For All Nails #275: Mansion (Part 1)
By President Chester A. Arthur
- Xawaii Gazette
- August 7, 1976
On the surface, Kauai has changed little since 1932. There are still the great haciendas of the Playa de Coco and the South Shore, there are still the fishing shacks scattered along Lihue and Kalapaki, and Martin Cole's great black house still clings impiously to the tip of Kilauea Point. But the surface, as any surfer can attest, cannot be trusted. The Kauai of today, in its soul, is very little like the island of forty-four years ago. The great houses of the grandees are now hotels, the land seized by Silva and Mercator from Kramer men and turned over to the Hawaiian government, great ballrooms now carved up into four or five single rooms for the benefit of mainlandados who have come to turn red on the beach, redder in The Scottish Game, and finally malorouge in the mountains. More and more sons and daughters of fishermen leave the bass trade to work at Yevgeny Base on the west shore, or make more money than their grandfathers dreamed by guiding rich tourists to an easy catch at sea.
Martin's Cole's house still gleams the color of a damned soul, but now it is the black of ash and fire. A lightning strike twenty years ago set the hacienda ablaze, reducing a building tended by a few elderly, pensioned servants to a skeleton in a few hours. It would be the work of at a minimum several hundred thousand dolares to rebuild the old mansion to its former glory and no one wants to invest the money in Martin Cole, the man hated "not wisely, but too well."
It has been many years since that day. I was barely a man, only two years a reporter on the basebol beat when I was called into my editor's office: Wilson Fisk, a wickedly great journalist if ever one breathed. Martin Cole was mad for basebol, like most blanco Yucatecos. He had read my work, particularly the biographic piece of Ivan Montoya, the Splendid Splinter, and adored it. There was to be a memoir, a position as secretary and notetaker, a fat stipend to the paper and myself. If I went to the Cole house.
And so I nodded my agreement and tried not to look too fearful; Cole was well-known as a maverick and a hard-to-please employer, though of course the subject of many baleful rumors as most great men of the day, especially those who had been Kramer men, were. When I said those words to Wilson Fisk he laughed his deep belly laugh and folded his thick, meaty fingers, and asked if I was insured.
I thought he was joking. I was a fool in those days, truly.
(Forward to FAN #275A: Mansion (Part 2))
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