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The Women on Whitehead Street


Bob Chassanoff


            Later that morning Crawford Wales walked to the Sears School.  He ignored protocol–after fighting Jack Carney, not very concerned about upsetting a school principal–and walked right into Laura Gentry's morning English class.   

Laura was admonishing one of her youngsters.  “Tommy Walker there is a ‘g’ in the word ‘strength’.  It is not pronounced ‘strenth’.  Those of us who try to teach the English language would appreciate some effort at cooperation from you on this matter.”

Then she noticed the tall marine, and her mouth dropped open.  Laura simply whispered, “Crawford.”  They ran to each other, embraced, and kissed right there in the middle of her twelve-to-fourteen-year-olds.  The kids giggled and laughed. 

“You’ve come home alive!  I love you, Crawford.”  Her voice quivered and Laura’s eyes swelled with tears.  “Every night I thought of you; I couldn’t sleep . . . I didn’t know what I’d do if you didn’t come back to me.”

Crawford held her oval face in his strong hands and stroked Laura’s ruddy, freckled cheeks.  “When will you marry me, Red?”

“As soon as I can make a new dress.”  And they kissed again.

Tommy Walker–tall and strong for his age, not terribly bright, but with definite leadership potential–was the first to stand and start to slowly clap.  The rest of the class followed his example.


For the next two weeks Jason and Addie rested and healed.  When Addie came home from the Samuels’ care, she slept in Harry’s bedroom.  Her arm mended well, but she remained quiet and kept to herself.  Kate and Sarah came to visit every day with prepared meals for Addie.  But the ladies avoided Jason as much as possible, kept to themselves, and recent events were not discussed.

Jason made arrangements for the Pinkerton Detective Agency to lease a steam-powered cargo ship and move the treasure from the Sweet Pea, moored at Fort Jefferson, to New Orleans and a bank vault.  The bank advanced what Jason needed to pay off the crew with their shares and he gave bonuses all around.  Addie insisted they be especially generous to the relations of those that were lost.  They even gave money to the wives and children of several pirates.  “It’s the right thing to do,” Addie had said sternly.

One day Jason walked into Maria’s Café for lunch and saw Andrew Jackson Case sitting in a booth eating a quarter of roast chicken with yellow rice, plantains, and a carafe of white wine.

 Jason walked to stand in front of Case and cleared his throat until the lieutenant looked up.  “Nice to see you again, A.J.  We were all hoping you might have showed up over the Atocha dive site.”

“I couldn’t make it.  The gale from the northeast was at us.  You know the winds were against me.”

“I know, but you didn’t try very hard.”  The sailors that crewed the Sweet Pea naturally had talked to the Shenandoah’s crew and reported that Case had made no effort to tack southeast and then back north to reach the battle.


Crawford Wales barged in and pushed Jason aside.  “You cowardly dog,” he yelled and charged at Case.

Jason fell over onto the next table and down across Judge Locke’s lap.  The judge went over backwards to the floor, his arms flailing helplessly, one of Maria’s guava pastries hanging out of his mouth. 

Wales tackled Case, food flying everywhere, furniture breaking and being tossed about.  Wales stood up and yanked Case to his feet.  “I vouched for you and you turned out to be Wyatt Scott’s worm.  A lot of my men died because of your cowardice.”

“I . . .” Case tried to speak, but Wales was consumed by anger.  He punched Case right in his long, aquiline nose with all the energy Wales’ lanky form could muster.  Case collapsed, his face a bloody mess.

Judge Locke tried to push Jason off his stomach, and Jason eagerly tried to oblige.  “Damn!  Pike, you and the marines sure know how to keep an old man from enjoying his lunch.”

Maria stormed out of the kitchen and yelled, “Que hacen ustedes?  Paren imediatamte, estan regando todo!”  She chewed into all of them.

“Oh, my God; you’ve broken my nose.”  Case was examining his face with both hands.  He was covered in sticky blood, yellow rice, and greasy, fried bananas.

Crawford Wales shook his hand and rubbed his knuckles.  “His teeth still look all right.  Should I hit him in the mouth?”

“No,” Jason said.  “That’s enough.  Help him up,” and Wales pulled Case to his feet.  Jason also stood up and helped the judge to his feet.  “It’s my turn,” Jason said, and casually jabbed his right fist into Case’s mouth, knocking him down again.  “Now, his pearly whites don’t look so good.”


That afternoon Wyatt Scott left Key West with Sanford Allison’s patrol up the Atlantic coast.  And Rob Stevens finally wrote a scathing editorial about Scott’s lack of action concerning what the locals were starting to call ‘the Battle in Hawk’s Channel’ and the national press took up the story.  Scott was relieved of command and recalled to Washington to be censured, and then forgotten.

Those were busy days after the fighting was over.  Still, writing the letter to Pip’s mother was difficult for Jason.  Finally, he stopped putting the unpleasant task off and forced himself to write a gentle, sad letter saying Pip passed away quietly, while whispering prayers and talking about his family and England.

It was four weeks after the battle, when Addie told Jason she was leaving.  He had observed her sorting clothes the night before and guessed what was coming.  Jason and Addie hadn’t made love since the fight.  At first she said she was not ready yet.  So he stopped approaching her.  Jason decided, or hoped, she would come to him, when she got in the mood.  Only Addie never did.

During the morning, while he was sitting in the living room sipping coffee and reading the Key West Register, Addie entered, dressed to travel in a proper gray suit.

“I’m going to have a baby,” Addie said without preamble.

“I know.”  Jason looked up from the newspaper.

She seemed surprised.  “How?”

“Don’t be silly, Addie.  I love you; I observe you very



Then, sounding frustrated, “Jase, can’t you stop picking up the gauntlet?  Do you have to accept every challenge that comes your way?” Addie pleaded.  Jason knew she was wondering if their unborn child made a difference in his outlook on the violent world in which they lived.

Jason put the newspaper down and stood up to pace.  “Addie, I’m cast from a warrior’s forge five hundred years old.  English iron is hard and unyielding.”  Maybe he should have lied.  In retrospect, Jason realized, he certainly should have lied.

“This isn’t England; you’re not an Englishman.  Thomas Jefferson idealized a new way.”  Addie was standing at the window looking out onto Whitehead Street.  “New men who were not selfish and violent.  What happened to that dream, Jase?”

“Jefferson also said something about the tree of liberty needing to be nourished with the blood of patriots and tyrants, Addie.  I don’t know where we lost the dream, or if we really ever had it to begin with.  I just know I can’t break the mold; no one can.  I can’t walk away from the life I’ve led.  This cruel world we were all born into isn’t likely to leave me alone.”

Addie turned from the window and purposely walked to stand in front of Jason.  “Tomorrow is a new day, Jase.  We can start over,” she begged with her big, sad eyes.  “You have enough wealth for a dozen lifetimes.  Can’t you use it to find a haven, a calm place away from all the world’s troubles?”

“No.  I’m sorry, Addie.  Tomorrow is just the day that comes after today.  And, I have no wish to retreat from the world.  My father tried to run away from his world, when he left England.  It never works.”

“I’m going to New York to stay with my aunt, have the baby  there,” she said, pacing across the room back to, and looking out the window, staring anywhere but at Jason.


He wondered if she would ever forgive him.  Time heals all wounds, so they say.  But Jason knew Addie’s heart and soul were cut deep by the loss of her father, her hand, and now their life together.

“I’ll come and stay with you, when the baby is due,” Jason offered.

She turned to face him, arms at her sides, her left hand balled into a fist.  Addie exploded with, “You could have waited, and put a fighting frigate to guard us, while we worked the wreck, but you wanted the combat, you caused it all to happen.”  Tears streamed down Addie’s cheeks and she ripped the bandage from her wrist and held up the scarred and still raw stump of her right arm.  “Well, battles won are only a little better than battles lost, and this one had a bitter price for me to pay.  You were the one love of my life, Jase.  Now I think I’ll be by myself for the rest of my time.  I think about what might have been, what we could have had together.”

“That’s enough Addie.  I’m sorry about the casualties we suffered, but once upon a time you told me that I could do as I choose.  The same was always true for you.”

“But you aren’t apologetic enough to admit you could have done it differently.  Are you?”  Jason knew Addie chose to forget the efforts her father and he had made to keep her and Sarah away from this fight. 

“And you dare to talk to me of choices!” she rasped, walking right up to Jason, and keeping her infirmity at eye level.  “You chose not to wait and marshal a superior force–the best your money could have bought.  The treasure could have waited; it’s been patient for the last two hundred years.  But your damned warrior’s pride forced you to dare any and all challenges that got in your way.  And in so doing you chose yourself, over me, over us, and what we had together.”


Jason picked the bandage up from the floor and gestured with his hand.  Addie came forward and he fitted the bandage to the end of her arm, while considering her criticism and his mistakes.  The offer from President Grant to buy Pike Ltd’s cannons for the U.S. Navy had influenced Jason’s decision to proceed with the salvage on their own; but Jason felt–wanted to believe–his critical mistake was trusting in Pip’s experimental ordnance.  “The treasure is secure; Carney is dead; Harrington’s conspiracy is ended,” Jason said woodenly.  Then with fervor, he added, “Addie we won; we paid a high price, but we did win.”

“I’m sorry,” Addie said sadly, shaking her head.  “I’m so sorry that you don’t realize nobody won.  And much more than a conspiracy ended, Jase,” with a sense of finality.  Addie’s moist eyes grew wide and melancholy.  Her mouth turned downward and her jaw quivered slightly.  She simply whispered, “We ended, Jase.  Goodbye, Captain, Commodore Pike.”

Addie walked out of the house, out of his life, and down Whitehead Street.  Jason followed her onto the porch.  Addie had changed.  She was not the innocent beauty he had made love to on Big Pine Key six months ago.  She was hardened by her losses and had inherited Harry’s strength of will, and now she saw fit to exercise it.  Jason wondered why Addie’s toughness, her strength, was admirable while his own was deplorable.

“Sorry laddie,” Harry said, standing next to Jason on the porch.  “Addie takes after her mother, mind of her own.”  He was dressed in his sergeant major’s uniform, complete with all his medals.  Harry shrugged, hands in pockets, leaning back and resting his weight on his heels, smiling proudly, saying, “Addie’s worth winnin’ back, laddie.  It’ll be a fight, and then she’ll have to come along willingly.  But, that’s my lassie.”  Then, like all ghosts conjured up by a sense of creeping guilt Harry was quickly gone and Jason was alone, with just his longing for  Addie.


He saw Sarah and Kate Asbury standing at the corner of Whitehead and Southard Streets waiting for Addie.  Cump stood in the doorway sensing the trouble between them.  The dog whined and looked back and forth from Jason to Addie’s retreating form.  Fifi lay quietly, head on paws, eyes darting and watching.  Then a fly buzzed her and drew Fifi’s attention.  When the fly returned for a second pass Fifi’s tongue lunged out and took the bug as a tiny snack.

“Go on, Cump, you’re her dog, not mine,” Jason said and kicked toward the Lab, so he and Fifi followed Addie.

A block farther north and across Whitehead Street, Marion Drake stood at her front gate, arms folded tightly across her chest.  Jason could not see her face close up, but this time he guessed what she was thinking.  That Jason was just like Wade Estes: letting a selfish motive, in Jason’s case his warrior’s pride, destroy a wonderful relationship.  Jason shook his head and wished he could just throw away, like rainwater off the brim of a hat, the women’s accusations that a flaw in his character caused all this; because it was a fact Jason’s personality, his sense of his own powerful mind, was not at all willing to accept.

And Jason wondered, would Addie become as bitter as Marion years from now?  Damn Marion Drake.  Jason barely knew the woman and she still succeeded in causing him to feel as if he had gouged a scar on his soul that would last for all eternity.

Jason looked across the street and saw that Addie had reached the corner.  She spoke with Sarah and Kate.  The three women stood still, which surprised Jason.  He expected them to walk off to Kate’s home or to the Samuels house.  Jason stared at the three of them, wondering why they were standing there, looking in his direction.


Sarah Dumont turned away, somewhat embarrassed.  Kate Asbury glared back; she wore a sad yet satisfied expression on her calm, worn features.  Jason guessed Kate thought she had turned Addie against him.  But that was not so.  Jason did what he had to do.  If Addie could not live with how he chose to fight the battle in Hawk’s Channel, Jason knew it was her choice.  Addie was too strong-willed an individual to be swayed by anything Kate or Sarah had to say.

Addie met his stare, her exquisite eyes wet, full of sorrow, yet her stance was stiff and defiant.  Her mouth was a thin resolute line set in a perfectly sculpted jaw that was hard as fine marble.

A young man led a mule-drawn cart down the street and stopped in front of the house to collect Addie’s baggage.  Jason directed him up the stairs to her room; he returned with two suitcases and went to join the women.  Then Kate, Sarah, and Addie–the women on Whitehead Street–all walked a block north and turned right onto Caroline Street.  And Addie never looked back.

Jason sighed slowly, hoping their baby would be a girl.  He took out a cigar, walking back toward the big, empty house.  If it was a male child, Addie might be concerned that she had birthed another stone-cold soldier of fortune, like the icy-hearted warrior with whom she had always been in love, who had finally married her, but who had now driven her away.                   



Author’s historical notes:

The British, French, and Germans continued to pursue recoilless cannon technology and the first successful gun was the French 75 millimeter cannon perfected during the 1890s. 

George Saint Leher Grenfell is still presumed to have died at sea after his escape from Fort Jefferson during 1868. 

Dr. Joseph Yates Porter remained in the army until 1889 when he was appointed the first Health Officer for the State of Florida.  Dr. Porter was a leading authority on Yellow Fever and other tropical and communicable diseases.

Lillie Watlington, the youngest of Captain Francis Watlington’s seven daughters, never did marry. 

The old Watlington House, Dr. Porter’s Home, and Captain John Lowe’s Home have been restored and look wonderful.  They greatly add to the charm of Old Key West.

Fort Jefferson is maintained by the United States Park Service and can be visited by private boats and commercial seaplane service from Key West.  The East Martello Fort is also intact and a military museum.


Benoit Rouquayrol & Louis Denayrouze invented the French artificial lung machine during the early 1860s.  Jacque Cousteau re-invented SCUBA during World War II, and it is the best sport in the world for lazy adventurers.

The motherlode from the Nuestra Señora de Atocha was actually located and raised by Mel Fisher and a dedicated band of historians and divers during the summer of 1985.  Five people lost their lives in the search for the treasure site.  Classic pieces from the treasure are for public view at the exhibit near Mallory Square, on Key West, where Asa Tift’s Wharf used to be and Clyde Mallory’s steamships left from to transit the Straits of Florida and the east coast of the United States, just a very short century ago. 

Author’s note for developmental readers:  romance-minded proof readers didn’t like the ‘Farewell to Arms’ sad ending of WOMEN.  Adding this excerpt should satisfy the romantics.

From CASUS BELLI, the sequel to The Women on Whitehead Street . . .  Another Jase & Addie Historical Adventure to be released soon.



New York/1879            Chapter 1

When the door opened, Jason saw her.  Addie Gorten looked just the same.  She was tall and slender, black, curly hair tied up on the top of her head.  Large, deep blue eyes bright and clear, the nostrils of her thin, straight nose flared slightly when their eyes locked together. 

Jason sensed a tingling feeling, an energy that flowed between, connecting them.  Jason walked to Addie quickly, grabbed her up, and held her to him.  He knew he would never love another woman like the adoration that swept throughout his whole being when he looked at Addie Gorten. 

He wanted that moment to last for all eternity.  Just to hold her close, after four long years of separation, was a simple pleasure that was ecstasy for Jason.  Despite his pride, Jason wished he had never let her go, never permitted her to leave,  after they finished raising the Atocha’s treasure.  But there was no keeping Addie against her will.  The death of her father and the loss of her right hand had driven her away.  When Jason got her letter inviting him to visit her in New York, he took the first train east.

She caressed Jason’s cheek with her left hand and drew his face away from her shoulder, until she could look into his eyes.  Her right arm was around his waist, and he felt the hard finger tips of a prosthesis at his lower back.

Her searching eyes stared right through Jason, who could never hide anything from Addie’s piercing examination.  Nor did he wish to.  He caressed that favorite soft spot at the end of her smooth jaw just under Addie’s ear, one of many places he loved about her.

Her quick, intelligent eyes darted about, over every square inch of his face, and then she frowned.  “You haven’t changed.  Have you?” 

“I still love you with all my heart; I love you with all the strength my soul and mind can bring to bear,” and tears came to his eyes and flowed down his cheeks.  Jason had rehearsed what he would say to Addie, but the tears were impromptu, quite real, and shocked him.  Jason cried for the first time in twenty years, the last time when his mother had died. 

Jason thought about turning away from her, to wipe his face and regain his composure, but he couldn’t stop looking at Addie and holding her close.  “Will you please forgive me for what happened to all of us, when we salvaged the Atocha?


She reached up with her only index finger and touched a moist spot on his cheek.  “I’ve never seen you cry.  I can forgive you, Jase, but I can’t . . . “  Then her finger descended, she tasted his tears on her lips and, almost as if it was a mysterious love potion, waved her head about and said strongly, “I can’t help it.  Damn, I still love you!” and she pushed herself up on her toes against Jason to kiss him.  Jason wasn’t prepared for Addie’s assault and fell over backwards to the floor.  She came down on top of him; and they hugged and kissed on her front parlor rug, like a couple of passionate youngsters.

“Mommy, what are you doing?” a tiny voice called, and Jason looked up to see the young, curious face of a four-year-old boy staring down at him.

“Oh!  This is our son, Thomas Jefferson Gorten Pike,” Addie explained dryly and smiled, lying on top of Jason.

“You named my son after a Virginian, a Southerner!” Jason stated unhappily.

And there was a laugh from behind, a feminine voice with a deep Alabama drawl.  Jason craned his neck around and saw Addie’s old sidekick: feisty and beautiful Sarah Dumont standing in a doorway. 

Then he heard a dog bark, and a big, black Labrador retriever charged past Sarah and, like any dog seeing humans playing on the floor, jumped into the fray.  Cump was an old friend who licked Jason’s face and–too excited–paused to pee on the floor.

Little Thomas shook his head back and forth with obvious disapproval and grabbed Cump’s collar.  “Mommy, Aunt Sarah, I told you both Cumper needed to go for a walk.”

“He already sounds like you, Jase,” Sarah said amused.

“I’m not surprised you two don’t listen to him anymore than you used to listen to me.”           


This  material is included only for developmental readers




The Women on Whitehead Street


The Search for the Atocha, author = Eugene Lyon, Florida Classics

Library, 1979 & 1985

The Search for the Nuestra Señora de Atocha, author = R Duncan

Mathewson III, Seafarers Heritage Library, 1983

Treasures of the Atocha, author = R Duncan Mathewson III, Pices

Books & Seafarers, 1986

A Slumbering Giant, author = Rodman Bethel, W L Litho, 1979

History of the East Martello Tower, author = Colin G Jameson, Key

West Art & Historical Society, 1980

They all call it Tropical, authors = Charles Brookfield & Oliver

Griswold, Historical Assoc of Southern Florida, 1985

A sketch of the History of Key West, author = Walter C Maloney,

1876, Univ of Fla, 1968

Yesterday’s Key West, authors = Stan Windhorn & Wright Langley,

Langley Press, 1986

Key West, Images of the Past, authors = Joan & Wright Langley,


pub Belland & Swift, 1982

A Chronological History of Key West, author = Stephen Nichols,

Key West Images is publisher, 1989

Key West: Cigar City USA, author = L Glenn Westfall, Historical

Key West Preservation Board, 1984

Key West History, authors = L P Artman & Pat Artman, 1969

Key West, the Old & the New, author = Jefferson Browne, Record Co

1912, Univ of Fla 1973

The Rumskudgeon, author = Kaye Edwards Carter, BPK Press, 1976

The Sea Remembers, editor = Peter Throckmorton, Weidenfeld &

Nicolson, 1987

To Shining Sea, author = Stephen Howarth, Random House, 1991

For the Common Defense, author = Millet & Maslowski, Free Press


The Pursuit of Power, author = William McNeill, Univ of Chicago Press, 1982

The Art of War in the Western World, author = Archer Jones, Univ of Ilinois Press, 1987

Sherman, Fighting Prophet, author = Lloyd Lewis, Harcourt Brace, 1932

Patriotic Gore, author = Edmund Wilson, Oxford University Press, 1963

Medical shortages and Confederate Medicine, author = James Breeden, Southern Medical Journal, 9/93 Vol 86 9

Encyclopedia Americana, Americana Corp, 1964



Literary Questions and Answers for discussion:


What did the title have to do with the plot?


The title is about the characters whose lives were most directly altered by the story’s action. 


Was Addie justified in leaving Jason at the end?


Women say yes; men say no.  What do you think?


Why is Marion Drake important to the story?


Marion is there to be the symbolic injured woman who makes Wade and Jason feel guilty because they represent all men who have selfish motives that cause them to ruin their romantic relationships.


Why did Laura Gentry get her man, while Addie and Sarah did not?


Crawford was presented as a balanced human male.  Jason was too violent, too pragmatic for idealistic Addie; and Bruce Jeffers was too sensitive to be a warrior, not the leader Sarah Dumont thought she craved.


Finally, what is the basic theme of WOMEN?


Women don’t like violent men?  For Addie, Jason’s ‘warrior’s pride’, that he had to pick up the gauntlet, accept the challenge, is his Shakespearean tragic flaw.  Just the opposite of Hemingway’s World War I ambulance driver who ran away from war, but given the same punishment of loneliness and regret that fate put on Jason.  

Chapters - Prologue - 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 -11- 12 - Epilogue

U.S. Federal Copyright 'TXU 603-893

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