20. Liverpool to Washington DC

For this segment of the diary I am indebted to my newly found cousin Jean who contacted me when I first began publishing this synopsis of Hayes’ diaries.  On the Abbreviated Perkins Family Tree  you will see that Daniel Perkins was my great, great, great grandfather.  His wife was Lydia Banks Perkins.  Jean and I share these ancestors which I know because of Jean’s remarkable genealogical work on the Banks family.  At the end of this chapter, Hayes runs into a bit of great good fortune in Washington thanks to an aunt and uncle who give him a boost up.  In four diary entries, Hayes names neither the uncle nor the aunt, only his two cousins.  From this information Jean was able to identify Hayes’ Uncle Epaminondis and Aunt Jennie correcting my guess that it was his Uncle Thomas Jefferson Perkins and Aunt Eliza Jane Houghmaster Perkins.  Thank you Jean.

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Here and There Synopsis:


20.1 Broke in London

March 29, 1903

With only two pounds in his pocket, Hayes takes up worried residence at the sailors home at Dock & Wells streets, London.

Inside the London Seamans Home

“The Home Officials, … saw my penurious condition and told me candidly that when my money was gone I would be put into the street….” Hayes will see none of the sights in London this time through; “It is a matter of finding something to keep me from walking the streets starving. I’ll do my best, trust in God, who has never forsaken me.”

Together with an Australian lad, Hayes walks miles of docks up and down the London waterfront “seeking a place as work-a-ways, seamen or anything to any place in the world.” – Still nothing.

Just as they had given up, Hayes spied one more ship, the Allegheny. He knew (his emphasis) this one would take him. The dispirited Australian called Hayes a fool and collapsed into a nearby station. “The mate, gruff though he was, was kindly. He told me to get a permit from the consul, which I did, and we sail in the evening.”

20.2 Bull Pusher

April 4, 1903

All down the English Channel, the crew of the Allegheny puts off stowaways desperate to return to the United States. They deposit three at Goodwin Sands, two more in the Straits of Dover, and then two more off Plymouth.

The mate hired Hayes as a sailor and sent him forward, but Hayes must have arrived at the forecastle shabby of appearance and poor in health. The sailors wouldn’t accept him; they said he was a bull pusher. “Vosper, the mate, is angry, but I am willing to stay where I am.” This will mean considerably less pay for the voyage, but a sailor named Jackson, a bully, rules the forecastle and Hayes knows that trouble would result from asking an officer to intervene where a bully doesn’t want him. He can push bulls.

The next self-contradictory paragraph entered by a battered, world-weary, 25-year-old Hayes describing his bull pushing mates, encapsulates all the wisdom this mean life has taught him thus far: “My mates are drunken, lousy, filthy in personal appearance. They are degraded as only bull pushers may be, but having reached the depths, have ceased to hate those about them. They share their miseries, their few good things together as men should, and are more Christian in spirit than the ones who condemn them.”

For once at least, among the lowest of the low, Hayes finds something of humanity worthy of praise. “But it is cold, oh so cold!” The Allegheny follows a slightly northern route taking the ship more directly home than would a warmer westerly course.

20.3 Icebergs of Newfoundland

April 12, 1903

The Allegheny belongs to the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad Company but flies the British flag to save money. “The boat is unseaworthy apparently…” She broke down for four hours, lying to in a gale, then some drums of creosote got loose below careening about so violently in the rocking hold they would have ruptured the hull had the crew not “managed to chock them with loose bits of dunnage, else they would have wrecked us.”

Fog lies thick in these cold northern climes off the banks of Newfoundland but on the morning of April 12, dawn broke unexpectedly clear. “When daylight came, we were in the midst of a fleet of icebergs, some of them huge mountains, others growlers, scattered on each and every side.” His tone rings more of admiration for the beauty of the sight than for the danger to the ship.

Iceberg Off Newfoundland

On this meager cattle ship, in the northern cold, “We are scrubbing paint as ever, like this ship was a liner…. My hands are like birds’ claws, so numb, so numb.”

20.4 Newport News

April 16, 1903

“If all goes well, we will be in Newport News tomorrow. I will be happy to be rid of her [the Allegheny], but what next?” A well-to-do uncle in Washington DC has been demanding a visit from Hayes next time he’s on this coast. Even in his reduced circumstances, disdain for anything to do with the family runs very deep, he says, “ I am going to see him for a day or two, then have that duty fulfilled for good and all. I have never seen any of them.” The idea that a wealthy, well-positioned uncle might be able to help him seems not to have crossed Hayes’ mind.

One middle-aged bull pusher served in the U.S. navy and receives $80 a month pension. According to Hayes, he ferries back and forth across the Atlantic tending cattle because, “he wants to stay where he is, taking the blasphemous abuse from the head pushers, the hard living and almost loathsome company with whom he associates.” His pension and all the money he earns goes to drink and riotous living ashore ¬– except for his expenses for periodicals; he shares the latest magazines and papers with Hayes and “sometimes unburdens his wearied soul.” Hayes says of all the bull pushers, “At least they can fall no further, and this brings peace to their sordid souls.”

As for peace to their lice infested bodies? “If they ever bathe I have not seen it.” However, hanging an article of clothing through the grating above the steam exhaust “soon kills all the livestock there. Thus they keep the vermin down without washing their clothes at all.”

April 18, 1903

In port at Newport News, all the bull pushers have gone to the groggeries ashore. Hayes has no interest there so doesn’t mind being ordered by the skipper to remain alone on the ship until clearing immigration. As it happens, despite sharing all their work, Hayes shipped at status even lower than bull pusher – as an unpaid “work-a-way.” The Skipper kindly gives Hayes 50¢ for his 17 days labor across the Atlantic but even that is essentially a gift to a work-a-way crewman. The 50¢, Together with $3 from selling his boots and oilskins to a sailor forward, his $2 savings, and a fair exchange on fourteen shillings and six pence, give him enough for a ticket to Washington with $5 left over. “At least there is a door to enter, but I dread it.”

20.5 Caught the Ferry at Fort Morgan

April 19,1903

At Fort Morgan Hayes waits for a ferry making the night run between Norfolk and Washington. Earlier, touring Fort Morgan, Hayes passed by the veteran’s home where old soldiers still in Civil War uniform caroused and drank showing exaggerated Southern civility to every passing woman. Then in the room waiting for the ferry, Hayes ran across the bull pushers from the Allegheny also carousing and drinking – though feebly; one day after de-boarding the ship, not one had money enough remaining for a real drunk. “… The rest of the passengers drew aside from these men as if they were unclean. No wonder, for all of them were blatant, loud mouthed, ribald in conversation and appearance.”

With a happy farewell to the bull pushers, Hayes boards a “wonderfully clean and well appointed” steamer, regretting only that the night ride will deny him the opportunity to see Chesapeake Bay on the ride north.

20.6 Fantastic Opportunity in Washington.

April 22, 1903

Landing in Washington, Hayes can find no seaman’s home to stash his “kit” before calling on the relatives. “Washington is not like other cities, it has no manufacturing, no workingman’s quarter, nothing but government offices and the homes of those who work for Uncle Sam.” He had no choice other than carrying his luggage right to the door of the three-story brownstone on Rhode Island Avenue. “I managed to slip my bag of clothes down under the stoop leading to the basement, so had my hands free on ringing the bell.”

Hayes writes four diary entries over the next month during his stay in Washington. In all four he names his older relatives only “uncle” and “aunt”. However, because he does name cousins Lydia and Adam, the astonishing genealogical abilities of my newly discovered cousin Jean, reveals that they were his father’s brother Epaminondis Daniel Moore Perkins and his wife Jennie Sanders Perkins. On answering the bell, Aunt Jenny did not recognize Hayes; “She was civilly polite and wished to know the stranger’s business.” One might add – the scruffy, ill-fed stranger in clean but ragged clothing – but apparently his aunt did not phrase it that way.

“To skip the details, I may say they could have welcomed me no more warmly than if I was their own son.” Immediately sizing up his lack of funds and “everything else in worldly goods,” and with tact enough not to offer charity, cousin Adam immediately found Hayes a job “to earn some money and leave town like a man.” Hayes has his eye on a railway job in West Virginia but, “Uncle says he can get me a place with the government, but I don’t see how he can.”

May 2, 1903

May in Washington, and “all is green now with the coming of spring.” Hayes and Lydia visit the halls of congress listening to, “the blather of the senators and congressmen.” He and Uncle Epam tour the White House, “but I did not see Roosevelt or any of his family.” And alone, Hayes walks the tree-lined streets, through the statues, and even to the top of Washington’s monument.

May 23, 1903

Uncle Epam must have had some powerful connections: “The impossible has happened. My uncle has wangled it some way, and I have a job with the geological survey in Alaska.” A lone geologist sent to that “far-off land” to investigate for coal “and anything else lying loose in that part of the world,” needs an experienced hand, “to cook, sail boats, to look after the camping and a general roustabout.” With returning health, good clothes, and the promise of an exciting new adventure, “the world looks rosy once more.”

June 2, 1903

On meeting his new boss, named G C Martin, Hayes, ever able to size up the bad in any situation, describes him as, “too eager and has a determined look that bodes no good in the end. He has a very large head for a man his size, for he is almost a pigmy.” But beneath all the dour caution, Hayes simply cannot contain his delight. “Is this what I have been looking for all these years? … I am one of the favored ones, it would seem.”

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