Saturday, February 13, 2016

Today -100: February 13, 1916: No one wants to be needlessly nasty to Germans

Italy has been at war with Austria for nearly 9 months, but not with Germany, and only now breaks off trade relations with it. Italy will declare war on Germany in 6 months.

Canada, still in the midst of an anti-German panic following the burning of the Parliament buildings in what it pleases Canadians to think was an arson attack, is targeting Germans in government posts. August Kastella is asked to resign as Superintendent of Dredging. He refuses. So he’ll be fired, although they’ll pretend it’s not because of his German birth but because he’s, I don’t know, bad at superintending dredging.

The New York Symphony Orchestra cancels a planned Canadian tour because it fears hostility towards those of its musicians who are German. The Ottawa Journal applauds the decision: “No one in Canada wants to be needlessly nasty to Germans, we hope, but we have a right to insist on the safety of our soldiers and our interests of all kinds.” Yeah, I hear a German oboist once took down an entire battalion.

Boston upper crust types really don’t like Louis Brandeis. Harvard President A. Lawrence Lowell and 54 Bostonians send the Senate a petition against Brandeis’s appointment to the Supreme Court, citing his lack of the proper “judicial temperament,” which may be their term for foreskin. The NYT lists the signers so readers at home can play “Who Has the Most Boston Brahmin Name?” For my money: Pierpont L. Stackpole.

That banquet for the Archbishop of Chicago where 150 guests got sick? Arsenic poisoning. The archbishop (and the governor of Illinois, the mayor of Chicago, etc) are ok. Police are looking for “Jean Crones,” the assistant chef at the University Club and an anarchist. An actual anarchist, I hasten to add, mindful of the Chicago PD’s propensity to describe anyone they don’t like as an anarchist. One of the guests, a Dr. J.B. Murphy, himself suffering from poisoning, directed the mixture of an emetic. That plus the fact that the soup (chicken soup, by the way) had been watered down at the last minute when extra guests showed up meant that no one died.

The police investigation of Crones (real name Nestor Dondoglio) will turn up such details as that he never associated with women and that he and his anarchist friends wore black ties with windsor knots. Crones escaped to New York and wrote badly spelled taunting catch-me-if-you-can letters to the NYT, helpfully including his fingerprints so they could confirm it was him. His third letter says he was radicalized by the Ludlow Massacre. After that letter, he disappeared forever, remaining in hiding the rest of his life, assisted by various anarchist and Wobbly types, until he died in 1932.

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