20. Liverpool to Washington DC

June 12, 2011

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.”

19. San Francisco to Liverpool

June 5, 2011

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.