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Edmund Frederick Erk.

A merry crusade to the Golden Gate : under the banners of Allegheny Commandery, No. 35, Knights Templar, Allegheny, Pa. : a complete story of the Twenty-ninth Triennial Conclave, Grand Encampment, Knights Templar, U.S.A. ... and a tour of ten thousand miles through the wonderland of the West online

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Online LibraryEdmund Frederick ErkA merry crusade to the Golden Gate : under the banners of Allegheny Commandery, No. 35, Knights Templar, Allegheny, Pa. : a complete story of the Twenty-ninth Triennial Conclave, Grand Encampment, Knights Templar, U.S.A. ... and a tour of ten thousand miles through the wonderland of the West → online text (page 28 of 38)
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it did stretch!

The knit silk underskirt that was brought Sir Gilland in exchange
for four dozen collars, was really a sensible thing. It opened behind, and
had pockets in which to put your shoulder blades. It was a beautiful,
deep rich red in color, and was so tastefully pleated and ruffled that it
would not have appeared absurd on the street providing something was
worn to cover it.

Sir Greenawalt, who had sent four neckties and three dozen hand-
kerchiefs to the laundry, drew as his prize package a linen duster, that
had either been tailored to fit the elephant, or was intended as a covering
for one of the circus wagons. Sir Otto made a tent out of it, and crawl-
ing under, avoided catching cold until his proper laundry was returned.

Sir Gilchrist, who wears a No. 17 shirt, when the laundry is not
working on it, received a boy's waist with nice white pearl buttons around
the bottom and a pretty sailor collar at the top. Unable to don the dainty
little creation, Sir Joseph tied the arms of the waist around his neck and
managed to wear the collar. He made the cutest little "Bo Peep" that
Los Angeles ever entertained.

Sir Burry had his sweater washed! If there is any doubt in the
reader's mind, the fact can be confirmed by making an investigation of
the records of the Los Angeles laundries. Whether it was rejected by
the circus crew, because it was too sensational, is not known; at any
rate it was among the very few pieces properly returned to our train.
However, when Sir Edward and the sweater looked into each other's
faces there was no sign of recognition. Instead of the attractive striped
bars which had made the sweater famous throughout the west, it had
changed into a blending rainbow effect, and gave evidence that it had
been weeping long and piteously. Sir Edward was so moved that he
clasped the sweater to his breast, and the sweater put its arms around
Sir Edward.

Sir Kunberger had sent the laundry "an awful lot" of shirts but
they were both missing. When he opened his package he found a pink hair



A MERRY CRUSADE TO THE GOLDEN GATE 231

ribbon, two pair of "open-work" stockings and a "cutaway" waist that
glistened with spangles. The waist was so "cut away" that anyone
attempting to put it on, would have fallen out of it, were it not for the
shoulder straps. "Kunnie" tried it on but the spangles would not match
the pink hair ribbon, which he was compelled to wear around his neck
for a collar.

Sir Walter received a Navajo blanket and two doilies in exchange
for all the linen he had. The blanket appeared as if it had covered a
multitude of sins, and if the doilies had only been feathers he might have
assumed the role of "Sitting Bull." He was the best dressed man on
board the train nothing flashy about his attire, but more genteel than his
comrades.

Sir Flechsig wouldn't have cared so much about losing a dozen col-
lars, four shirts, two suits of underwear and eight handkerchiefs if he
hadn't received a brick-red flannel undershirt in return. It was so heavy
that he could hardly wear it, and the red was so violent that he feared he
would catch fire if he put it on. So he opened a window and tacked the
red shirt to the sill, as a signal of distress. A few moments later several
strangers walked into the car and inquired when the auction would take
place. Then Sir Herman brought down his flag to half-mast.

Nothing was received by Sir Craig but the promise of an investiga-
tion. He couldn't wear that without causing talk, so Burry, in the kind-
ness of his heart, allowed him to wear the sweater, that he could at
least sit up in bed.

Sir Watson gleefully unwrapped a package of collars, with the hope
that he, at least, had received conventional attire. Unfortunately they were
four sizes too large for him, but with the aid of a safety pin he managed
to keep one from falling over his shoulders. In the absence of any means
by which to fasten the collar at the back, it continually worked its way
up the back of his neck until it looked like the strap on a guardsman's
helmet, and interfered with jaw movement.

Other members of the party received souvenirs in return for their
garments that were more interesting than serviceable, and when the
"third and last call" to breakfast was heard, the consternation that pre-
vailed in the "stag" coach was beyond the power of description.

The predicament in the "stag" coach was a serious one. With nearly
all the linen of the whole party in the hands of the laundry, or more
likely, in the hands of the circus troupe, we were not prepared to receive
visitors.

We were too loose in some places and too tight in others, and all
together we felt slovenly and ill conditioned. There was one advantage
that all enjoyed. No one at the breakfast table that morning was better
dressed than the other. Everyone had someone else's clothes on, in part
or in whole. It appeared as if a congress of nations was feasting. How-



232 A MERRY CRUSADE TO THE GOLDEN GATE

ever, everything but the costumes and their colors, harmonized. Sir
Craig, who had received nothing but a promise, managed to get to the
breakfast table through the kindness of Sir Greenawalt, who brought
him along under his roomy linen duster. Sir Flechsig, who had received
the red flannel undershirt, did not come to the table at all, but sent word
that, while he was not more particular in his dress than his companions,
he had never carried the hod, and was sure that a guest at the table wear-
ing a red undershirt would excite remark.

Fortunately, the laundry authorities (having discovered their error)
paid an urgent call shortly after breakfast, and presented us with our
missing garments. They explained that the moving of our "Special" and
the transfer of a circus train upon the siding formerly occupied by us,
had led to the unfortunate error; as the only address by which we were
identified was the street opposite which our "Special" was originally sta-
tioned.

Several of our Sir Knights had formed such a "strong attachment"
to the circus clothing that they could not easily part with it. For instance,
Sir Oscar, who tried on the lavender tights was so attached to them that
it required the efforts of three companions to get them off. Not that
he wasn't willing, but the tights clung affectionately to him. Sir Lee's
sympathies went out to Oscar, as his experience with the Santa Barbara
bathing suit gave a keen realization of Oscar's predicament.

After making the necessary changes in clothing, we were prepared
to make the day's pilgrimage which promised to carry us through some
of the many attractive resorts and suburbs of Los Angeles. The seaside
resorts in the vicinity are easily accessible and are largely patronized.
The oldest is Santa Monica, which is not only a seaside resort, but a
good-sized, modern city as well. To the south is Ocean Park, and imme-
diately to the north, Port Los Angeles. All three offer the pleasures of
seaside life.

En route to Santa Monica we passed through Swatelle, where stands
the Pacific branch of the National Soldiers' Home. Upwards of 2,000
veterans were making their home there during our visit. The home has a
farm of 500 acres adjoining and extensive grounds rich in floral beauty
surround the premises.

Playa Del Rey is the name of the new beach resort which is rapidly
being beautified. Among its attractions is a lagoon whose waters are
smooth and wide. It is two miles long and is devoted to boat racing.
From Playa Del Rey we took a seaside trolley ride of twelve miles to
Redondo, one of the most popular seaside resorts on the Pacific coast.

Redondo is famed as a fishing resort and black bass weighing from
300 to 500 pounds have frequently been caught in its waters. Fishing by
moonlight is one of the summer attractions. Swimming, bathing, boat-
ing and beach-combing are among the other popular diversities. Great



A MERRY CRUSADE TO THE GOLDEN GATE 233

shiploads of lumber are loaded here, and passenger steamers make regu-
lar stops. Redondo has fine hotels and many handsome cottages, and
among its beauty spots is a carnation garden of several acres. Near
Redondo is Hermosa Beach, a summer resort rather than a pleasure
resort, where families of Los Angeles merchants summer in large
numbers.

Sirs Bovard, Reel, Shook and Jack bathed so long at Redondo that
the sun burned them to a color which is distinctly that of the boiled lob-
ster. They each wore a hugh straw bathing hat that looked like an
inverted bushel basket.

No one appreciated the beauty of their costumes any more than they
did themselves, and in order not to rob "the folks at home" of the treat,
they sought a photographer and had their pictures taken ensemble. It
was indeed unfortunate that they were compelled to remove their bathing
suits before leaving, for when the tight-fitting garments were slowly
peeled off, the sunburnt skin of the bathers came off with them in large
patches. Sir Reel devoted his time at the beach in hunting moonstones,
which were among the pebbles cast up by the waves, and proved himself
a star in his astronomical pursuit of seeking moonstones by sunlight.

Among other attractive resorts and pleasure spots lying within a
narrow radius are Hollywood, Manhattan Beach, Long Beach, Brigh-
ton Beach, Alhambra, Wilson Peak Park, Monrovia, Pomona, Idyllwild,
and the old mission town of San Gabriel. This mission was founded by
the Franciscan monks in 1771, and the old building is finely preserved.
The mission grape vine is more than 100 years old, and never fails to bear
a heavy vintage.

While the greater number of our pilgrims gave themselves over to
a visitation of these many resorts, a number spent the day in a visit to
San Diego, that Southern California city which is as beautiful as it is
important. With a fine harbor, and nestling on a slope that rises from
the water's edge to a high summit, San Diego enjoys a rare location.
With valleys of enormous fruit-bearing orchards on one side and lofty
mountains on the other, and with ocean and the San Diego river in close
touch, the city enjoys rich advantages. Its hotels are many and luxuri-
ant. Then there is Coronado. A city of tents but a mile away, which
faces the ocean and offers all the pleasures of a popular resort and with
all the beauty of a summer home.

Nothwithstanding the activities of the day, it was not an exhausted
band of pilgrims that found its way back into the fold, in the city of Los
Angeles, at night. Whether it was the admirable climate or something
in the rarefied air, the fact remains. Following dinner, we again sought
our old friends Los Angeles Commandery, No. 9. The Temple stood
aglow in all the splendor we had seen the night before. The same hospi-
tality reigned supreme. Aided by scores of pretty girls and handsome



234 A MERRY CRUSADE TO THE GOLDEN GATE

matrons, the Sir Knights were anxious to receive us, and offer their well-
known generosity. Music and the scent of flowers lent charm to the
surroundings, while dancing and other forms of entertainment were lav-
ishly provided.

An incident which indicates the liberality and kindness with which
the visiting Sir Knights were received by all classes and all interests in
Los Angeles, can be cited in a courtesy which was enjoyed by Sir Schulze
and his party, while returning from the Masonic Temple that night. The
party was late in leaving, and sought the railroad station to board the
"Special" for the night. Taking the first street car that came along, the
pilgrims asked the conductor to leave them off at the railroad station.
He informed them that, at that hour, his car would come to the end of
its route about six blocks from the station. "But," continued the con-
ductor, "I see you are visitors and we want to treat you right. I will
carry you there on my own account, for I know the company wants
to treat you right." The car outran its terminal and carried the party
to its destination.

Guests at the "Hotel De Car" were late in returning that night, but
this was charitably excused because of the fact that the "hotel" had
changed its location so often that the guests possibly might have become
confused. However, the right quarters could have been detected from the
outside, by the murmurings of a "council of war" which was being held
in the commissary car. An outline of attack for the morrow was being
mapped out, when the terrible truth dawned upon us that we had no
leader. It was a kingdom without a king, and an election was promptly
held. Owing to the fact that he was not present to resent it, Sir Joseph
J. was unanimously chosen for the distinction. It was a mean advantage
to take as he lay peacefully sleeping in his berth in the "stag" coach.

Once named as king, thoughts turned to the fact that he was un-
crowned. It was only after a consultation with Johnston, that possibili-
ties offered themselves. (Nothing is dearer or more sacred to the heart
of a loyal colored gentleman than a watermelon, and Johnston's ingenuity
turned to that.) His suggestion was accepted and we at once performed
the delicate operation of dissecting a huge watermelon by cutting it in
half, and carving out the interior.

With great solemnity a committee was appointed to crown the king,
and treading softly to his couch, we placed the inverted half watermelon
rind over his imperial dome of thought. The fatigue of the day, the vig-
orating night air, and the comforting assurance of duty well done, and the
approval of friends, had lulled him into a gentle repose. Anyone who
might have looked upon him as he lay there in that innocent slumber,
with the winsome mouth slightly ajar, while a merry smile now and then
flitted across the regular features, would have said that no heart could
be so hard as to harbor ill for one so guileless and so innocent. Occasion-



A MERRY CRUSADE TO THE GOLDEN GATE 235

ally he let a sigh of blessed relief, such as a woman might heave after
she has returned from church and transferred herself from the embrace
of a castiron, glove-fit, tailor-made gown into a friendly wrapper. Regu-
larly, like the rise and fall of the waves at the Cliff House, it rose and
fell. It is true that the crown was not so good a fit as it might have been,
and that it covered more of his face than it did his head, but the honor
was there. After performing the coronation we retired and left the king
to dream of his glory.




CHAPTER XXVI.

HAT was our surprise on the following morning, when we found
the new king still sleeping with the crown on his head. True, it
was tilted a little over his left ear, in a manner that would hardly
have been considered dignified in court circles, but our "king could
do no wrong!" To show our loyalty as his respectful subjects, we decided
to awaken him with a pleasing serenade.

Promptly at 8:30 o'clock we boarded the train for San Pedro, en
route to Santa Catalina Island and the famous Marine Gardens. The Salt
Lake Route, over which we traveled, finds it most important connection
between Los Angeles and San Pedro, the terminal of the Wilmington
Transportation Company, whose steamers ply daily, throughout the year,
from San Pedro to the islands.

San Pedro is a port whose future offers boundless opportunities. It
is through this harbor that Los Angeles will ship to the Orient, and
which will open all Southern California and the southwestern portion of
the whole country and afford an outlet to the Far East, Hawaii and the
Panama Canal trade. During our visit the government was construct-
ing a $3,000,000 breakwater two miles long, to protect the harbor, and
when this is completed the inner harbor of San Pedro will embrace a
water front of II miles, suitable for the dockage or sea-going vessels.
The town is a growing one, and is engaged chiefly in marketing oysters,
sardines, lobsters and all sea foods in a large commercial way.

Arriving at San Pedro, one of the Santa Catalina steamers was in
waiting. The ocean trip is one and one-half hours duration, and is highly
enjoyable. A beautiful view of the Southern California coast line is
afforded, and while all sorts of objects of interest command the attention
of the steamer passengers, there is none so fascinating or novel as the
flying fish, which are seen in large numbers.

When but a few miles out from the mainland these marvelous fish



236 A MERRY CRUSADE TO THE GOLDEN GATE

can be seen leaping from beneath the bow of the steamer, singly, in pairs
and by the dozen, until one wearies in counting them. They skim over
the waves in graceful curves and their length of flight varies from 10 to
500 yards, and often greater distances. In size, shape and color the flying
fish are very similar to the mackerel. Its "wings" are muscular fins whose
spines are connected by a light membrane, and are four in number. The
hindermost pair are quite small, mere butterfly wings of stout fiber; the
foremost pair attain a length of seven or eight inches, and when extended
are two inches or more in breadth. Breaking from the water at a high
rate of speed, but at a very low angle, the flying fish extend these wing-
like fins and holds them rigid, like the set wings of a soaring hawk. With
the lower flange of its deeply forked tail, which at first drags lightly, it
sculls with a convulsive wriggle of the whole body that gives it the casual
appearance of actually winging its way. The additional impulse thus
acquired lifts it entirely out of the water, over whose surface it then glides
without further effort for a long distance, until, losing in momentum
and in the sustaining pressure of the air beneath its outstretched fins, it
again touches the water, either to disappear abruptly or by renewed
sculling to prolong its flight. Whales of great size are often seen along
the route of these steamers, but it was not our privilege to observe any
during the trip.

Arriving at the largest of the Santa Catalina Islands, we steamed into
a beautiful bay, which was a concaved semi-circle in shape. The island
itself is 22 miles long and includes 40,000 acres, in the shadow of moun-
tains that almost completely encircle it. It is known as Avalon.

Upon landing, the steamer was surrounded by scores of boys, many
of them in skiffs, and others swimming in the water all shouting : "Got
any change, mister ?" "Got any change, mister ?" and urging us to throw
coins into the bay and see them dive after them.

Shivering incessantly, and with chattering teeth and deep-blued lips,
these little fellows, clad only in tights, make a business, if not a profes-
sion, of diving for money thrown from the steamers by daily visitors,
spending hours, and often a whole day, in the water.

We acquiesced with their demands and threw out several coins. So
perfectly clear is the water that the bottom can be seen. All the lads
were expert divers and never failed to get the coins, coming up with them
in their mouths. In fact the only purse they used, or could use, were
mouth purses. They kept up their call for "more change" when
their mouths were so full that their words were scarcely audible; this
compelled them to make all sorts of grimaces in shouting, without drop-
ping money from their mouths.

Some of the lads were cunning enough to catch their coins, long be-
fore they had sunk to the bottom, but would throw their legs half out of
the water and dive deep to give the impression that they had gone to the



A MERRY CRUSADE TO THE GOLDEN GATE 237

bottom. Frequently, an exciting scramble under water for the possession
of a coin lent zest to the performance, and as a whole we enjoyed the
sport as much as the boys.

On the pier we at once became the objects of persistent attention by a
hundred boatmen, who hawked at us like the inevitable hackman at a
railroad station, and grasping us familiarly by the coat lapel, shouted:
"Glass bottom boat ?" "Glass bottom boat, sir ?"

These glass bottom boats offer the chief interest in a visit to Santa
Catalina Islands. They are small crafts, usually propelled by oar, though
some are sail boats, and a few, steam launches. In every instance the
seats are arranged around the edge of the boat in elliptical shape, while
the center of the bottom drops down under water containing a clear
slab of plate glass. To protect this "pit," and to afford the passengers
something to lean on, a rail guards the center of the boat, and by resting
on this and peering down, all the mysteries of Neptune's kingdom are
revealed.

The famous "Marine Gardens" are located in the bay off the Avalon
shore. So transparent are the waters that every detail on the bottom
many fathoms below, are clearly distinguishable. The glass has magni-
fying properties, so has the water, and as one gazes in rapture at the rare
and exquisite foliage of the sea bottom, and turns about a moment to note
that the earth is still about him, he becomes thrilled with a feeling and
belief that he is swaying leisurely, airily and lightly through space ; that
the boat is balancing daintily upon some cloud and that there is naught
beneath nor above.

Were every page in this volume devoted solely to a description of the
marvels of the sea as disclosed by the glass bottom boats, and were the
writer so rare a one as to be competent to accurately record their descrip-
tion, the story would not be half told. Man's knowledge of color and
form is too limited to tell his neighbor what he saw at the bottom of the
sea. Expert botanists are helpless to identify many of the specimens
revealed in the shrubbery and forests which grow in jungle-like confusion
on the ocean bottom. Shells and coral creations abound in forms and
color of dazzling splendor, while fish that are marvelously odd and curi-
ous pose and swim lazily by in uncountable numbers, utterly ignorant
of the presence of man, or too dignified to notice him.

The brush itself, that grand preserver of human memory, is pow-
erless to record the beauties of life under water. Just as if God had
amused himself by making a garden of awe-inspiring beauty. One,
becomes astounded, asks questions, exclaims, and goes into ecstacies. A
hundred species of fish passed by playfully, in schools of thousands, or
in tiny groups, unconscious and unmindful of an audience. You see
them as they live, and play, and pass the time away.

The golden sands mingled with the emerald vegetation; the trees of



238 A MERRY CRUSADE TO THE GOLDEN GATE

coral with irregular branches glistening with every imaginable hue
mother-of-pearl, ruby, saphire, turquoise and amethyst; hair-like ferns,
sea grass and other odly-shaped vegetation swaying gently to and fro, in
harmony with the will of the under currents, lend a supernatural charm.

Here are shell-encrusted rocks projecting upward at uneven heights
like the hills upon the shore, and over these pearly gray formations one
can see the slowly creeping shell and star fish moving spasmodically in
short, jerky slides. Gold fish, of immense size, wiggle slowly by, while
here and there one is privileged to gaze upon the queer electric fish which
throws its peculiar, greenish searchlight ahead intermittently.

It was a fairy place inhabited by fish, fish, fish nothing but fish !
Here and there arose a cliff arranged like a throne of a splendid goddess
or mermaid of royal blood, who had chosen this fairyland for her bath.
Sometimes the rocks would take the form of abandoned castles, with
secret subterranean passageways through which the fish would grace-
fully glide in and out.

Occasionally the boatman would announce the particular depth at
the point where the boat was resting, and this only added wonder, because
of the clearness of the vision. Now and again the eye and mind would
tire of the eager and incessant gaze, and one is compelled to turn away
and rest, and rub fresh vigor into the eyes.

Reluctantly we left the Marine Gardens. It had been of such un-
expected beauty and its revelations so novel and fascinating. Return-
ing to Avalon, some of the pilgrims made an inspection of that pictur-
esque town, while others took side trips, including: Sea-Lion Rookery,
the Sphinx, San Clemente, Little Harbor, Mount Orizaba, Banning and
Black Jack, Empire Landing, Catalina Harbor, Eagles' Nest Camp, Pre-
historic Cave, Moonstone Beach and Sea Rocks. The latter being the
rendezvous of hundreds of seals, many of whom are of enormous size.

One of Avalon's most alluring attractions is the sport it offers to
anglers. The barracuda is plentiful, likewise yellow-tail or sea-salmon,
which frequently weighs 50 pounds. Sea-bass fishing is much indulged
in, and these fish are also plentiful, ranging in weight from 200 to 400



Online LibraryEdmund Frederick ErkA merry crusade to the Golden Gate : under the banners of Allegheny Commandery, No. 35, Knights Templar, Allegheny, Pa. : a complete story of the Twenty-ninth Triennial Conclave, Grand Encampment, Knights Templar, U.S.A. ... and a tour of ten thousand miles through the wonderland of the West → online text (page 28 of 38)