Fishermen’s friend

AS the Evan T. Ellicott, beating the final agonizing mile of its course against a sharp northerly wind, headed for the harbor of Key West, William A. Whitehead would have been forgiven for thinking the reception more than a little discourteous. But the auspices on this voyage had never been good. The Ellicott set out … More Fishermen’s friend

Brother in arms

HOW was it that Christmas Day of 1829, just nine months after his departure from Havana for Key West and home, found William A. Whitehead back again, luxuriating in the pleasures of the Cuban countryside? Three of his published “Letters from Havana” are occupied with reminiscences of this return trip which, as he had “passed … More Brother in arms

Inside, out

EVERY night at 9 o’clock, regardless of season or weather, a detachment of cadets fires a cannon across Havana harbor at the heart of the old town. Begun centuries ago to warn residents of the nightly closing of the city gates, the cañonazo is now a pageant played out year-round for tourists. Acting the part … More Inside, out

Dust and din

IN the presence of friends and fellow votaries of history assembled in an upper room of the National Newark Bank, the normally serene William A. Whitehead confessed to having suffered from “something like outraged feelings.” A half century earlier, he had stood in awed silence at the sepulchre of the man who “gave a new … More Dust and din

In the shade of the old ceiba tree

SITES and objects of remembrance–cemeteries, monuments and inscriptions–held a fascination for William Whitehead wherever he traveled. Although he could claim little facility with the local language, his first visit to Havana in March 1829 proved no exception. Long tradition had contrived to tell precisely the time and place of the city’s birth. It was to … More In the shade of the old ceiba tree

Tyrannies

TRAVEL is risk. No matter how close or convenient the destination, no matter how safe the conditions may be, or may be thought, travel unmoors the self from the familiar, the dependable; it causes one to see the comforts of home as things that can be left, and even lost. These effects might be slow … More Tyrannies