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I have the honor and great pleasure of presenting to you Past President John M. Roach.
John M. Roach Mr. Chairman and gentlemen : Twentythree years ago this month, a great honor was conferred upon me, when I was nominated as president of your Association, at a convention held in Chicago. It is now my privilege to welcome you to our city again on this occasion, when we are celebrating Past Presidents' Day.
As a citizen of Chicago, and on behalf of the Chicago Surface Lines, I welcome you to a city of wonderful boulevards - beautiful parks – magnificent hotels; a city of large banking institutions, - excelled by none in the world - a city of the greatest packing industries - a city of wonderful manufacturing industries - a city of great newspapers,- not surpassed by those of any other city,- and last, but not least, a city with the world's largest street railway system and an elevated railway system, of which we are justly proud. Also an electric light and power system, and other public utilities, which are all noted for their magnitude and efficiency. Gentlemen, you are welcome here. And now, before turning over this meeting to the Master of Ceremonies, I must recall some of his accomplishments with which you, perhaps, are familiar.
General Harries has long been a notable figure in the public utility field as well as in military affairs. He is past President of the Edison Illuminating Companies, he has been Treasurer of the National Electric Light Association, and when he left Washington he was Vice-President and General Manager of the Washington Railway and Electric Company. Since that time he has been Vice-President of the Byllesby Engineering and Management Corporation, and has had to do with the conduct of utilities in Louisville and Omaha. He was President of our Association in 1912–13.
He begun his military training in early manhood as a scout under General Miles and General Crook of Indian wars in the far west. He was Commander in Chief of the National Guard of the District of Columbia. He served in the SpanishAmerican War, and when he resigned from the service of the District National Guard he held the title of Major-General.
He was a noteworthy figure in military circles in Washington, and was for a period in charge of the military and naval defenses in that city. He was Commander-in-Chief of the Military Order of the World War and he served throughout that great war, first as Brigadier-General and later as MajorGeneral.
He was the ranking American Military Officer in Berlin for the first nine months after the World War. After the armistice, he was made Commander of the Legion of Honor by the French Government and received the Distinguished Service Medal from our own country.
General Harries has long been a wise and able counsellor in the service of the American Electric Railway Assocation, besides having a well-deserved reputation as a witty and able speaker. He has brought honor to the Association, and he honors us at this Convention in assisting to make Past Presidents' Day noteworthy.
Gentlemen, our Master of Ceremonies, the well-beloved General Harries. (Applause.)
CHAIRMAN HARRIES :- Mere suggestion of a reunion of Past Presidents prompts premier thought of those who, with the golden key of death, opened the palace of eternity. An old-world cynic of the long ago said that “a dead man has neither relations or friends.” With such an utterance we can have no sympathy. We have reverence for those who preceded us in honorable and honored service and " deem them sacred who have entered the immortal state." There be several such — of whom I have no roster but they will be, here and there, recalled throughout this audience. Who among us that knew Caryl Ely can visualize him without emotion or deny the existence of the friendship which persists despite the intervening and immeasurable space? Other names will move you to thought — and to gladness — because you knew their bearers in this world of work and play, during days when the shadows of ever-approaching dissolution were cheerfully disregarded. As we are here assembled to enjoy mutual greetings and laud the living, let us pay at least brief homage to those of equal merit who, keepers of the faith, have passed out of the sight of men.
I would ask that you rise and remain standing.
(The entire assemblage then arose and remained standing for a period of a minute.)
Those whom you this day delight to honor are of as many sorts as there are individuals; they differ “As one star differeth from another star in glory." Each, during his term of office, did that which seemed unto him best — if he could persuade the Executive Committee to vote that way.
Some represent administrations long gone and bring to you suggestions of that now imaginary aroma of the stables and barns (that really were barns) and reeking harness which was as frankincense and myrrh and precious spices to the nostrils of aforetime presidents — presidents in those distant days when pine tables served for presidential desks and drivers were paid a dollar for a 14-hour day; when the books of account were kept by a bright boy who labored after school hours for two dollars a week and deemed himself to be well on his way to great riches.
Others will bring you later – and maybe less interesting news, for reminiscences have fascinating value. All must necessarily be brief - most of the total time allotted is reserved for the introductions, through which I will tell you who and what the living relics really are.
Let us proceed.
We have a communication from Mr. Julius S. Walsh, of St. Louis, who was President during the year 1885-1886, and is the oldest living Past-President. He sent a letter to Mr. Emmons, which Mr. C. E. Morgan, of Brooklyn, will read.
C. E. MORGAN: The communication from Mr. Walsh is as follows:
Mississippi Valley Trust COMPANY,
September 30, 1922.
Association, Drake Hotel, Chicago, Illinois.
Your invitation to attend the Annual Convention of your
the United Railways here. I regret very much my inability to attend.
During the 80's when I was very active in Street Railroad affairs, I attended the Conventions of the Association regularly, was President of it in 1885-1886, and I look back with great pleasure upon our gatherings, and the benefits I derived from our meetings.
I wish you a very successful and pleasant meeting. Again regretting that I cannot be present, I am,
Very sincerely yours,
Chairman of the Board.
CHAIRMAN HARRIES :- We will now take up our references to the Past Presidents in the order of the year or years in which they served the Association.
John M. Roach - 1899-1900 — It is a long stride from the day of the Slawson-box, the bell punch, the odorous non-illuminating lamps, and the straw bedded passengers. Mr. John M. Roach was the President for two reasons; first, because he is and alway has been worthy of the highest honor to the industry; and, second, because he was born in the State which shares presidential parental glories with Virginia. The State of Virginia claims to be the mother of Presidents, but her youngest child has long been dust. Ohio is the father of presidents — but not with Virginia as a partner — and still rejoices in the sturdiness of some of her progeny, Mr. Roach, for example.
It is none of your business when Mr. Roach was born, you youngsters of fifty or sixty, it is enough to know that he's a transportation man through and through - yet by no means through. He began where some folks who were once Presidents have finished as a conductor. That was in 1872, in the employ of the North Chicago Street Railway Company. Because he understood the basic things, his job, his fellow employes, and the human beings who reluctantly handed him their fares, there were promotions: Assistant Superintendent, Superintendent, Vice-President, General Manager of the West Chicago Street Railway Company ; Vice-President and General Manager of the system embraced in the Union Traction Company, and President of three other Chicago companies; then President of the Chicago Railways Company for six years, when in 1913 he concluded he had worked long enough. Then he became a mere Director of the Chicago Surface Lines. This is the fiftieth anniversary of his Chicago railways service, and we shall remember him as one who earned the distinction of being our President in 1899 and who made good.
Walton H. Holmes — 1900-1901 — Nobody took me into his confidence and made me aware that Walton H. Holmes of Kansas City, Missouri, would be here, so that there was no prepared assault on him. We all know that those of us whose memories carry us back a little while could not forget, in connection with the street railroad business, the Holmes brothers. I now have pleasure in introducing Mr. Walton H. Holmes, who was our President in 1900–1901, and who looks younger now than he did even then, and who has survived the Kansas City situation, which, indeed, I think at times has been quite as interesting as any situation Chicago ever knew. He is here to speak for himself. You have five minutes, Mr. Holmes, which is hardly a fair allowance for a Past President, but it is the best we can do.
WALTON H. HOLMES :- Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen of the convention; I am sorry that I was not better introduced to you.
I can not very well introduce myself, but I wish to say that I did serve this Association very many years ago, as its President, and my connection with the street railway business dates back to the old horse car days. My father built the first street railroad west of the Mississippi in 1868-9. I have a brother, who is my junior, and we together tried to succeed my father as best we could. It may be interesting for you to know that in the year 1884-85 the first test of overhead electrical trolley operation was made in Kansas City, and the inventor was Mr. John W. Henry, who owned one-fiftieth of the patent.
We had an old threshing machine engine and boiler and a Van der Pole motor, but the thing did run, and that is the best that can be said about it. Mr. Henry then became a great man in the electrical field, and
my recollection is that the first successful operation of an electric street railway was in Richmond, Va.
I have seen three changes of motive power the old mule cars which we used in our early days, the cable cars, and then