Omaha daily bee. (Omaha [Neb.]) 187?-1922, April 04, 1909, HALF-TONE, Image 19

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    unday Bee
PAG 5 1 TO 4.
The Omaha
Beautiful New Building Just Dedicated to the Uses of the Association Stands As a Monument to the Faith and Energy of . Some Noble Women Who Would Not Be Discouraged
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SEVERAL years have elapsed since, talking one day with Rev.
H. C. Herring, Mrs. Emma Byers asked, "Why can't we
have a building In Omaha such as they have in other
"You can have a building," replied the then pastor of
the First Congregational church, "if the matter is gone about seri
ously and in the right way."
This is not a verbatim report of that conversation, which was
but one of many that had occurred from time to time between per
sons Interested In the Young Women's Christian association, but it
1b typical of the first Impulse that was felt toward the great need for
a young women's Christian association home that should be devoted
exclusively to the work comprehended ir the title.
Casual conversations led to serious conferences, the conferences
to plans, first hazy, then tentative, finally definite; and today the
devoted women who have struggled and won behold with overflow
ing satisfaction a splendid dream grandly realised. Through oceans
of hard work they have come to stand on the deck of success, cap
tains of victory. And the feeling that thrills their hearts the whole
day long is one of exaltation shot through with thankfulness to
Providence and to the whole citizenship of Omaha. There were mo
ments, half of pleasure, half of pain, when the ambitious project
was temporarily hesitating, but a supreme faith sustained its pro
moters. Again it was stopped, when San Francisco lay groaning
under visitation most dire; and ten months, that seemed like ten
yean to the pent-up enthusiasm of many sweet sonls, went by .before
the campaign for funds was again effectively under way. But, once
started anew, there was no serious pause until the hill of endeavor
was topped and surcease from doubt came like a balm to anxious
hearts. ' V ' '. "''"''"
"It Is said woman is made up of wants, and has the happy fac
ulty of acquiring many of them. We shall not cease to want when
in our own bnilding, yet that Is our great desire now. The success
of the past inspires us with the hope that with a wider knowledge of
the work and returning prosperity to our city (the faint glimmer of
which we catch In the distance now), by a strong pull, and a pull all
together, we shall In the near future possess our own young women's
So wrote Nannie Clayton, recording secretary, In making her re
port to the board of directors of tho Young Women's Christian asso
ciation' of Omaha for the year ending May 11, 1896. The aspiration
embodied in the exhortation for a strong pull and a pull all together
was the same as expressed dally and hourly by all the leaders and
all the members. That aspiration has been achieved In most grati
fying measure In the new building which has been formally and for
ever thrown open to the world the last week. It Is pronounced by
those who have been In about all the similar institutions on this
continent unsurpassed between the coasts for its purpose; unsur
passed, too. In its homelike atmosphere and wide-openness for en
tertainment, rest, instruction and uplift.
It Is quite safe to say that no persons in the wide universe are
happier, with the happiness that grows out of holy accomplishment,
than Mrs. W. P. Harford, the president; Mrs. George Tilden, chair
man of the finance and building committee, and Mrs. Emma F.
Byers. the efficient general secretary. Mrs. Tilden was the first
president, serving for six years, and Mrs. Harford succeeded, holding
to the present time. Mrs. Byers has been general secretary for
about six years. She has beenthe active mother of the young
women connected with the many lines of activity of the association
during her service; but no one will quarrel with the assertion that
Mrs. Tilden is the toother of all the mothers when we begin to build
this tree of a happy and extensive family.
Mrs. Tilden was found one day recently in the deserted rooms of
the association in the Paxton block, "redding things up." Like a
good and faithful captain, she was the last to move out. The rooms
were deserted and permeated with that indescribable air that rooms
have when folks who have given them life and color for many years
have gone away. A feeling of restful satisfaction In the new home
was hers, of course; but one fancied that, sitting there among the
wreck of things that were part of life through years of care and
watchfulness and hope, her heart was harboring a sentiment of ten
der regret.
"When we opened to serve lunch, years ago," she said, "we bad
one girl as guest the first day. That was when we were In two
rooms in the McCague building, and had an outside store room for
a gymnasium. Then we weut to the Bee building, about nine months
after starting. We first had what is now the office of the editor-in-chief,
then added ene or two -more
rooms, and finally occupied all the
space that Is now given up to The Bee
editorial force, and bad the use of the
rotunda when we desired. We came
to this location in the early autumn
of 1897, first taking, possession of
what had been the old public library
room, at $50 a month. We pt the
present partitions In, and after a while
we secured the adjoining rooms to
th,e east, which had been used for lodge
purposes, and which, on account of
many walls and small hallways, have
never been very satisfactory . Wa
were finally paying 8200 a month tor
this location. ,
"At the rooms in the Bee building
we did not at first serve lunches, but
provided tea, coffee and cocoa for
those girls who brought their own
lunches. Later we began to serve a
light lunch and finally were servlrfg
a full variety of everything that
usually appears on a modest menu." .
While la the reminiscent vein Mrs.
rilden continued: "This time sixteen
years ago we were Just planning to
organise the association, with fair
hopes of success; but at that time no
on eould project their vision far
enough Into the future to picture as our very own the building just
April 24, 1893, was the date on which the Omaha Young
Women's Christian association was organized, with fifty-four active
and thirty-three associate members. Two rooms in the McCague
building were the first home of the young association, and were soon
outgrown. Then came the removal to the Bee building, mentioned
by Mrs. Tilden. Growth was always steady, sometimes rapid, and
the membership never fell off. In the early days, as now, the asso
ciation was fortunate In its active officers, but could not keep them
all. The report for 1895-'96 says: "Miss Taylor, our first general
secretary, has gone the way of many married, and the happy pos
sessor of a home of her own in anothter state."
Miss Dora Cady (now Mrs. F. E. A. Smith of Portland, Ore.)
a very large part of the best service rendered is voluntary.
Something like a year ago, when the association was serving an
average of 600 women and girls every noon, the average cost of the
meals was about 9 cents. At the present time that is considered a
fair figure, because while more are being served the cost of meats
andJJther foodstuffs has gone up. The figure given will serve to in
dicate the very great benefit that this institution must be to women
workers of small Income, for all'the food they get at the Young
Women's Chrlslan association counters is clean, wholesome, care
fully selected, handled and prepared. Saving the pennies is a seri
ous business with many a brave-hearted woman or girl who Is plod
ding along, with small income and big hopes or heavier responsibili
ties than she ever lets the world know of. Patrons can bring their
lunches to the rooms and buy coffee, milk, tea or cocoa, and the only
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sueceqded Miss Taylor In September, 1895, and Mrs. Tilden gives
her credit for most effective work. The year ending May, 1896, was
closed with a membership of 606, a gain of 1S8 over the preceding
year. At this time from 75 to 125 girls were taking advantage of
the facilities of the association rooms every noon, the daily average
being ninety-three, and the noonday rest was established as a
feature. It Is a strong card today, too, with members and visitors.
About 189S the association first began to have any paid workers,
and then only a general secretary, whose stipend would never make
any one rich. All other work was voluntary and even today
prerequisite for using the rooms is to have one penny punched on
their cards.
It will be necessary for the person desiring to get a real under
standing of the practical usefulness and blessing of the association
work every day In the year to personally visit the building, if possi
ble at the noon hour. Throngs of workers flock in from every cor
ner of the downtown district where labor is performed. Each one
bears an assurance of welcome and of confidence, has an air of home
coming and enters into possession and enjoyment of all within with
avidity. Such a picture as the noonday gathering makes Is an in-
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spiration In itself. In congenial surroundings, with "pally" friends
all about, the most convenient and comfortable arrangements on
every hand, the hundreds of diners make up Just one largo family
and conversation is unconfined, naturally, because it is the best
We will pass up all discussion of cost of buildings and furnishings
and dig out something of the real value embodied in this home of
Intelligent philanthropy and shrine of Christian progress.
Let us go to the rest room, where are inviting cots to accommo
date thirty-five or forty tired ones. For members? Yes, but also
for visitors, for callers, anyono who cares to accept the Invitation to
come and relax for a spell. This rest room is used to great advan
tage, all the time, and many a business woman, and many a more
humble worker, leaves here a murmured blessing on the thoughtful
ness of the plan that made it possible. The room has screens that
may be moved about and placed where needed, and while retired in
location, it is still most convenient of access. During tho hours from
12 to 2 this Young Women's Christian association rest room is a
very popular place, albeit a very quiet one.
Then there is a club room, whlch is in almost constant use. Here
the Business Women's club meets about twice a month, but in the
intervals many and many an involuntary club gets together. It 1b
the custom to have interchanges of opinion, off-hand, which help
very materially. The aforesaid Business Women's club haa devel
oped a field of usefulness that is quite ambitious in scope. Orig
inally started with the idea of bringing under the influence of the
association girls that were not being brought actively into the cur
rent of association life, it has gone to that point where lectures have
become a fixture not set and severe lectures, but practical discus
sions of things worth while by. women who know. If a pat collo
quialism may be permitted, the inexperienced are here "wiBed up"
-to many of the quirks of active living in a hustling, work-a-day city.
How to go about securing work the best way Is learned from those
who have tried the trick from all angles; and how to hold a position
and win the fullest rights an honest worker is entitled to; what to
avoid, and what to seek; in short, how to live in largest measure;
how to do something and be somebody. It was the Business Women's
club that told Mrs. Byers to furnish her personal office as she thought
It ought to be, and they would pay the cost; just aB the very-much-alive
Bible class, numbering seventy-five, furnished the Covenant
room, that stands alone of its kind for equipment and promise of
good fruit among the similar associations of the whole country.
In the club room the board of directors, consisting of twenty-one
women, meets once a month, for a whole day and that day is a real
one, so far as work is concerned. Nothing is slighted, and details
are entered into deeply and intimately, as only women can.
In all the educational classes, counting the physical educational
features embodied in the gymnasium, there are about 450 students.
Education in the arts and crafts Is the heavy end of the teaching de
partment, with dressmaking and millinery classes, musical classes
- coming, and the domestic science group of students. A model
kitchen has been installed, with Miss Clara E. Burgoyne as directoi
and teacher, which has been pronounced more complete and better
in plan than even the Detroit association kitchen. Miss Mary R.
Wallace, who installed the Detroit kitchen, baa said so, and was gen
erously enthusiastic In her praise of the local plant. Here instruc
tion will be given to a business women's dinner class, a beginners'
cookery class, a maids' class In cooking and serving and a fancy
cookery class. All these classes In domestic science will eat at the
tables In the model kitchen the food they have prepared, and' each
student is to have her own table outfit for personal use. The dress
ing and adornment of a hold-the-man-at-home dining room is taught
by practical example as well as by spoken precept; and it is a dis
tinct delight to be allowed a peep Into Miss Burgoyne's kingdom and
have her tell what is proposed and hoped for.
Besides dressmaking proper, those ambitious to know are taught
how to make shirtwaists, underwear and all sorts of knlckknacka
and useful things, Including embroidery and dolls' dressmaking.
Those fortunate enough to be able to take vacations every year
are called together at stated times, about this season, to tell where
they have been, what can be seen, to go over itineraries, cost of same,
tell whpt is necessary for traveling or camping; to put forth enlight
ening details for the benefit of all contemplating an outing, close by
or far away from Omaha.
A library with 1,200 volumes to start on is provided, with an in
viting balcony adjoining, for outdoor reading. In the library there
Is also a reference department, which will be kept entirely separate
from the fiction end, and from which
books may be taken at any time by
patrons or friends of the association.
Study rooms here and there are a
thoughtful provision, to be used not
only In connection with the works of
thet regular classes, but also by others.
Some of the best teaching talent In
Omaha Is at the disposal of the asso
ciation and the enrolled students. Who
better tot teach literature and illu
minate all its ple&surablet phases than
Miss McHugh of the High school? In
the literature classes are fifty pupils,
and the ground is covered vetry thor
oughly. Mrs. Josephine Carroll Is a
prized woman among the groups of
girls who are not over long and speak
foreign languages, She haB achieved
a flattering and a satisfying success In
tetachlng fifty or more girls who are
attending her classes to read and write
English, and they return time after
time to renewed study with an avidity
that bt'tsppaks their earnestness.
A dozen cr nioro Individual bath tubs
are provldedTvHJiewi8e shower baths,
and a plunge that will Invite the most
timid to be refreshed.
Aside from a large assembly room,
( Continued on Pag Two.).