Изображения страниц
[graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]





Number 11

When the "Smelt are Running Sandy"

ENRY VAN DYKE, the wellknown author and lecturer, was being driven over the Columbia River Highway one autumn day, and as the automobile passed a certain. bridge crossing the Sandy River his host pointed to a picturesque spot and remarked:

"If you will come out here in April, I'll give you my hat and let you scoop up a gunnysack full of the most delicious fish you ever ate."

Van Dyke looked at the man for a moment, with a quizzical expression in his eyes, and then he said:

"Now I'll tell you one!"

When easterners hear returned travellers talk of dipping fish with buckets and bird-cages, they usually regard their informants as the champion Ananiases of the world. One man tells the story that when he told his New York friends of having been in Portland, Oregon, during a salmon run, and of how he became so excited that he waded into a stream and picked a fish up by the tail just to prove that he could do it, they regarded him with grave suspicion. He said he would not dare risk his reputation for faking still further by telling them of the smelt run on the Sandy.

The yearly summons to hasten to the Sandy River, near Portland, is given in the city papers anytime from the middle of March to the middle of April, although the smelt run usually occurs late in March or early in the following month. The millions of finny, boney little fish begin nosing about the mouth of the Columbia several days before they begin wiggling their way up the Sandy, sending out scouts as they wait, for some sort of piscatorial signal that the time is ripe. In the village of Troutdale, cuddled away by the Sandy, local Paul Reveres watch for their coming and they are usually descried very early. The majority of the run spawns near the wagon bridge and close to that of the railroad. At first sight of the great moving mass of rich pro



tein foodstuff, word is carried through the village:

"The smelt are running in the Sandy!"

MELT are runnin' Sandy!" echoes the cry. The newspapers come out with glaring headlines, telling the residents of Portland and vicinity to get their shovels and gunny sacks and gather for the annual fish harvest theirs for the taking, free gratis, and furnishing the delightful sport of taking.

Because of the large volume of traffic, one way traffic is enforced on the roads leading to and from the scene of operation. One Sunday's crowd was estimated at 60,000 persons and 15,000 automobiles. Men, women and children line the banks of the stream or wade out into the deeper water in

the middle, scooping up the myriad smelt with every known contrivance that will hold fish and leak water, from window screens to lace curtains!

One would think, and with reasonable accuracy, that for the time being, not a very large percentage of the population of the surrounding country deigns to pay attention to anything except the present interest. If one wanted to see a perfect melting pot of democracy, it is only necessary to glimpse the throng that is taking advantage of the strange piscatorial urge for parenthood that drives the little silver-backed creatures from the sea in unnumbered hordes into the fresh waters of mountain streams to

spawn. The run may last for ten days, and it may end in twenty-four hours, so that probably accounts for the great smelt derby! Firemen, policemen, ministers, jewelers, bankers, tramps, school-teachers, portly

(Continued on page 528)

[graphic][merged small]


Bonded or Bootleg?

HAT'S your husband's business?" A suspicious look smoldered in the cold gray eyes of a credit man of one of San Francisco's largest furriers as he regarded his fair


Still admiring the mole-skin which enfolded her, strangely confident that she could "open the account," she turned, smiled daringly, and answered, "Retired Bootlegger, Sir!"

She wore the mole-skin that evening to a dinner at the Palace Hotel! I don't say for sure, because I don't know, but in all probability the credit. man nodded and smiled over his blackcoffee at his home that same evening as he recalled . . .yes, recalled several sensational stories of bootleggers. Retired Bootlegger! Indeed! But retired by request rather than by desire.

This is exactly what had happened. Charles K. Adams, (his name is symphonious to this) had been "hauled up" on various occasions until he finally retired after a very forceful warning had been handed over a private luncheon table by one who knew from whence he spoke, "Better lay off. Next time it will have to be a sentence. Public sentiment will demand it!"

Charley Adams retired. He had made his pile; he had run his risks and he knew when to stop . . . at least for the time being.

There are others, many, who have not retired. There is, I believe I am safe in saying, not a locale in U. S. but does not have a whisky manufacturer within calling distance. He may be a small one, a large one, but he has a still and it works; and it supplies the wants of those within its vicinity whose pocket books are too small to afford bonded goods and whose desire for the prohibited has increased through that false conception that he or she had been robbed of personal rights and liberties. There are, by the way, as many "she's" as "he's" who make manufacturing profitable.

A San Francisco woman recently made a statement after a bridge luncheon at a big hotel where she had entertained four tables of bridge, that entertaining had really become quite a problem since prohibition. "My dear," she added, "I never thought of doing such a thing before prohibition, and I'm afraid I'm going to be buying manufactured goods before very long. I am almost convinced that it is as good as bonded liquor."

And she was pretty near right. Some of the manufactured whisky is better than the liquor one pays a bonded price


for. Very seldom does bonded ware reach the consumer without having been doctored, and it does not take long for the appreciation of taste to get lost by the wayside in the wild. search for the "kick."


O THE manufacturer manufactures. He counts little on his "hand-outs," although he is almost. almost compelled to make them. What he does count on for his protection is that strange fidelity which grows up between his customer and himself, which tends to guard whatever knowlwhich tends to guard whatever knowledge one is let in on, with a tenacity of a trained bull-dog. In the initial issue of The National Bootlegger, magazine published at Paso Robles, California, the editor goes further into the bootlegger's protection. I do not recall, word for word, but the sum and substance is, that the bootlegger is to be the BIG political force of U. S. He goes further to explain how the officials are elected in the interest of the bootlegger. He even cites a case wherein a certain district attorney rounded up a ring of bootleggers and then something happened. That District Attorney is only a memory now in San Luis Obispo County.

One can believe this or not. The fact remains that stills run daily. Some are operated by corporations; some by private individuals who do everything private individuals who do everything from buying the supplies to selling the finished product.

In San Francisco alone approximately fifty barrels are manufactured daily. Estimating a barrel at the usual. size of fifty gallons, that means about 2,500 gallons of whisky flowing forth from the stills each day.

This is taking the stills collectively; those from ten gallon capacity to those of five hundred and fifty gallons. One manufacturer turns out daily one hundred and fifty gallons. This output he turns over to a wholesale house at a price of from six to eight dollars, according to the demand and supply.

Another manufacturer sits in his easy chair in the financial district with his ears and eyes open! He watches the liquor market along with Wall Street quotations. No one suspects him! He has been operating successfully for three years. He does not even purchase his supplies. His men do this; men he assures protection. He has his secretary, a girl of about twenty-three years of age. She does

the actual manipulating of the "Game." She knows just where each car is at each hour of the day, or where it should be. She knows just when to send a wire to "take another road" and she knows a lot more . . . perhaps more than the manufacturer knows himself.

She not only manipulates his business of distribution with efficiency, but she manufactures some of the best "Corn" on the West Coast. In fact it is so very near bourbon that it is hard to detect the difference.

"I should judge," she recently said, "that S. F. manufacturers consume approximately 35,000 lbs. of produce daily."

The largest item of this produce is sugar.. corn sugar. It comes principally from New York. The raw product is shipped from the middle states to N. Y., where it is prepared and shipped in 100 pound sacks to wherever it is wanted . . . wholesale houses throughout the country. From these houses the manufacturer orders his wares. He can step to his phone and order a ton of corn sugar and have it delivered just as he can have his barley, malt, etc., delivered.

The sugar is an "Argo" product. At least most of the manufacturers use "Argo" brand. Have you not seen "Argo" on starch boxes . . . the girl with the ear of corn comprising the dress? Most every housewife knows that trade mark, but little does she know that this same company supplies the majority of San Francisco's manufacturers with their corn sugar, via wholesale houses.

The barley, malted grains, etc., come from any locality nearest the consumer. San Francisco is supplied to a large extent by the San Joaquin valley. The nearness of the valley doesn't soar freight bills, and it affords the manufacturer a little "covering" when he buys. It isn't so generally known what

he is about.

The sugar is used to fortify the mash. In B. P. days, (before prohibition) the sugar was obtained from the fermentation of the raw grain. Now malted grains are used while the sugar is added. Malting is, to state it roughly, a process of sprouting and then drying the grain before it has matured. The grain is placed in great vats where the atmosphere is damp and the temperature is about 100 degrees. When the grain is sprouted, the chemical action is stopped by placing the grain in a drying room, where the tem

(Continued on page 508)

[ocr errors]

Cross Currents

LD PETE ALIOTO stood in the sheltered doorway of his crabshop on Meiggs Wharf, his huge head moving up and down philosophically. The dark eyes, almost lost under the rough coarse brows, were half closed, his full lips hardly moved. as he spoke. "They like my boy is." His head jerked in the direction of the cliff-like waves roaring in through the Golden Gate, and fighting their way to climb ruthlessly upon the dock. "Always he rough," Pete continued, "always he act mad, no polish tone." "Oh, Loui's all right," the chief wharfinger returned. "There's nothing the matter with your boy."

"I know," the words burst out suddenly, as if resenting an implied reflection on Loui. "On top he rough, like storm waves. Below he artist, like Caruse."

"He sure can sing," the wharfinger agreed, "but he'd be a damned good crab-man, too."

"No," Pete flung back. "His mom she want artist." Pete closed his hard fists firmly, a habit of his when feeling ran deep. "On top," he repeated, "Lovigi he rough, like de wave; down below," he spoke slowly, "all still, all strong, big power."

The wharfinger looked at the waves piling higher and higher before the driving wind. "There's some power in them today all right," he said cryptically. "I'd hate to take a boat out in that trough."

Pete's broad nostrils inhaled the salt sea-weed smell slowly. "How long you think she last, Harry?" The pride in his voice had changed to anxiety.

"Well-the weather man says," Harry began, but Pete broke in scornfully.

"Aw Je's! the weather man!" An expelled gust of breath expressed his contempt. "He know not so much. What you teenk, Harry?"

The wharfinger eyed the sky-line from the Presidio Hill to the Point Bonita shore. Unconsciously he raised his voice to compete with the roar of the clamoring sea. "Oh, maybe three or four days," he prophesied.

"Je's!" The word was explosive. "I no got de crab!"

"Nobody else got crabs, either," Harry offered. "You should worry." "I promise." Pete's tone was almost shout, now. "I promise, and I make good."

"You can't expect the men to go out in that."

"If I no sell my boat, I go," Pete came back.

[blocks in formation]

HE WHARFINGER looked at him with crude kindly interest. He knew Pete's determination to carry out his wife's wish. "Come on over to the office," he offered, "nobody's going to come down here to buy fish today. Where's Loui?" as he glanced inside. the shop.

"He leave before I up. All right, I go," and the two men, their sou-westers cracking round them like flapping sails, swung down the creaking wharf to the office.

As they entered the fort-like room a voice broke out, "La Donna i Mobile." Loui was entertaining a crowd of crab-men who had gathered around. the wharfinger's stove.

"Why you no work today, Lovigi?" Pete's half-closed eyes looked at his boy, accusingly.

Loui's unshaven face crumpled into a defiant grin. "Day off," he muttered. Then at the look in his father's eyes, "Gee, I gotta practice ain't I?" he offered.

"Who run elevator?" Pete queried. "Relief man," Loui's tone suggested tolerant impatience. "Gee, you don't s'pose I'd let them music geeks climb to the tenth, do ya?" he flung back.

Pete looked at him reproachfully. "Them professors what teach you them operas is artists," his tone conveyed his respect. "That no way for you to call 'em 'music geeks'."

"Aw," Loui growled, "they're good sports."

"But no geeks," Pete remonstrated. maybe. Where your white collar?" "Why you no shave. You be fired,

A shrug substituted an audible


Pete looked at his boy appraisingly. The parts of Loui's face visible beyond the three day's stubble, were covered with sun-burn, freckles, and stray fishscales. The greasy coat was unfastened, showing a broad view of faded red flannel shirt, with a scar of bright blue paint. The frayed trousers were stuffed inside high oil-skin boots. A broken suspender trailed from under. Loui's coat, the end of which had been disposed of by sticking it in his pants pocket.

The wharfinger followed Pete's glance more indulgently. "Loui don't need a shave and white collar to come to my office," he interceded. "Go ahead Loui, sing some more."

To the accompaniment of roaring waves, wind breaking in gusts under the loose planks of the wharf, with spray dashing against the windows, Loui sang the songs which all Italians love.

For nearly an hour Pete forgot the storm, forgot the crabs outside the heads which he had promised the St. Francis for Thanksgiving. He was listening to Lovigi, his boy, who was to be an artist like de momma had wished.

At last, a wave more persistent, more daring than its fellows, dashed against the transom, scattering glass and spray into the room.

"Je's!" Pete broke out, his mind reverting to his work, "how I get de crab?"

"If you don't sell your boat," Loui half muttered, "I'd get 'em.”

As Pete looked at Loui's sullen expression he remembered his boy's resentment at the disposal of the boat. Though almost a baby the child had gurgled and shouted whenever he had taken a trip with his father. Lashed firmly to the hatch-rail the boy had watched the crawling crabs with bright interest. His childish sorrow at losing

the boat had grown to a sullen resentment. Old Pete saw under the mask of sullenness the boy he must make into an artist, like de momma had wished. He looked at Loui with mingled sternness and protection. "Lovigi, you gotta save yourself," he said as if he were stating the inevitable. "You gotta be artist like Caruse." He turned toward the window, the dark eyes compressed, "I gotta get de crab," he muttered.

The wharfinger faced the group of crab-men gathered around the stove. "None of you fellows going to be crazy enough to go out today, are you?" he offered.

A chorus of varied negatives came from the group.

"Charlie's boat got smashed against the pier last night," Harry volunteered, "and the Rosa Anette broke loose from her chain and drifted out."

Crude exclamations of sympathy broke from the seamen.

"The way the rest of the boats is bobbing up and down here in the inner harbor," Harry continued from his place at the window, "any man that goes outside the heads today is suicidin' that's all."

As the men slouched off to examine the moorings of their boats Pete made one more plea to the wharfinger. "You theenk she slow up by three or four maybe, so I get de boat and go, me, myself?"

"If I catch you trying to leave the dock today, I'll arrest you for being crazy," the wharfinger responded. "What makes you such a damn fool?" he added.

[ocr errors]

"The St. Francis steward he leave Barling, and take de crab from me,' Pete explained. "St. Francis she want 'em; Barling she fail sometime, cause she gotta depend on crab-men. I no fail, cause I be crab-man myself. If they no go, I go," Pete finished.

"Not today you won't," said the wharfinger with finality.

Pete strode down to his crab-shop and stood in the doorway, his eyes toward the sea, as if measuring his own strength with that of the roaring


For thirty-one years he had been a crab-man; at first renting, later owning his own boat, the Louiza Marie. Every day, except during the closed season when he had substituted the trawl for nets and joined the salmon boats at Point Reyes, he had gone outside the heads to get crabs. No, every day but one, that afternoon when Lovigi had been born; at the memory the tense eyes relaxed. Then "de momma" began to worry. There had been nights when Lovigi was

small when she didn't want to be left alone.

"What if you no come back?" she would say wistfully. "What I do me myself, with Lovigi." She would look at the tousled head of the baby on a cot nearby. "Maybe he be artist, like Caruse," she would add.

So at last after five years of pleading, Peter had sold his boat, and used the money to open his crab-shop with a room at the rear in which they lived.

[ocr errors]

HAT was twelve years ago, and in that time he had built up a business almost as big as Barling's or the other wholesalers, that is, in crabs. While Barling handled all kinds of fish, crabs, too, when they happened to be around, Pete specialized in the crab business. He was essentially a crab-man. He had been a member of the crab-men's Protective Association since it had started. He knew every man in San Francisco who owned a boat. When a man was sick, Pete would take his boat and go for crabs himself, with Loui running the shop. He knew the degree of hardness the shell of a crab must have, to insure protection of the delicate white meat it covered. The other men, even at Barling's took what the crab fishermen gave them, no one tried to pass anything off on Pete. Pete selected his own crabs, and he knew what to select. So it was not to be wondered at that the St. Francis and other famous hotels were glad to depend on Pete for their choice shell fish.

All this had built up old Pete's pride. He was a man to reckon with in the crab business. crab business. He had promised the St. Francis crabs for Thanksgiving. He must live up to his promise. They depended on him for crabs. He depended on the money to pay for Loui's singing lessons.

True the money Loui got for running the elevator in the Studio building helped out, but it wasn't enough. Loui was always staying off half a day and had to pay the relief man. Loui had to practice, he told his father and, anyway, he hated the cage.

Pete wouldn't have made Loui work there at all, but he wanted to keep him near "them music professors," keep the boy away from Meiggs Wharf, "make him feel he belong to artists" was the way he put it, and the momma had wanted it.

With the rolling walk of the seaman, he was pacing up and down in his little shop, the big boots stamping heavily on the rough board floor.

He came to a halt with an idea. Figaro owed him a little money that he had borrowed to paint his boat.

Pete would take the Louiza Maria. which had been renamed the Luccia, and go out himself.

The other crab men might think he was getting too old to handle a boat in a storm. Figaro couldn't refuse him. He could slip out when Harry wasn't around.

"You let me have her one day," he pleaded with Figaro half an hour later. "I'll give you off one payment."

But Figaro knew the storm. “You smash her. She can't go out," he said with no hint of negotiation.

Back to the little crab-shop Pete went, where Loui was getting shaved preparatory to working on the elevator for the afternoon shift.

"That's good" Pete commended. De momma she like you should be artist. She feel good you be clean, no tough guy."

"Mom didn't care," the seventeenyear-old stubble was being scraped savagely, but the young Italian's tone softened as he referred to his mother who had died only the year before.

Pete did not notice the subdued tone, nor the modified defiance in Loui's expression, though he watched the boy till he swung out of sight along the wharf in the direction of the Powell Street car.

As Pete ate his lunch of raviolas and Italian bread washed down with some Dago red, he reached to the shelf over the table where Loui kept his music books. "Enrico Caruso, Artist," he read, and smiled in anticipatory appreciation. "Some day maybe they write, 'Lovigi Alioto, Artist!" he said to himself musingly.

He was looking at another volume now. "What thees!" he exclaimed. "Who thees man Joseph Conrad?" The full lips pursed tentatively as he turned over the pages, reading a phrase here and there. "Huh," a gust of breath was expelled suddenly. "He no artist," Pete grunted, "just seaman. Loui no need sea-tales."

He crossed to the little stove and lifting the lid was about to thrust the book among the coals when he hesittated. One day he had found “The Sea Wolf" among Loui's music. All one rainy afternoon, when the crabfishermen had got back late, and customers were few, Pete had sat before the stove living over and over again his earlier life. "Maybe Conrad be all right for me," he muttered and returned to the table with the book still in his hands.

A gust of wind shook the little shop, and spray splashed against the windows. "Crabs!" flashed again in Pete's mind. He put on his sou-wester and as he started down the wharf

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »