May 3, 1900
FROM PORTO RICO.
MAYAGNER [MAYAGUEZ], PORTO RICO.
ED. PRESS:--Knowing some of your readers, at least, would like to hear from a Crittenden boy who finds life not altogether unpleasant in our new possessions, I concluded to let you know that I had not forgotten the good old PRESS, and the good people of old Crittenden.
There are many things here pleasant, but there are some unpleasant phases, and one of them is to gaze upon the hungry and starving people. Of course you read about it in the papers, but when you put your paper down the sad story is soon forgotten, and you enjoy your good solid meals without thinking any more about the naked and hungry in another part of the country.
Many Americans who ran away from cold weather the past winter, coming here, found many things to entertain or interest them in the cities, but when they started out for a visit across the island they found it more interesting, and much to excite they [sic] pity. The other parts like the outward charm of this city, and in some of them the evidence of the deplorable poverty of the people is too plain.
[In Aguadilla], on the northwest [part] of the island, agriculture is the sole reliance of the people for maintainance [sic], and there the people have flocked in from the country hunting work, only to die miserably when none was to be had, even in spite of a generous government. It is said that the death rate this winter was fifteen persons per day in population of 9,000. The residents in the poorer sections of the city are the chief sufferers. It is not an uncommon sight in these squalid quarters to see the boys and girls absolutely without clothing. Government aid alone has kept life in their empovershed [sic] bodies. The Hurricane of August of last year deprived them of their source of sustainance [sic], and recovery is painfully slow. Mayagnez [Mayaguez] is one of the richest cities on the island and makes the best appearance because its labor fell back on boat building. The town enjoys the distinction of maintaining the only street car line on the island, and the people point to it with pride as an evidence of advancing civilization, quite unconscious of its ramshakle [sic], third class quality.
The overland route from Ponce to San Juan, along the military road gives one a good view of the county. I have made that trip, and the road is macadamized the entire distance. I stopped and took dinner with a rich planter on the road, and his bill of fare was fried eggs and fried corn-cakes, vegetable soup with garlic, larded beef, cooked hard and flavored with garlic, steak, onions and garlic, potatoes, rice and jelly. It was fine, but too much garlic for me.
The Porto Ricans extend to us a hospitality which seems to exceed in warmth and cordiality the Kentucky article. The American soldier is received into the best houses, when he shows an appreciation of their hospitality. Everything in the house and on the place is at the command of their guest. You can have the hosts' horse to ride or his underwear for a change, its all at your service, and even the cook struggles to prepare American dishes for you, and they swell with pride when they can present some American articles among their edibles.
With best wishes for the PRESS and its readers.
BERT E. WOODY.
Source: Crittenden Press. (Marion, Ky.) 1879-1907, May 3, 1900, Image 7 - Chronicling America - The Library of Congress.
[My comments are in brackets.]