While Dan’s day is ending, everyone else’s day is just starting. Take Daisy for
instance. As Dan was watching the sunrise down on Peoria’s riverfront, she
was watching it as she began her bike ride into town from her family’s farm
on the outskirts of the city. Like Dan, Daisy too saw big things for her in the big
city. But she couldn’t bear to be away from her family. So, she found a job at
the Post Office in downtown Peoria and her nervous parents bought her a
good, sturdy bike (she couldn’t take the horse like on weekends) from the
Duryea boys in Canton.
Every morning, just before sunrise, she would begin her long bike ride into the
city wearing her “boy pants” with her long skirt folded neatly in her basket,
along with some money hidden away for lunch (10¢). As she pedaled away
each morning, she was accompanied by another member of the family
who, much like Whiskers over Dan, kept an ever-vigilant watch over her.
Leo was the family dog – a beautiful collie – who took a special liking to
Daisy out of everyone else in the family. Where Daisy went, Leo was sure to
follow – and of course, in Leo’s mind, that meant to Daisy’s new job in the
city as well. So, every morning, Leo would run alongside Daisy as she left the
farm and, every morning, Daisy would have to stop by the edge of the road
(where the Duryea boys had been driving around on something they call a
“motor wagon”) and wait for her mom or dad to call Leo back to the house.
Daisy didn’t mind the ride into and back from Peoria at all. In fact, she
looked forward to it. In the mornings, she enjoyed the fresh air and the lovely
scenery especially along the bluff on the north side of town. She’d read
about the newly formed “Parks District” that was planning on building a path
from the riverbank to the top of that steep bluff, which seemed impossible to
She also liked the ride home because it gave her a chance to clear her
head from the hectic day that was literally and metaphorically behind her. If
the weather was bad, she could always stay with her aunt and uncle in the
city who owned one of the larger general stores. But she didn’t like staying in
the city with all the noise of the horses and wagons at night, especially the
never-ending clamor of whiskey barrels being daddled in the wee hours by
rather mean-looking men.
Before Daisy sees downtown, she can smell it: a combination of corn mash
and horse manure. Not the most pleasant of scents to a girl who grew up
wandering in the woods but she’s used to it. Plus, that smell means
something: it means opportunity in a city that is booming. Opportunity not
only for work, but for a girl from a small farm to find her own way in the world,
without having to rely on some man who thinks he can just boss her around.
These are the things she thinks about as she coasts down the busy city streets
– oh look, there’s one of those mean-looking whiskeydaddlers right there – to
her job at the post office.
She pulls her bike past the horses, wagons and drivers who are smoking their
cigars, and props it against the side of the stables. She grabs her skirt and
money from the basket, and skips into the Post Office, where she’s
immediately confronted by the scowl of Postmaster Morgan.
“Good morning, Henry,”
she says breathlessly with a smile.
Postmaster Morgan’s visage immediately brightens.
“Good morning, Daisy.”