Army out of town.’
“Whe the time came for us to being our first meeting the
streets were black with people, and it was with difficulty we
forced our way through the crowds.
Scarcely had we opened the doors of the Hall before it
was filled to suffocation with the toughest bunch of toughs I
had ever seen.
Every time we attempted to sing or speak the mob would begin
to howl, and completely drowned out our voices, and we could
only stand and pray that God would give us the victory.
The position was all the more grave because we could
see the police at the rear of the Hall enjoying the fun as
much as the rowdiest.
“Before the meeting was over the audience had smashed eighteen
of our new benches; the windows were broken by great cocks
which came hurtling against them from outside; our lamps were
out of commission, and we were soon in darkness.
Then the crowd began to crow like roosters, mew like
cats, bark like dogs, and neigh like horses – it was
not the least of the terror was that we knew there were evil
men creeping around with even worse intent in their foul
minds. After the
first night we were better prepared, but we never went to a
meeting, nor ventured into the streets, without literally
taking our lives into our hands.
All that the police did for us was to laugh at us, and
call us fools for our pains.
“It generally fell to my lot to stand at the door and try to
sort out those who endeavoured to get in, - being a woman they
were not quite so rough with me – but I had a high time of it
in more ways than one.
“The mob had gotten into the habit of pelting us with rotten
eggs, - our clothes were in a filthy state, clean them as much
as we would – and almost every time I opened the door in
response to a knock from without there could come a shower of
Sometimes a stray one would find its way through the
half-opened door and alight on an unsuspecting member of the
“There was a certain lady, a great friend she was, who always
sat well to the front, where she thought none of the noise or
missiles would affect her.
But in her case, it was dangerous to be safe, for, one
night, just as I opened the door, an egg came whizzing in and
took a straight line for the lady’s bonnet, a dainty piece of
millinery, knocking it well over her face, and the rotten
contents of the eff streamed all over her head and down her
neck. What a
sight she was!
She didn’t come to the meetings after that!
“One evening the Brigadier of the Division came.
He was a nice, sociable fellow, and we rather liked
him, but when on duty he was very careful of his dignity –
always trim and well groomed.
When getting ready for the meeting, he drew a new suit
from his valise – all pressed and with shining regalia, - he
had just been promoted.
I remarked that I hoped he wasn’t going to wear that
suit on the march.
He looked at me rebukingly and said, “I’ve never been
afraid of a mob yet, and they’ll soon see they can take no
liberties with me!”
I left it at that, and off down the street we went.
“We were to march from our own Hall to the City Hall which we
had taken for the occasion.
No sooner did we begin to move, and to sing, ‘The day
of victory’s coming’, than every saloon seemed to belch forth
a crowd of hooligans, who ran to the stalls and stores, armed
themselves with eggs, and made their way to where the Braves
of The Army were making their parade.
The tall Brigadier in his immaculate suit – a knight in
shining armour – was a splendid target.
“Suddenly, a well-aimed egg struck him right behind the ear.
“Oh,” said he to his colleague, “that isn’t an egg,
it’s a rock!”
“No,” said the Adjutant, “it’s only an egg.”
“But, my dear fellow,” said the Brigadier, “I’m sure it
was a rock, I can feel the blood running out of my ear!”
“No,” said the Adjutant, “It’s only an egg, reaching up
his hand to assure his superior, “It’s an egg – smell!”
What a sight he was, as he passed into the Hall; eggs from top
to toe. Even his
hair and his moustache, with which he tool much pains, had
been changes from a sleek black to a golden yellow, and his
new suit was a pitiable sight.
When he went home from the meeting he declared, ‘It was
the toughest go he had ever had, and as for eggs, he’d never
touch another as long as he lived!’
“Say, but we had a rough time of it in those days, and it is a
wonder some of us lived to tell the tale.
We could have put up with it better if some of it had
been done for mere devilry, but when we knew the fierce hat
being it, and the strength of the enemy, our hearts often
wilted, and our faith sometimes faltered.
“One night as I walked home through streets that seemed
unusually quiet, in a silence which out to have warned me,
someone threw a half-brick which hit me on the back of the
head. I was
stunned, and reeled, and just as I was recovering myself I saw
a form hurrying down the street and heard a mocking cry.
“Another evening I was seated on the platform of the Hall and
saw an evil face peering through one of the windows, and the
next moment a huge stone struck the seat on which I was
sitting, and smashed the tambourine I had just put down beside
“But through it all we were wonderfully preserved, and
sometimes there were funny sides to our adventures.
But, glory be to God, there was scarcely a night when
we did not have the joy of seeing sinners at the Mercy-Seat
crying for pardon.
It was worth it all!
Now in the evening of my days, by dear husband gone on
before me, I sit with my memories, and thank God for ever
giving me the honour of living ‘in the good old days’!”