An Ostrich-Plumed Hat: Chapter Forty-Two


Above, Plinky Toepperwein uses a mirror to shoot at a target held in husband Adolph’s hand. Otto M. Jones, Library of Congress

an ostrich-plumed hat

Begin with Chapter One ~ Return to Chapter Forty-One

Hedda Burgemeister, January 1913

Tap, tap, tap.

Hedda forces herself to abandon a most pleasant dream. A dream in which the tap-tap-tapping does not belong. She does not move. Listening.

Not a sound. Why is she now wide awake? She rolls to her other side to attempt to submerge herself back into that dream. 

Tap, tap, tap. Again. Perhaps at the glass in the front door?

The room is pitch black. The cuckoo Otto gave her calls out a half-hour, providing no clue as to the actual hour of the night.

Tap, rap, rap. Bolder, more insistent this time. 

Terrified, she reaches for her robe and tiptoes toward the front door. She turns back to the kitchen, arming herself with the iron skillet from the cookstove.

Continue reading “An Ostrich-Plumed Hat: Chapter Forty-Two”

An Ostrich-Plumed Hat: Chapter Forty-One

Above, Convict Labor Camp, J.W. Dunlop Photography Collection, UTA Libraries

an ostrich-plumed hat

Begin with Chapter One ~ Return to Chapter Forty

Former Governor Thomas Mitchell Campbell, January 1913

“I’ve never felt this helpless, Fannie. Governor Colquitt’s going to be the ruin of Texas. Playing Santa Claus with the judicial system. He handed out twice as many pardons at the end of the year as I ever did. You can’t tell me all those men were innocent.”

“But at least your successor exposed the cruel use of the bat for whipping prisoners, Thomas.”

Governor Colquitt at Huntsville Prison, Texas State Library and Archives Commission

“I admit. Prison guards tend to employ brutal tactics to keep their charges in line, but what will happen within those walls with no discipline? The Governor worries more about the working hours of criminals than factory workers. If the state can no longer farm out this captive workforce, how is Texas going to afford to feed and house them?

Continue reading “An Ostrich-Plumed Hat: Chapter Forty-One”

An Ostrich-Plumed Hat: Chapter Forty

shopping lower east side

Above, “‘Imported Americans’ shopping from push-carts on the Lower East Side, New York City,” Underwood & Underwood, Library of Congress

an ostrich-plumed hat

Begin with Chapter One ~ Return to Chapter Thirty-Nine

Emma Dumpke Daschel, December 1912

December 31, 1912

My dearest Hedda,

Having you make the trip to St. Louis for our wedding meant so much to both of us, but particularly to me. To suddenly be thrust in the midst of Heinrich’s huge family was overwhelming; although his relatives could not have embraced me more warmly.

You comprise my whole “American family,” and I know I would have been unable to cope without your repeated assurances that this marriage is right for me. Thank goodness! I could not possibly be happier.

I feared you risked triggering the beer baron’s ire by attending my wedding. I am shocked that, instead, Otto suggested you no longer hide our shared deed in the public records under the name of that bartender indebted to him.

Continue reading “An Ostrich-Plumed Hat: Chapter Forty”