Entertaining One &
During the week surrounding the arrival of the train, all modes of entertainment were available for Key West's locals and visitors. If your taste ran to the cultured, the French operetta La Mascotte premiered Friday night at the Odd Fellows Hall on Caroline Street. Havana's Justiz Spanish Opera Company had a second performance scheduled for the San Carlos on the following Thursday. In La Mascotte, the highlight of the libretto is Act One's duet between the main characters Bettina and Pippo. In the song she tries to convince the farmer that her love for him is as strong as her love for her livestock. All ends well as her presence brings luck in the fields and the marketplace, and the word "mascot" entered the English language.
If your family wanted to spend a night at the circus, Gran Society Circo Pubillones (Pubillones' One-Ring Circus) held its opening night performance on Saturday. Their tent was set up on Jackson Square, right outside the County Courthouse.
Before the week was out, the people of Key West attended recitals, receptions and balls all over town at the Hargrove Institute on United Street, at the Cuban Club and the San Carlos, and at Louis' Pavilion on the corner of Bertha Street and First Avenue. There was a high-toned
banquet at the Marine Barracks on Tuesday evening Mayor Fogarty presided and speeches were given by Taft's representative, General Oliver, and by Henry Flagler. The Govenor of Florida, Albert W. Gilchrist, spoke, as did representatives from France and Italy. One speaker of special interest to locals was Colonel Jose Marti, son of the late Cuban Freedom Fighter who had so loved Key West.
Not all of the entertainment was so refined. These were the Vaudeville years and Key West was lucky enough to have several theatres catering to fans. That month the Monroe Theatre on Duval featured three acts on one bill "every one a head liner," according to the ad in the Key West Morning Journal. The Matthes Trio was a novelty singing and dancing act, featuring the "winsome little Miss Matthes." Miss Marjorie Burnum was billed as "the girl wonder with a double voice." And for something different, there was the novelty acrobatic act, Harris and Harris. Rounding out the bill were one-reel films "which have never before been seen in Key West." Promising "the entire program will be a classy one," the managers (Mr. Burgert and Mr. Carbonell) advertised four different prices of seating available ten, fifteen, twenty and twenty-five cents. (These prices were as much as a dime higher than the admission charged only a week earlier.)
The Russell Sisters were appearing at the San Carlos. Their names haven't survived through the intervening years because of their talent information doesn't seem to be available on something as basic as whatever their act was. We know their names for a different reason; the first tickets on the first train LEAVING Key West were sold to Jessie Russell. They headed out of town on the afternoon of the 22nd.
Baseball was the most popular team sport of the day, and fans were entertained by an abundance of scheduled ball games. Cuban teams met American teams, sailors played against soldiers, and a team of Key West locals (Keeley's Sluggers) defeated the Fleet Champions from the USS North Carolina.
But there was one star, one celebrity, whose presence in Key West was the most impressive. One performer who could bring out everyone in town huge crowds attended her every show. Her name was Lucille Mulhall.
Zack Mulhall's Congress of Rough Riders had brought the largest tent ever seen to Key West and set it up on Trumbo Point (top.) Inside the tent, audiences could witness an unprecedented exhibition of Wild West skills by the woman for whom the word "Cowgirl" was coined. The woman who, at the age of twenty, had lassoed and tied three steers in 3 minutes and 36 seconds setting a world record and winning $10,000 while besting any attempts by a man. Her biggest fan, President Theodore Roosevelt, had gifted her with a Winchester rifle and saddle. Roosevelt had told her father, "Zack, before the girl dies or gets married or cuts up some other caper, you ought to put her on the stage and let the world see what she can do." He did. Assembling his first Wild West Show in 1898, the company found fame far beyond their home in Missouri and was performing at Madison Square Garden by 1905. That's the premiere Cowgirl, Lucille Mulhall, and her horse, Governor, in the above photo. They soon became the toast of Europe and toured all over the U.S. Lucille wasn't the only star other featured performers in the touring company included Will Rogers and Tom Mix.
Now Key West, Florida could boast not only the arrival of the railroad but an appearance by the Queen of the Range.