19. San Francisco to Liverpool

The rain in Eureka prevents Hayes from recovering fully from the ravages of his last trip around the horn,  so he rides cross country to see the family in Galveston and from there – signs on to sail to Liverpool again!

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Here and There Synopsis:

19.1 Loggings at the Slough in Eureka

July 10, 1902

After a week at the San Francisco ironworks, Hayes can no longer stand the noise. The bosses are decent about his quick departure and now Hayes has earned enough money to pay fare on the Pamona, a small passenger steamer sailing north to Eureka. Of course the dreadful seasickness strikes him down but upon arrival at Eureka, all there welcome him back, even George Glynn his old boss who has both a position and a promise of a better one to come.  Hayes writes, “I hope to stay on for a long time.”

August 2, 1902

“Time slips by pleasantly and quickly when one is in a congenial place.” Hayes moved out of town to where the logs are floated into a deep slough and made into rafts. He works with Wallace and Billy and “being adept as seafaring it gives me an advantage in handling ropes, wires and rigging in general.” When not on the log rafts, a three-mile walk into town takes him to the library where long quiet hours transport him to other worlds. “To get an education has always been my desire, but thus far it has been one of hard knocks instead.”

August 21, 1902

A small railway runs about ten miles back into the deep woods where the trees are cut. Two or three times a day, a railcar dumps a load of freshly cut redwood into the waters of the slough. The butts of most trees hold so much water the first log cut from a tree almost always sinks. “We bore holes in the sinkers, as these heavy logs are called, then hang them onto a lighter one of corresponding size.” The very lightest logs are pushed far up into the slough to save for winter cutting; the rest are ganged into rafts and towed to Eureka for milling.

October 2, 1902

With so many logs coming the slough is entirely full. “Many of the logs are so large we must blast them into smaller pieces.” The saw mill can handle logs no larger than nine feet in diameter; the largest Hayes has seen is sixteen feet, “and it had to be halved in the woods before it could be loaded on the train.”

Even in the midst of the cutting, all the destruction troubles Hayes. “ Sometimes it seems a crime to destroy all these fine forests. What will posterity think about it?” The cut stumps would rapidly re-grow but the company burns them to seed for pasture seeking short-term profit.

The wild world of Hayes’ childhood is rapidly vanishing: “There is not a tenth duck or goose. The elk are all gone; the fur bearing animals and most of the Indians are gone. Only at the Klamath reservation are there any number now.”

December 3, 1902

In this region of Northern California rain falls nearly every day. As Hayes is not yet recovered from the starvation of the Crown of India, “My teeth are still sore, loose, gums fallen away from the teeth and I fear of losing them all,” the severe weather may force him to leave this very comfortable position. Remarkably, he writes that he still sends all his money out repaying people he outsmarted years ago. “Business, of course, but it was unfair and must be returned.

December 26, 1902

“Christmas, and for the first time in my life I have been to a Christmas tree.” Of course he immediately downplays the evident excitement of this sentence writing that his gifts were trinkets that would have been appreciated when he was a boy, “but give little thrill at my present age.”

The rains swell the slough into a rushing river threatening to sweep all the stored logs out to sea. Dancing on the bobbing log rafts in hobnail boots on a rushing river requires great skill. “Strangely we cannot discern the various elevations of the logs at nights. Thus we sometimes step down two feet, falling overboard or jarring ourselves badly in the darkness.” When new men are sent to help hold the logs against the current, Hayes and the others must constantly rescue them from spills into the muddy waters.

Now comes a tree 28 feet across the stump. “We made 35 logs out of it by blasting it. Surely this tree must have been 3,000 years old, perhaps more than that.” Reading Hayes diaries more than one hundred years after this account, perhaps we know what posterity thinks of cutting and blasting to bits such a magnificent tree.

January 11, 1903

The Northern California rains won’t let his lungs, damaged on the Crown of India, heal – but where to go. Australia? Perhaps in that dry climate he will avoid the tuberculosis that killed several of his relatives.

19.2 Hico with the Family

February 10, 1903

Finally the pleurisy drove him from California – to Hico Texas for his 25th birthday.  Instead of Australia, he now thinks maybe he’ll go to South Africa where “the climate is dry and warm,” and mining work available.

His report on the family comes in the same laconic tones as before:  “Mother is getting old. …  I wish I might do something to aid her more than I do.”  Just this for his sisters:   “My sisters have grown up until I scarcely know them.”  And he has only disdain for his father, now moved to Oklahoma:  “Why a man should be inherently cruel to his children is beyond me, but he was.  It is over forever now, and he has lost the affection of us all.”  His sisters know that Hayes will again leave them shortly; they “chide me because I am given to roaming.”

19.3 Galveston and Back to Sea

February 24, 1903

His sister did survive the flood of 1900 at Galveston but much wreckage to the city still remains. In this Southern town, enmity concerning the Civil war also persists; “there is a certain coolness toward the Yankee who invaded their country and defeated them.”

Despite its tiny size, Galveston is a great port of the world frequented by many British ships but also those of Germany, France and Norway, hauling into stream, loading, and departing as fast as they can, one after another.

Hayes catches a job on the biggest ship in port, the Irak, preparing to leave immediately. His rationale for returning to work as a seaman while still sick from the previous trip is rings hollow: “I am not well, but the clean air of the sea should soon drive away the weakness I have acquired and make me well.” Hair of the dog? Or more likely his desperation to get free of the family: “’meeting my mother is like going to a funeral, she takes it so hard when I leave.” In any case, he sails with the Irak tomorrow.

19.4 Florida Straits.

March 1, 1903

As the Irak was leaving Galveston harbor a tidal surge tossed her against another ship, crumpling the railings on both sides. Neither ship sustained any real damage, but “There were many sweet compliments exchanged between the respective skippers…”

Surprisingly cold air hangs the Florida Strait with thick weather and poor visibility, but a strong current pushed the Irak smartly forward. The small sandy spits of the Bahamas and a quick glimpse of the Florida coast fleeting by indicate the swift passage of the ship.

19.5 Coaling at Hampton Roads

March 6, 1903

Fine weather past Cape Hatteras gives way to “a cold blast right out of the north.” The Irak drops anchor in the wide mouth of the James River with Hampton Roads to the south and Newport News to the north. Many ships stop here for Virginia coal and the Irak will also “take on a deck load of Cattle for Liverpool.” Building pens to hold the bulls on deck delays the Irak’s departure for several icy days. “We do have good food, poorly cooked always, but ample and would be excellent if a man who knew the rudiments of cookery was in the galley.”

19.6 Bull Pushers

March 8, 1903

The 458 bulls on deck headed for the British army boarded the ship as wild animals, “but the sea has tamed them.” Their tenders must keep them standing for the entire voyage for once down they will not rise again. “If there be a more picturesque crew than these bull pushers, as they are called by the sailors, I have never seen them.” These men have fallen to lowest position on the shipboard social scale and their pay reflects that status: $65 for a forty day trip with a second class return ticket for the headman and $25 with a third class return for his underlings. The seamen despise the bull pushers but for Hayes they provide an opportunity to admire a new “fluency in cusswords.”

Fortunately Hayes draws the port watch under a genial Irish mate. The scurvy still weakens Hayes and when the mate sees him struggling with heavy work in seas breaking over the forecastle-head, rather than curse him as Fleck would have, the mate sensibly re-assigns Hayes to lighter work.

19.7 Mid-Ocean with Bulls on Deck

May 12, 1903

All the bulls have great horns, so when their pens break down in heavy weather, even those bull tenders not down with seasickness are afraid to try corralling them. “I was too at first, but one seemed so cowed I petted him a little, then took hold of his ear and led him into a stall farther aft.” Soon Hayes working with another Swedish sailor have the bulls all safe in new pens.

After describing the line dividing the Gulf Stream and the Labrador Current as deep blue on one side and light green on the other, Hayes relates some kind of prank that involved painting some of the bulls. He and the Swede had been detailed to paint the insides of all the deck ventilators. He’s not clear about how the paint got on the bulls, but the head bull pusher speaks to the mate in no uncertain terms: “These bloody souji-mouji artists of yours … have ruined my cattle. Wotta hell you keep such punks for is more than I can say! Now they’ve gotta git it off before I am back here. See to that!” The mate sharply assents to the demand, but he’s “grinning at me out of the corner of his eye,” and nothing more is said.

19.8 Paid off at Liverpool

March 19, 1903

Sailing through wild stormy weather, Hayes took quite a shock on the the Irish sea: “I was on the lookout last night, the sleet driving in my face right out of the north. Suddenly a light appeared dead ahead. Too bright for a ship, it seemed like a search light from a warship. I leaped for the bell lanyard and had just reached it when the light jumped twenty feet up the forestay. I hesitated. The light began to move slowly up and down the stay, remaining there for some minutes. It was St. Elmo’s fire, the first time I have ever seen this phenomenon.”

All the bulls but one were happy to disembark the ship at Liverpool. “For three hours he held the fort, the side captain cursing in every tongue he knew until he could speak only in a whisper.” When the mate tried to help out, he collapsed laughing upon receiving whispered curses from the side captain. Finally, they roped the renegade and winched him off the ship.

At payday in England by custom wives collect half a seaman’s salary, “to prevent their spouses from spending their substance in riotous living with the women of the streets and in the pubs.” As he is unmarried, Hayes collects his full pay and takes up residence at the sailor’s home run by missionaries.

March 22, 1903

Now that Hayes is finally ready for Africa, he can’t find a ship. Well, one, the Burutu would have taken him in return for a bribe, but it carried liquor to West Africa. Hayes won’t pay the “pour boire” and, “I don’t care to carry liquor to anyone.” According to Jack O’brien at the Sailor’s home, 50,000 other men are looking for ships out of Liverpool. “I have walked these docks form Hornsby to Herculaneum, seven miles of waterfront, seeking a place on a ship.” Nothing.

March 25, 1903

With a dwindling purse and no ship in sight, Hayes decides he might have better luck in London. Jack O’brien warns of fewer jobs there but Hayes has to move – here all the ship’s mates sign only sailors they know or those willing to pay the bribe.

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One Response to 19. San Francisco to Liverpool

  1. mary martin says:

    Hey John, It is of interest to me that Hayes notes the destruction of the natural resources as early as 19002. Mary Martin

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