Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Ferry Tales 24-July-1912 -- December 10, 2014

Lindsay Campbell's column "Ferry Tales" ran for many years in the San Francisco Call. This example is from 24-July-1912. The colonel was Theodore Roosevelt and the "crime of Chicago" was the Republican convention, where Roosevelt was denied the nomination.

TO the man who travels on the Southern Pacific ferry boats with his ears open it would seen that the railroad officials launched a boomerang when they limited the elasticity of the commutation ticket by marking it with the sex of the purchaser.

The new regulation is regarded as an invasion of the purchaser's right to do as he pleases with his own and as one more sacrifice to be laid on the altar of the high cost of living.

In discussing this latest sex problem the commuters have decided that instead of curtailing its patrons' rights, the railroad company should adopt a more generous policy. As a result of all this discussion a movement has been started, which has for its object the presentation to the railroad, commission of a demand that the bay ferry companies be compelled to issue commutation tickets, at present rates, and good for 30 round trips, irrespective of date.

Now will you call us girls "females?"

* * *

Here is a chance for some budding ornithologist to make the colonel forget the crime of Chicago. Everybody that crosses the bay regularly acquires an interest in the seagulls that follow every boat. Some of the commuter tales of seagull intelligence are calculated to arouse suspicion that the menace of the big stick did not entirely rid the land of the nature faker.

Here is the latest:

The Key Route steamers pass close enough to Yerba Buena to give those on board a fairly intimate view of the parade ground at the naval training station. There every morning the naval apprentices may be seen at drill. It was only a few days ago that a sharp-eyed commuter discovered that the passengers on the steamer were not the only interested spectators. Between the ferry fairway and the parade ground is a sheltered bay in which thousands of seagulls spend the daylight hours. The parade ground is in plain view from the bay. The seagulls, knowing that their only chance to feed is when the meal pennant flies, give their undivided attention between meals to the doings on the parade ground.

The gulls have absorbed the spirit of military precision and can be seen from the ferry steamer every morning going through a drill of their own. When the bugle calls the sailor boys to their drill, the seagulls, enough of them to make several full brigades, draw up 50 feet or so from shore in faultless formation. As the blue-jackets go through their paces so do the seagulls maneuver about the bay.

Of course, the commuter gets but a fleeting glimpse of the performance and everybody on Yerba Buena is too busy drilling to watch the bay, but it would seem that an ornithologist in sympathy with the seagull could get some really interesting field notes in the vicinity of Yerba Buena. If any body will explain this sudden desire for military display on the part of the larus family he will confer a favor on about 80,000 wondering commuters.

* * *

The Sausalito boat was approaching its slip on the Marin shore. The wind was blowing a small gale, but outside, on the forward deck, the seats were all filled with blue but determined fresh air fiends, old and young. From the cabin into the blast stepped three young folks, two pretty girls and a youth. Up the stairway from the lower deck the wind was blowing, like a blast from a 12 inch gun. The youth and one of the girls started down stairs. The other girl, noting the breeze, hesitated and in a shrill voice called to her friends:

"I can never make it in the world. I have the widest skirt!"

When the young folks had first appeared not a fresh air fiend, old or young, cast as much as a glance in their direction. Nobody heeded the struggles of the pair that started down first and even the girl that was left behind wrestled with the wind unnoticed until she explained so definitely why she feared the descent.  

Like well drilled troops at the word "Attention!" every masculine fresh air fiend, old and young, jumped to his feet and if anything happened to that young lady on her way downstairs she would not have lacked for witnesses, old and young.

Was it gallantry that prompted that rush, or just ordinary, or as the colonel would put it, sheer, curiosity? Some light on the subject was shed by one highly respected and white haired resident of Marin county who remarked to an elderly neighbor as they both sat down:

"She fooled us!"

G. L. C.

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