Thursday, November 6, 2014

Ferry Tales 23-July-1912 -- November 6, 2014

 Lindsay Campbell's column "Ferry Tales" ran for many years in the San Francisco Call. This example is from 23-July-1912. In 1912 Theodore Roosevelt ran as the Progressive Party presidential candidate against Democrat Woodrow Wilson and Republican William Howard Taft. TR had run against incumbent Taft for the Republican nomination and lost. "Equal suffrage" referred to getting women the vote. They received the vote in California in 1912, but not nationally until the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified in 1920.  

Did you ever leave a package on a ferry steamer? Did you ever retrieve it?

It is possible to do both. If you have commuted long you know all about it, but do you know why the ferry companies make it so hard on the absent minded commuter to recover his property?

Bestow that eager look elsewhere. I'm not going to answer my own question. I really want to know.

On both the Key Route and Southern Pacific the depositary for lost property is at the mole on the Alameda side in the very middle of the journey and at a place where no commuter ever has any business except to board a train or boat. And the time for either operation is limited.

Suppose, for instance, you leave a glove on a Key Route train, and let us presume that it finds its way to the lost property office. This office is at the mole and is open only at certain hours. You ask the conductor next morning about your glove and he directs you to the lost property office. When the train reaches the pier you jump off, fight your way out of the stream that is pouring boatward, and inquire for the office. Just as you find it a penetrating voice cries:

"All aboard!"

Away you scoot for your boat. You know where the place is and will get the glove on your way home. Try It.

"Very sorry," you are told, "but the office closes at 5 o'clock and the man in charge has gone."

You try it next morning. This time your geographical knowledge enables you to reach the counter and ask for your glove. The man behind the counter is a deliberate person who, in measured tones, demands a description of the lost property, wants to know when and where you lost it, and just as he starts in the direction of a locker on the opposite side of the office the voice outside says:

"All aboard!"  And you go. Finally you leave home 20 minutes earlier than usual. You get your glove about a half minute after the boat pulls out and spend 20 minutes waiting for the next.

The railroad company doesn't want your poperty, but it accumulates a pile of junk every year just because of the difficulties involved in getting owner and property together again. To a mere commuter it would seem that the ferry depot would be the logical place for these reunions. What do you think about it?

* * *

All Marin county is interested in an ingenious young woman who is devoting the time she spends on the ferry boat on her way to and from her city job, to the making of what she confided to a friend is her trousseau. Every woman knows what goes to make up a trousseau and the young woman declares that she is making "everything" on these daily journeys, but it would take an eagle eyed expert to identify which part of the "everything" is in course of production.

Everybody that travels on the same boat knows that the embroidery is elaborate and that the trousseau is going to be a dandy, but that is all? The pretty seamstress carries the particular section of trousseau on which she is working in a blue silk bag, in the side of which is a small round opening not larger than a dollar, and this small circular section is all that prying eyes are permitted to see. It is big enough to sew through, but as effective as frosted glass as a barrier to curiosity.

* * *

The Berkeley man who told this story on the after deck of the 8:20. Key Route steamer the other morning may, if he sees this, have to make an explanation to his wife. The speaker was a well known resident of the college town and his wife was in the forefront of the campaign for equal suffrage. Her husband is active in republican politics.

"My wife registered before the primaries," he confided to about 60 or more friends, acquaintances and fellow commuters. "She comes from Virginia and has always claimed to be a democrat.

"'I registered as a republican.' she told me when I got home last night.

"'Thought you were a democrat?" said I.

"'So I am," said she.

"'But you registered republican? What was the matter? Did you forget what you were?'

"'Nothing was the matter. I registered as a republican so that I can vote against Roosevelt.'

"'But how about Woodrow Wilson?" I asked her. 'Thought he was your choice for president?"

"'So he is," she said, 'and I'm going to send a dollar to his campaign fund.'"

G. L. C.

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