23. Resurrection Bay AK to Hico TX

Down from Alaska for the winter, Hayes declines an offer to study at Stanford returning coincidentally to Hico to see his mother and sisters just as word of his father’s death arrives from Colorado.

On the map, chapter 22 is the yellow path.  The current chapter is pink with popups.  Chapter 24 is the blue circular path.

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Here and There Synopsis:
23.1 A “four flusher” and Hundreds of Sea Lions

September 14, 1903

Before Hayes and Martin changed ships from the Newport to the Santa Ana at Resurrection Bay, they got an illustration the danger of the extreme tides in these long narrow Alaskan Bays. The Newport dragged anchor and came to rest against a rock at high tide; as the tide ebbed, the fore part of the ship pointed high in the air threatening to snap the hull. Fortunately, it held, and when the tides reversed, the ship floated serenely off. “Now all is well again, and the priests, the whores, the prospectors and various scientists who make up the list are celebrating with wine and song.”

On the Santa Ana Hayes bunks with an interesting mate, Jack Carroll, who with another sourdough and three college students looking for adventure, accompanied Doctor Frederick Cook on an expedition to climb Mt. McKinley.

Dr. Frederick Cook

Ignorant of even the rudiments of Alaskan life, Cook scoffed at Carroll’s insistence on a mosquito-proof tent. The first night Carroll and Jones, the other sourdough, slept comfortably inside the tent while the other five roughed it outside. “Next night, and each ensuing night thereafter, seven men were crowded into this 7×10 tent.”

Carroll took ill with pleurisy and had to leave Cook’s party at the foot of Mt. McKinley, but not before forming a poor opinion of the expedition’s leader: “Carroll says Cook is a fourflusher.” (The word comes from bluffing with a weak hand when playing poker. It now roughly means one not true to his word.) Carroll’s principle evidence for the charge is Cook’s inability to listen to men more experienced in the wilds of Alaska. (Wikipedia cites other evidence supporting Carroll’s assessment of Cook’s character, including a famous faked photograph of a first ascent of Mt. McKinley from a 1906 attempt.)

On a great rock off shore from the mouth of Resurrection Bay, hundreds of sea lions line one wall, some several hundred feet above the sea. “The Santa Ana ran near the rock, then gave a loud blast on her whistle. The lions tumbled down any way they might, rolling, somersaulting, leaping to the water, then surrounded the ship and barking their indignation.”

23.2 The Beauty of Southern Alaska

September 16, 1903

Snow creeping toward the edge of town brings “the lonely men who have spent the short summer on distant creeks in search of the elusive gold,” down into Valdez where the fortunate “are given smiles, and if necessary further favors by the ladies of the evening,” who haunt the dance halls, saloons and other sporting houses. The nights are lengthening and, “In a few weeks all will be covered with snow for the winter.”

“Words fail to tell of the marvelous scenery of Southern Alaska. The highest mountains on the North American continent front on the sea here, and snow is always present on these above 3,000 feet, even in mid summer. There is forest below the snow, and rivers tumble down the steeps into the sea, and glaciers may be seen at every turn. Islands separated by winding blue channels give passage to the heart of these mountains… It is an empty land, these fine harbors wasted on a wilderness where they are of no use to man.”

23.3 Yakutat

September 20, 1959 (sic)

(The misdating of this entry probably reflects when the diaries were typed.)

At Yakutat native women “sit in front of the trading post and sell beaded moccasins, ladies hand bags and all sorts of trinkets they have made during the long winters,” for whatever price they can get. The young people native to the area “are becoming Americanized,” at a school in Sitka where they are taken when quite young. The US government offers men who live with Indian women two choices: “marry her and keep her as wife, or else jail.”

At Valdez most of the passengers left the ship to be replaced by a new list. Now Hayes bunks with “one Cloudesley Rutter,” a biologist at Stanford University, who offers Hayes a job for the next summer assisting Rutter’s study of the Alaska salmon industry. In the meantime, Rutter asks why doesn’t Hayes come down and enroll at Stanford? “It sounds good, but I wonder.” Maybe the quick bond between Hayes and Rutter forms because, “We have one thing in common, both dislike Martin’s pretensions.”

Perhaps the long nights with the coming of winter send Hayes back to his darkest assessments of humanity. A prostitute on board has lost the malamute pup she loved, tangled in some rigging and killed; maybe that set him off – or the end of the Alaska adventure with no plan for tomorrow? At any rate, he writes: “Men are the most degraded animals this world holds. They prostitute their own kind, exploit each other and slay each other without mercy if it profits to do so. The most fortuned die in infancy, or are never born at all.” And so on at some length.

23.4 Summing up Alaska 1903

Septermber 23, 1903

After some geological speculation about how glaciers carved the bay leading to Juneau and all the waterways south to Puget Sound, Hayes comments on the viability of the future state capital: “Mining keeps Juneau from dying, there being no industry or farming hereabout to make a town.” Juneau will be a business center of the region until the rich mines at Treadwell across the bay are worked dry – but then what will support a town?

A comment Hayes makes on passing again through Sitka encapsulates his impression of Alaska and its cultural history formed while traipsing about the region in the summer of 1903: “Sitka remains the same sleepy village is has always been. The Indian schools, the territorial staff who govern the country and the old Russian mission makes a living for 1,500 people”

He goes on to say that 50 years of Russian occupation stripped Alaska of its furs and broke the spirit of the native population: “The 36 years of American rule has been insufficient to uplift them from their lowly estate, but it can be done.” He sees the Indian schools as the great hope for future civilization of the area because the native children will be taught practical skills and, “kept free from the gamblers, the licentious miners, and others who corrupt them utterly.” In Hayes’ view, these young natives will surely inherit Alaska. When the minerals are stripped and the fisheries regulated, there are too many mosquitoes in summer and too much cold in winter “to make it a white man’s country.” He’s hopeful that the educated children of Alaska “will rebuild what has been lost within a hundred years.”

As for Hayes? He’ll be in Seattle within the week.

23.5 Where to next?

September 30, 1903

Slow boats like the Santa Ana poke down the coast “for they creep into all sorts of outlandish places and load and unload cargo for small mines, fisheries, trading stations and such.” But the pleasant sightseeing trip will end tomorrow in Seattle.

Hayes’ will be glad to part ways with Martin whose “head has been turned by the publicity he has received.” Early in the summer he was reasonably companionable but now, “he seeks the society of scientists, politicians, or rich mining people who can help him up on his way to the top, wherever that is.” While softening the critique about Martin’s turned head with,“I suppose we are all like that,” Hayes makes clear by his own choice of working class companions that he understands “the top” differently than Martin.

So, that’s Alaska – what next? Uncle Epam in Washington who wrangled the trip for Hayes wants him to visit another uncle, Epam’s brother, out in Oregon. To Hayes this seems an odious though necessary part of the job. Nevertheless, “I think I’ll funk it this time, go back to Eureka and stay the winter.”

23.6 Same Old Eureka

October 10, 1903

After a brief stop in Victoria BC – “a dull town with an English atmosphere” – and the usual violent seasickness coming down the coast in a small boat, Hayes arrives in Eureka where George Glynn, his old boss at the mill, has a job waiting for him. But “I don’t like it. I want to wander.”

In this frame of mind, of course Eureka receives a tawdry description: “There is little to recommend Eureka to a vagrant.” With five large sawmills, a shingle mill, and some dairies and farms, “It is one of those towns that is built, has no further need for expansion.” No need for any new houses, and “the business section has a run-down appearance.”

Uncle Epam still presses Hayes to visit the family up in Oregon, George Glynn wants him to stay on –“but I wonder.”

23.7 Galveston? Stanford?

October 22, 1903

To wander the world one must have either cash or sailor’s work. Lacking the former, Hayes tries in San Francisco for a ship to China or to the South Seas. “Nothing doing, no chance ever.” So, it’ll have to be Galveston and wherever ships are going from there.

On a visit to Stanford University, Cloudesley Rutter, the biologist Hayes met on the Santa Ana out of Valdez, offers another alternative: an expedition to the Galapagos Islands departing some months hence. In the meantime, Rutter wants Hayes to enroll in a special geology course. Never mind the tuition money, Rutter can set him up with a job as a club secretary.

October 24, 1903

“Was out at the Twin Peaks yesterday, thinking it over.” It’ll have to be Galveston: “I won’t handle booze, and to be a club secretary means I must do just that.” The decision made, he’s on a train for Texas that very night.

23.8 William Morrison Perkins 1841-1903

October 30, 1903

At 25, Hayes has been traveling the world for 10 years since leaving Hico at the end of a horsewhip. Returning to a place he says he never cares to see again, he gives the following terse account of his sisters: “May is married, lives in Oklahoma. Jennie is in Houston. I will see her on my way south. Annie is teaching at Iredell, a small village next station to Hico. Memrie is in the post office here, and Pearl and Vance still attend school.” He reports being happy to see them.

November 3, 1903

Remarkable that Hayes should be in Hico with the family when “Word has come that father was killed by an unruly horse at Walsenburg Colorado.” He lived three days after the horse crushed his head against a fence rail.

“Our reactions were different when the tidings came.” He reports that his mother went pale, “But there was little sorrow for his passing. He had been too cruel for that.” Hayes is glad to have written to his faterh before he died, but “To be truthful, it means no more than any other person whom I have met casually. Whatever affection there may have been, it has been wholly eradicated by his brutality when I was in his power. Somehow I am glad it has been no worse, for I might have slain him had I stayed home.”

Hayes and his mother will leave for Houston tomorrow to visit sister Jennie on his way to find a ship at Galveston.

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