Correspondence for September, 1934
Sat. a.m., Sept.1
There was no meeting last night and prospects of doing anything in that line are very, very slim. No good, in fact. You have a holiday Mon. 3rd, so won't get my last letter till Tue. I doubt if I can mail this till Tue 4, in which case you can't get it before 9 (Sun). You also have holiday on Mon 10th as I'll send it Sp.Del or you won't get it in time to do any possible good before 10 or 11. Banks will be closed 10th. You should hear from R. between 5th and 8th. But if it come after Sat. noon I don't know whether you can do anything, with banks and P.O. both closed. Telegraph Co will take a certified check, I guess. If this should happen to reach you by Sat. a.m. be sure to go to the hall and see is you have any mail before 12 -- or if possible in time so if there is a registered letter from R. you could to P.O. before noon. They maybe open Sat. p.m. after Sept. 1 but I'm not sure. No more work here yet. Still have (Sat) $20 and K. has 1.30 coming. Have hope but it looks like impossibility for him to make enough to get us both out in time, now. Will write more before I mail this.
You probably understand that while I have the promise of two tickets on Norco -- or one, if I can't take both -- that there is still a string to the promise. There might be a slipup on it. They hold them for me as far as this town is concerned, but if the whole boat should be sold out up north for all the way to Seattle, I'd be out of luck. It's a bad situation. I offered to buy ticket today for myself but he would not accept the money. However, Norco is the least desirable boat and is said to be pretty awful in some ways so maybe there will be room for me and K, or me at least, The "Northland" goes down next Tuesday Sept. 4. At present she is up north and all sold out. If any one gets off here and if I can get a ticket for myself alone, and if I have $23 to pay for it with on next Tues. I'll go on her and not wait longer. For we figure that I thus save a week's food cost for myself up here, and get to Seattle in time for Fri, Sat & Sun meetings so if I can raise 5.00 -- or more -- in Seattle (and I can if it don't rain) I can wire it to K. so he'll get it Mon. 10th and help to get him out on Norco, 11th. All this scheming is hard on my head! At present we have (Sat eve) $23 cash and 1.30 coming. But owe for last week's rent, and current week. If I could be absolutely sure of going in Norco I might wait. But I'm not sure of anything. K. has a better chance to get out cheap than I have, as there is lots of storage accommodations. At present there is a long waiting list but that rush will be over in 2 weeks. There is a rush on 1sst class now on account of school boys and girls going to the States to high school and college, which further complicates things this week and next. If I get out earlier, on the Northland, I'll have K. mail you a letter; or else I'll send one air mail Sp.Del from Seattle soon as I get there, so you'll know.
Sat. 4 p.m.
Received wire for 50 and bought two tickets Alaska line freight boat Redondo leaving at 5 tonight (Sept. 1). I thought you might get this letter quicker by mailing it here as my boat may take 4 or 5 days to get to Seattle. I have $14 left but if you have any more of R's money, I thought you'd better send 20 to Seattle by mail to me so I sent wire from here right after buying tickets.
Sun. a.m. Sept.2, on board "Redondo"
I had a letter already written when I got your telegram yesterday so I put a P.S. on it and sent it through Ketchikan, P.O. There is to be a mailboat South Monday and I thought that since that one is the fastest boat on the line and this one is the slowest that you might get it that way quicker. I also sent telegram so you would not worry. Of course I am not sure whether you got 50 or 100, but think it have been 100 or you would have sent only about $47.00, after paying cost of wiring it. So, after buying tickets, paying rent, etc. we had 14 left (15 after K collected his 1.35 due). I put in the wire for you to mail 20 to Seattle. Of course, if you haven't it from R's money, you don't need to worry. We won't likely be in Seattle before Wed. a.m. -- maybe later and I'll look for mail from you first thing.
I notified postmaster at Ketchikan to send all my mail back to sender, telling him I did not know my address for two or 3 weeks. He wanted to hold it for me till I got back! But I said I was going home and would not be back to his town any more.
Your telegram came at a most fortunate time -- to the minute. K got it at 4 p.m. I don't know how long it had been at the house, but certainly less than two hours, as I was down then. He came to library and got me and we had the check from Signal office within 10 minutes. Then done to Alaska Office 2 blocks away to see if we could do anything with them. I had just a half an hour sooner been to the Northland office to see if they would accept the cash on at lease one ticket on Norco for 11th but nothing doing. I told you what they said in the last letter from Ketchikan. So, since even their "definite promise" was uncertain I wanted to see if the Alaska Office could by chance do anything. I knew there was a waiting list, but 2 boats were due south Monday 3rd.
Now here is the lucky thing. There was a freighter, which has not carried passengers all summer which has been loading salmon at small places within 200 miles from here ever since last Sunday and she was announced at 3 p.m. to stop at Ketchikan at 5 to take on water and empty gasoline tanks. I knew this, for we watch the boats all the time, like we used to watch movie sets in Prospect. So on the way down, I said to K "I wonder if the Redondo is taking passengers; maybe we can get out on her tonight." Sure enough, she was taking passengers for the first time this summer. She is an ex-passenger boat, with 20 or more staterooms -- very primitive and they soaked us first class far, 26.50 apiece. But rather than risk waiting for Norco, 10 days, and mission out there was nothing else to do and we were very lucky. There is still a waiting list on the two other good boars due out Mon. But there was no waiting list on this because no one knew she was coming by Ketchikan on the way south; and she did not go far enough north to load up passengers. Sometimes it's better not to have a reservation!
My things were all packed but K packed the telescope case, paid the rent to date, got a taxi (.50 more) to take baggage down, went to see S.L.P. and cancel any effort to get up a meeting later and I went to post office and to the room and back to the Alaska Office all before 5 p.m.! Boat was 30 min. late then. They gave us a lunch at about 10 p.m. on the boat and I am up early this morning to write you all the news.
Asthma woke me up. So much fog last night. This boat anchored at least half the night and is still going slow. Steward says they anchored a total of 3 days and nights on the way north last trip.
Lucky your message came before fire, and lucky we did not have to wait over. K's back is so bad I doubt if we could have kept up expenses. I'm wondering whether R. sent you the money just before or just after getting my letter. I mailed it Last Sunday with air mails tamps on it. It doesn't matter, only I'm curious. Rent was 3.00; taxi .50; telegram to you 1.80 (formerly 1.52) and extras and tobacco .50, tickets 53.00. We got out with 15.05, I think, in cash.
If I get to Seattle late in the week and if the literature is there, I'll try to have a meeting if it doesn't rain. If possible, I'll be in L.A. to speak Sunday at Plaza. But this boat takes it easy and if this fogs lasts we may be a week getting to Seattle. Her fast time is 3 days and we said [sic] at an oil wharf a mile from Ketchikan till about 9 last night and were anchored several hours besides. I think I wrote you we might be 4 or 5 day.
What an odd coincidence to go back on a boat named "Redondo!" She is a little smaller than "Cadaretta" but larger than "Norco" would be. She is low in the water -- very heavily loaded. She has davits for 4 lifeboats but only has two so she had better go slow and not hit any islands in the night!
[Change in handwriting indicating break in letter]
Its now 9 a.m. and about 16 hours since we came on board and I guess we are about 30 miles south of Ketchikan. We are spending more of the time anchored waiting for fog to lift. Sun is out but fog too thick to see anything. We get 3 meals and a nigh lunch every day and the cook says it will last two weeks so we should not worry over the delay! At 12 noon we got started. We were only 25 miles from Ketchikan. In fact I heard the Captain turned around and went back within 5 miles to get a safe anchorage for the night. Sea like glass and air like soup all morning.
Now (at 5:30 p.m. Sun) we are in quite rough water. Have just had supper. Meals not very good. Cook is no expert. Anyway, he didn't know till this gang got on board that he was to be a passenger cook! One other woman on board -- young flapper about 30 or 35 -- navy wife, I think. Stays up on bridge with ship officers all time. Had nice evening dress -- backless -- on at supper -- and her back to all the rest of us. The men seemed to enjoy the scenery!
At 8 p.m. we were only 100 miles from Ketchikan and going only 8 miles an hour. There is over 600 miles yet to do. But it looks like a clear night, and besides Canada has more and better lighthouses and the channel is safer here than in Alaska on that account. It is rougher here now than last June. But we have hard mattresses and springs like an army cots so we don't bounce all the time as we did on Northland. Inner spring mattresses plus coilsprings underneath, plus engine vibration plus the boat rolling sideways and pitching endways all at once is too much. I like this much better.
It occurred to me today that maybe you had not got the money from R., but had borrowed it in L.A. I hope that is not the case, but even if it is I could not have done any better than to take this boat. I suppose I'll know when I get to Seattle. Even a reservation of ticket when you make them take you money in full in advance is subject to cancellation if the government, or a big cannery, or a hospital wants to send someone south in a hurry. If I had not got this boat I might have got the Norco -- but I might also have had to stay here a month. In the winter, there are only 3 or 4 boats a month, at most. But I do hope R. has paid; or if not R. the Mormons, at least.
We are eating and sleeping plenty now. I sleep half the time and eat 4 times a day! Some asthma -- air is heavy here. So if it takes a week to get to Seattle that part of it will be all right. But I did not get a letter from you since a week ago Sat., and that was written at least 13 days ago, so I want to get to Seattle and see what news you have for me.
Tuesday p.m. Sept.4
We were anchored about two hours waiting for proper tide, etc. I have eaten so much that I'm filled up again, at last. We are certain to get 11 meals apiece, besides night lunches. And maybe 12 or 13. Present prospects are that we will get to Seattle late Wed. p.m. We stop to unload freight at one place before we get there and that may delay us so long that we can't get to P.O. till after 5 p.m. I'm anxious to get news from you before I do anything in Seattle or spend any money for room or meals. This boat has come at a good speed, for a heavily loaded freighter -- 8 or 9 miles an hour. We hear that only 16 passengers got on -- 4 being refused passage. So we were quite lucky. We have staterooms for 40, but it is said only 16 are allowed by law. The food in not very good, but I can eat it. The cook is evidently not used to cooking for such a crowd, and maybe he has not much to do with, either.
I enclose clipping from Ketchikan paper. I wish I'd found it instead of that woman!
Wednesday, Sept. 5, 8:30 a.m.
We seem to be crossing the Strait of Juan de Fuca now. There is so much smoke and fog in the air that the air looks like soup. We ought not to be more than 6 hours from Seattle, but we have to stop to let off empty gasoline barrels and that may delay us. We might get there in time for me to get mail tonight before P.O. closes. I hope there is at least a letter there from you even if no money, and that the Post Master will not ball anything up by forwarding it to Ketchikan!
Prospects are we will be in Seattle between 3 & 4 p.m. (this p.m.). We are now about 10 miles from there. Much fog and smoky haze for last 200 miles. They say it comes from forest fires. We will go right to P. Office and see what news you have for us, if any.
Wed. Sept 5
I just got your 3 letters and $20 at Seattle. I do not think you need to worry about R backing out. Whatever he feels, he wouldn't date do that. And I made it as decent as I could, only saying that if he could not or would not buy it soon, I would have to sell it to someone else. I think he got the letter before sending you the check but can't be certain. And there I told him I wanted to use a portion of it to pay you what I owe you and that you needed it. Also that I'd let him serve papers on me in L.A. if he bought it now. I don't think he could get mad at you anyway, and if is mad at mad at me he would not dare to back out in any case. Besides if M Stein or anyone else signed the check after you did, he cannot legally stop payment on it in Calif. and I think that is a banking rule all over country.
I went to get tickets on bus to L.A. at Main bus depot and they told me all sold till Sat. a.m. I remembered it was a Union Bus Station and thought likely they wanted to sell a higher priced ticket so I went to one of the United depots and they are going to sell tickets, I guess. They sent me to Northern Hotel and they were out but have sent after another 2 tickets. I am waiting now. As soon as I get them, I'll mail this at the main P.O. I got literature OK. If I get these tickets we leave at midnight and will be due in L.A. sometime early in small hours of Sat. a.m. We are due about 2 a.m. but will probably be later.
I'm sorry to make you so much money. I think you need fear nothing about R's backing out. He wants the peace and he certainly does not want me to sell or trade it to someone else. Since you got the check Sat he must have mailed it there. and it's quite likely he had my letter first anyway. As far as I know now you can keep most, if not all, the money you have left. You must have close to $20. I may have to have a little, but I'll try to do without it. Also the 10 a month if possible. But R hates to pay installments and he hates to pay interest so he is sure to complete the deal as soon as he can, for those two reasons. What about the Mormons?
The manager of the Northern Hotel says out tickets are on the way down here now and our reservation secured O.K. Leave tonight midnight. All set. I'll have money for room when I get there and will work Plaza Sunday.
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