An Ostrich-Plumed Hat: Chapter Sixty-Two

Above, Gathering the Dead in Vera Cruz, Grantham Bain Collection, Library of Congress

an ostrich-plumed hat

Begin with Chapter One ~ Return to Chapter Sixty-One

Andrew Stevens, April 1914

“Failure to fire a twenty-one-gun salute to the American flag?” fumes Mr. K. “After all the damage to property owned by American interests in Mexico? After all the seized assets?”

The Colonel interrupts. “After the continuous transgressions all along the border from Brownsville to El Paso? Governor Colquitt has begged and begged Washington to let him take action. Secretary Bryan kept telling him to turn the other cheek.”

Mr. K strides back and forth, back and forth. “Now President Wilson,” is using the flimsy excuse of the Tampico incident, tantamount to nothing, to invade Vera Cruz. The seven seized sailors were released as soon as the Mexican commander realized the error of his subordinates. He sent a formal written apology to Admiral Mayo. But the war-hungry admiral demanded the American flag be raised and a twenty-one-gun salute.”

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

An Ostrich-Plumed Hat: Chapter Sixty

pancho villa film set

Above, Pancho Villa, some of his men and members of production crew on the Mutual Film Corporation set, New York World-Telegram and the Sun Newspaper Photograph Collection, Library of Congress

an ostrich-plumed hat

Begin with Chapter One ~ Return to Chapter Fifty-Nine

Andrew Stevens, March 1914

“You never think of buttons much, Andy,” says Mr. K examining a small white one in his hand that should be attached at the collar of his shirt, “until one is missing.”

“I have a spare shirt for you in my office. Would you like for me to get it now or right before your lunch meeting?”

Button workers in Muscatine, Iowa, National Pearl Button Museum

“After I meet with the Colonel will be fine,” answers Mr. K, still contemplating the button. “Iowa had a flourishing button industry. They carved pearl buttons from clamshells. Then the button workers went out on strike for a year or two. The shortage of those clam buttons made people realize the importance of the lowly button.”

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

An Ostrich-Plumed Hat: Chapter Fifty-Four

october 1913 flood

Above, spectators stand on the Navarro Street Bridge with the floodwaters lapping just below. Photograph from UTSA Libraries Special Collections

an ostrich-plumed hat

Begin with Chapter One ~ Return to Chapter Fifty-Three

Emma Bentzen Koehler, October 1913

“Sophie,” asks Bettie Stevens, “however did you manage to return your house to normal in time for this beautiful wedding? We still don’t have the mud cleared out of the first floor.”

“Many hired hands. The Colonel posted a notice at the brewery offering double pay to any worker willing to shovel, scrub and paint by lamplight after their shifts ended. I cried myself to sleep every night thinking that, after all the planning, we would have to ask Otto and Emma to host the celebration at their house.”

“And, of course,” says Emma, “you know we would have been more than happy to have Jennie wed there. But I understand the sentimental reasons for holding the wedding in your own home.”

John shakes his head. “Eight inches of rain. It was the most frightening night of my life. One day people were whining about not enough water in the river. The next night our whole household is huddled in the attic, hoping not to get washed away.”

Continue reading “An Ostrich-Plumed Hat: Chapter Fifty-Four”