Monday, October 13, 2014

Ferry Tales 22-July-1912 -- October 13, 2014

G Lindsay Campbell's column "Ferry Tales" ran for many years in the San Francisco Call. This example is from 22-July-1912. "Overland" is a general term for a transcontinental train.  The "Overland Limited" was the best train from Chicago to San Francisco, with a ferry transfer from Oakland. Sunny Jim Rolph was Mayor of San Francisco from 1912 to 1931.

See more on my San Francisco Bay Ferryboats site:

The "After Deck Squad" has offered a prize for the discovery of the oldest commuter.

The A. D. S. may be found any business afternoon on the boat that leaves the ferry at 5:45 for the Alameda mole. To locate the squad all that is necessary is to stand on the afterdeck until the boat gets under way. It will not be long before you hear a chorus of laughter. Walk right over to the scene of the disturbance and In a voice as nearly natural as the somewhat unusual proceeding will permit, utter one of the squad passwords. There are several of these. Here are a few of them: "Oh George!" "Jack!", "Hello, Van!", "Say, Denny!" Any of these will do.

* * *

"Watch closely the effect. Some member will turn quickly as if stung. Walk right up to him. Present your card with the name and address of the oldest commuter plainly written on the back in your own handwriting. If he says: "What's this?" with a rising inflection on the "what's" you will know that you have found the right party. The name of the winner will be published in this column when the claims of your candidate have been verified.

* * *

Perhaps you never heard of the "After Deck Squad." Its members are all bright and shining lights in the commercial life of the city. As a squad they are a little more conservative than the "Rudder Club," which meets in the morning on the 8 o'clock city bound Key Route, and not as exemplary in their habits (every member of the A. D. S. smokes) as the members of the "Sunshine club," also a Key Route commuteration.

"Commuteration" goes. It has the sanction of a U. C. professor who occasionally helps the sun keep the club bright.

The "Sunshine club" meets on the southeast corner of the upper deck of whatever Key Route boat leaves the Emeryville pier at a few minutes after 8 o'clock every morning. While the "Rudder club" on the deck below hides itself in a cloud of tobacco smoke and frivols away the 15 minutes that span its daily existence in plotting future discomfort for some absent member, the "Sunshiners," on the upper deck, take deep breathing exercises, discuss plans for sleeping porches that will increase the velocity of the night air and scheme for the reformation of the "Rudder club."

* * *

According to the latest official figures 101,593 people travel on the transbay ferries every day. The majority of these are commuters. To a large extent the commuter is an individual of regular habits. The same crowd travels at the same hour every day. Congenial souls naturally gravitate together. Hence the commuter clubs, of which only three have been mentioned, but of which scores exist. Of the others, later on.

* * *

It was a prominent member of the "After Deck Squad" who divided the commuter crowd into four classes or groups, as they might say on the Key Route.

Those that travel regularly between 6 a. m. and 7 a. m., he said, are the workers.

The seven to eighters keep track of the workers' work.

The eight to niners enjoy the fruits of that work, and the from nine to nooners dissipate those fruits in riotous shopping.

This scale works only for west bound travel, but can be applied, inverted, after 3 p. m. to the east bound stream.

* * *

It's fine to be a commuter. You're sure of having in your pocket at least once a month $3 in real cash. If you don't have it you don't commute.

* * *

"What's the matter with San Francisco?" exclaimed a proud resident of "the city that knows how" as he stood at the foot of Market street the other evening with a friend from London who had just got in on a belated overland. The San Franciscan made a gesture with his arm which swept the new built skyline and the street crowded with commuters hurrying ferry ward. The visitor saw only the crowds and noted that they were hastening to the ferry with the apparent intention of taking the boat that had brought him across the bay.

"Yes, by Jove!" And the Britisher peered into the faces of the east bound throng, as if seeking signs of alarm. "They all seem to be leaving. I wonder what is the matter?"

It is some army, this commuter throng. Fun has been poked at it and urban sympathy wasted upon it. It has been threatened with the loss of its daily bread If it didn't sleep where it worked. It has been denounced for its nerve in criticising conditions where it had no vote and for taking credit for the election of Jim Rolph. in spite of all handicaps, however, its volume grows with every improvement in tranebay transportation. The official census of this daily exodus was published a few weeks ago and the reason why the harbor commissioners found it necessary to replank the bridgeways leading to and from the upper decks of the ferry steamers then became evident.

G. L. C.


The Cardinals beat the Giants 4-3.  The Giants kept tying it, but the Cardinals kept hitting home runs and going ahead. 

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