Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #237

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #237

…If the world of 1935 is poorer for the loss of certain folks…

Washday 1935, by Phil Dike

…Poor is not a word you would apply to Doctor A.O. and Maggie Lou Campbell. Once Maggie turned 21, back in 1918, a formidable miniature real estate empire had begun. Starting with 61 parcels (which swells to 150 at its peak) of inherited land in and around Tallahassee, it is not long before a power base is established, by of all people, a black family. And even though they travel in both circles, it is with clenched teeth and wrenched hands that the established whites of Florida’s panhandle do so. It is that quiescent force that has and will continue to smolder just beneath the ground that the Campbells tread, whether it is their own ground or not.

And no more evident is this jealous undercurrent than at the time of Laura Bell’s death on a late summer day in 1931.

Flashback-001

  “May I have a few yards of that gingham?” asks Princess Olla Laura Bell, the mother of Maggie Lou Campbell and very much the grand dame of Tallahassee’s Frenchtown. She is a frequent customer of Fenwick’s Fabriques, a fabric shop owned by the seamstress to the wealthy, Sara Fenwick. Laura Bell happens sews her own clothes, as well as her teenaged granddaughters Alpha, Laura and Zillah, though in order for those same fashion conscious girls to actually wear her dresses, she must get the input of Miss Sara, considered to be on the cutting edge of what makes its way west from Paris and south from New York. The Campbell gals are not to be seen in anything that is not contemporary. “Yes, that red un’, Missy Sara. Alpha’s gots a dance to go’ta this’n Saturdee an she dint ax me for a dress til late. I was well pleased to see yo lights burning.”

“Yes, it is late, is it not? I am glad I told my friend Carolyn not to wait supper for me. It seems everyone is looking forward to their autumn wardrobe, though you would not think so with the weather we’ve been having.” She openly invokes the name of her roommate, someone about whom people whisper about. She and Sara are awfully close, close in a way that invites folks to wonder. ‘There is only one bedroom in that house. And have you seen them hold hands? I hear that they learned that in Paris.’

Schiaparelli, Vogue 1935

“I am going to throw in an extra yard so you can make a bolero. Everyone is wearing them,” suggests the attractive and talented clothier, all the while musing what would look best on Alpha Campbell.

“Ain’t heard of that……some kinda hat?” Uninformed does not equal ignorance.

“No, oh no!” Sara leafs through a fashion magazine to find an example. “Here, yes, very close to this,” she points, “but come to think of it, perhaps a rayon print would be better suited. It has been so oppressively hot these days.”

  “You never steer me wrong, Missy Sara. Wrap that up fo me an I’lla be goin. You should goin’ yo ownself. Bad people mull ‘round on steamy nights liken this.”

          “I have one hem to finish and I will be right behind you,” she says with a sweet smile, very much looking forward to getting home…


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Episode #237


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #202

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #202

…I like the picture where he is singing folk songs with the Barrie’s. I can almost hear his out of tune voice…

Scottish Pub

“He was very good at secrets, wasn’t he? A black girl owning half of town,” She cannot let it go.

James ignores her, continuing, “But from my point of view, there is still more than enough to go around. My God, even Joseph gets a thousand dollars!”

“Sure, now I suppose he will leave me too, he’s got family in Pennsylvania you know.”
My Project 16-001   “Joseph is too old to go off to the North, besides if he did, he’d find out how bad they treat Negroes up there. No, he’s got it good here and he knows it, although I have advised him to buy some land and a little farm of his own.”

     “Are lawyers’ official advice givers as well? You could have a weekly article in the Tallahassee Democrat, people would write in with a question and you would answer them in print. Let me see, something like: ‘Dear Lawyer James; my husband was killed by a U-boat and left half his estate to the illegitimate daughter of our upstairs maid. What should I do?’ signed Scorned Spouse.”

          “Do not tempt me,” he thinks, then goes forward, “Dear Scorned Spouse: It sounds like you should have been doing your own laundry and cleaning. Be thankful that she doesn’t own your house. If she does, perhaps you could use a job.”

          “Now that’s not funny!” she protests.

Pearson Eastman Journal-001

“Speaking of things in print, did you see the last Pearson-Eastman Journal, it just arrived yesterday? Daddy looks so happy, look at him with that golf club,” says son James. Martha points to a picture of Matthew the senior showing John how to hold it, both of them about to split a gut.

I like the one where he is singing folk songs with the Barries. I can almost hear his out of tune voice.” The Ferrells did not bring tonality with them when they crossed the Atlantic.

          “Looks like he’s full of whiskey to me.”

“These are his last days, Mother. The least you can do is to respect the spirit in which the article is presented. Harv and Judith Pearson certainly do; this magazine and the beautiful eulogy they gave at the funeral.” Agnes has the spirit.

          John Ferrell’s spirit is nearer his Lord in Heaven.

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Episode #202


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #139

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #139

…There are so many wonders that titillate each of the five senses and not enough time to take it all in…

scott-joplin-imagem

But William McKinley has a prohibitive favorite in musical style: ragtime. The “King of Ragtime”, Scott Joplin is here to perform, as he had at the Chicago Exposition in 1893. You do not turn down a request by the president, who is treated to the recently composed, “Maple Leaf Rag”, among other many jazz favorites in this singular format.

Mister Joplin finishes this afternoon’s program to a large ovation from the several hundred fair goers. The concertmaster thanks everyone for coming and invites one and all to greet the President at a public reception commencing hence.

Scene in Fair Japan

“Fair Japan” by C.D. Arnold

“Where should we go now?” asks James Ferrell, whose youthful curiosity is fueled by what amounts to a vacation for him, in the midst of virtually two solid years of university study. There are so many wonders that titillate each of the five senses and not enough time to take it all in. “I want to see the racing cars.”

As you would think, there is no consensus among the Floridians, who struggled to amass themselves here. They had been scattered for the entire morning, in pursuit of their diverse interests and separate ways it seems to be now.

They are in their indigenous groups, however. The Ferrells are not about to waste a minute of their rare together time, as do the Campbells and the Endlichoffers, even though Amanda Campbell is distracted from missing the two children she left behind in Tallahassee, in the care of Princess Olla; freedom brings on new, if not worrisome, sets of dilemmas.

 

Just as their milling and mulling comes to an end, heads are turned by what sounds like firecrackers. Two pops precede gasps and screams. Someone yells, “Get a doctor! The President has been shot!”

Herbert Love was close enough to feel the shock waves from the pistol reports, he searches the crowd, searching for answers to the doctor request and is relieved to see Ziggy dragging Alpha through the gathering throng, turned angry mob.

“Am I shot?” the slumping leader gasps, not feeling the pain or the stream of flowing blood.

By this time the mob has tackled the assailant, beating him mercilessly. “Let no one hurt him.” McKinley orders in fear of vigilante justice.


 

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #140

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #140

…Ziggy Endlichoffer and Alpha Campbell are brushed aside, in favor of so-called experts, as if they were a nuisance, not lifesavers…

“Stay still, sir,” implores Ziggy, who is busy plugging the torso breech with the cleanest handkerchiefs he can find. Alpha calmly assists his mentor, having learned that grace under fire is the doctor’s best friend.

“There is an ambulance on the way!” updates a very concerned Exposition official.

“No!” Ziggy protests. “He should not have a bumpy ride. Ve must stabilize him before he is moved; I think zee bullet is near his spleen!”

By now a circle of lawmen, some local, mostly Secret Service has made a pretty tight circle around McKinley’s prostrate position, with an eye out for the ambulance wagon. Anyone on the outside of this enclosure can only guess as to the condition of the man whose health they fear for.

There is an absence of the normal buzz generated by several hundred people. Stunned shock replaces it. Phoebe Love, with her husband nearby his wounded friend, chooses to do the perfect and only logical alternative to grief: prayer.

“Come near, my friends,” she beckons her known confederates, whose numbers grow upon hearing, “Our dear Heavenly Father, we come before you, broken and miserable sinners, to worship and adore you and ask for your divine healing for your devoted servant, William McKinley. Lord, he lay bleeding from a bullet delivered by one of Satan’s own. Please take him into your loving arms, show him that love, and give him a peaceful spirit, free from despair and pain. May it be your holy face he sees?

We also want to bring his sweet wife Ida before you. Guard her from the fear that will soon come to visit. Give her no reason to grieve prematurely, soften this cruel blow in ways that we your people can only marvel at.

Father GOD, make us a people who love and serve you in all the things we say and do; mere players in your grand orchestral plan.

          “And all His people said……”

“Amen!” rolls like thunder across the plain of souls.

 

McKinley & Cortelyou

“Cortelyou–my wife–be careful how you tell her–oh, be careful.” This is an instant where he cannot effectively protect his frail spouse, fearing not for his well-being, but that of Ida.

“Yes, William, I will be gentle,” promises his attending secretary.

The Exposition electric ambulance knifes through the humanity to gather up William McKinley for surgery at Erie County General Hospital, a nearly two mile bone jarring ride.

“If you insist on taking him on this monstrosity, let us attend him.” Ziggy Endlichoffer and Alpha Campbell are brushed aside, in favor of so-called experts, as if they were a nuisance, not lifesavers.

“Thank you, friends,” is all McKinley can say from on the stretcher, powerless to overrule a situation he cannot control.

************************

A pall is cast upon such a promising September day in the first year of this new century. One career is ended as another is just beginning.


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #136

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #136

…In the first staged pose, she has the President sitting in a chair and the Tallahassee Twelve surrounding him…

Tallahassee 12-001

Judith Eastman goes about arranging her subjects with a bubbling fountain as the backdrop. In the first staging, she has the President sitting in a chair and the Tallahassee Twelve surrounding him. The second same, Alpha Campbell is seated on the floor, between McKinley’s knees. A third group shot, has the commander-in-chief is flanked by Herbert and Phoebe Love, just as they have stood by him through war and peace.

          The adept photographer flows through a series of individual requests:       

  1. John, Martha, James and Abbey.
  2. Willy, Amanda and Alfrey.
  3. Ziggy, Frieda and Alfrey.
  4. Herb and Phoebe alone.
  5. Frick and Frack/Jacob and Jacques.
  6. Just about everybody alone with the President.

“I have only two exposures left,” an exhausted Judith tells them.

“If you show me how to work your camera, how about and you and the Prez?” offers Harv Pearson.

“I would like that and——-Mister Love would you then take a picture of Harv and me?”

Each man takes his turn behind the lens.

Harv snaps off a beauty, Judith shaking McKinley’s hand. Somewhat hammy, yet quite dignified.

Herb needs not prompt the subjects of the final exposure; Eastman and Pearson, arm in arm, smiling ear to ear, perhaps at the warmth of the present, or the bright prospects in their future.

mckinley-at-pan-american-exposition

“You will have to give me my leave, friends. I delivered a taxing speech toady, oh, not literally a tax speech, well you know what I mean and of course there is the reception in the Temple of Music tomorrow afternoon.” His bushy gray eyebrows furl at the thought of another long night of policy making, taking more time away from his beloved Ida.

William McKinley exits the room through a gauntlet of extended arms. No hand goes un-shook, no one goes away disappointed.


 

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #135

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #135

…Judith Eastman is much impressed with how connected these diverse individuals are to each other, including the President of the United States, of all people…

Photography-001

“I would be honored to take your picture, Mister President,” she curtseys in respect.

   “No, my dear, the honor is ours and I encourage setting the thoughts of your work aside and taking your publisher friend to the buffet. Waiter! Three bottles of your finest American champagne,” he politely commands. “I must tell Ida of this glorious evening!” One would think that teasing his house-stricken wife with stories of good times may depress her, but she can but live vicariously through a devoted husband, whom she could not be more proud. She, as well as he, is staying at the home of the President of the Exposition, John Milburn.

The famished and presentable Judith & Harv return to the table, barely able to manage consecutive bites without genuinely warm intrusions from all points on the compass. Well-wishers may be placing the carriage before the horse, but one and all are happy for the newspaperman, even the two other bachelors who, despite concerted efforts, have but their silverware in hand.

Somewhere out there, God has a woman for every man; right now, in Buffalo, there is a school administrator and an apothecary who are petitioning for that divine intervention.

oldcameraandtripod    Judith, for her part, is being a good sport, allowing herself to be drawn into the bowels of this unique collection of Southerners. She is much impressed with how connected these diverse individuals are to each other, including the President of the United States, of all people. She cannot help but feel at “home” with them; a stranger summarily accepted merely because one of the group, Harv Pearson, accepted her. They no doubt trust each other with their lives, forged in fire and hardened by trial.

Having uncased the large camera, finding just the right angle and lighting, her Eastman instincts take over. She initiates the shutter without alerting them, creating a candid portrait, frozen forever in time. Posing will come later.

Why you scamp! We weren’t prepared,” McKinley protests, presidents being experts at the pose.

“That is the point! You all are more “you” when you don’t know it’s coming……, now you do and my first picture will be the most spontaneous.”


 

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #132

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #132

…I could not help noticing you down the hall. That is quite a camera you have there…

Quincy Reporter-001

   Perhaps the only person to go away hungry is Quincy Florida’s own, Harv Pearson. A bound notebook and pencil replace his knife and fork. He views this room as a smorgasbord of information; hundreds of column inches for hungry readers back home, with the publisher as the sole historian of this grand adventure. He is compiling enough material to fill a special section for the Reporter. In fact, he has sent a wire to his assistant instructing him to prepare for it and be sure to promote the extra edition in next week’s paper. Word has it, that there are unprecedented advance orders from Midway and Tallahassee and surrounding towns. Harv Pearson has carved a niche in the panhandle on the strength of his good record, strengthened by the solid reporting from the hurricane of last century, i.e. last year.

KodakBrownie1

And as luck would have it, while he is making his interview list, checking it twice in the outer hall, he spies a woman lugging one of the newest cameras, looking like she knows what she to do with it. By his estimation, she is firmly entrenched in her thirties and wearing those years very well. Aside from her pleasing appearance, he had to wonder what a photographer could do for his cause, knowing full well that his newspaper has maybe not fallen behind the times, but his high school intern toting a tiny Brownie box camera hardly puts it anywhere near the top of the picture curve. Pearson, because of the lead time required for developing the film, inserts his pictures in the next week’s edition, unable make the previous deadline.

Judith Eastman-001 He is transfixed by the person, as well as transposing her talents into his situation, nearly missing the opportunity to meet her. Harv quickly closes the gap between him and her, aiming to change her awayward direction.

“Miss, oh miss?” he calls politely, not wanting to just grab hold. She stops, turning in response to the hail. “I could not help noticing you down the hall. That is quite a camera you have there.

  “It should be,” she states flatly. “There should be only ten others like it in the country.”

“Ten? My goodness. You must be employed by the New York Times.”

She is not exactly put off by his approach, but he probably would have been better off introducing himself from the start. Right now, she thinks either he has had a few cocktails and got bored with his wife, or is some curious tourist really into all the new gadgets around this confluence of commercial technology.

“No, actually I am attempting to preserve the Pan-American Exposition through pictures. I am on my way to experiment with night photography, so if you will excuse me——-?”

He is letting opportunity slip away.


 

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