Souvenir Fiend Abroad
Hot Chase for Relics of the Buffalo Tragedy.
The souvenir fiend is abroad in Buffalo
hotly chasing relics directly or remotely connected with the attempted
assassination of President McKinley. It has been found necessary
to place guards in and around the Temple of Music to prevent defacement
of the building by the throng of eager relic hunters. The two trees
before which the president stood during the reception, have been
stripped of their leaves, and the chair in which the president was
placed immediately after the shooting has been chipped and mutilated.
Every article related to the tragedy has been attacked by the souvenir
fiend and despoiled and such as were movable have disappeared.
The man most sought after at the
exposition nowadays is James Parker, the big negro who smote the
anarchist before he could fire the third shot. Parker is employed
as a waiter in one of the restaurants on the grounds. He is of colossal
build—tall, broad shouldered, massive limbed and of great muscular
development, and is proud of the honor and fame he has achieved.
The Buffalo Express reports that Parker’s buttons, shoes, hat, necktie,
even bits of his clothes, are eagerly sought by relic hunters. Almost
immediately after the removal of the president from the Temple of
Music to the emergency hospital Parker appeared in the mall near
the West Amherst gate between the Service building and the south
wall of Alt Nurnberg. It had become noised about that he was one
of those who had seized the president’s assailant and he certainly
was one of those present in the Temple immediately after the shots
were fired. Groups of people promptly surrounded Parker and urged
him to tell them what he had seen. Parker obliged.
The details of the shooting as related
by Parker were thrilling. His tale of his own part in what followed
immediately after the shooting was not censured. He vividly portrayed
the struggle when Czolgosz sank to the floor beneath the blows rained
upon him. Admiration for Parker grew as his experiences and his
story increased. Eventually, some of the listeners became enthusiastic,
and when Parker told how he seized the anarchist and bore him down
and banged him on the floor and leaped upon him and crushed him
beneath the weight of his chest and stomach, an enthusiast pushed
forward and begged for a piece of the waistcoat which Parker wore
and against which the anarchist had been pressed when Parker leaped
on him. Parker gave the man a piece of his waistcoat. Then another
and another and another of those standing by wanted pieces as souvenirs.
Finally, a man begged a button from the waistcoat, and it was cut
off with a knife. Then another man offered a quarter for a button.
“I’ll give $1 for one of the buttons,”
said a man.
He got a button. Then another man
bid and bought, and another did likewise. If Parker had been twenty
feet tall with a waistcoat reaching from his chin to his toes with
buttons on it every inch of the way the supply would not have been
sufficient for the demand. A woman conceived the whim that she must
have the necktie that Parker wore, while another woman wanted a
lock of his hair. Parker laughed and said that he feared he could
not give her a lock, but he might be willing to spare a kink, for
Parker is somewhat of a wit.
Eventually, this craze for clothes
belonging to the big negro became so pronounced that two men appeared
and wanted to buy the shoes that Parker wore because it was said
that with them he had kicked Czolgosz and had stamped on his face.
The price offered for each shoe was said to have been $5 and one
of the men remarked that he would have given $25 if necessary and
that he would have given $1,000 if Parker or anyone else had stamped
the life out of Czolgosz without stopping to think about his shoes.
Others have been seeking to buy Parker’s
coat and his trousers, while a citizen of Minnesota has written
asking for his photograph. It is said that Parker did not profit
as much by the opportunity to convert his clothes into cash as he
might have done. There has been some talk that he might go on the
stage. Many of the visitors to the Pan-American exposition, on entering
restaurants on the ground [sic] have asked whether Parker
worked there or, if not, where he might be found.
There is another popular person on
the grounds of the exposition who finds people searching to get
a sight of him also since the shooting of the president. He is Private
Frank O’Brien of the Seventy-third Coast artillery, the man in whose
custody the pistol used by Czolgosz was found after the excitement
was all over and the president had been made as comfortable as possible.
Private O’Brien has not talked very much about his part in the scenes
of the tragedy, but those who were present vividly recall seeing
him as he struggled on the floor with Czolgosz. If Private O’Brien,
in addition to grappling with the pistol and pummeling the prostrate
anarchist, could have drawn his bayonet from its sheath, the prisoner
at police headquarters might not now be eating three full meals
a day. The craze for souvenirs has not molested Private O’Brien
to the extent that it has visited Parker. But in due time it is
not unlikely that the plucky artilleryman will find that he, too,
can turn his surplus wardrobe into cash and decline an offer to
go upon the stage.