Dr. Ferdinand Peter Herff, August 1912
Peter Herff listens to the two women’s lively chatter in the reception room adjacent to his office as he finishes his notes about his final patient of the day.
“I studiously read the newspapers to try to understand San Antonio,” says the newcomer, “but, frankly, the politics bewilder me. Why would city people elect a cowboy as their Mayor? And is it legal for him summarily to fire the Police Chief and the Street Commissioner as soon as he walks into City Hall?”
Mrs. Hatzenbuehler laughs. “Oh, this mayor is much calmer than the last one. Mayor Callaghan blew his top more times than my teapot has whistled. It’s amazing he didn’t drop dead sooner.”
“Ah, but despite appearances,” Peter interrupts, “this cowboy, Mayor Jones, possesses a college education. After the death of his father, Gus Jones found signing onto cattle drives a quick way to earn a living.”
Mrs. Hatzenbuehler stretches a hand toward her new companion. “Miss Burgemeister, this is Doctor Herff. Doctor, this is the young lady who is interested in preventing you from working me to death.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Miss Burgemeister. I truly am not the demanding, slave-driving tyrant Missus Hatzenbuehler makes me sound.
“A good many years ago, my father, who suggested you to Missus Hatzenbuehler, was three years ahead of the new mayor in college. As is the custom of upper classmen, my father and friends hazed the new boys constantly. For several weeks, Gus appeared to accept the ill treatment passively. But one evening, he exploded. Grabbed a chair and swung it wildly left and right, striking his tormenters, including my father, with ferocious blows that sent them sprawling onto the floor.”
Miss Burgemeister smiles slightly. “I imagine your father didn’t vote for this man for mayor.”
“On the contrary. I would say it was long forgotten, but my father managed to turn the tables a couple of years ago when Gus needed surgery. With Gus all prepared for anesthesia on the operating table, my father started chuckling. Told Gus this was the chance for which he’d been waiting all this time. He would get even sure as fate. I’m sure the future mayor did not find his helpless state as humorous as my father did.
“Well, Missus Hatzenbuehler has shown me your letters of recommendation, Miss Burgemeister, and they’re impressive in their praise of your nursing skills. Perhaps you’ll have a seat in my office and tell me more about your training and experience.”
Peter knows this is an unnecessary step. Mrs. Hatzenbuehler already has made up her mind and will give him no peace if he does not hire Miss Burgemeister to assist a few hours a day. The interview is more to save face. To make it appear he is in charge when, in fact, he is not. Mrs. Hatzenbuehler rules his roost.
But he is grateful. She does so efficiently.
As usual, the political stories are from the papers. The Author merely wants to establish that Hedda could attain gainful employment as a nurse.