Home -> Other California History Books -> The Log of the Empire State - Chapter I

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Chapter I

Before we had reached the Golden Gate we acted like some great happy family, eager to enjoy every minute. After we stopped waving our tired arms to the crowds of friends on the docks and the last bouquet aimed at the Mayor's tug had landed in the bay, small groups, with radiant faces, discussed what do you suppose? No, not the crossing of the Bar, but the opening of the ship's bar. As you know, Uncle Sam seems to consider the dry law impossible on the water.

We were all saying that San Francisco's farewell made us proud to belong to such a city, when M. A. Gale told us that he wanted to add a word of praise for one of San Francisco's traffic officers, who let him by when he made a speedy trip for some valuables left behind, which had just been missed at the last moment. But, do you remember who was the last passenger? She was nervous and fidgety ever since she came on board, too. None other than Bulah, the handsome mare bound for Yokohama. It was worth going through the steerage to watch her enjoy one of our "eleven o'clock" apples.

When the lunch gong sounded, we all went below (doesn't that sound real nautical?) to try and get settled in our home for the next three months. Apparently there was no place left for even our hats, thoughtful gifts, fruits, candy and flowers, filled every inch of ordinary space. Christmas time was tame by comparison.

Many were down to lunch, fortified by a highball, but at dinner, mal de mer had claimed its victims, and there were only a few brave spirits on deck to indulge in dancing the first night.

The second day out everybody was trying to remember everyone else by name. One positive lady insisted that A. I. Esberg was Dr. Morton, but little mistakes were forgotten, and many of the committee were soon calling each other by their first names.

While most of us were getting comfortably settled in our deck chairs, someone noticed that Louis Glass, George Vranizan, C. W. Hinchcliffe, Carl Westerfeld, C. A. Thayer, C. H. James, William Symon, F. S. Ballinger, P. H. Lyon, S. L. Schwartz and Henry Mattlage had disappeared below. And it is said by one who trailed them to their lair, that the Fantan and Pie-gow games, going on in the steerage, were the magnet.

There were other discoveries in the steerage. A Servian girl, Alma Karlin, who speaks ten languages fluently, but could not afford a first-class passage (although once well-to-do) on account of the low exchange value of her country's money. She is on a three-year tour to study conditions in the Pacific Islands, to learn if her countrymen can successfully immigrate to this region.

A young American married to a Chinaman, a group of Orientals devouring an odd-looking concoction with chop sticks, a motley group of Hindus with their fezzes, made the picturesque gathering, that gladly received the surplus fruits distributed by the belles of the ship.

We struck a squall that surprised many of us enjoying the salt sea breeze in our stuffy state rooms, by washing the spray over our neatly put-out dinner clothes. That night it took real sea legs to dance while the ship rocked. But it was great sport, and Sidney Kahn's University Orchestra "jazzed" on as if they were on solid ground.

The third day all of the officers appeared in white. White duck curtains replaced the wooden doors. The women blossomed out in the daintiest of summer frocks, the men in white flannels, and although most of us found our shoes difficult to put on (in spite of the fact that we all had shoes a half a size larger) deck games were in full swing and sea sickness was a thing of the past.

Commissioner Krull was the first to jump into the open-air swimming tank, some of the ladies following. But it took deck tennis and the tropics to make the tank popular.

Captain Nelson took us on a tour of inspection, and as eating was the principal occupation, we asked to see the electrically operated galley first, for, next to the bar, it was the chief attraction. We all have heard of electric dish washers, potato peelers, knife sharpeners, bread bakers, cake mixers, etc., but what a guarantee for matrimonial bliss there would be if every young bride could be as sure as this ship was to please the most particular of husbands. How? By using an automatic, electric egg boiler that can be set for any time, and when the desired number of minutes is reached, presto! up comes the egg out of the boiling water! Not a second overdone, or underdone. In China some of us were given, as a great delicacy, a "twenty-year-old egg" and toward the end of the trip many of us had lost interest in all eggs, no matter how cooked.

The stoves burn oil, and although the day was hot, and the noon meal was in preparation, there was no excessive heat and no fumes. The white-clad Chinese waiters did their appointed tasks with the smoothness and lack of confusion of clockwork.

Our smiling waiters greeted us every morning in long blue kimonos. Ours answered to the name of Arling, and after one had ordered an abnormal breakfast, he suggested that the griddle cakes were "veery goo-wd." Everyone ate more than they ever thought they could, and when at eleven o'clock, the deck boy came along with broth, few there were that had the courage to say, "No." The tang of the sea caused groups to invade the charming tea-room, with its yellow curtains and painted wicker furniture, at tiffin time. And if chicken, a-la-King, was served after the nightly dancing party, - well, everyone said, "We don't make a trip like this every day, so, why not?"

There was a weighing machine on the lower deck, but, we all believed that it must have been out of order. If we had not gained any more pounds than we had spent for oriental souvenirs, we would have been lucky.

Some of the older members of the party welcomed the Sunday evening movies instead of the strenuous dancing, but we were all glad to go to bed after the movie villain had been killed.

Women giving out fruit baskets

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