27. Los Angeles to Seattle

Sailing North to Seattle in ragged clothing and dubbed the ship’s “Jonah,” Hayes learns of the death of his childhood hero, Henry M. Stanley.  Perhaps some of the flaws he reads concerning Stanley’s ethical conduct at the Battle of Shiloh, very near where Hayes father William Morrison grew up, allow Hayes to find some more mature assessments, of both Henry M. Stanley and William M. Perkins.

The map below won’t appear in an email.  His trip north following the green desert walk shows as the yellow path.

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Here and There Synopsis:

27.1 No Work In Los Angeles

March 29, 1904

By his own reckoning, Hayes walked 925 miles between El Paso and Los Angeles starting on February 26 and arriving on March 29 of 1904. He counts only two “rest periods” (Hayes’ quote), the five days work at Douglas for $1.40 and the road construction job he quit over mistreatment of the horses. He says even the missionaries he knows in Los Angeles, “look at me askance because of my tattered clothing and weather beaten appearance. … My shoes are almost gone. My feet are so swollen they little resemble feet, and my clothes are in keeping with the rest of my appearance.”

It is interesting to compare this 1904 hike across the desert with his trai-hopping trip across a similar path in June of 1900 (segment 13.8). In 1904, after his conversion experience at Victor, he chose to walk because he had resolved to stop stealing from the railroad companies.

Given his ragged appearance, no one will consider Hayes for a job. He got a haircut, but the shearing didn’t help, and the barber cheated him. Near desperation, he writes, “Today I saw a large gang of men working on the street. It looked worth a try, but on approaching near to them I saw they wore a sort of uniform, and that each was shackled with a chain with a ball attached.” It was a gang of hoboes rounded up for vagrancy. With his appearance, a closer approach might have landed Hayes a job and a ball and chain of his own.

One bit of luck: “Phillip Lang, an old time acquaintance from San Francisco, pressed a dollar on me. I’ll never forget it, though I wonder how I will ever return it.” One wonders how Phillip had a dollar to spare for Hayes who writes of him, “He has been badly broken in the whalers chasing bow-heads in the Arctic, and will never recover from the hardships and brutal beatings there.”

27.2 No Work in San Pedro

March 31, 1904

With no prospects in Los Angeles, Hayes hikes down to the wharves at San Pedro. Had he arrived a day earlier a “big square rigger” was looking for sailors to Puget Sound paying $25 for the trip. But he missed her and spends two futile days beating around the port looking for a ship. At night he sleeps in an abandoned building already occupied by several Japanese abalone fishermen who are none too cordial toward their guest. “What to do, what to do?”

27.3 Finally a ship North

April 5, 1904

Now completely broke, Hayes writes, “I had no food the last day in San Pedro, but was fortuned to find a few half rotten oranges in a dump outside the town.” In 1904 Los Angeles wasn’t its current sprawl so he “hiked the thirteen miles across the sun burned hills to Redondo, and found myself at the end of things.” Meaning, I suppose, no money and no food.

After a day in Redondo without food, he hiked back into the hills above the city and found a ranch where he hoped to trade his purse for a meal. When a young girl answered the door, Hayes was “too starved to explain myself, but I heard her call to her mother – “Oh Mama, come and look at this poor man!” (Hayes’ quote.).”

The girl’s mother offered Hayes a pitcher of buttermilk – which he drank to the bottom hitting his stomach “as if I had swallowed a cannonball.” Renewed by a hearty meal following the cannonball, Hayes took up a hoe to clean the weeds from half an acre of potatoes. The man of the house paid Hayes 75¢ for hoeing the potatoes and some vegetables, then cleaning all the mustard out of his grain.

Back in Redondo the four-masted schooner John A. Campbell lay at the wharf. Fortunately, he signed on to sail for Puget Sound before the skipper asked him to run into town for a bottle of whiskey – because, of course, Hayes refused to buy whiskey. Explaining the moral grounds for his refusal, Hayes says of the captain, “He looked at me hard and long, but in the end said it was right.” It’s a rough crew and the work is heavy but at least Hayes is at sea again and “Maybe I will be in time to make the geological survey party [back to Alaska] after all.”

27.4 Some Friendly Advice

April 12, 1904

A bitter wind blowing from the Northwest makes the John A. Campbell tack morning and evening in order to sail upwind. Dressed only in the rags left him by the desert, with no oilskins to keep off the weather, Hayes jumps up into the rigging happy for the warmth of vigorous work. At least it isn’t raining.

When not hauling sails, Hayes works below deck as assistant to the black cook who delivers some advice about religiosity, whiskey, and the captain: “Say, kid, yuh wants to be sorta cahful ‘bout dis ‘ligious business. W’en I’m ashoah, I takes duh sacrament, prays, and all dem tings. I’se ‘ligoius dah, but heah I forgits all ‘bout it. Dese sailah men doan’ wan’ ay ob dat stuff.”

Hayes reports being duly impressed by the advice and very happy with his assignment as cook’s assistant where he’s out of the wind and has plenty to eat.

27.5 Ship’s Jonah

April 22, 1904

As the wind continues to blow against the ship, Hayes “heard the skipper say he was sorry he let the Salvation Army man come on board.” Worse yet, disregarding the cook’s advice, Hayes walked out on the men in the forecastle when they were telling “salacious stories.” So now the men have named Hayes Jonah of the ship – his cursed presence on board explains for the ceaseless headwind blowing continually stronger as the ship beats its way north.

Only the cook, who can neither read nor write, remains friendly toward Hayes the Jonah because he’s also Hayes the secretary. The cook instructs Hayes to write “Deah li’l Pet,” (Hayes’ quote) which gets transcribed, ““My darling Maud” (Hayes’ quote) in one of the cooks “letters to various sweet young things he has loved and left behind in various places in the world. He has a wife too but why devote all one’s affections to one woman?” The cook is “frankly suspicious” about the fidelity of transcription but he cannot consult any other on this “profligate crew” so he reluctantly seals Hayes’ free rendition of “everything else as I think a girl should know from a love sick swain.”

27.6 Cape Flattery

April 29, 1904

Finally the winds calm as the ship pulls even with Cape Flattery. “And about us we see strange things.” Enormous sharks cruise by the ship, every one with its mouth wide open “to catch whatever these great fish eat for sustenance.” The skipper and the cook take turns firing revolvers “point blank” at the sharks who writhe for a moment, dive and then resurface seeming “no worse for the bullets in their bodies.”

Fuca Pillar at Cape Flattery, Washington

27.7 A Dollar for the Jonah

May 2, 1904

No man leaves a ship faster than its Jonah: “The schooner, the John A. Campbell, anchored at Port Townsend, and I was set on shore like I was a plague.” American law commands every sailor receive at least a dollar for service, so that’s exactly the pay handed Hayes. This will pay passage to Seattle, 90 miles distant, leaving him 15¢ in pocket and considerably downcast: “I have done all possible to get any sort of job, to earn my way, to keep decent. But it is futile. … There are times when a fellow don’t care what happens, and this is one of them, at least in my case.”

27.8 Death of a Childhood Hero

May 5, 1904

Hayes first went to the employment offices in Seattle, but these charge a fee for placement “and I had none of that.” So he went up to Ballard to some sawmills where “I might as well have tried to break into a bank as get a job there.” A Swedish clan operates the mills, passing the jobs only to sons at the death of their fathers. After sleeping a night in the woods, most of Hayes’ last 15¢ went for bread and bologna. “The other five cents, not being of special worth went for a paper.” This extravagant expense can only have been prompted by the paper’s headline – an announcement of the death of Hayes’ childhood hero, the Welsh adventurer in Africa, Henry M. Stanley.

Henry M Stanley 1872

On reading the news, Hayes writes a long wistful paragraph mixing three dark thoughts – his musings on Stanley’s death: “As a child in Oregon he was my ideal, and somehow has always seemed to be more than a man.” – with his thoughts about the death of his own father who was born in the same year as Stanley, “As my father died last autumn, they made the same life span, tho under such totally different conditions.” – and finally his bleak assessments of his own achievements, “The Africa that I have loved seems beyond me. Surely no man can reach a lower rung on the ladder, for everything I have tried has failed.”

Hayes’ father, William Morrison Perkins grew up in Southern Tennessee. “The Battle of Shiloh [1862], one of the engagements of the Civil War, was fought hard by my father’s home. So often he has told me of the crash of cannon, of the many wounded, the heaps of severed limbs of men and the screams of those under the knife with no other anesthetic than a shot of whiskey.”

The Battle of Shiloh 1862

From the paper Hayes learns that his hero Stanley fought at the Battle of Shiloh – in a manner that tarnishes some of Stanley’s luster: “Serving under Beauregard of the southern army, he was captured there. But politics meant nothing to Stanley. Later he joined the northern forces and served until the end of the war. It would seem that a man must have no scruples if he is to win in life’s battles.” Hayes draws this lesson from Stanley – while steadfastly refusing its application to his own life.

Setting aside the ghosts of his father and his childhood hero Stanley, Hayes must turn to the business at hand; he’s still broke and without work. Hiking south out of Seattle toward Tacoma, he was “sitting on the bridge across the Duamish River trying to tie some of my rags together when men came running round a bend shouting “fire!” These were warning shouts from a rock quarry nearby. After the blasts, Hayes found his way to the quarry boss at the cookhouse and wouldn’t take no for an answer to his job request/demand, “a man is insistent when his belly is touching his backbone.”

The work is hard: “We are not driven, … but no slacking can be done.” Hayes and the 15 other men working in the quarry blast rock from a basalt outcropping then crush it by hand swinging massive hammers. “I am sore all the way thru, but the life I have led has hardened me until I can stand it.” A flea-ridden bunkhouse where, “We sleep the sleep of exhaustion,” a woodstove with plenty of wood for warmth, and good food in large quantities at the cookhouse make the place tolerable enough for a wandering man – at least until he can raise a stake.

2 Responses to 27. Los Angeles to Seattle

  1. Mary Martin says:

    John, I am always astounded at the physical and mental strength of this man. Thank you Mary Martin

    • johnmmartin says:

      Yeah that was quite a walk. I’m writing ahead a little bit when he’s in better times sailing along the West Coast of Africa. Says he’s thrilled to finally get there.


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