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The San Francisco call. [volume] (San Francisco [Calif.]) 1895-1913, February 19, 1905, Image 3

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85066387/1905-02-19/ed-1/seq-3/

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/">fOMETIMES a fellow long di
\^>k vorced from his regular occupa-
V~" 1 tion shows reluctance to buckle
down to humdrum toil when it
is thrust upon him. That was
my fix at Portland, at the windup of a
dusty promenade across Idaho and
Oregon In a pair of canvas baseball
shces. The gay and debonair life of
the desert wilds, fneedom from con-
Tentlon ajid sleeping in the open air
unfitted me for the irksome confines
of civilization. At last I had become
a genuine thirty-third degree hobo,
but didn't exa* tly know what ailed
me. That was the reason, perhaps,
th« four walls of the Portland Stove
Fables for the Foolish
yr EMOKY is a useful article—
I \X I f * people who want a sieve.
V If I There never was a man yet
JL who couldn't tell you by the
hour v.hat great acts he had accom
plished—a year ago. At the time he
was probably luartily and justly
ashamed of in- in. but on thinking
them over he has come to the con
clusion that he did or said or thought
just the right thing. And the joke of
the whole business is that what he re
members s>< distinctly probably never
happened at all. For example, a man
has mad* T^niself obnoxious on the
■treett ar by spreading his feet all over
the floor to the imminent deadly dan
fTr of the other passengers. Some one
objects and^jLhere is a small-sized rum
pus. When the man tells about it af
I SEE dat Commissioner McAdoo hav
ing shook up de police captains de
President he gets busy, too, and
he is shaking up de Ambassadors.
Bay, do you know what kind of a graft
dose Ambassadors has? I didn't till
J5em<& H<9Lrd IsiickTIfues ao.d Doings of cixl -Aiii€it etrr Hoio
Fcundry loomed up like a prison
In vain did I struggle against the
desire to jump my job — the first one
of its kind since leaving Leadville
nearly six months before. And I need
ed the money, too. The canvas shoes
had blown up and sprung leaks In
various places below the waterline,
and my overalls stood in need of re
pairs and laundry attentions. The
rest of my toilet consisted of a short
coat, cotton shirt with collar attached,
necktie and hat. All through my
rambles I stuck to the tie — last rem
nant of respectability — or. rather, the
tie- stuck to me. The knot was jam-
tt-rward he always describes the retort
which he administered to the objectors
as particularly crushing, when as a
matter of fact he crawled down behind
his newspaper, squeezed himself into
half a seat, tucked his feet under him
and never said a word.
The young lady who was doomed to
be Mrs. Stubbs mused on his heroic
tales of hairbreadth 'scapes by flood
and field and finally came to the con
clusion that here was just the strong
arm for which she had long been look
ing. With it to protect her no danger
could come nigh her and she could
defy the butcher and the plumber and
fire the cook with impunity. That
shows how foolish she was. Any
woman who thinks that she can fire
a cook with anything even remotely
Dat time me and Duchess took Mr.
Paul and Miss Fannie on deir wedding
joiney to Paris. Say, it's great.
LiEten: One day Mr. Paul, being a
fren of de A v mbassador, he goes around
to say howdy to him, and me having
tome errands he was to give me to do, I
goes wit him. I meets an old New
York boy dere what was messenger for
de Ambass. and he says would I like to
make a slide into de room back of
where Mr. Paul was and see what de
game was like.
'"Sure," I says, always being .willing
to loin a new trick in any old trade.
"Sure," I says.
So he chases me into a room where de
door was open, and I could hear de
t Ambass doing his tom; and I took a
peek now and den to see de mugs what
was' dere on business or for deir healt.
Well, well, it was as good as a play on
top of de stage.
"Hello, Paul." says de Ambass.
"How's tings at de dear old club?"
"Slow," says Mr. Paul. "Slow wit
out you to tell us a new story once in a
"Say," says the Ambass, "I've got a
v new one I hears at Henry's de odder
day. Why is a Excuse me a min
ute; heare's a lady who made an ap
pointment by cable from London, and
I'H see her. Sit righ* where you are."
I peeks and sees a dame glide into
de room, and she was a swell rag: for
"Your Excellency," says she, as
soon as she caught up wit her breat,
"dis is so kind of you for to grant me
de interview at once, but de occasion
is most important, or I wouldn't bod
der you," she says!
"Dosjt mention it, my dear
madam,'.' says Ambass, and looks like
he knowed what was coming next.
L couldn't have guessed in a tousand
"Me dear General — your Excellency,
I mean — Pido has de gout In his fore
right paw, and I want you for to rec
ommend de best dog doctor in all
France for to come right away to de
Hotel Continental for to treat him."
On and Off the Bread Wagon
Being Hard Luck Tales and Doings of an Amateur Hobo
mcd and I couldn't undo it, let alone
lesing: the tie. Thus I looked nice in
spite of myself.
My molding tools had gone, the
Lord knows where; yet the Portland
Stove Company grabbed at me when
conscience impelled me to ask for
work. The job was the making of
lids for cook stoves. In size, weight,
color and shape those cast-iron lids
suggested the bread 1 had baked for
myself in the desert; and that re
minder helped to render me restless
and homesick. At the end of two days
the longing to be free tore me away
from the foundry, and I once more
took the road. I beat a river boat to
Kalama, from which point, it was said,
the wheat trains to Tacoma, Wash.,
were downy beds of ease for wander
ing tourists.
The man who piloted me against the
wheat train had not consulted the
latest guide book, for the grain was
sacked and loaded on flat cars; no
chance there for the stowaway. I al
lowed three trains to depart, and then
took a desperate chance, piling into the
caboose of the fourth and taking a seat
on the tool box. There was no one in
the caboose but the rear brakeman and
the conductor. The latter paid no heed
to me until the brakeman went for
ward; then the conductor, a young man
with big, solemn eyes, looked me over
and said:
"Ticket, please."
"Haven't any," I replied.
"Where are you going?"
"The fare is $4."
"I'm broke."
The conductor seemed prepared for
the worst. Without word or gesture
he turned away, and sat in an arm
chair at the side door of the caboose,
hanging his heels to a crossbar higher
than his head. He sat there at least
an hour, looking out into the woods,
while the train rumbled and jerked. I
huddled on the tool box, shaken with
nameless fear. Never had I met up
with that kind of conductor in all my
hobo career. Would he rise In slow
frenzy and slam me out the open door
or merely crack me on the coco with
an ax? were the agonizing questions
I asked myself. Much of the time I
did not breathe, and clammy moisture
stood on my youthful brow. Not once
did I take my eyes off the conductor.
At length the train halted at a small
Station where a creosote works was in
operation. Pine timbers for wharf
building were treated with creosote, in
vacuum vats, to offset the ravages of
the teredo, or salt water worm. The
conductor went out, leaving me on the
tool box. When the train started the
solemn-eyed railroader »esumed his
chair and motioned me to one near
"I once knew an old fisherman at Ta
coma," said the conductor. "He had a
wooden leg made of pine. It was his
habit to stand for hours in the water
washing his nets. One Sunday, on the
way to church, the aged fisherman col
lapsed and fell on the street. The water
worms had bored into the wooden leg
resembling impunity tinder any imag
inable circumstances almost deserves
the fate to which she is rushing head
Finally the deal was made and Mrs.
Stubbs settled down to play the quiet
band of matrimony. Stubbs still con
tinued to tell her of his heroic exploits,
although there was here and there a
noticeable absence of circumstances
and detail that should have warned
Mrs. S. But she, poor, foolish soul,
looked and worshiped, and worshiped
the more the longer she looked. How
she pitied the other women who wers,
compelled to satisfy their starved
hearts with imitation men who never
talked back when the elevator boy told
them to step lively or rebuked the
floorwalker for his haughty indiffer
ence. Night after night they were
"Delighted, madam," says Ambass.
"Alphonse," he says to to. cloik, "write
down de address of de dog doctor of
de Duke of Umterara."
Well, de lady takes de address,
tanks de Ambass, and floats out.
"Paul," says his Excellency, "dis Is
de best you ever heard. I was passing
Henry's de odder day and I hears it.
Say, it'll knock you siiiy when I pass
it on to you. But wait ft minute, here
is de card of de president of de Balti
more, Salt Lake and Harlem. He's
wort a billion, and subscribes liberally
— under pressure — to de campaign
funs, so I must see him. Show de gent
in, Alphonse."
I rubbers, and sees a mug who looks
like ready bank notes, and he was mad
for fair.
"General — Mr. Ambassador, I mean
— I know you are a busy man, but dis
is a matter dat won't wait; not if dere
is a navy and army in de United States
to take it up. A cabby charged me two
francs ninety-five sous for a ride from
de Hotel Grand to de Place de la Con
corde. I'd walked it if he'd been
honest enough to tell me it was so
short a distance, but he overcharged
me in de bargain. I want de French
Government to be told by you dat
dey has twenty-fouf hours to 'pologize
and retoin de overcharge wit interest
or prepare to go to war."
"Sir," says Ambass, "dis is serious,
indeed. Did de cabby wear a white
hat or a yellow one?"
"A white one," says ,de mug.
"Ah!" says Ambass. "Ah, dat is
fortunate. We have a way of collect
ing overcharge from de white hats
witout going to war. If it had been
a yellow hat I'd ordered Mr. Root to
have de army shipped in a minute.
All you have to do is to file a com
plaint witlcjM Bireau of Traffic and
Tunnels, make an affidavit to- de Min
ister of de Forn Invasions, petition
de Court of Oryer and Terminer, for
de Department of Upper Seine on de
Marne, deposit possible costs — a mat
ter of a few tousand — wit de Cus
todian of de Roll and den come to me.
Charles Dryden
and honeycombed it. When he fell the
splintered wood stuck out through his
pants, and large numbers of people
fainted at the sight. As the old fisher
man was very poor, his pals and the
sawmill hands at Tacoma gave a bene
fit dance and got him a creosoted leg.
It was built at the works we just
Affer purging his system of this re
markable narrative the conductor once
more lapsed into gloomy contemplation
of the pine woods. Whether the story
were true or the creosote works in
spired it I do not know. And I was
puzzled about my part— whether to
laugh or to view the creosote leg as a
profound scientific achievement. A
giggle escaped me, and the conductor
smiled. He had tried his story on the
dog, and It was a success. Lucky laugh;
also lucky dog.
The conductor put the pump on me,
and I told him stories about my trou
bles and travels, after which he related
some. Nothing more was said about
railroad fare and tickets. We were
chums, all right. It was after 6 o'clock
in the evening when the train reached
the outskirts of Tacoma, which town
was so new it creaked. The foundry had
closed for the day, but the conductor
knew where the boss lived. He pointed
out the house from the hurricane deck
of the caboose, and slowed down the
speed of the Mrain so that I could get
off and save the long walk back from
the depot. After all, there is much in
knowing when to laugh at the right
time, but alas! my tact availed me nit.
The Tacoma foundry didn't need expert
help, so next day I turned my prow to
the sea.
A big wooden ship, the Martha
Rideout of Boston, was loading lum
ber for San Francisco. I found her
captain and another salt-water
skipper playing 1 pool on a waterlogged
table in a saloon. While the master
mariners banged the balls I hung in
the background until my skipper beat
the other fellow and hoisted in some
free drinks amid great laughter.
Deeming the moment propitious, I
butted in and asked the pool sharp to
let me work my passage to 'Frisco on
his ship. Talk about diplomacy and
smooth work! Such was the skip
per's good humor he placed his hand
on my shoulder and said:
"Why, certainly, young fellow; go
right aboard."
I went right aboard and helped
stow soggy lumber in the hold, which
job lasted thirteen days, working
from daylight to dark. Then we
towed up Mr. Puget's Sound, sailed
out through the .straits and headed
for the golden shores of California.
Four days and nights I lay in the
same locker, the sickest hobo that
ever plowed, harrowed and sowed the
raging main. On the morning of the
fifth day the Chinese cook slid back
the door of the locker and tossed in
a chunk of cold raisin duff the size
of a cabbage. The lump rolled down
under ray nose, and I struggled feeb
forced to creep home to the wives of
their bosoms and confess in faltering
accents that they had been trampled
on and abused and forced to take a
back seat generally, while Stubbs, im
perious Stubbs, went on his conquer
ing way exacting tribute from all and
several for his overmastering powers
of body and mind.
If Stubbs could have kept his wife at
home all the rest of her life and com
pelled her to take his word for every
thing that happened to him he might
have kept up the bluff without any
trouble, barring the liability of some
kind friend to butt in and give him
Something like that happened to
Stubbs. He thought himself secure In
the recesses of his office, where only
the typewriter's copy and the office
boy's cigarettes were vil^ but one day
there came the «»wish of silken skirts,
Dats all. I'll recommend you a law
yer who will let you off for half you
have. It won't take you more dan a
year. Den come to me."
"Can't you fight wit France witout
all dat preliminary sparring?" says de
"It wouldn't be polite," says Ambass.
"We'll fight if we must, but we'll be
polite if we bust."
"I taut we had a government dat pro
tected de sacred rights of its citizens,"
says de felly, getting red in his whis
kers, and he chases.
"De story, Paul," says Ambass, like
he'd had an every-day job. "De story
will knock your eye oift You see, de
Count— was it de Count story I was
telling?— de Count had a brodder-in
law who was by way of being a bal
loonist and — Here we go again. Dis one
will be easy. Excuse me a minute."
De usher fetches in a dippy looking
chap wit red eyes, and very long fin
gers, out of which he was trying to
pick tacks, from de looks of what he
was doing to 'em.
"Mr. Ambassador," he says, like de
actor on de stage who always has
shiver music to speak wit, "it's all
"Good!" says Ambass, like his long
line of stocks had jumped ten points.
"Dere is a secret alliance between
England and Germany in de Interest of
de Mutterbund; de Czar is dead and de
Grand Dukes has put a stuffed scare
crow on de trone td fool de people;
Italy is to de bad, but Bohemia— Hist!
Bohemia refuses to consent, and war
will follow unless peace is preserved."
"I shall communicate wit President
Roosevelt at once and he will appre
ciate your services."
"Tanks," says Dippy. "In de mean
time, me dear Mr. Ambassador, If
you could advance me one franc sixty
from the Secret Funs — "
"Don't mention it," says Ambass,
passing out Dippy a piece dat looks
like a quarter.
"Well, Paul," Bays Ambass, when
Dippy had faded aw;ay, "de story Is
ly with the dawn of a newer and
brighter life. Desire to live grew
with the absorption of the duff, and
in a little while the whole mass dis
appeared. In a day or v so I felt like
«a new hobo. The cook made up a
bed for me in his chest in the galley,
and when the ship neared 'Frisco that
heathen Chinee loaned me a pair of
his overalls while I washed mine, so
as to make a flash at San Francisco.
With $1 20 in my clean overalls' pock
et — a purse contributed by the sailors —
I passed in at the Golden Gate, which
so many find hinged on mud. That was
the way it swung for me. The ship dis
charged all hands save the captain,
mate and cook, and I went ashore with
the rest. In a short time I became de
monetized, and there was no work in
sight. Night after night I went back
to the Martha Rideout and sneaked
into her forecastle via the bows of an
other boat lying alongside. The Chi
nese cook alone knew of my presenda.
He kept the secret from the captain,
permitted me to sleep in the forecastle
and had always a little wooden tub of
food hiddfn in the bunk I occupied.
That Chinaman was the only friend I
had in California, and when the ship
cleared for more lumber she left me
bankrupt and starving.
Dear old Sing Wah! I never expect
to have another pal like him. When
Sing sailed away I wept, but wouldn't
like my old friend, Denis Kearney, of
sand lot fame, to know about it. In
later years Denis and I got quite chum
my and wrote for the same paper In
and Mrs. Stubbs swooped down on him.
It was only a casual call, and all might
have gone well had not the head of the
firm bethought him of a bad break
that Stubbs had made the day before
and dropped in to tell him about it. His
language was pointed and no more ele
gant than the presence of a lady de
manded, and when he got through with
Stubbs that gentleman looked like a
last year's apple in a dark corner of
the deserted bin whence all but him
Mrs. Stubbs held her breath, waiting
for the storm to break, and was on the 11
point of beseeching Stubbs to spare the
old man for the sake of his gray hairs
and dependent family. She waited long,
but the storm failed to appear accord
ing to schedule. Instead Stubbs got
red and pink and white and blue and
several other assorted colors, and
about a chap what was fishing for
goujon at de restaurant of de Miracu
lous Fishing — nice place to take your
breakfast, by de way."
"Hold on," chips in Mr. Paul. "Do
you have many like dat last caller?"
"Oh, he's easy. He only gets a
franc a call and is harmless. But dis
story. You see, de lady was crossing
de Rue de la Paix, in front of de Eng
lish tea shop, when all of a sudden —
hold on a minute, here's de usual
ting, from de looks of dis card," and
anodder mug— a fly looking felly —
comes like a flatiron breeze.
"Me dear Mr. Ambassador, I don't
know wedder you remember me. You
dined at me fadder's home in Chicago
— Michigan avenue, you know, and
dat sort of ting. Dad told me to be
sure and call to pay me respects to
you and say he'd have a solid dele
gation from our State for you in de
next national convention," rattles off
de fly one.
"So kind," lisps Ambass. But say,
he had his icy eye on guard.
"And you can do me a little service,"
says de fly bay. "I'm not known at de
bank, so me letter of credit — for a
trifle of ten thousand — Is no good yet.
If you could let me have five hundred
francs until I get me letter vvoiking
fadder wil be pleased."
"Alphonse," says Ambass, quiet like,
"call de police!"
But de fly boy beat Alphonse to de
"Dis story, Paul." says Ambass,
lighting a cigarette, "Is about a man
who played de bass fiddle in de old Nib
lo's Garden on Broadway— bless it! —
and he was bow-legged, so when he
stood vp — Excuse me one minute.
Show de lady in."
Well who should come In but a real
ting swell dat knew Mr. Paul and de
Ambass, and dat I'd seen at ou^ house
many's de time. She give de glad hand
all around, and dey had a gaily-gaily
chat for a minute, and den when she
stopped talking, Ambass, he says, "Al
phonse, give madam de address of de
dentist we recommend."
San Francisco. Also, I a/nassed a bank
account in that same town. The bank
buSted, too, with my coin In it, but this
story carries enough tough luck of its
own without lugging in a Chadwlcked
However, after Sing Wah left I be
came despondent and ill, and could get
nothing to lay on my stomach. It
would have lain, could I have got any
thing solid. On the afternoon of the
second day without food, fax out in
Valencia street, I found a dime, and
I've never seen a silver dollar that
looked as big. Once In the possession
of capital, there came the worry and
care incident to safe investment, and
how to get the biggest returns, but I
knew where to go. On lower Market
street the curb was lined with fruit
peddlers' wagons. Each cart had a
board nailed upright on the seat, and
over the board was drawn a paper bag
on which the hucksters posted the odds
— 6 for 5, 13 for 10, and so on. After
a careful inspection of the field, I play
ed a long shot — sixteen large, bug-bit
ten Bartlett pears for a dime.
The side pockets of my coat had
broken through Into the lining, which
mishap made a sort of blind tunnel
around my spine. Into this secret cav
ern I poured the sixteen pears, and had
a grub supply for a couple of days.
Whenever hunger assailed me, which
was often, I reached in and hauled out
a pear.
Before famine time came on again
I got work in a little jobbing shop in
the residence district. The foundry
walked all over himself trying to find
an excuse. After the old man had gone
he explained to Mrs. Stubbs that he
didn't want to make a scene in her
presence or else he would have called
the head of the firm down good and
hard and taught him his pJace gener
ally. Mrs. Stubbs appeared to be satis
fied, but there was a questioning look
in the northeast corner of her eye.
The incident was not mentioned
again, but Mrs. Stubbs sat herself
down to do a large consignment of
thinking. Could it be that her hero
,ha«i willfully and maliciously iiod to
her? Was he the basest, instead of
the bravest, of men? Her first im
pulse was to convict him of prevarica
tion in all the known degrees. Then
she bethought her of the advisability
of making inquiries of some of the
other women to discover, if possible,
if her husband were really marked for
"Why, . General," she says, "how in
ever did you know what I come for?"
"It's a good chance to * take," says
Ambass. "Ninety-nine out of a hun
dred American ladies 1 ' dat -calls cm ', me
waritsVie' dentist. You're de hundredret
lady caller dig morning, and one of
'em wanted.- de ' dog- doctor, so I had a
dead ; cinch on you."
Well, she floated tru de door, and de '
Ambass.rnot . looking like he'd had a
bit of punishment, he goes on. "You
can kill de ; club dead wit dis when you
gets back to dear little old Manhattan.
As I was saying, de farmer's wife, see
ing him take de fishing rod when he
said he was going. to choich, she emp
ties his flask of de real stun! in it and.
puts in a pint of— ' Bless me, i here is a
man I must see for a moment."
= . _ I should say any one would want to
see him. He had on more uniform dan
de leader. of a circus band, and he was
de limit for style in manners. He paid
sixteen compliments ■to ■ Ambass, . talks
American politics wit ,: Mr. Paul, and
- den ,at , last .he • says, "His \ Excellency,
d«- Secretary for ; War, wishes "I me to
enquire "of - your Excellency, wit his
' compliments and expressions of undy
- ing 5; adoration, where he - can buy a •
quantity of dose American ; cigarettes
you was so ■ gracious 5 as . to pass* to His
Excellency .when your Excellency . met
His Excellency at de soiree of her '
Grace de Marquise of de Urapski, de
delightful ' Russian?"
' ■ "Sure," says Ambass. : "Alphonse, ■'
give de ; Colonel de ' card of de Paris
c branch of de American Tobacco}Pre
.ferred—l mean : company."
De Colonel told 'em how tickled »to
dtat he was, and he backed out.
"I want you to ; get dis -story right,
Paul." says rAmbaas.: "You understand .
dat de leading lady was looking for de
: spot light, and ; not seeing de bouquet \
siie "
: -. "Excuse." says Mr. Paul. "It's lunch
•„ time. .Let's walk around to Henry's
j' and se ,de man who ; told ; de story. Pre
haps he'll finish v it.". - ; r > f
Dats what dey done. But, say. isn't
« dat ; a great job ? Twenty tousand ' dol
lars a l year..for doing dat, with invita
tions to dine wit de king ; trun in as
tips. What! -■;;■.■:.:. --:' '--"-'" -'v •> ': »' • j
(Copyright, 1905,. by Edward W. Town
.v* "j send.) ■ : .-
was attached to the owner's dt»mlcll»
and he had started to splurge In th«
manufacture of piano plates. My
first day's toil netted about $5. p'ece
work scale, and I asked ' for sonvi
money with which to pander to the
unnatural cravings of a man who had
agreed to board me. The boss hand
ed out a $5 bill, which I gave to my
landlord that night. Next day about
noon the job and I became separated.
A retired sawmill boiler furnished
steam power for our works, and any
one who happened to think of it threw
in coal or turned on the water. Thla
fatal day the fellow who fired up for
got about the water and pretty soon
the boiler retired permanently from
the scene.
Sand, pig iron, piano plates and
mechanics littered the landscape for
half a square. I landed forty feet
away with my back to the wreck and
kept right on going. At the hotel I
paused long enough to coax a rebate
of $2 50 out of the $5 given the land
lord the previous evening:. Then I
made a bee line to Mare Island and
shipped in Uncle Sam's nayy — went
cruising among the South Sea Islands
In a warship. Life ashore was grow
ing too strenuous for me, particularly
when they fired a salute of one steam
boiler just because I went to wort at
my legitimate trade.
As mv bread wagoTi Isn't built for
a sea voyage I will, in the next chap
ter escape from the navy with a bum
lamp and resume the simple life on ti
canal at Keokuk, lowa.
(Copyright, 1905, by Charles Dryden.)
special ignominy or was only playing
the game according to the rules ot the
sex. Her final conclusion, on which
she rests content at the present writ
ing, was that he was only following
a time-honored custom of the sex, as
her own mother could have informed
her if she had taken the trouble to
At intervals Stubbs still forgets his
lesson and relates to Mrs. Stubbs long
stories of the confusion which he has
heaped on the head of insolence. Mrs.
Stubbs says nothing:, but consoles her
self with the thought that her dear
husband is not really lying. He la
only telling what he would have said
or done if he had had the nerve or
had thought about it in time. In
other words, distance not only lends
enchantment to the view, but also
magnifies it materially. — Copyright,
1904. by Albert Britt.

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