An Ostrich-Plumed Hat: Chapter Forty-Four

east commerce street

Above, the intersection of Navarro and East Commerce Streets. John Stevens’ office building is mid-block on the left side of the street.

an ostrich-plumed hat

Begin with Chapter One ~ Return to Chapter Forty-Three

Andrew Stevens, March 1913

“Thought the prophecies of the Book of Revelation were coming true last night!” John hangs his hat and umbrella on the stand just inside the door of Mr. K’s office.

“My best hens,” responds Mr. K, “never laid an egg as large as those hailstones plummeting down from the heavens. Half the slate tiles from my roof lie splintered on the ground. Both greenhouses shattered. All their contents destroyed.”

“Your financial loss must be enormous,” remarks Andy. “I am so sorry, sir.”

“Approximately 5,000 dollars. But my mourning is not monetary. Insurance will replace the roof and the glass. But those rare specimens of orchids I collected and cultivated? Irreplaceable.”

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

An Ostrich-Plumed Hat: Chapter Thirty-Nine

cuero turkey trot 1912

Above, 1912 Cuero Turkey Trot, Francisco A. Chapa Family papers, UTSA Libraries Special Collections, The Top Shelf

an ostrich-plumed hat

Begin with Chapter One ~ Return to Chapter Thirty-Eight

Andrew Stevens, November 1912

“‘Personal antagonism,’” sputters John. “Bryan Callaghan must be rolling over in his grave. His reasons for renaming the park Waterworks were not petty.”

“Alderman Mauermann stuck to his ground, though,” adds the Colonel. “George Brackenridge’s gift to the city had more strings attached to it than a spider’s web. What good is a park with no way to access it?”

Mr. K’s grumpiness that this topic resurfaced at City Hall is obvious. “As big a proponent of parks as Alderman Lambert is, he sees the gift for what it was—a scheme to line George Brackenridge’s pockets. The city was hamstrung. Forced to buy property on River Avenue from him for an entrance to the parkland.”

John waves a hand dismissively. “A technicality. That’s a mere technicality according to Alderman Boynton. Says it’s poor grace to censure a benevolent donor simply because the city failed to notice the hitch at the time the gift of land was accepted.”

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

An Ostrich-Plumed Hat: Chapter Thirty-Seven

teddy roosevelt shot

“We are against his politics, but we like his grit.” W.A. Rogers for New York Herald, Cabinet of American Illustration, Library of Congress

an ostrich-plumed hat

Begin with Chapter One ~ Return to Chapter Thirty-Six

Andrew Stevens, October 1912

John trumpets, “Teddy Roosevelt’s as crazy as a bull moose in spring, that’s what he is.”

“His secretary tackled the shooter before he could get off a second shot,” says Mr. K before turning toward Andy. “No offense meant concerning your qualifications for this position, Andy, but it seems having a former football player for your secretary is not a bad investment. You could benefit from training with the Turnverein.”

“That crowd in Milwaukee,” adds the Colonel, “would have lynched that insane Bavarian on the spot if Roosevelt hadn’t assured them he was fine.”

John shakes his head in wonder. “A hole right through in his overcoat. His shirt soaked in blood. Yet the former President insisted, ‘I will give this speech or die.’ And he almost did. Talked for fifty minutes before his doctor dragged him off the stage.”

Continue reading “An Ostrich-Plumed Hat: Chapter Thirty-Seven”