During this “calm” time while Hayes gets money together for travel, one is impressed by the extraordinary physicality of the work he seeks.
June 21, 1913 – September 30, 1913
After leaving the Donaldson family dairy at Bandon, Hayes came up the Oregon coast returning to the familiar mills of North Bend where he knew he could get steady employment toward earning a road stake. He and a buddy George Savage, a fallen theology student formerly at Princeton, work the end of the sorting table heaving and shoving the heaviest timbers onto trucks, ten hours a day for $2.25. In a backhanded compliment to dairy workers, Hayes writes: “Nothing to do here but to be one of the social set who play in their spare time.”
And, if one were so inclined, play would be interesting here. “There are many lovely girls, there are in every little town from Maine to Oregon. These have a certain charm for a red blooded man, an appeal that is hard to deny.”
But, of course, Hayes does deny himself. For Hayes, one either settles in one place to marry a woman, “unthinkable to a real adventurer,” or takes a sequence of temporary wives, “But it is not the honorable way, so I won’t.” Look no further than George Savage to confirm of the dangers of consort with women: “he met a fair maid, who tempted George and he did eat. Consequently he is here on the end of the sorting table with me, instead of discoursing before learned audiences on how to be good.”
On July 23, just before quitting the mill at North Bend, Hayes “took great interest in watching the forcible deportation of an I.W.W. organizer.” Edgar and Louis Simpson, the sons of L.M. Simpson, basis for the Cappy Ricks character mentioned in section 2.5 of this blog, and “several of the leading citizens took this wretch on board a launch, hoisted the American flag on high to proclaim to the world their 100% Americanism, took him down to the sandhills across on the north side of the bay and told him to hike for it.” Given the wretched working conditions at sawmills of the time, union organizing quite naturally follows; surprising though that Hayes, who was sternly critical of the corrupt San Francisco unions, writes with a hint of sympathy for the I.W.W.: “The only union that has ever done any good whatever for the laborer in this northwest part of the U.S.A. is the same I.W.W. Nuff said.”
Assignment to the end of the sorting table had been a promotion. Hartman, the yard boss had seen Hayes and George Savage easily keeping their middle section of the table clean of the lighter boards, so “honored” them with the heaviest work at the end. “I have learned the men who sit quietly along its sides and do little draw $2.5o per day, while my wage is $2.25. The hardest job draws the least pay, so I tendered my resignation, to be effective at once.” No union organizing for Mr. Perkins; if a job’s unfair, go find another one down the road somewhere. George Savage doesn’t care: “He has reached a place where so long as booze money comes it makes no difference.”
By August 6, 1913 Hayes had work on the planer at Hammond’s mill in Samoa across the bay from Eureka. “Hammond’s is the worst place in the redwoods, perhaps the worst on the Coast.” Hammond’s explains the millworker’s receptivity to the I.W.W.. Just as Hayes described with regard to the Yukon gold fields, ads in San Francisco newspapers keep Humbolt County full of unemployed lumberjacks who’ve paid $2 a head to be shipped north ready to replace any man who collapses on the job as “the various machines in the mills are speeded up until the man behind it is going at top speed all the day.” At the job interview, Hayes saw, “Guns, knuckle dusters, black jacks, handcuffs and all other paraphernalia usually found in police headquarters and penitentiaries.” The pay was $1.75 for ten hours a day. “Flunkies” with stars on their shirts enforce silence in the “vast barn-like hall” at meal times. $2.50 a week goes back to the company for a bed already fully occupied with vermin and Hammond’s takes another $6.50 from the first paycheck for “poll tax, road tax, hospital fees and whatnot.”
But Hayes takes the job: broke, it keeps him from begging and, because Samoa is so near Eureka, he can easily spot the first ship sailing anywhere other than here.
After only twelve days on the job at Hammond’s, Hayes collected his $10.10 paycheck, “ten hours a day, and only that, less than a dollar a day,” and sailed out of Eureka on the F. A. Kilburn to San Francisco, then on the Hanalei to Los Angeles with “Big Bob Black – the Australian [who] has Mexico on the brain.” While Hayes and Big Bob check the Los Angeles street gossip about Mexico – “all say it is futile” – Hayes falls in with a missionary crowd “including the Fergusons,” who suggest “that I go to Africa to build a line of mission stations from the upper Nile to Lake Chad.” Hayes decided he’d better go to Mexico: “[The Fergusons] might as well offer me a place on the moon or Mars, it is about as easily obtained.”
John Edward Kynaston Studd, Charles Thomas Studd, George Brown Studd
Two nights later, accepting an invitation to speak at a mission hall, Hayes “took them through West Africa, the Solomons and New Guinea,” after which, “George Studd asked me to dine with him.” George Studd, formerly with the Ferguson’s Peniel Mission in Los Angeles, was now doing advance work for his brother Charles Thomas (C. T.) Studd‘s mission to Africa. George said C. T. was already in Africa and “An experienced man is wanted to go to him and build stations in that country for the new mission.”
To Hayes this is more of the same moonshine: he and Big Bob “took the train to El Centro in Imperial Valley.”
Where Hayes had hiked nine years previously, “now is eighty feet of water”; the Salton Sea “began filling soon after my trip across.” Big Bob still presses Mexico but Hayes thinks Big Bob needs to learn how to work: “He has always rode in on the shirt tail of his parents, spending money others earned instead of fighting his own battles.” Now Big Bob wants Hayes to “finance a prospecting expedition into Mexico.” Citing “insurrectos … barging about a few miles away hating Gringos, and all others who do not see eye to eye with them,” Hayes signs on as a teamster pulling a Fresno Scraper working “on a new canal known as the high line ditch.”
Big Bob got drenched in a heavy thunderstorm the first night on the job and promptly quit, but Hayes stayed on working “mules and broncos … savage as wild horses. One must watch their teeth and heels, yet when once hitched they work well.” Low paid, inexperienced Mexicans and Indians drive most of the other teams on the job with little regard for the health of their animals. Hayes and a few other Americans are kept on at higher pay to hitch all the teams. “The mules know enough to do the rest.” Of course, a “caste line” develops: “No American is expected to show courtesy to a Mexican or an Indian, and these proud aboriginals resent it.” Typically, Hayes defies caste conventions: “Often I sit with the Mexicans in the cook wagon, chat with them and am learning a modicum of their language. We get on quite well with the few words in common we have, and they all appreciate it.”
Three weeks in the ferocious heat, flies, and mosquitos and Hayes has been on the job longer than any American still there, “but some of the Mexicans can take it easily.” When the “corral buck” quit, Hayes was given his extremely dangerous job: “Some of these broncos and mules are as savage as tigers. I keep a long chain dangling to their halters nightly. On entering the corral they often charge me ears laid back and teeth all showing. I leap over the feed boxes, catch the chain with an iron hook and tie them to the boxes. Shoving a tame horse beside them, it is easy to harness them across the back of this docile animal. But it would be suicide to place one’s self alongside these brutes.”
One more week and “Clark, the boss, decided wages were too high, so imported a lot of city bred Italians from Los Angeles.” Hayes and the few remaining experienced men quit the job rather than accept the pay cut Clark offered. “I stayed long enough to save a few lives, for the mules were in their element trying to kill some of the unfortunate Romans who had collars on upside down and could get no further.”
Hayes and all the men leaving the job came through Brawley “88 feet below sea level,” and on to El Centro. “Even the Mexicans quit with us. They showed their appreciation of my interest in them while at camp. If I had permitted they would have bought out the town’s ice cream supply…. After all, men are alike under their skins.”
At El Centro, Hayes caught a fortunate ride: “A man with an automobile was going across the ranges to San Diego, was looking for passengers to pay his way. For seven dollars I made a seat and here we are.” Back in San Diego after a little more than a month in the desert wrangling wild horses Hayes runs into an old friend, Fred Sidler, from back in the gold rush at Cripple Creek. Fred has work on the construction team at Balboa Park and gets Hayes on: “all I have to do is to dump a two-horse scraper, another man driving the team. It seems ridiculous after handling four wild broncos in the desert all alone. The pay is better, too, and I am considering Staying on here the rest of my life.”
Ha! In three weeks he’ll be on his way to the moon – or to Mars – or maybe to that mission job he thought equally improbable with C. T. Studd in Africa.