October 8, 1909
An audience numbering about 7,000 people in Convention hall last night cheered for a minute a stereopticon picture of a tiny dome of snow from which floated the Stars and Stripes.
That picture represented the successful conquest of the polar mystery, and the 7,000 people had gathered to see Dr. Frederick A. Cook, the conqueror, and hear him tell of his victory. The story was one of enthralling interest, told in anything but a heroic manner, yet told convincingly, straightforwardly, simply, without dramatic climaxes or rhetorical graces.
It is doubtful if there was an individual in the big audience who doubted for a moment Dr. Cook was telling anything but the literal truth. Certainly it was not a Peary audience, for when the doctor mentioned the name of his rival in connection with the other explorers who had preceded him into the Arctic wilds, there was not the faintest ripple of applause.
Dr. Cook's lecture was one of the most interesting features of the week of fall festivities. The doctor cannot be called an orator in the superficial sense. He labored under several handicaps last night, not the least of which was a heavy cold which rendered his voice conspicuously hoarse and which drove him frequently to the ice water.
When Dr. Cook made his first appearance upon the platform he was heartily applauded, and when he arose to begin his lecture, after a brief laudatory introduction by Mayor Crittenden, he received a distinct ovation.
Without prelude he plunged into his lecture, which was delivered in a conversational tone throughout. It was repeatedly punctuated with applause as he narrated some incident more than usually dramatic in its nature or illustrative of the tremendous obstacles overcome.
There was, of course, a special round of applause when he referred to the fact that the pemmican which furnished food for the northward trip was put up by the Armours, and that in all probability some of it came from Kansas City.
The lecture was copiously illustrated with stereopticon views from photographs taken by Dr. Cook himself. Throughout the lecture the orator's characteristic modesty was almost obtrusive, if the paradox may be thus stated. Very rarely was the personal pronoun used and the speaker paid a specially generous tribute to the Eskimos who proved indispensable to the success of the undertaking.
He warmly commended the two young men who went to the pole with him and in the culminating picture showing the flag planted at the pole the only living figures were those of these two Eskimos. Of course Dr. Cook himself could not have been in his own pictures, but it is doubtful if Commander Peary gave his sole companion even this share of the honor. At any rate Cook did.
The only mention of Peary was the one reference to him in the list of polar explorers. No allusion was made to the experiences at the hands of Peary's representative at Etah on Dr. Cook's return and nothing whatever was said as to the controversy between Cook and Peary. Throughout, the lecture was plain narrative of facts, the veracity of which the speaker did not appear to think would be doubted.
Dr. Cook's voice did not carry to all parts of the hall, but few people left before the lecture closed with Dr. Cook's promise to send a ship to Etah and bring back to this country the two companions on the great polar dash. Early in the course of the lecture a song dedicated to Dr. Cook by a local singer.