January 11, 1912, The Evening World,
"WALSH'S WIDOW AT WINDOW WAITS HIS HOMECOMING,"
Page 2, Columns 4-7,
Mrs. William J. Walsh and Children of the Heroic Fire Chief
Standing left to right, Agnes, Anna; sitting Lorette, William, Mrs. Walsh and Margaret
Grateful for Evening World's Relief Fund for Herself and Children.
Marguerite Mooers Marshall.
Mrs. William J. Walsh is waiting.
Yesterday I went to tell his widow of the relief fund which The Evining World is collecting for her and her children. And I found her sitting quietly in her little home at No. 1170 Forty-second street, Brooklyn, waiting for them to bring to her the body that is still hidden under tons of twisted steel and iron. Her high, straight-backed chair is drawn
close to the window from which she can see further down the icy road, and almost at her elbow is the table with the telephone that will announce when "he" is found. Children and neighbors press her with well-meant intentions and queries, but for them all she has the one answer, "l must wait till they find him and bring him home."
She is a broad shouldered, motherly figure, a woman with a lap made to hold children. Her dark hair is just touched with gray, her pleasant blue eyes have perhaps faded a trifle, but there are not many lines in her strong, sensible face---yet.
She looked up almost dazedly as I entered the sitting room. In one hand was a freshly ironed pocket handkerchief, the creases in it still showing.
"Have you come to tell me that they've found him?" she asked. But before I could answer she shook her head disappointedly. "No, of course you haven't," she murmured, almost to her self. "They promised to telephone. I hope I won't have to wait much longer."
"Every one want to help you," I said.
TOO DAZED BY THE CALAMITY TO THINK CLEARLY.
"I know," she assented, "and I'm sure I'm very grateful to The Evening World and all the other people. Only I can't think very clearly just now. You see, we've been married twenty-two years, and I have stopped being afraid. I think that's what makes it hardest. There I let him go away without a caution, without even a doubt, just as if I didn't care what happened to him. And God knows it wasn't that. But you see I had got used to the danger. And he was always so strong and brave and cheerful. At first, when we were married, I used to be frightened every time he went out with the engines. But he always laughed at me, not in a nasty way, but just to cheer me up and make me ashamed of myself for doubting him. He always said he knew how to take of himself, and that he wouldn't let anything happen to him that would take him away from me and the children. He knew how hard things would be for us without him."
You have several children?" I questioned.
"Six," said Mrs. Walsh, "not counting the little girl that died. There's May, who's the oldest, and Anna, two, years younger, and Agnes, and Luella and the boy Billie, named for his father and just ten, and the baby, Margaret, who's two. Their father worked so hard to keep them all in shool, and not one of them has ever gone out to work."
Th girls were all together in one corner of the room, near the crib where little Margaret slept. They are slender with their father's brown eyes and hair, all except the baby, who is as fair as the others are dark. Billie, ten, has blue eyes like his mother's.
"PAPA WAS SUCH A GOOD MAN," SAY THE FATHERLESS.
"They were all so fond of their father," Mrs. Walsh went on, as her glance followed mine to the huddled little group. "Even the baby that can't talk yet, always had a laugh for
him when she saw him coming. And the girls have been saying over and over again, 'Papa was such a good man."
"He gave up his life for his duty and to save others," I remarked rather tritely.
"Yes," Mrs. Walsh assented in the same quiet, almost monotonous voice. "Of course, he couldn't have done anything greater. You know it's in the Bible, 'Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friend.' And he laid down his life for people he didn't even know, just because they were people whom he had
promised to protect. And even when he saw his own danger he did his best to warn the others, the men who worked and risked their lives with him.
"Ot course I am proud of him, and I've always been proud when they said he was one of the bravest men on the force, and better acquainted with his district than any other fireman. If he had to die now, he couldn't have left a greater name for his children.
AND HE GAVE PROOFS OF HIS COURAGE AND FAITHFULNESS.
"But these are the things that everybody can't help but know. He's given every man and woman in New York proof of his courage and faithfulness. But somehow those aren't the things the children and I think of first when we say to each other, "How good he was!"
"My husband was a home man always. Whenever he had a day off he didn't go up to town for a good time, but he stayed right here and did things that would make us all happier." And I recalled the neat, white-painted fence and gate which marked out the Walsh home from its neighbors when I was two blocks away, and the piazza that meant a garden only a few months ago.
He kept the lawn so green and smooth," Mrs. Walsh continued, as I thought of these things, "and the piazza floor always clean and the paint renewed, and he would always have some flowers. I never had to ask him twice to mend any little thing for me around the house, or help move furniture, or put down a carpet.
IN DANGER OF LOSING THE HOME HE WORKED FOR.
"He always wanted to own his own house ever since we got married. But, you see, we had to live on a lieutenant's or captain's pay for so many years, and the children kept coming, and they were mostly girls, and it takes so much for girls. But finally, ten years ago, we moved over here and he began to make payments on the house. We both knew he'd never do anything to lose his job and so fall back on the payment, and we've felt from the start as if we really owned our home. But now there's the rest of the mortgage to pay up, and if we can't do it we shall lose all he put in and have to go away from the place that meant so much to him.
"We have been so happy here! We were together so much. There were so many of us and nobody liked to go off without the others, we stayed here together. And besides not going away from his home and working hard for it, my husband was so kind. All the years we've been married we never had a real quarrel. We cared for each other in the beginning, and it's lasted all along. He couldn't hardly bear to scold the children when they needed it, and he never spoke sharp to me.
"I suppose we were too happy for it to last. Somehow the people who grow old together always seem to be the ones who snap at each other. But this has been so quick, so kind of broken off in the middle. And he was good, good, good---I can't see why it was right for him to die! Sometimes I can't seem to realise he is dead. But I suppose I shall when they bring him home."