SOME REMINISCENCES (Continued)


June 01, 1905

 

SOME REMINISCENCES.

 

WRITTEN BY FRANK LOYD.

 

CONTINUED FROM LAST WEEK.

 

The morning dawned clear and beautiful, with a sun of gold and diaphenous [sic] sky of azure crystal, was welcomed with a salute by the artillery of Fort McIntosh.  Immediately taverns, hotels and mesas poured forth their guests and the town was again a mass of motley throngs.  Cowboys from all parts in leather boots and leggings, "charros" from the distant and madiaeval [sic] haciendes [sic] of old "New Spain," farmers and their wives, city tackeys [sic] and city folks of urban ways and dress, northern tenderfoots.

 

People began early to crowd the housetops, "azoteas", windows, porches and galleries, to throw confetti and paper flowers at persons whom they recognized in the crowds below.

 

The population of Laredo, Texas, is probably nine-tenths Mexican, all the city officers being Mexicans.  At 8 o'clock mayor Sanchez, and the honorable board of city councilmen escorted by a band of Indian braves, in full battle array and headed by the 26th U. S. Infantry band proceeded to the bridge joining Laredo, Texas, with Nueva Laredo, Tamaulipas, where they met the mayor and high civil and military officials of Nuevo, at the monument marking the joining line of the two republics.  The guests with the monterey cavalry were conducted to the city hall, where on a balcony overlooking the spacious public square the high dignitaries of both municipalities took their seats to witness the events about to be transacted.

 

The warrior braves betook themselves to their wigwams, on the north and south side of the great square.  The band stationed itself out of range of the coming bloody affray.

 

At 9 o'clock the excitement began.  Groups of savage aborigines emerged from their primitive shelters, where a council of war was in session, and began to reconnoitre the plaza.  The Milma rifles, a local company of militia, made a sortie from their encampment at the rear of the hall and drove the savages to their lair.  The Texas Rangers and city police officers were already stationed in the citadel to guard the sacred treasure, a massive golden key, and the "sesame" to the town.

 

The hall, decorated by an artist from the east, presented a splendid and gaudy display of artistically arranged banners, penants [sic] and multi-colored bunting.

 

Presently a wild and prolonged war whoop was heard that would curdle the blood of any Kentuckian.  At the same moment, headed by the beautiful Pocahontas, a wild, ungovernable horde of red men burst upon the public square, menacing with their tomahawks, releasing volleys of deadly arrows, and whirling with strange, savage jestures [sic], with bloody instruments of death, the flint bladed "mocanas" of the Aztecs.  War whoops and yells filled the air, and an occasional wounded and mangled scalp, reeking with blood, was hurled high into the air, terrorizing all who saw it.

 

A wild race was made around the municipal stronghold and whoops and slinging arrows and missiles.  They now decided to take the citadel by storm.  At this moment guns, pistols, winchesters and Krag Jorgenson's [sic] protruded their barrels from windows, loopholes  and from behind the battlements on the roof, pouring a stream of fire and smoke upon the frontier wild men.  Even from the windows of the clock tower of the gloriously decorated hall arms protruded and delivered their greeting of powder and lead.  Finally the red men won.  They climbed up the pillars and breaking first the barred doors rushed up the stairs.  Victory belonged to them.

 

Amid the deafening cheers of the vast throng of people witnessing the assault, some of them emerged on the balcony bearing in triumph the big gilded key to the city.  Mayor Sanchez took the key and making a fitting speech delivered it to a lady, I think her name was Rumsey, who as Pocahontas was Queen of the parade.

 

Taking the key she gracefully turned her steed "about face" and rode away with deafening applause, followed by a motley train of victorious warriors.

 

The city was their's. It now being 11 o'clock the parade began to form on "Bull" plaza. This was the grandest, biggest and best ever seen in the border city. Headed by U. S. troops, followed by the border militia Milma Rifles, of which State representatives Mr. Cranke was captain, the Laredo companies with engine, hook and ladder truck, and hose carts handsomely decorated, cadets of Laredo seminary and a band of Indians. The splendid and festive pageant proceeded along the principal streets. In close order came handsome and expensive trade displays, beautiful and artistic, allegorical floats representing societies, guilds, and local organizations, agriculture and fruit growing interests, the railroad, mining and big corporations, came next. Then followed as a triumphal cortege from some golden and flowery fairy land a host of decorated carriages filled with fair beauties of Laredo and abroad. Various other most comical and ludicrous features were presented.

 

At regular intervals in the long closed pageant were placed the several musical bands, which played incessantly beautiful marches and national airs, of both nations. All along the route the houses were decorated in bunting, and from their roofs and balconies the inmates showered flowers and confetti upon the passers by.

 

At half-past one a great concourse of people, among whom were cattle men from all parts of the State of Texas, and many from Oklahoma, New Mexico and Arizona, assisted at the last and greatest roping contest ever to be held in Texas, the State Legislature having passed laws forever debarring the practice of roping cattle for sport in that state, to take effect immediately after the Laredo carnival.

 

On this account a great round up of old ropers, cowpunchers and cattlemen came here to witness this windup of this noble dying race of Western sports.

 

Nearly fifty brawney [sic] belegged [sic] western type of cowboy entered the lists to compete for a dazzling prize, being a purse of one thousand dollars.

 

On the far side of the enclosing fence, of the Athletic Park, were penned fierce steers from the lower Rio Grande country, aware that something was in progress for their lively entertainment they stamped and shook their great slender horns with rasping noise that could be heard many blocks away.

 

As each one was let in and a big Texas cow trailer with jingling spurs broad hat and long lariet [sic] hove down by his side, on his western mustang, a vocal "geita," familiar on all cattle ranges arose from the crowded grand stand and multitude for whom there was no room in the grand stand.

 

"Vicious" is not the word to describe the temperament of even the mildest toned pet steer among this particular outfit. Ever one had the mean, self-confident, independent bovine artistic temperament that speaks in look of eye and salutatory poise of the eloquent tail.

 

The best ropes in the state were in the contest class, and quick work was done as steer after steer entered the arena and headed across the inclosure like a wild locomotive on a down grade tangent. The puncher would give chase, follow the beast until like the locomotive her cylinders were pumped full of air, then throw some sand ahead and swing on, or throw a derailing switch with his long, encircling rope.

 

Scenes like this bring the heart of any old time Texan near up into his throat.

 

The performance ending the manager announced that the great bull fight would begin over the river in Mexico, and now the street cars, wagons, buggies, and thousands of foot passengers went pell-mell [sic] over the bridge, to witness the Spaniard's greatest amusement.

 

Now I shall not bother our kind Editor for enough space to give a description of a bull fight but will say no other performance or show of any kind in the world is received by the sport loving public with so thorough and great an appreciation as bull fighting. While half a dozen bands are playing and will yells from the Mexicans are deafening the matador, Picardo [sic] Bandarillo [sic], Capos Tereros [sic], and Mazos enter the ring, bringing their manteleta, Bandarillo [sic] and Pica with them, then the furious will bull is turned out of his cage, leaping in the ring like a lion from his cage, dashing at everything in the ring. Now you will feel your hat crawling off your head and every hair wanting to stand by itself. You now realize that something will soon be lying dead in the ring, but not knowing whether it will be a bull, horse or man. Your writer has seen one dead bull, two dead horses, and one crippled man in the ring at the same time. Only one bull, two horses and eight men are in the ring at the same time; when the bull is finally killed the ring is cleared of the killed and wounded, and a new bull and horses are brought in. This is repeated till from six to ten bulls are killed. The dead bulls and horses are dragged outside of the ring and given to the poor Mexicans, who gladly cut them up and take them home for food.

 

The Mexican bull fighters are very quick and active, but are often gored to death by the ferocious beasts.

 

The fight ended with deafening yells and as our appetite began to appeal to us in behalf of their wants, we went to supper. After supper we gathered on the banks of the Rio Grande. The great spectacular scene commemorating George Washington and his little band of continentals crossing the Delaware on that memorable and so important night of Dec. 24, 1776, was enacted on the Rio Grande.

 

Artificial ice floes in great numbers had been anchored below the foot bridge, forming in the intense glow of the myriads of colored and artificial lights with which the whole scene was illuminated, a solid covering of beautiful, crystal ice, showing highly realistic in its shimmering covering of icing.

 

Six boats, containing Washington and his followers in continental dress plied their way through the ice floes. In the glowing light, not lessened in beauty by a full, silvery moon, the effect was wonderfully grand.

 

A maddening shout of enthusiasm arose from the throats of the thousands of spectators. Peal after peal of patriotic applause split the air. Slowly the procession of boats made the American shore, like some argosy of colonial patriots shades crossing the Stygian stream of classical inferno. They landed and were received by escorts who conducted them to the head of an illuminated street pageant. This procession marched for about half an hour and disbanded on Market plaza, where "Hidalgo," the Mexican Liberator, received Washington and his band. Washington and Hidalgo then disappeared.

 

After a brief, patriotic speech in praise of Washington and Hidalgo, a curtain was lifted at the back of the speaker's stand and for a moment a tableau representing the two patriots clasping hands was visible.

 

This with the bands playing and the yelling of the thousands of Mexicans made a deafening close of the day.

 

Source:  Crittenden Press. (Marion, Ky.) 1879-1907, June 01, 1905, Images 3,6 - Chronicling America - The Library of Congress.

 

[My comments are in brackets.]