An Ostrich-Plumed Hat: Chapter Seventy

Above, Dutch soldiers on the frontier with Belgium, George Grantham Bain Collection, Library of Congress

an ostrich-plumed hat

Begin with Chapter One ~ Return to Chapter Sixty-Nine

Andrew Stevens, October 1914

“I understand,” says Sheriff Tobin as he claps Mr. K on the back, “you had a wild adventure in Germany.”

“Much more than he anticipated,” says the Colonel. “Bullets riddling the automobile you’re driving does not fit any description of a relaxing vacation.”

Mr. K shakes his head. “We couldn’t set sail from Bremen, so we needed to cross into the Netherlands. There was a long line of automobiles at the border crossing, with little movement forward. Numerous automobiles were being turned back.”

“And you know how patient Otto is.” The Colonel winks at the Sheriff.

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

An Ostrich-Plumed Hat: Chapter Sixty-Nine

Above, wrecked remnants of a Red Cross train by a bridge blown up by Germans at Marne, Keystone View Company, Library of Congress

an ostrich-plumed hat

Begin with Chapter One ~ Return to Chapter Sixty-Eight

Hedda Burgemeister, September 1914

September 15, 1914

My dearest Emmy,

I am beside myself. Otto left for Germany almost three weeks ago, and I have not received even a one-sentence telegram from him to assure me he is safe.

What in the world were he and his wife thinking to risk traveling during these perilous times? They took their niece Hettie with them, endangering her life as well.

German soldiers headed toward Russia, George Grantham Bain Collection, Library of Congress

The lightening attack by the Kaiser’s armies almost made it all the way to Paris, but he has withdrawn many of his best troops from the Battle of the Marne to ward off Russian advances in Prussia. With the British and French nipping at the heels of his army on one side and the Russians trying to advance on the other front, how can any place in Germany be safe?

I comb the newspapers, trying to ascertain the safety of Lower Saxony. I pray they did not venture farther. Will they be able to safely make it back to Bremen? And under what flag is it safe to voyage with the conflict embroiling so many nations?  

Continue reading “An Ostrich-Plumed Hat: Chapter Sixty-Nine”

An Ostrich-Plumed Hat: Chapter Sixty-Eight

Above, aftermath of the horrific explosion at the Southern Pacific Railyard. Photograph courtesy of Farrell Tucker, San Antonio Police History Archive.

an ostrich-plumed hat

Begin with Chapter One ~ Return to Chapter Sixty-Seven

Emma Bentzen Koehler, August 1914

A musical at the Casino Club with the Wahrmunds has been marked on their calendars for weeks, but Otto is devastated by the events of the day.

Emma cannot even remember the last time the two of them have eaten alone. The couple always has social engagements or is surrounded by members of their extended family, drawn into the couple’s unspoken conspiracy to avoid this very circumstance.

Otto wheels her out to the back veranda. Brilliant orange and rose streaks paint a gorgeous sunset on the west. But the sky in the east is shrouded by the thick, dark smoke continuing to billow over the spot where the roundhouse stood. Otto stands with his hand on her shoulder, staring at that cloud.

Continue reading “An Ostrich-Plumed Hat: Chapter Sixty-Eight”