Continuing! Continuing our exclusive translation from 1901 from the pages of the wonderful Czech-American annual journal, Amerikán Národní Kalendář!
From the pen of the great Czech-American penman and newspaperman, Hugo Chotek, this is another fabulous look at the lives and times of the communities of our Czech ancestors!
Enjoy today’s fourth installment and stay with us as we continue it in the coming days!
Amerikán Národní Kalendář
Volume: XXIV, Year 1901, Pages 184-187
“An interesting chapter from the history of Cleveland.”
Selected from old jottings for the “Amerikán” Calendar by Hugo Chotek.
Translated by Katka Tomkova
©Onward To Our Past®
“Of course, at that time there were not as many Irish “clubbers” as today, and no state guards whatsoever. The police power was only represented by Sheriff Abbey, Marshal Jim Lawrence and three constables: McKinstry, Mooney and Mike Gallagher. They were good and brave officers but were badly outnumbered, and therefore could not use their power to enforce the majesty of law. The mayor and other town officers acknowledged that. However, something had to be done. One of the wise fathers of the city raised the point that fire pumps could be used, the firemen this time substituting the police and the state guard, and that cold water might help the hotheads in the horde cool down.
The director of the fire brigade, W. J. Fitch, agreed and immediately sent commands to fire squads. All their members reported for duty promptly. In those days, just like today, the firemen from Cleveland had high reputation for being courageous, energetic, mindful and resourceful. They had no horses, no steam-powered pumps, and even no salary – and yet, they were willing to accept strict, almost military discipline, and they launched into the greatest danger at their officers’ command. Following the slogan “semper paratus”, they carried out their duties every hour, day and night. On that day like on the others, they were not a single minute late and soon all of them gathered in the “battlefield” where they uncoiled the fire hoses, ready to carry out their commander’s order to provide the “rebels” with an unwelcome bath.
However, even before the commander-in-chief’s bugle called, the leading officers of all squads gathered for quick consultation, because they did not think it convenient that the firemen, who only earned 38 (or 88, illegible) per year, should serve here only as a “watering unit”. There was no fire around, and why should they run the risk of hostile reactions from their neighbors and fellow citizens? For what reason? The cause of the “rebellion” was unknown anyway and who knows, perhaps the people might be right. The firemen’s function was only to protect the citizens’ property and fight the fire, not to hold down human passions and have their pumps and heads broken in return. Most likely, the outraged horde would not take a cold bath for a joke or fun. Who would pay the firemen for the bumps on their heads? Who would fix the holes in the hoses? Such arguments were enough to convince the fire brigade commander-in-chief, and instead of: “Turn water on!” he commanded: “Coil the hoses! Back to fire stations!”
The firemen were quick to obey and in no time, they made a hurried exit, leaving the “battlefield” in the grasp of the “rebels”.
The head and fathers of the city did not know what to do now! The ravaging of the crowd was getting worse every minute. People started throwing stones into the windows and tried to break the heavy gate to enter the building. They screamed that they needed to get hold of the “murderers”, violators of graves, desecraters, blasphemers and the others of the sort staying there.”
Tomorrow our saga continues from the pen of that wonderful and artistic Czech-American newspaperman and penman, Hugo Chotek!
Onward To Our Past®