Source: Omaha Daily Bee
Source type: newspaper
Document type: article
Document title: “Souvenir Fiend Abroad”
City of publication: Omaha, Nebraska
Date of publication: 13 September 1901
Volume number: none
Issue number: none
|“Souvenir Fiend Abroad.” Omaha Daily Bee 13 Sept. 1901: p. 6.|
|McKinley assassination (public response: Buffalo, NY); McKinley assassination (popular culture); Temple of Music; James B. Parker; James B. Parker (popular culture); Francis P. O’Brien.|
|Leon Czolgosz; William McKinley; Francis P. O’Brien [variant spelling of first name below]; James B. Parker.|
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.