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REFUGEE SKETCHES - Mrs. Frederick W. Vanderbilt's Account

Louise "Lulu" Holmes Anthony Torrance (1844 - August 21, 1926) (Mrs. Frederick W. Vanderbilt ), the Wife of Frederick William Vanderbilt (February 2, 1856 – June 29, 1938) a member of the financially and socially preeminent Vanderbilt family.

The Statement of Mrs. Vanderbilt

Mrs. Frederick W. Vanderbilt was living at the Miramonti Hotel in Cortina when the disturbance broke out.

We personally experienced no exciting adventures or hardships," she said; "but all about us we saw the suffering and pain brought on by the war. At my hotel—managed by a woman whose husband was a captain in the Austrian army—we felt the grip of military activities as soon as war was declared.

When I first arrived at the Miramonti, I found the establishment so quiet and undisturbed that I never dreamed it would become the scene of sighs and tears. Red-cheeked maids, clad in those picturesque peasant costumes with the short skirts and beaded bodices, smiled from morning till night as they cared for our wants. Then suddenly one day, the captain received orders to report at his post.

Not long after, the two stalwart sons had to go, leaving the woman alone with her maids and a little boy to manage the house. This seemed intolerable enough, yet the government increased her burden by confiscating all her horses, even her little boy's black pony.

Everywhere in the hills, we saw evidences of similar hardships. Weak remnants of families—feeble grandfathers and little children—struggled to complete the harvests their sturdy men had left unfinished. One day, I saw an old man, assisted by two women and a young boy, pulling an oxcart to the fields where they were probably going to load it with grain. The war had deprived them even of their beasts of burden. How they will live if the fighting continues, I cannot imagine.

We had to leave Cortina because the train and motor service was to stop shortly. Later, we met some Boston people who had arrived at our hotel after we had gone. They said that the place had been closed because of scarlet fever. The little boy had been taken with this terrible disease soon after our departure. The Boston people tried to help the poor woman, but they could offer no aid, since all the doctors in the vicinity had gone to the front. They had to leave her there, alone, without help, without means, and with a deathly sick child. I shudder to think of it.


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