Puslapio vaizdai

The native temperament is quick-witted, in the kiosk facing Morro Castle and the but it is scantily gifted with patience. harbor entrance, an endless procession In the hands of a seeker after pesetas a of seven-passenger motors files up and "Alivver" becomes a prancing, dancing down the wide Prado and along the steed, a snorting charger that knows no sea-washed Malecón, two, or at most fear and yields to no rival. Apparently three, haughty beings, not infrequently some Cuban Burbank has succeeded in with kinky hair, lolling in every capacrossing the laggard of our Northern cious tonneau. Liveried chauffeurs are highways with the kangaroo. The whis- the almost universal rule. The cabalper of your destination in the driver's lero who drives his own car would arouse ear is followed by a leap that leaves the the wonder, possibly the scorn, of his adjoining façades a mere blur upon the fellow-citizens; once and once only did retina.

we see a woman at the wheel. The newspapers run a daily column The cost of a car in Havana is from for those who have been "Ford-ed” to twenty to thirty per cent. higher than hospitals or cemeteries. What are a in the States, which supplies virtually all few casualties a day in a city of nearly of them. A dollar pays for two gallons half a million, with prolific tendencies? of gasolene instead of four. Licenses There are voluminous traffic and speed are a serious item, particularly to private rules, but he would be a friendless fel- owners in Havana, for the fee depends low who could not find a compadre with on the use to which the car is put. sufficient political power to "fix it up." Fords for hire carry a white tag with Death corners-bill-boards or street- black figures and pay $12.50 a year. hugging house-walls, from behind which Private cars bear a pink chapa at a he may dart without warning-are the cost of $62.50. Tags with blue figures joy of the Cuban chauffeur. Courtesy announce the occupant a government in personal intercourse stands on a high official or

official or a physician. Then, every plane in Havana, but automobile polite driver must be supplied with a personal ness has not yet reached the stage of license, at a cost of $25. In theory that consideration for others. Traffic policemen, soldierly fellows widely varied in complexion, looking like bandsmen in their blue denim uniforms, are efficient, and accustomed to be obeyed; but they cannot be everywhere at once, and the automobile is. They confine their efforts, therefore, to a few seething corners, and humanity trusts to its own lucky star in the no- Cuban boys engrossed in a game of base-ball outside the great Spanish-built man's-lands between.

cárcel, or prison, facing Havana harbor The private machines alone would give Havana a busy is all, except a day or two of waiting in appearance. All day long and far into line at the municipal license bureau. the night the big central plaza is com- In practice there are many little politipletely fenced in by splendid cars cal wheels to be oiled if one would see parked compactly ends to curb. To- the car free to go its way the same year ward sunset, especially on the days it is purchased. when a military band plays the retreta Once the visitor has learned to dis

[ocr errors]

tinguish the tag that announces govern- ancient Iberian custom allots them. ment ownership, he will be astounded The places where men gather are wideto note its extraordinary prevalence in open cafés without front walls, rather Havana. Even Washington was never than the hidden dens of the North. like this. Government property means Havana's cooking, her modes of greeting public ownership indeed in Cuba. If and parting, her patience with individual one may believe the newspapers of the nuisances, her very table manners, are Liberal party,--the “outs” under the Spanish. Like all Spanish America, present administration,--the explana- her sons and daughters are all highly tion is simple. "Every government em- proficient in the use of the toothployee,” they shriek, “down to the last pick; like them, they are exceedingly post-office clerk who is in personal favor, courteous in the forms of social interhas his own private car, free of cost; course, irrespective of class. As in not only that, but he may use it to give Spain, life increases in its intensity with his babies an airing, to carry his cook to sunset: babies have no fixed hour of remarket, or to take the future novio of his tirement; midnight is everywhere the daughter on a joy ride."

“shank of the evening”; lovers are

sternly separated by iron bars, or their THE new-comer's impressions of Ha- soft nothings strictly censored by evervana will depend largely upon his pre- vigilant duennas. vious travels. If this is his first contact The very Government cannot shake with the Iberian or the Latin-American off the habits of its forebears, despite civilization, he will find the Cuban capi- the tutelage of a more practical race. tal of great interest. If he is familiar Public office is more apt than not to with the cities of old Spain, particularly be considered a legitimate source of if he has already seen her farthest-flung personal gain. As in Spain, a general descendants, such as Bogotá, Quito, or amnesty is ever smiling hopefully at La Paz, he will probably call Havana imprisoned malefactors. The Spanish "tame." The most incorrigible traveler tendency to forgive crime, combined will certainly not consider a visit to with the interrelationship of miscreants this most accessible of foreign capitals and the powers that be, have not merely as time wasted. But his chief amuse- abolished, in practice, all capital punishment will be, in all likelihood, that of ment; it tends to release evil-doers long tracing the curious dovetailing of before they have found time to repent Spanish and American influences which and change their ways. Men who shoot make up its present-day aspect.

down in cold blood—and this they do Both by situation and history the even in the heart of Havana-have only capital of Cuba is a natural place for to prove that the deed was done "in the this intermingling of two essentially heat of the moment” to have their different civilizations, but the mixture punishment reduced to a mere fraction is more like that of oil and water than of that for stealing a mule. The pardonof two related elements. The ways of ing power is wielded with such Castilian Spain and of America--by which, of generosity that the genial editor of course, I mean the United States—are Havana's American newspaper wrathrecognizable in every block of Havana, fully suggests the “loosing of all our yet there has been but slight blending distinguished assassins," that the enortogether, however close the contact. mous cárcel facing the harbor entrance

Immigrants from old Spain tramp the may be replaced by one of the hotels streets all day under their strings of sadly needed to house Havana's “disgarlic, or jingle the cymbals that mean tinguished visitors." sweetmeats for sale to all Spanish-speak- Amid all this the island capital is ing children. Venders of lottery-tickets deeply marked, too, with the influence sing their numbers in every public of what Latin-America calls "the gathering-place. On Saturdays a long Colossus of the North.” One sees it in procession of beggars of both sexes file the strenuous pace of business, in the through the stores and offices demand- manners and methods of commerce. ing almost as a right the cent each which The dignified lethargy of Spain has


The new presidential palace of Cuba, on the modified style of a French
château, is a thing of beauty, which will be enhanced when the remnants

of old Havana have been cleared out in front of it

largely given way to the business-first I have said that the two opposing teachings of the Yankee gospel. Bill- influences do not mix, and in the main boards are almost as constant eyesores that rule strictly holds. A glance at any in Havana and her suburbs as in New detail of the city's life, its customs, York; huge electric figures flash the appearance, or point of view, suffices to alleged virtues of the wares they sponsor determine whether it is of Castilian or far into the soft summer nights. Blocks Yankee origin; but here and there a fusof office buildings, modern in every ing of the two has produced a quaint particular, shoulder their way upward mongrel of local color. Havana bakes into the tropical sky. With few ex- its bread in the long loaves of Europe, ceptions the sons of proud old Cuban but an American squeamishness has families scorn to dally away their lives, evolved a slender paper bag to cover Castilian fashion, on the riches and repu- them. The language of gestures makes tations of their ancestors, but descend a crossing of two fingers, a hiss at the into the commercial fray.

conductor, and a nod to right or left One sees the American influence in sufficient request for a street-car transmany amusing little details. The Cuban fer. The man who occupies the center mail-boxes are exact copies of our own, of a base-ball diamond may be called except that the lettering is Spanish. either a pitcher or a lanzador, but the Postage-stamps may be had in booklet verb that expresses his activity is form, which can be said of no other pitchear. Shoe-shining establishments in foreign land. Street-car fares are five the shade of the long, pillared arcades cents for any distance, with free trans- are arranged in Spanish style, yet the fers, rather than varying by zones, as in methods and the prices of the polishers Europe. Barbers dally over their clients are American. in the private-valet manner of their fellows to the North. Department stores BARELY had we stepped ashore in Havana operate as nearly as possible on the when I spied a man in the familiar American plan, despite the Spanish ten- uniform of the American Army, his dency of their clerks to seek tips. Cuban upper sleeve decorated with three broad advertisers struggle to imitate in their chevrons. I had a hazy notion that our newspaper and poster announcements intervention in Cuba had ceased some the aggressive, inviting American man- time before, yet it would have been ner, often with ludicrous results, for nothing strange if some of our troops they are rarely gifted with what might had been left on the island. be called the advertising imagination. “Good morning, Sergeant,” I greeted In a word, Havana is Spain with a mod- him. “Do you know this town? How ern American virility, tinged with a do I get to” generous dash of the tropics.

But he was staring at me with a puzzled air, and before I could finish he lums to start a revolution had him at had side-stepped and hurried on. I may their mercy.have been unusually dense that morn- These are the two reasons why one ing, after a night of uproar on the sees the streets of Havana, and all Cuba, steamer from Key West, for a score of for that matter, khaki-dotted with his fellows had passed before I awoke to soldiers. She has no designs on a the fact that they were not American trembling world, but an army is to her soldiers at all. Cuba has copied nothing what long trousers are to a youth of more exactly than our army uniform. sixteen, proof of his manhood; and she Cotton khaki survives in place of olive has very real need of one to keep the drab, of course, as befits the Cuban internal peace within the country, climate; frequent washings have turned particularly under a Government that most of the canvas leggings a creamy was not legally elected and which enjoys white. Otherwise there is little to dis- little popularity. There were some tinguish the Cuban soldier from our fourteen thousand “regulars” in the own until he opens his mouth in a spurt Cuban Army before the European War. of fluent Spanish. He wears the same Cuba is proud to be numbered among cow-boy sombrero, with similar hat- the nations that declared war against cords for each branch of the service. Germany. It is seldom, however, that He shoulders the same rifle, carries his one finds any evidence of personal encartridges in the old familiar web-belt, mity toward the nation's far-off foes. wears his revolver on the right, as dis- Cuban soldiers were as eager, no doubt, tinct from the left-handed fashion of all as the average youths of other lands to the rest of Latin-America. He salutes, have their taste of the European battlemounts guard, drills, stands at attention fields, and as keenly disappointed that precisely in the American manner. His an early armistice denied them the "I. D. R.” differs from our own only in privilege. No small number of men entongue. The same chevrons indicate listed in Allied armies before the island non-commissioned rank, though they had thrown off its neutrality, and Cuban tend in their size to greater insistence subscriptions to the American Liberty upon it, and have not yet disappeared Loans were moderately numerous; but from the right sleeve. His officers are both personal observation and the testiindistinguishable, at any distance, from mony of those in a position to know sugour own; they are in many cases gradu- gest that the island's chief motives for ates of West Point. An angle in their joining the Allies were that it was the shoulder-bars, with the Cuban seal in fashion, and that she felt impelled to bronze above them, and the native coat follow the lead of her big brother to the of arms on their caps in place of the North. Nor was it her fate to suffer from spread eagle, are the only differences the recent world holocaust. Instead, that a close inspection of lieutenants or she was one of its chief beneficiaries, captains brings to light. From majors thanks to several causes, of which the upward, however, the insignia becomes chief was the sky-rocketing price of a series of stars, perhaps because the

sugar. absence of generals in

in the Cuban Havana has just celebrated her fourArmy leaves no other chance for such hundredth birthday. She confesses ostentation. Snow-white ducks, adorned herself the oldest city of European oriwith the same indications of rank, con- gin in the Western hemisphere. Her stitute the dress uniform of officers. name was familiar to ocean wayfarers

The question naturally suggests it- before Cortes penetrated to the Vale of self, "Why does Cuba need an army?" Anáhuac, before Pizarro had heard the The native answer is apt to be the first rumors of the mysterious land of the Spanish version of "Huh, we 're a Incas. When the Pilgrim Fathers sighted free country, are n't we? Why should Plymouth Rock, Havana had begun the n't we have an army, like any other second century of her existence. In sovereign people? Poor Estrada Palma, view of all this, and of the harried career our first president, had no army, with she led clear down to days within the the result that the first bunch of hood

memory of men who still consider them


selves youthful, she is somewhat disap- it the streets grow wider, the buildings pointing to the mere tourist for her lack more modern, as one advances to the of historical relics. This impression, newer residential suburbs. Amusing however, gradually wears off. Her contrasts catch the eye at every turn background is certainly not to be com- within the muzzled portion. Calle pared with that of Cuzco or of the City Obispo, still the principal business street, of Mexico, stretching away into the is a scant eighteen feet wide, inclusive of prehistoric days of legend; yet many its two pathetically narrow sidewalks. reminders of the times that are gone The Spanish builders did not foresee the peer through the mantle of modernity day when it would be an impassable in which she has

river of clamoring wrapped herself.

automobiles. They From the age-worn

would be struck stones of La Fuerza

dumb with astonthe bustle of the city

ishment to see these of to-day seems a

strange devil. fantasy from dream

wagons housed in land. In the under

the tiled passageground passages of

ways behind the old Morro, in the

massive carved or musty dungeons of

brass-studded doors massive Cabaña, the

of the regal mankhaki-clad soldiers

sions of colonial of Cuba's new army

days. Their fair look as out of place

ladies would be as a motor-car in a

horrified to find the Roman arena. The

family chapels stroller who catches

turned into batha sudden unex

rooms by desecratpected glimpse of

ing barbarians from the cathedral façade

the North. Office is carried back in a

buildings that seem twinkling to the

to have been bodily The statue of Maceo, the negro general, popular days of the Inquisihero of Cuba, killed just before the island won

transported from tion; Spain herself its independence from Spain

New York shoulder can show no closer

age-crumbled Spanlink with the Middle Ages than the vener- ish churches and convents; crowds as .able stone face of San Francisco de business-bent as those of Wall Street Paula. The ghosts of monks gone to hurry through narrow callejones that their reward centuries ago hover about seem still to be thinking of Columbus the post-office where the modern visitor and the bucaneers of the Spanish main. files his telegram or stamps his picture Long rows of massive pillars upholding postals. The British occupied it as a projecting second stories and half conbarracks when they captured Havana in cealing the den-like shops behind them the middle of the last century, whereby have a picturesque appearance and the ancient monastery was considered afford a needed protection from the desecrated, and has served in turn Cuban sun, but they are little short various government purposes; yet the of a nuisance under modern traffic shades of the past still linger in its conditions. Old Colon market is as flowery patio and fit about the corners dark and unsanitary as when misof its capacious, leisurely old stairways. tresses sent a trusted elave to make the

Old Havana may be likened in shape day's purchases. Its long lines of to the head of a bulldog, with the mark cackling fowls, of meat barely dead, of

a of the former city wall, which inclosed it tropical fruits and strange Cuban vegelike a muzzle, still visible. The portion tables, are still the center of the old thus protected. in olden days contains bartering hubbub, but beside them are most of Havana's antiquity. Beyond the very latest factory products. One

« AnkstesnisTęsti »