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”

An Ostrich-Plumed Hat: Chapter Sixty-Six

an ostrich-plumed hat

Begin with Chapter One ~ Return to Chapter Sixty-Five

Dr. Ferdinand Peter Herff, August 1914

A healthy boy finally emerged at eight o’clock this morning. Peter finds himself exhausted after the long, sleepless night.

He slumps a little on the carriage seat, loosening his grip on the reins. This allows his horse Hippocrates the freedom to plod along at his own pace and pick his own route, not necessarily the most direct one, back to his office.

Boom! The earth quakes. Hippocrates rears up. Nostrils flaring, he bolts. Peter manages to rein him in, trying to make sense of the enormous explosion. Debris and ash rain down around them. A huge black cloud of smoke mushrooms upward and outward in the sky.

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

An Ostrich-Plumed Hat: Chapter Sixty-One

Hedda Burgemeister, April 1914

Pealing bells from the first mission awaken Hedda from a deep sleep. The discordant clangs are unlike the melodic chimes from the bell towers downtown.

Dr. Herff claims the bells of St. Mark’s on Travis Park were forged from cannon used in the Battle of the Alamo. If only Kaiser Wilhelm would assign such a peaceful purpose to his arsenal.

Like roosters at the crack of dawn, these mission bells call people to worship early. Every Sunday.

She loves Sundays. Sundays are hers. Unlike the rest of the week, she is not confined at home on the off-chance Otto might find an opportunity to escape his increasingly abundant business, social or family obligations. Lately, she does not hear from him for days. Yet he remains adamant she not work.

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