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 Forty-One

Above, Convict Labor Camp, J.W. Dunlop Photography Collection, UTA Libraries

an ostrich-plumed hat

Begin with Chapter One ~ Return to Chapter Forty

Former Governor Thomas Mitchell Campbell, January 1913

“I’ve never felt this helpless, Fannie. Governor Colquitt’s going to be the ruin of Texas. Playing Santa Claus with the judicial system. He handed out twice as many pardons at the end of the year as I ever did. You can’t tell me all those men were innocent.”

“But at least your successor exposed the cruel use of the bat for whipping prisoners, Thomas.”

Governor Colquitt at Huntsville Prison, Texas State Library and Archives Commission

“I admit. Prison guards tend to employ brutal tactics to keep their charges in line, but what will happen within those walls with no discipline? The Governor worries more about the working hours of criminals than factory workers. If the state can no longer farm out this captive workforce, how is Texas going to afford to feed and house them?

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

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”