Correspondence for May, 1934
May 23rd, 1934, Wed.Portland, Oregon
Well I'm back where I was 23 1/2 years ago. Last time I went south with you when I left. This time I go north without you. It's a queer world.
We have to wait here almost two hours before starting for Seattle. I liked the Northern Calif. and Southern Oregon country for looks but got dizzy riding downgrade so fast. We came through Kedding, Shasta City, Ashland, Roseburg, Eugene, Salem, and so to Portland. Lots of wild grapes and wild blackberries. The grape vines climb trees 20 or 30 ft. high and hide the tree. Blackberries just turning red -- big ones. Also I say today the first red clover and first ferns since I was in Maine.
I bought a box of strawberries in Sacramento for lunch, but did not drink anything at all since I left L.A. till this morning. Got along very nicely and was not thirsty much. Bus stops for 4 or 10 minutes about every two hours. We had 5 different drivers so far; but a "special" which followed us from S.F. with extra passengers had two drivers who took turns for the 37 hr trip and will now go back.
No rain here either. Queer for Portland in May. But everything is green this side of Redding, California. There are a great many trees in all the small towns. People did not cut them down to plant lettuce and radishes. Many houses set in natural groves and look very cool and nice.
This is not much of a letter but it will let you know I got this far safely. Now I am going out to see what happened to the strike. I did not see a paper since I left San F. and maybe get something to sea.
Friday, May 25
I just got your nice airmail letter. R is just plain lying about the envelope. I showed it to Mrs. D. before I sent it to him and she saw it too. What's the difference?
Send the 5.00 to me here, Gen.Del. airmail. Put bill in envelope with two sheets of paper on it. I sent you a long letter this a.m. by ordinary mail. Air mail takes two days to get here. Things so upset here that I don't know when we leave. Maybe soon, maybe not for two weeks. I think you had best get the money to me here as soon as possible however. Have not heard from Mr. D or received K's check yet. May not get it.
I need to take food up with me if the strike continues. Latest report in papers says (this p.m.) that all Alaska boats start loading Sat. by agreement with unions on direct orders from F.D.K. But we went to S.S. office and they claimed they did not know anything about it. I am putting Special Delivery stamp on so you get this Sun a.m. We might get out Tue. or a week from then. I don't know. When we know for certain we are leaving we will buy several things here.
Glad you got job. Good luck to get it so quickly. More glad you got kitty. Named Sabo I suppose? Expect to get letter from Mrs. D. maybe Sat. Call her up and ask her if check came through for K before you write and send the 5.
R. must want to keep his rent paid well in advance. maybe he'll buy it, at least if you sell it to him for 100 down and 10 a month till he can pay balance. I hope he won't take too much stock when he is taking stock. Diamonds are easily lost that way.
Seattle, May 25, 1934
Had a big meeting on Washington St. Climate here is easier on my voice and since I could speak at night I was not too hot. Got 1.05 (5 cents collection, balance literature)! Much enthusiasm. I spoke over 1 1/2 hrs in spite of some coughing. So that is that. I have 1 cent more than the two of us spend for meals Wed night, Thursday, and stamps. In other words, I have one cent more than when I arrived.
I secured passage for K. on the Northland -- or Norco or North Wind -- whichever goes out first. They are Canadian boats leaving from Seattle. Norco and Northwind are only 20.00 to Ketchikan. Northland 17 for men and 23 for 1st class. Men take their own bedding. I'm sorry I did not know in Los Angeles that the Northland was 3.50 cheaper than the Alaska Line. The Nelson lineman said the Alaska line was the only one running this year. The Federal govt demands the North Star be loaded. I send you clipping about it. The Alaska line hopes to get the Yukon out this week but she is sold out and anyway I think R should get out first. I can make a little money to pay expenses if I stay here and he could make nothing.
We can get a new 35-cal Winchester big fame rifle here for 32.50 or a second hand 30.30 for 19.95. Cheaper than in L.A. Revolves are sold openly here, too. We have big two-cent newspapers here also. And lots of drinking fountains on street corners with cold, always running water. Water much better than in L.A. but not as good as in Portland. That town has a 4-branched drinking fountain on one corner; 2 blocks further is a three branched one and 2 blocks further another one. They are iron and bronze finished and ice cold water runs all the time. You don't have to turn them on. Seattle has a woman's rest room in the downtown district with 6 wash basins, towels, and liquid soap. The matron does fancy work and sells it in the lobby. And in the parks we passed in Oregon and Washington, lots of people were lying on the grass. No 'keep off' signs anywhere. No sales tax either!
I went up to Rajemer's [sp?] bookstore, we asked a bunch of men on the "skid road" where it was and they all were very helpful and know about him. He is active of So. Party. We have met many from Los A. here. Thompson is talking on street.
Did I tell you the kitty weighs over 20 lbs.? It's owner is feeble minded but nothing feeble about that cat. He could not stand up in the box; he was so big. I climbed up to the top of the bus and talked to him and he talked back just like Mischief used to, only louder. He would hold a regular conversation with any passenger who would talk to him.
I expect to be here till June 2 or late. We will not buy any tent or gun yet because if this strike is going to last a long time I may need more money than I had figured. You can see by the figures I gave you that it is possible for a man to get from K.A. to Ketchikan from $15 bus, plus 17 boat if he puts in a reservation far enough ahead. That is only $32, and a woman can do it for $6 more or 38 altogether. Not so bad as it might be. Also I found out there is another line of freight boats like the Nelson line which goes from here to all the out of the way places all around the coast clear to Point Barrow. They leave here every two weeks and carry a few passengers. That line belongs to the Canadian Pacific Railroad and leaves from Bell Terminal. Nice slow boats for a long ocean trip. So there are three boat lines to Alaska instead of one. Also I find that clothing, and all sorts of equipment for camping in Alaska is cheaper here than in Los A.
Friday eve., May 25
I am sending you the two agreements with R. I will send the Mormon correspondence later. I had a meeting for 2 hrs., 7 to 9 tonight. Big crowd. K put one drunk out twice. Also a fight last night. Seems to be a regular thing. Made 95 cents -- all literature. Literature all gone now. I wish I had brought more. And I wish I had one copy each of a few of the best poems -- one to read each night just before closing. Your poem book and notebooks is at D's. Climate here easy on my throat and my voice carries twice as far as in L.A. Quiet corner to speak on. .01 of an inch rain here yesterday and a little more this morning. No rain at night. If you see Mrs. D tell her about the 20 lb. cat that rode on the bus. My crowd was vastly enthusiastic, but also broke. If the strike lasts too long I can get the money back and go from here to Vancouver by small launches and from Vancouver, B.C. to Ketchikan by Canadian Pacific Railway boats. They are not affected by the strikes. We will wait a few days as it may be settled soon!
Sunday, May 27 Seattle
I forgot the Gen.Del window closed at 1 p.m. Saturday and so did not get any mail from anybody. There has never been any in the morning. The gov't has so little help they don't get the mail all distributed till after 12.
I have had three meetings so far -- $1.05, .90 and .70. The last was Saturday night collection. So you see things are bad here financially. Strike makes it worse. The town is "wide open" for gambling, etc. We had one fight first meeting and one man had to be knocked out twice second meeting. Last night we had no trouble.
All quiet on the waterfront. Not the least disorder. No vessels loading or unloading except a paper ship containing newspaper stock. This the strikers graciously unloaded. I watched them do it. Meals have gone up. We now have to pay .15 for dinner.
I'm sending you a map of Seattle with the important spots marked. Only two very slight showers since I came. K. says there was one once before I got here. I have considerable cough but not as bad as last winter. I have had no sign of asthma so far since I got here. I speak two hours each night -- voice carries much better than in L.A., with less effort. The atmosphere seems to prevent such complete exhaustion as usually followed a meeting in L.A. You would make a big hit here but I don't know about the money. I can make eats here, but probably not room rent too.
Seattle Monday, May 28
I just got your letter enclosing 5.00 bill. That was quick work. If yesterday had not been Sunday, I'd have got it that afternoon. Two Alaska boats leave tomorrow but we have no luck. The North Wind goes out for the Northland Transportation Co. (Pier 5) by agreement with passengers. She was all sold out before we got here. K. has passage engaged with same company on first boat having a vacancy. That is likely to be the Northland. You have a picture of it in one of the folders I left you. That is the best line for you to go on if you ever come north. $23.00 1st class; $17 2nd class (men only) on the Northland. But if one plans far enough ahead you can get passage on Norco or Northwind, first class, for 20.00. They are somewhat like the Cadaretta. Their agents there wasted $25.
There are rumors the strike is going to be over soon. I don't know much about it. It is doubtful if either of us can get out till it is over. The Norco is also sold out ahead of K's passage, and the Alaska line has 400 ahead of me -- more than one boat will hold.
I got .85 collection last night -- a total of 3.50 for four meetings. I worked out terribly hard after I talked an hour a big fight around the corner broke the crowd and I had to do it all over again. A fight in my meeting doesn't matter. Had another last night when a drunk tried to grab hold of my dress and K knocked him down. Then after talking another hour I got my collection and about two minutes later an auto went by and someone recognized the driver as a scab working on the docks and took him out of his car and beat him up. Lucky for me it didn't happen two minutes sooner! I don't think I can speak or will try to speak Mon or Tues, as I am pretty hoarse. My voice held out very well till close of meeting last night. I will have to rest one or two nights.
We eat 10 cent breakfast, .15 dinner and a .05 supper after the meeting. That is the lowest I can cut expenses.
Woolworth, Newberry & Rhodes -- 10 cent stores here with prices same as L.A. Second hand guns of all sorts cheaper here and lots of them. Second hand portable Underwood typewriters and portable Noiseless as low as .15. Full size Noiseless $8.95. Clothing somewhat higher here than L.A.
The "Zapora" (clipping enclosed) makes 2 trips a month to the small island ports of S.E. Alaska. Smaller than Cadaretta and carries very few passengers. The Norco also is smaller than Cadaretta.
The North Star goes out tomorrow but she belongs to the U.S. Bureau of Indian affairs and carries no passengers except maybe gov't employees, teachers for Indian schools, etc. She makes two trips this summer into the far north and stops at all sorts of places where no boats go.
Some man is fitting out a small boat here called the "Seven Seas". I think it is less than 34 ft long and it is to go around the world. Nice clear weather here, just as in L.A. Not over a quarter inch rain since K got here.
I may be able to get away on the first Alaska Line boat. My ticket was bought May 8 for passage June 2; I may be listed among the first 400. I hate to get to Ketchikan alone, before K gets there on the Northland. I'm sorry we are not on same boat, but I dare not let go my priority claim to passage on the Alaska line for the sake of a possibility on any other line.
Seattle May 29, 1934
There is probably no more news here than in the L.A. papers about the strike. Their committees are voting today on a peace plan, with Seattle said to be favoring it and Portland and S.F. opposing. But it is supposed to go to a general vote all over coast Friday. I will have to pay another week's rent tomorrow and wait and see what happens, I guess. The North Wind goes out today or tonight, loaded with food and "necessities" including beer and whiskey. They refused to load cans for Ketchikan canneries, saying they were not necessary. Canneries reported to be forced to close down soon and let fish rot for lack of cans. High price of salmon next season! Fruit canneries closed for lack of sugar, though some is coming by railroad now.
Most wonderful big sweet strawberries here I ever saw for 5 cents a box. Eggs, butter and cheese cheap here; some things higher. No 10 cent meals anymore, except hot cakes and coffee at two places but one still gets a big 15cent meal. Meat much higher than L.A. Fish also as high, if not higher than in L.A. Fishermen here have a union. They go in their own boats, or someone else's boat to Alaskan waters, catch halibut and salmon and when they get a load come back and sell if for 6, 7, or 8 cents a lb. Then the union requires each boat to stay in port 10 days so as to keep the price of fish up as much as possible. K. tried to get up to Ketchikan on some of the halibut boats. He even offered to pay his way and work besides, but they said they had all they could take -- a great many Alaska men and women who came here for the winter are stranded.
I talked this a.m. again to the girl who does all the work at the Northland Co. I think her name is Hansen. She is much smaller than you and probably weighs 90 or 95 lbs. She says the Northwind carries only 16 passengers, and almost 2500 tons of freight. I didn't ask her about the Norco, but she is much smaller than Cadaretta and probably carries less than a dozen. The Northwind is a passenger boat, but 65 is her limit. I gathered that they have reservations sold now for about 100.She would not definitely promise there would be room for K even when she does not; but she said some had not paid a deposit -- (the company no longer will sell a ticket or accept a deposit in cash) and she said she would try to see that he got out when the Northland sailed. I worked on her sympathies somewhat to get her to accept the deposit on ticket last Thursday a.m. and today I told her some more hard luck story and seemed to make a hit with her. But nothing is certain.
It is doubtful if I can get out myself till the second boat in the Alaska line goes. I think the first one will go to Nome and may not take passengers for nearer points. The Canadian Pacific boats are running from Vancouver to S.E. Alaska and some people are going that way. They are also sold out away ahead of time. Such a mess as it all is and no end in sight. However, if the strike does end, as the S.S. agent here said "If will bust everything wide open," and the office girls will be crazy. I notice the girl doing all the work. I don't see what they keep the men for; I wonder what the office managers would do if they could not get a good private secretary to do the work for them!
This town is wide open. Sailors, gambling, girls. This hotel somewhat tough but I guess it is better than some. Some families with kids live here permanently. Sailors bring their girls here (or vice versa) and it gets noisy at times.
Seattle May 30, 10 p.m.
My financial value is falling off. Made .25 cents tonight and ZERO last night. Good crowds however all out of literature and the stuff I asked Mrs. D to send has not yet come. I only sent for 25 Godliness of Ignorance pamphlets and 25 Science Versus Superstition, thinking that I would not need anymore. I wish now I had 25 Monkey to Bryan (pamphlets) and I wish I had one copy each of the atheist poems clipped from each magazine -- just the clippings so as to save postage. I need something to end the meetings with. Or better yet, a lumberjack's prayer.
When will the strike be over? It looks now like it might last forever. Probably my boat, the Aleutian, will go out next, if any goes. But I don't know if I am on the list early enough or not. Many passengers have cancelled their passage and gone by way of British Columbia. And I hate to leave K here in Seattle along, because it costs more to do that way.
So far, I have made 3.75 since I came which is better than nothing and I hope to make 2 or 3 more by Sunday night. I am told that speaking is free in Portland and that meetings are good. Fourth and Alder Sts is the corner. The bus gets in at 11th and Alder. Also that meetings are allowed wherever streetcars do not intersect. It is said meetings are good and free in Aberdeen, Wash, but I can't believe it. Also in Tacoma on a vacant lot at 15th and Commerce Sts. One puts up a bulletin board in the morning and the crowd gathers at night. Also at Portland there are said to be good meetings in a park all day Sunday, like the Plaza. We have met lots of people from L.A. here -- lots too many. It is unfortunately I have to speak here. It makes me so well known. And lots of people know K. from years ago. I hope R. stays in Kansas till I get out of here.
I won't seal this letter till I go to P.O. tomorrow. I think these clippings from Seattle Star and Vancouver Sun (B.C.) may interest you. yesterday and today (week) were very cold. Steam heat in my room, however. Also hot and cold water. Rooms are clean, but small musty from old carpets, dampness and maybe disinfectants. No bugs here. No rain since I came except one morning -- just a little bit, and about 9 p.m. last night and tonight a little mist for 2 or 3 minutes. According to the papers, no rain in Ketchiken, either. It will be nice for me if we have a relatively dry summer here, and there.
It seems that Argentina faces a big wheat crop and the rest of the world a shortage. No wonder they were smart enough to decline F.D.R. proposition to limit their wheat acreage!
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