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Newspaper Page Text
LIFE TODAY IN VERA CRUZ AS IT IS LIVED
v UNDER AMERICAN SOLDIERS' RULE
BY FRED L. BOALT
Vera Cruz, Mex. Night . on the
Vera Cruz is trying to-pretend that
it is enjoying itself.
On two sides ofhe square hotels
in front of which we drink lemonade.
. The waiters, who love us wjth their
lips and hate us in their, hearts, are
devastated with grief because there
and heroic race, we continue to drink
the warm, sickish stuff.
On a third side of the plaza- the
cathedral. One of its bells is silent
shattered by a cannon shot from the
fleet when the city'f&l in the tower
four sentries- stand', looking- down in
to the plazas A fifth man flashes
messages to the fleet and the out
posts. All around the signal lights
are flashing Shafts of light from
the searchlights streak the sky.
On the fourth side of the plaza is
the Constitucion where troops are
quartered. The provo guard brings
in peons who are drunken on vino.
They tfymk they are goingto die.
Tomorrow, sober, they will be re
leased and fed. Already they are
learning that to. be arrested by the
AmeFipanos is not half bad.""
In the stand in the middle -of the
plaza a soldier band is "playing.
When it strikes up "The Star
Spangled Banner," we rise, our sol
diers and officers very stiff and erect.
An American planter who has lived
in Mexico 20 years, says: 'By ,
that lisjtens good!"
But the Mexicans sit scowling at
their little tables and a group of
British naval officers from the Essex
remain seated. No discourtesy is
meant. To stand at such a time
might be interpreted as "taking
Not so a group of French marines
in top-heavy white helmets. They
rise to their feet and bare their heads.
They are short, stock men, and they J
look efficient, for all their ill-fitting
clothes, but on their sweating faces'
is an almost sickly pallor that con
trasts curiously with the ruddy com
plexion of the Americans.
The band strikes up a lively rag
time tune. Twer soldiers, khaki-clad,
slither over the flagged floor of the
plaza. A rifle is slung from the shoul
der of one of them.
Even the Mexicans are compelled
to smile glumly at their antics.
Very difficult to place are the wo
men at the tables. A few are wives
of officers. Others "are expatriates.
Even the young among them seem
old. They are over-dressed. Their
faces are stained. Perhaps it's the
heat. One imagines they are tired,
and that their gaiety it artificial and
There are celebrities on the plaza.
Jack London, in loose-fitting khaki,
knows every one and continues his'
bout with Jphn Barleycorn. Richard
Harding Davis, the novelist, looking
uncomfortable in correct arid starchy
clothes, holds aloof.
To him comes a filthy beggar,
whining and showing hideous sores.
Davis shudders and turns away.
'The crowds at the table thin. The '
women have gone to bed to toss
through sleepless hours in stifling
rooms., For in Mexico no woman of
virtue may go abroad without es
cort at any hour, and not at all after
Come then pretty and smiling
senoritas of the underworld. Come,
too, slinging from the alleys, Jhe
creatures of the Mexican night, to
search for scraps among the tables "
and in the gutters. Gaunt they are,
and very timid.
They are telling .the story of. the
night that there is order in the city,
and the federals are keeping" a re
spectful distance from the outposts
and all's well!
And so, finally, we go trf our beds.