Saturday, 18 March 2017

1883 - A Sad Encounter

“A Little Episode.”

A reporter for the Hamilton Spectator, passing by the City Hall on James Street north had the following encounter which he wrote up to be published in the paper the following day, November 08, 1883.
The headline read, " A Little Episode."

“Yesterday morning an old woman sat on the city hall steps. She was old and gray-haired, and her face was lined with deep furrows from sorrow, care and age. She was poorly-dressed in a black stiff gown, worn threadbare and which, in places, gave evidence of careful darning. A faded woolen shawl hung over her bent shoulders. Her hands were covered with black thread gloves, cruelly torn in places, and with gaping fingertips. Tears were streaming from her light blue eyes, and she gazed with a world of sorrow and love on the photograph of a baby boy she held in her hand.

“ A reporter stood in the doorway above, and looked down upon her. ‘Poor Willie !,’ she said, in a half-incoherent voice, broken with sobs. ‘Poor Willie. My child ! My baby ! What have they done with you, Willie ? Oh !, my boy, my boy.!’

“The reporter came down the steps and stood curiously looking at her. His heart was touched by this woman’s sorrow. ‘Can I do anything for you?,’ he asked.

“She looked at him vacantly, then at the photograph. ‘My Willie, my boy !,’ she sobbed again. ‘My darling, darling boy.”  A policeman came up and stood by the reporter.

“ ‘Do you know her?’ the scribe asked.

“ ‘Yes. That Mrs.--. She’s been half-crazy ever since her baby died, 40 years or so ago. Don’t say anything to her. She’ll go home presently.’

“The woman continued sobbing and muttering over the picture. By and by she rose with a weary sigh, and put it away in her pocket. The tears continued to fall from her eyes as she gazed straight ahead of her, seeing nothing, hearing nothing.

“The reporter and the policeman walked on.

James North in front of the Hamilton City Hall as it appeared in the 1880s.                           Photo courtesy PreVIEW, Local History and Archives, Hamilton Public Library.



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