A History of the Burns Family
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PART ONE: Guy's Path to the Dance


Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio
March 29, 1904

PART ONE Overview
1 - Wildcat Brigade
2 - Battle of Wilderness
3 - Field Hospital
4 - Orphan School
5 - Ladies' Man
6 - Mary Dinger
7 -The Masons
8 - Mary Rebecca
9 - Guy the Wanderer
10 - Farmer Boy
11 - Center of the World
12 - Birthday
13 - Fish Story
14 - Miss Fenn
15 - To the Dance

More Information

 Johnny Porter's leanto
There’s a bounce in Guy’s step as he passes Falls Rivet and Machine and crosses the Portage Street Bridge, heading toward Front Street on his way to the Loeser Rolling Mill, where he works as a clerk. [1] He loves this time of year, when the river’s flowing fast and deep, the bluebells and tulips are showing their colors, and the maples are starting to green up. Guy doesn’t have a sweetheart, but Julia Fenn will be coming home from Cambridge soon, and he is eagerly anticipating a happy reunion. He cannot court her, he knows only too well, but as she herself has said many times, he can still be her friend, and the thought brings a smile. 

The weather looks promising for a weekend campout with his father and Leo Brown.  Carl Stocker and Johnny Porter might come too. They’ll take the tent, or perhaps just set their blankets in Johnny’s lean-to on the river. Either way it will be grand. [2]

The older men treat Guy and Leo as equals now, and have learned to respect their decision not to drink or smoke. Leo is a devout Catholic who plans to study for the priesthood, and Guy has shunned alcohol for years -- ever since he got sick that time when they were camping along the river and his father poured a belt of whiskey for his ten-year-old son. [3]

Guy and Leo in a homemade boat

But fishing will have to wait until Saturday.  For Harry Duffy has persuaded Guy to go to the costume dance at Falls Christian on Friday evening. Guy has already decided on a costume – he loves the Katzenjammer Kids cartoon that appears in the Akron Beacon-Journal on Sundays – and his mother has promised to transform him into Mrs. Katzenjammer if he’ll pick up some black thread at Loomis Hardware after work. Harry’s final words still echo: “I hear Orra Smith’s little sister from Cleveland will be there.” The Burns and Duffys and Smiths have been neighbors on Newberry Street for years, and Orra’s daughter Metta used to play with Eliza May. 

“And,” Harry adds mischievously, “they say she’s awful easy on the eyes!” 


Map showing Loeser Rolling Mill where Guy probably worked on one side of the river,
and Falls Rivet and Machine, where Lorenzo worked, on the opposite bank. The Burns
home was across the railroad tracks from Falls Rivet.


Author’s Note

One can’t escape the obvious comparison between Julia Fenn and Ada Howe – both were pretty and petite women with dark eyes, dark wavy hair, and regular features. The similarity seems to have struck Guy as well, as evidenced by his doodling on an envelope that contained one of Miss Fenn’s 1903 letters. He wrote Ada’s maiden name, so this conflation likely occurred sometime between their meeting April 1, and their marriage in late May of 1904. He also composed a poem on a 1903 letter (see previous chapter), which was probably intended for one of these beauties!




Scribblings on the back of an envelope from Julia Fenn to Guy postmarked Oct. 2, 1903, Cambridge. [4]


[1] We don’t really know where Guy was working, but he lists his occupation on the marriage license (made out two months later) as “clerk,” and the 1904 phone directory for Cuyahoga Falls lists his employer as the "rolling mill." The closest rolling mill (a factory where iron is shaped) was just across the river.

[2] Johnny Porter lived next door, and was a long-time fishing buddy of Lo’s.

[3] Leo Brown did study for the priesthood in Cleveland, and returned to the Falls after that.  The whiskey story is from Robert Burns.

[4] The juxtaposition of Ada's and Julia's names is reminiscent of Lo's diary entry in which he writes Mary Mason and Mary Dinger on the same page. On the reverse side, Guy has written "Willoughby Howe" repeatedly as well.