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The mirror. (Stillwater, Minn.) 1894-1925, February 20, 1913, Image 1

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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
Every city and community has a
Hie m
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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.

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