Newspaper Page Text
Vol. XXVI—No. 29
Must of the cities in our United States are progressive, but Key West is not one of them; it is a city whose clock stopped forty years ago, and hasn’t started since. The in habitants of Key West are called “Conchs” and they have about as muchjambition as the Univalves that abound in the surrounding waters, from which they get their name. Key West attracts very few tour ists or travelers, rarely does one meet a person who has been there; —the reason is that in this town there are no attractions of any nat ure whatever. Of course, now that the Florida East Coast Ry.,has been extended to Ivey West, and over which the first trains were operated in January 1912, Key West may ex pect to have more visitors. But, I dare say none of these visitors will repeat the call. The extension of the East Cost Ry. is a marvelous piece of work, and the F. E. C. Co. advertises extensively and issues attractive booklets telling of the glorious trip over sea by rail, and all that sort of thing, while as a matter of fact, if one is to get a good view, and be able to appre ciate the engineer’s skill, he should take atrip along this railroad in a gasoline launch, and in that way get a side view of the wonderful concrete arch-work. In Key West there is but one modern building, namely: the Gov erment building which is used as the post office and custom house. Practically all of the other build ings, both business houses and dwellings, are the plainest and cheapest kind of frame structures. There is no building in Key West equipped with au elevator. The streets are unpaved. There is no water works nor sewerage system. Duvall street is the principal thor oughfare, and the Duvall Theatre is the only place of amusement, and it is a very primitive theatre in which moving pictures are the chief attrac tions. There is not a tree in the city that towers above the house tops. In fact there are no trees at all. TheConchssay the hurricanes blow them down as fast as they grow up. But more likely these enterprising citizens have never thought of planting trees to beautify their city. There are a couple of automobiles owned in Key West, but these cars must have been among the very first models manufactured, and when one of them is in motion the*noise from its exhaust pipes can be heard from one end of the island to the other. One evening a real sure-enough motor car was lowered from the side of a Mallory liner and remained m Key West for a couple of hours or so, or as long as it took the steamer to discharge and take on her cargo. The people crowded around this modern car as if it were a circus. They held there breath as they saw it glide noiselessly about the streets. The people down there are way behind the times. Perhaps not one fourth of the population had ever seen a locomotive or passenger train until the completion of the East -Coast By.—and Key West is a city of about twenty-five thousand in habitants. Every city and community has a Hie m EDITED AND PUBLISHED WEEKLY BY THE INMATES OF THE MINNESOTA STATE PRISON Key West Alvarez Quintero. character or two who are conspic uous because of their peculiarities. In this respect Key West has more than her share. I shall attempt to describe two of Key West’s best known citizens. Remember I said, attempt to describe, —I know that I cannot describe them, the thing: is impossible, they are indescribable. Some writers might refer to these two characters as sights, or land marks, or something like that, and let the matter drop; but,-somehow I think they are too good to pass over lightly. Mr. Bonaparte Albright, the own er of the Steam Laundry in Key West, is fairly well-to-do, and is both respected and feared by his fellow citizens. Nature has been very unkind to this man as he is a hunch-back, not more than five'feet high, with very long arms and legs which are entirely out of proportion to his compressed body. He is more than ugly, he is grotesque; he seems to be all arms and legs, and when he walks he has a reeling, winding, side-ways motion; hence his sobriquet: “Boni the Crab.” This name fits him, as he looks as nearly like the shell-fish, called the crab as it is possible for a human being to look. Besides, his face is as terrible as his body, and as Cap. Rockstone said in reference to him: “He shore is some specimen.” But even with tbe handicap of his awful physical deformities, Boni the Crab is always just about a lap ahead of his fellow Conchs, and he usually gets what he goes after. About three years ago Boni the Crab became famous in that section of the country over night; that was the night that the Belle of Key West, the prettiest and sweetest girl in town was missing. It was a curious fact that Boni should be missing at the same time but no one though about him nor did they care if he never came back, but the peo ple turned out in a body to search for the girl. They continued the search until noon the next day, when a cablegram was received from Boni at Tampa, stating he and the girl had been married there. The Conchs say they don’t know why such a beautiful creature as that girl, elop ed with a blunder of nature like Boni the Crab; but no one knows for that matter, perhaps she herself doesn’t know. It is a problem for the scientists. The drollest person in Key West is J. Wm. Rockstone, the proprietor of the “Dixie Restaurant.” This party is over six feet tall and is very thin, and, like Boni the Crab, he has a peculiar walk, only, Rockstone comes down the street with head thrown back and lifting his feet high and planting them down again as if he were stepping over hurdles. Mr. Rockstone is very religious, and preaching is a side issue of his. He also is somewhat erratic in his manner of dress. One of the old citizens in Key West told me that Rockstone hadn’t changed his style of dress in twenty years. He is al ways dressed the same; always the same white duck trousers which costs him $1.25 per pair; he would consider it a sacrilage to pay more for a pair of trousers, be wears ablack alpaca coat and tops his customs off with a black, broad-brimmed, low crowned hat. When Rock stone XT IS NEVER TOO LATE TO MEND. STILLWATER. MINNESOTA, THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 20, L 913. assumed proprietorship of the res* taurant there was a buffet in con nection, but this feature grated up on his conscience so he closed it, and ran for a while what he called a temperence cafe. Finally, when he saw that his patrons were rapidly drifting away, he stretched his con science to the extent of allowing his guests to be served with drinks that were brought in from a bar across the street. Mr. Rockstone is a great talker and is a whirlwind in a debate. He is more than a match for the ordinary person in an argument on any subject, be it religion, financial or social. Jfis knowledge is gener al. When well groomed New Yorkers come down to Key West, Rockstone holds them in a kind of curious contempt. He thinks they are, to put it in his own words, nothing but plain born fools, nor will he hesitate to tell them so if given an opportunity* Key West believes in the policy of giving people what they want; if they wish to gamble, they may gamble, and the clubs are open day and night. In other words it is a “wide open town.” It might be said that Key West practically belongs to Wm. Curry’s Sons. Quite all the industries in the city, with the exception of a few cigar factories, are in their hands. Years ago, even before the Civil war, this firm began business as ship chandlers, and to this business they later added that of wholesale general merchandise. Then when artificial ice became known, they started a plant for its manufacture and also for condensing salt water, which they still sell to the people for about three .cents per gallon. This firm now has two large plants in operation and they make all the ice and condense all the water used in the city. Surely their position is enviable. They are the Rockefellers of Key West. In Key West every other man on the street is a “Captian” of some thing or other. The word Captian has a wide range down there. It may be applied to the owner of a small gasoline launch, or to the foreman of a dredge or pile-driver. Any man who has any kind of a position is entitled to the prefix “Cap.” In this narrative I have been fair to Key West; in fact I have not painted this town as black as it really is. It is a town that is worse than the worst words that can be said or written about it. But in closing I wish to add that Key West has many unfavorable conditions to tight against. For one, there is the expense of obtaining fresh water, another is that the Key on which the city is situated is small and un productive; not even vegetables can be easily grown there. And per haps, what is the most damaging of all is, that Key West lies directly in the path of the tropical hurricanes. But now that the Florida East Coast Ry. has been extended to Key West, there is every reason to believe, and hope, that she may be able to over coraein part at least,some of her natu raldifficulties. Therailroad has help- ed this port than anything else could have done. Key West will now become a great receiving point for perishable tropical fruits that re- quire rapid transit to New York and other eastern cities. The Pan ama Canal will be of great benifit to Key West as it will be to all the leading cities in the southern States. With these favorable conditions to help, Key West should come out of the shell in which she has remained so long, and take her place among the other beautiful and progressive cities of the “New South.” Ahead of the Game. Are we? When Colonel Roose velt was shot, as he was entering his automobile to go and deliver a speech in Milwaukee, the act turned all eyes upon the heroic figure, who, with a bullet in his breast, hurt how badly neither he nor others could say, yet insisted on keeping his faith with the waiting people, and delivering what might easily have been his final speech. A speech delivered under such circumstances cannot help but impress itself on our minds, and of that speech to me the most striking paragraph was when he said: “I want you to un derstand that I am ahead of the game anyway. No man has had a happier life thaD I have had, a hap pier life in every way. I have been able to do certain things that I great ly wished to do, and I am interested in doing other things. But, what ever happens, I cannot but feel that lam ahead of the game.” A terse, short summary, delivered by the fighting ehief, of a fighting party, on his own strenuous life. Other men have been able to say the same thing; “I am ahead of the game.” but the question is, are we? Itisnota question of how long you have lived, or what you have succeeded in doing, rather it is a question of what you have endeav ored to do. Have you put into each hour your best exertion, have you put behind ea h action, care fully though and preperation? Op portunity aud fulfillment are not of any one time or place nor for any particular period or age; they may strike you in youth. Shelly wrote ‘’Queen Mab” when he was eighteen; Marshall Field was a partner in the firm that now bears his name at the age of twenty-five; Bobbie Burns had w ritten some of his poems be fore he was tw T enty; Grant was only just forty when he became com mander-in-chief of the American Army and turned failure to success. And sometimes the reward of sue cess is delayed to the eleventh hour. Verdi composed his greatest work at eighty; Humbolt was eighty-two when he completed that monumen tal work, the ’‘_Co3mos.” There is no age limit in this game; the youth of twenty the old man of eighty, all have the same chance. There is no educational test, no col or line, no religious distinction. There is a fair field for all entries and a fair Judge, for we all are judges —all have to judge ourselves because no one else can answer this question, no one else can judge us on this point. Has our life up to the present satisfied ourselves, have we satisfied our inermost longings, have we made a good fight for our ideals? Defeats do not hurt, every one has them. The only sting in Anon TcO „ O J SI.OO a Year TERMB- ) 6 Months Fifty Cts. defeat is when defeat comes from our own neglect. If we are not ahead of the game now, if our col ors are io the rear in the great race of life, do not let us despair; rather, let us, in the months and years that' are to come, be found fighting our way to better things; fighting our own fight in our own way, but fight ing the fight that we all have, hon estly and with every ounce of man hood that is in us, fighting our fight each in his own age, against his own enemy so that at all times we can say with a clear conscience: Come what may —good fortune, bad for tune, poverty or wealth, success or failure, life or death, —what mat ters it? “I am ahead of the game, anyway.” The Bowery Lights. The Bowery finds a wantonly “mixed company” of lights awaiting her. They come with simplicity and with treachery, from the moon faced benevolence of the clock over Cooper Union to the knife-blade glitter of the arc-lamps under the elevated tracks at Chatham Square. The Bowery's cronies have ever been a strange crew, and so it is with her lights. Many of them are far to good for her, far to bright and steady; many are inoffensive loafers along the curbs, and some are out and-out accomplices. At Chatham Square, where her dominion begins, the very street lamps convey the dis quieting suggestion that they are lying in wait for some one behind the squat pillars of the overhead railway. Close at hand, around the corner of a wall, the alien lights of a crooked Chinese street look aslant upon the highway. They illumin ate festivities more or less their own, with the Bowery for an indulgent and much-valued patroness. A lit tle farther on the glow of an honest warmth spreads from a mission- Louse doorway upon the bony faces of men who are lunching, shuffling along in line for a*handful of bread. These are the ones for whom the Bowery no longer has employment save in her sullen, vicious moods; but she feeds them, perhaps to keep them from annoying her. Then comes the heated rivalry of the shop windows, which, for, brilliance, are veritable fiery furnaces. It seems incredible that suits and “pants” and hats are. not consumed in the blaze which exploits them. But one night, a long time ago, the proprie tor of an “Emporium of Fashion” made two lights to burn where only one burned before, and the challenge was to pointed to be ignored by his competitors. And that is what brought the lights trooping in upon the Bowery. Year by year they be come brighter and more numerous; better buildings, better men, follow them, and the crafty old street who sees it all elevates her oadly painted eyebrows and reduces the price of wiskey to five cents a glass.— George Buchauan Fife, in Harper’s Weekly. Strength of character consists of two things: power of will and pow er of self-restraint. It requires two things, therefore, for it’s existence: strong feelings and strong command over them. —Robertson.