It was big news in Concord and Martinez when Berta Lohse and Hayward Thomas exchanged vows in San Francisco on Oct. 22, 1891. Berta, an accomplished musician, belonged to one of the most prestigious families in Ygnacio Valley. Thomas, from Martinez, was a young doctor who started his first practice in Concord and then relocated in Oakland.
Berta kept a scrapbook, which descendants of the couple, cousins Barbara Krusi, of Piedmont, and Jeanne Thomas, of Moraga, used to make a memory book for the Lohse-Thomas families.
The couple honeymooned in Pacific Grove, spending three days at the El Carmelo, at a cost of $13. On their return, they set up temporary housekeeping in the fashionable Tubbs Hotel at the end of the horse car line at 14th Street and Fifth Avenue.
Berta and Hayward postponed going into their own home because they had a grand plan. Berta, the farmer's daughter of Concord, would continue her studies of the piano, and Hayward would further enhance his medical specialty, the diseases of the eyes, ear, nose and throat. And they would do it in Vienna.
On Aug. 3, 1892, they took a Southern Pacific train across the United States and then boarded a ship for Europe. The trip began with a bang: As the train approached Fresno, it was held up.
Berta reported she and Hayward woke up when they heard gunfire. They looked out and saw the baggage car blow up. The train trip was delayed only a few hours, and the robbers were caught within a few weeks. Berta pasted a copy of a newspaper article describing the event in her scrapbook.
"At half past twelve at night the train was held up and robbed of several thousand dollars. We were about eight miles from Fresno. The men boarded the train at a small station and a few minutes later ordered the baggage master to open the doors. He refused. They then placed a bomb at the door and blew it open. ... There were five or six bombs altogether. The last one was placed on the engine, and the fireman told to light the fuse. It was so disabled that we just managed to crawl to Fresno, where the alarm was given."
In Vienna, Berta and Hayward rented a room and ate their meals out. Money was short. Berta kept careful track of their expenses. She studied German and practiced the piano four hours a day. Hayward studied with prominent European specialists. They went sightseeing and to the opera.
Berta would return to Europe many times to study music. Hayward was a leader in the founding of the Oakland College of Medicine and Surgery at 30th and Grove streets. In 1923, with four other doctors, Hayward started plans for Peralta Hospital, which opened in 1928.
Berta performed into her 70s. In 1950, she fell and broke her hip. She never recovered and died in Piedmont in 1951. Her husband, Hayward, outlived her by 11 years, dying in 1962 at the age of 99.
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