An Ostrich-Plumed Hat: Chapter Seven

Above, Beethoven Maennerchor Hall on South Alamo Street

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Andrew Stevens, June 1911

Mr. K, the Colonel and Representative Chester Terrell lean forward in their chairs as Andy’s brother John relates political developments from last evening. “Paul Steffler came through, delivering close to 1,700 union men to the smoker at Beethoven Hall. District Attorney Baker fired them up to join the parade and rally. Chairman Mauermann utilized the information Sheriff Tobin shared with us. He pointed out to reporters that, on Monday morning, July 3rd—a morning following a Sunday with no saloons open—eighteen persons were escorted into police court on charges of being drunk. Every saloon door was flung wide open for the Fourth of July celebrations, yet only two men faced that charge on July 5th.”

The Colonel shakes his head. “Sunday is a sad day for the poor working man who can’t find a saloon open. Of course, it beats North Texas. On Sundays there, a man can’t find a stand open for any kind of cold drink at all. You cannot even buy a cigar.”

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

An Ostrich-Plumed Hat: Chapter Six

steves homestead

Above, Johanna Steves rocks in front of her home on King William Street. The Steves Homestead is now a House Museum owned by The Conservation Society of San Antonio and is well worth touring.

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Emma Bentzen Koehler, May 1911

Sophie Wahrmund clasps her hands together over her heart. “After Papa’s funeral, I couldn’t bring myself to think of leaving all the family in Fredericksburg. I started weeping the minute they started playing ‘Oh Fair, Oh Sweet, Oh Holy!’ and didn’t stop dabbing at my eyes until we pulled up to the front door. Yet here I am, thoroughly wrapped up in this wedding. How can one so rapidly leap from the depths of despair to a state of bliss? My tears of mourning have been replaced by those of joy.”

“Nothing helps heal loss like births or weddings, Sophie.”

The fireflies are beginning to flicker as servants wander through the yard lighting candles at all the tables. Over Sophie’s shoulder, Emma catches a glimpse of her husband on the dance floor. She smiles. Otto’s partner is none other than the groom’s grandmother, Johanna Steves. While Otto does do a turn or two or more with some of the prettiest women in town, he always takes care to alternate them with the oldest widows available at any social occasion. “And your Jennie just looks positively radiant in that green.”

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

An Ostrich-Plumed Hat: Chapter Five

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Emma Dumpke, March 1911

March 8, 1911

Dear Hedda,

Gleaming gold.  I never thought anyone but a king could assemble such an ostentatious collection of golden objects in one room, but I have spent the past few days amidst America’s royalty – the foremost brewers of the country. 

Landing such a plum position surely makes me the luckiest nurse in the world. I was aware the Koehlers were wealthy, but I didn’t hold out high hopes for San Antonio, and I had no idea I would have the opportunity to travel across the entire western breadth of this country – the weak excuse I’m extending for not having written sooner. My first two weeks of employment have left me both exhilarated and exhausted.

Affecting my handwriting is the sway of the train carrying us back to San Antonio after a splendid excursion to Pasadena, California, to celebrate the 50th wedding anniversary of Herr und Frau Adolphus Busch. The St. Louis monarch spared no expense on this event lasting several days. Herr und Frau K seem like paupers next to the Busches’ extravagance.

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