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Wagners Traveled Often Looking For Wellness

It’s a Wagner Week and here we have the Wagners yet again going on long, extended vacations to “get well.” I truly do not understand how they got any work done whatsoever considering they were constantly on the road between various health resorts. I also theorize that the reason they all feel so run down all the time is because they have a perpetual case of the 1904 version of jet lag.

I guess that would be train lag. I’d be tired and sick too if all I did was obsessively travel the land in search of wellness. In 1904 it was exhausting to feel good, I guess.

In this letter a little kid, Dudley, is in Atlantic City and Coney Island. 1904 Coney Island seems like it would have been really fun! He also gets to visit  a zoo. A 1904 zoo, on the other hand, seems like it might be really sad. I bet their natural habitat game wasn’t so natural or habitat-like. 

Uncle Eugene blows off the production of “Piff! Paff! Pouf!” that I read described as a “musical cocktail.” The plot is about a guy named August Melon (very Water Valley, don’t you think?) who inherits $2 million but can’t touch it until his four daughters have found husbands. Hilarity ensues. But not for Eugene, it seems.

The Watkins

Enlarged, Improved,


South Carolina Ave.

Near the Beach

Open All Year

 Atlantic City, NJ

6/21, 1904

 Dear Jessie,

We are very nicely located here at the Watkins and papa says tell you that George and I will stay here about a week and he and Dudley will each be here at least two weeks.

This is a very neat, clean place, quiet and homelike and I think the salt air will do us good. I feel a little tired and worn out but expect a few days here will make a new man of me.

I would have written you sooner but have been on the go ever since I last saw you in Princeton. We went to New York, saw Coney Island and took Dudley all around. He is having a good time and is keeping up the Diary every day.

 We saw Piff Paff Pouff at the Casino in New York. It was only fairly good. 

Yesterday in Philadelphia I took Dudley to the Zoo and had a good time then.

You had better come down here with us. I am thinking of cutting out the trip to St. Louis and spending a couple of weeks here and then go straight home as ought to be in Memphis by the middle of July anyway. 

Papa was going to write you but says tell you that as I am writing today he will write in a few days. 

I am very glad you were at Princeton to commiserate and I tried to make you have a good time. I certainly enjoyed your being there anyway.

Write when you have time to your loving brother, 

D. Eugene

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