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Thursday, Feb. 12, 2004 01:39 am

“For the Darlingest Little Girl”

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Susan Lawrence Dana is best remembered for her Springfield home, designed by the young Frank Lloyd Wright.

In 1883, the young Susan Lawrence married Edwin Dana, who worked with Susan's father on mining interests in the West. Six years later, Susan wrote a poem to Edwin, recounting how he first sent her a valentine and how their love grew.

The poem is included in the Manuscripts Collection of the Illinois State Historical Library.

Unfortunately, Susan and Edwin's marriage was bittersweet. Susan bore two children who died in infancy. And in 1900, Edwin was killed in a mine inspection accident in Oregon.

After building her Prairie Style home in 1904, Susan entertained frequently and lavishly, hosting charitable events as well as guests from around the world. By 1928, expenses of maintaining the house required Susan to move to smaller quarters. She died in 1946.

The accompanying art shows a portion of the illustrated booklet Susan gave her husband; the entire text of the 1889 poem appears below:

An Effect in Blue

He sent me a valentine one day at school
Addressed to "My Little Pearl"
And great black words on the inside said
"For the darlingest little girl"
I was glad oh yes, yet the crimson blood
To my young cheek came and went
And my heart thumped wonderously pit-pat
But I dident know what it meant.

One night he said
I must jump on his sled,
For the snow was falling fast.
I was half afraid,
But he coaxed and coaxed
And got me on at last,
Laughing and chatting
In merry glee,
Down the hill
Like the wind we went,
My sisters looked
At each other and smiled
But I dident know what it meant.

Ten years passed on they touched his eyes
With a shadow of deeper blue,
They gave to his form a manlier grace
To his cheek a swarthier hue,
Down by the dreamy rippling brook
When the day was almost spent,
His whispers were sweet as words could be
And now I knew what it meant.

-- Susan Lawrence Dana

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