The Vare brothers—George, Edwin, and William—were dominant figures in the city of Philadelphia. With their start as sons of a South Philadelphia pig farmer, they all got involved in contracting with the city and had their hands in local politics from a young age. George, a produce huckster, drew his brothers into rubbish, garbage, and street-cleaning contracts. Called “slopcart salesmen,” they dumped the collected garbage along the Delaware River.
George Vare got elected to the State Senate, where he played a considerable role in making Boise Penrose (“the big grizzly” as he was known by his admirers) an important figure by the time Thomas Smith arrived in Harrisburg.
William S. Vare was the current recorder of deeds, having been re-elected in 1904 and now again in 1907. In this position, he had influence in the surety business of the city. It was Bill who arranged this meeting for brother Ed with Tom Smith.
All strong Republicans, they had deep roots in the densely populated area of Philadelphia below South Street and all the way down to “the neck”—home of the Philadelphia Naval Yard.
The more things change…the more they stay the same. Sad, but true.
While the blizzard of 2016 roars outside on the east coast—I thought I’d give you a little something to read while you take a break from shoveling the drifts! (And if you missed out on the snow—take a break anyway—it is the weekend, after all!)
I did it! I published my first book on Amazon—and it feels amazing!
It’s 5:45 a.m. and the bedroom window is open. I think I hear a freight train in the distance. A constant low rumble. I do mean constant.
I think to myself, “Damn, that is one extremely long train!” Then it dawns on me (get it? dawns?), it’s not a train.
The streets around our house are being drilled and dug up, and ditches are being backfilled and flattened with huge pieces of orange equipment. Our sewer lines are being replaced, and the rumbling, scraping, rat-a-tat-tat is endless!
Now, don’t get me wrong—I’m all for replacing hundred-year-old sewer pipes. And repairing bridges and highways and all that other stuff that needs fixing. That’s the sort of thing our tax money should be used for.
Summer, when everyone has their windows closed because of air conditioning, is the season for this sort of activity.
But it’s autumn for cryin’ out loud, and the air snaps like a spiced wafer and is filled with the aroma of apple cider. I NEED my windows open at this time of year.
I’m an October baby and this is MY month— not Caterpillar’s!
Bosses and Blackjacksis currently with the editor and I hope to make it available to readers before the end of the year. In the meantime, I thought I would whet your appetite by giving you a small bite to chew on…slowly, very slowly:
Politics in Philadelphia is a rough game…has been since the time of Ben Franklin. But, when murder takes place in the Fifth Ward on primary election day in 1917, it sparks outrage – not just in Philadelphia, but throughout the nation.
WWI now shares headlines with the conspiracy trial in the “City of Brotherly Love.” Police Lieutenant David Bennett, in charge of the “Bloody Fifth,” is arrested along with the Mayor and other members of the political machine run by the powerful Vare brothers. Interfering with a free and fair election, it would seem, is as contemptible as actually pulling the trigger.