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The Log of the Empire State
by Geneve L. A. Shaffer
Dedicated to My Mother and Your Mother
To My Mother
Your little hands are folded,
Your tired breast is still.
But your valiant heart beats on and on,
And so forever will.
In the lives of those who knew you,
Each gentle beat will bring
An echo sweet and tender,
To linger there and sing.
By C. T. S.
The Log of the Empire State
As Miss Shaffer was appointed the special representative of the San
Francisco Examiner on the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, Commercial
Relationship Tour of the Orient, as well as being a member of the San
Francisco Chamber of Commerce, she was requested to write this little
book covering the three months' trip, and she wishes to thank all the
members of the party for their kindly interest and cooperation in
helping her secure much of the information contained herein.
Before we had reached the Golden Gate we acted like some great happy
family, eager to enjoy every minute. After we stopped waving our tired
arms to the crowds of friends on the docks and the last bouquet aimed at
the Mayor's tug had landed in the bay, small groups, with radiant faces,
discussed what do you suppose? No, not the crossing of the Bar, but the
opening of the ship's bar. As you know, Uncle Sam seems to consider the
dry law impossible on the water.
We were all saying that San Francisco's farewell made us proud to belong
to such a city, when M. A. Gale told us that he wanted to add a word of
praise for one of San Francisco's traffic officers, who let him by when
he made a speedy trip for some valuables left behind, which had just
been missed at the last moment. But, do you remember who was the last
passenger? She was nervous and fidgety ever since she came on board,
too. None other than Bulah, the handsome mare bound for Yokohama. It was
worth going through the steerage to watch her enjoy one of our "eleven
When the lunch gong sounded, we all went below (doesn't that sound real
nautical?) to try and get settled in our home for the next three months.
Apparently there was no place left for even our hats, thoughtful gifts,
fruits, candy and flowers, filled every inch of ordinary space.
Christmas time was tame by comparison.
Many were down to lunch, fortified by a highball, but at dinner, mal de
mer had claimed its victims, and there were only a few brave spirits on
deck to indulge in dancing the first night.
The second day out everybody was trying to remember everyone else by
name. One positive lady insisted that A. I. Esberg was Dr. Morton, but
little mistakes were forgotten, and many of the committee were soon
calling each other by their first names.
While most of us were getting comfortably settled in our deck chairs,
someone noticed that Louis Glass, George Vranizan, C. W. Hinchcliffe,
Carl Westerfeld, C. A. Thayer, C. H. James, William Symon, F. S.
Ballinger, P. H. Lyon, S. L. Schwartz and Henry Mattlage had disappeared
below. And it is said by one who trailed them to their lair, that the
Fantan and Pie-gow games, going on in the steerage, were the magnet.
There were other discoveries in the steerage. A Servian girl, Alma
Karlin, who speaks ten languages fluently, but could not afford a
first-class passage (although once well-to-do) on account of the low
exchange value of her country's money. She is on a three-year tour to
study conditions in the Pacific Islands, to learn if her countrymen can
successfully immigrate to this region.
A young American married to a Chinaman, a group of Orientals devouring
an odd-looking concoction with chop sticks, a motley group of Hindus
with their fezzes, made the picturesque gathering, that gladly received
the surplus fruits distributed by the belles of the ship.
We struck a squall that surprised many of us enjoying the salt sea
breeze in our stuffy state rooms, by washing the spray over our neatly
put-out dinner clothes. That night it took real sea legs to dance while
the ship rocked. But it was great sport, and Sidney Kahn's University
Orchestra "jazzed" on as if they were on solid ground.
The third day all of the officers appeared in white. White duck curtains
replaced the wooden doors. The women blossomed out in the daintiest of
summer frocks, the men in white flannels, and although most of us found
our shoes difficult to put on (in spite of the fact that we all had
shoes a half a size larger) deck games were in full swing and sea
sickness was a thing of the past.
Commissioner Krull was the first to jump into the open-air swimming
tank, some of the ladies following. But it took deck tennis and the
tropics to make the tank popular.
Captain Nelson took us on a tour of inspection, and as eating was the
principal occupation, we asked to see the electrically operated galley
first, for, next to the bar, it was the chief attraction. We all have
heard of electric dish washers, potato peelers, knife sharpeners, bread
bakers, cake mixers, etc., but what a guarantee for matrimonial bliss
there would be if every young bride could be as sure as this ship was to
please the most particular of husbands. How? By using an automatic,
electric egg boiler that can be set for any time, and when the desired
number of minutes is reached, presto! up comes the egg out of the
boiling water! Not a second overdone, or underdone. In China some of us
were given, as a great delicacy, a "twenty-year-old egg" and toward the
end of the trip many of us had lost interest in all eggs, no matter how
The stoves burn oil, and although the day was hot, and the noon meal was
in preparation, there was no excessive heat and no fumes. The white-clad
Chinese waiters did their appointed tasks with the smoothness and lack
of confusion of clockwork.
Our smiling waiters greeted us every morning in long blue kimonos. Ours
answered to the name of Arling, and after one had ordered an abnormal
breakfast, he suggested that the griddle cakes were "veery goo-wd."
Everyone ate more than they ever thought they could, and when at eleven
o'clock, the deck boy came along with broth, few there were that had the
courage to say, "No." The tang of the sea caused groups to invade the
charming tea-room, with its yellow curtains and painted wicker
furniture, at tiffin time. And if chicken, a-la-King, was served after
the nightly dancing party, - well, everyone said, "We don't make a trip
like this every day, so, why not?"
There was a weighing machine on the lower deck, but, we all believed
that it must have been out of order. If we had not gained any more
pounds than we had spent for oriental souvenirs, we would have been
Some of the older members of the party welcomed the Sunday evening
movies instead of the strenuous dancing, but we were all glad to go to
bed after the movie villain had been killed.
The servants were so attentive and the beds so soft that many of the
ladies fell into the custom of having breakfast in the staterooms.
After lunch one sunny day we mounted the steep little stairs to the
captain's quarters. His spacious combination living and bedroom with
private bath was a miracle to those of us who had to have the room boy
move the luggage in order to have space enough to open the quaint little
bureau drawers. On his center table was one of those strange dwarf
Japanese trees, that are not permitted to be imported. These odd plants
seem to thrive in spite of their diet of whiskey and the binding of
their branches with tiny wires - perhaps, if they must be fed
exclusively on whiskey, there is another reason besides the possibility
of their bringing into our country a foreign insect that excludes them.
We were told that the captain's and officers' quarters were certified
and not counted when the capacity of the ship was figured, so the ship
seemed bigger than ever to us. Next we invaded the chart room, saw the
device that tells the whereabouts of a coming typhoon, listened to the
telephonic arrangement that proclaims the proximity of the buoy bells,
watched the little indicator that makes a red line depicting the exact
course of the ship on a circular chart, tried out the fire alarm system
that instantly rings a bell if a high temperature is registered any
place on the ship, from the bridal suite to the darkest corner of the
hold. We set the fog whistle to blow at regular intervals. We were told
that the searchlight could enable the pilot to discover objects about
five miles out, and by the time the gyro compass and numerous other
devices had been explained to us, we were ready to believe that the ship
cost seven million dollars, and that five thousand dollars was the daily
operating expense (two thousand dollars of which was spent for the one
thousand gallons of oil).
The mock trial was one of the features of the trip. Nearly everyone was
arrested, sentenced or fined. Mrs. F. Panter's and Captain Ruben
Robinson's trials were the most sensational. In spite of Carl
Westerfeld's efforts to save Captain Robinson from being convicted of
fox trotting with a certain charming widow, he was heavily sentenced.
Louis C. Brown was released upon the hearing of the eloquent pleadings
of his attorney, Louis H. Mooser. At the close of the session,
Commissioner Francis Krull imposed a fine upon himself for his merciful
tendencies as the judge.
When a crowd of us piled into the wireless room and asked the whys and
wherefores, the poor operator gave up trying to explain why the messages
were all sent at night, and settled the matter by telling us that the
atmospheric conditions were better then, and that the ship was equipped
with two systems, the spark and the arc, but that the arc was given the
preference. The Empire State kept its apparatus tuned to the one at
Sloat Boulevard, so if any of those at home missed us, just all they had
to do was to drive past that station any night, and, perhaps, at that
very moment, a message was being received from us.
When we saw land, the women immediately planned a meeting to discuss
what to wear and do when we arrived in Honolulu on the following day. A.
I. Esberg gave an address the evening before on the meaning of our
Commercial Relationship tour and the good-will that he believed San
Francisco would establish by this mission. Afterward we danced, then
followed a Chinese supper. Yes, we were eating again.
No alarm clock that was ever invented smote the ears with greater
animosity than did the ship's gong at 6:30 the morning we arrived at
Honolulu. If it had not been for the fact that the committee was there
(just outside our portholes, in yachts loaded with leis to welcome us)
it would have taken even more than that disturber of the peace to arouse
us, for sleep seemed the most desired thing after the Chinese dinner
dance that had lasted until the wee hours.
We were all at the luncheon given to us by the Honolulu Commercial Club.
Faxton Bishop told us of the seriousness of the labor situation and
asked our aid. We all remember how eloquently our much lamented
spokesman, A. F. Morrison, answered the address and said that
California's prosperity depended in many ways upon Hawaiian prosperity
and their problems were our problems.
Wallace R. Farrington, Governor of the Territory of Hawaii, said that
the labor situation must be solved to insure the prosperity of the
We were next whizzed to the Outrigger Club, and if everyone had seen how
hard Warren Shannon paddled to reach the crest of a wave before it
broke, they would all be convinced that he was the hardest working
supervisor we have.
John H. Wilson, the mayor of Honolulu, motored our party around the
island and gave us a luncheon at a hotel near one of the beaches. We
will remember this day as one of our happiest.
The first day out of Honolulu we were all discussing our impressions.
Most of us had passed the Honolulu schools at recess time and had noted
only one or two white-skinned children. It was, as Dr. A. W. Morton
expressed it, "Looks like a little Japan." Of course, everyone knows of
the vividness and great variety of the coloring of the foliage in sharp
contrast to the brilliant pink soil, but we could not stop talking about
it. Some of us noted the beauty of a little plant, which at home we
carefully water and cherish in some tiny pot, only to learn that on the
Island it grows in such abundance that it is considered nearly as great
a pest as the Mediterranean fly - so it would seem that beauty in the
vegetable kingdom does not always mean desirability, any more than it
does in the human family.
Many of us had been taken over the sugar-cane plantations, seen the
young plants pushing through the paper (put over them to keep out the
weeds), gone through the refineries, seeing the cane stalks ground in
the huge rollers and had been allowed to taste the sickeningly sweet
molasses. Along the roads were Hawaiian huts with octopi drying on the
porches, beside the reclining figures of the strong providers of the
family, resting up, no doubt, from the task of catching and killing the
octopi by hitting the squid's heads.
Some of the party waxed eloquent about the wonderful leprosy cures,
recently accomplished in the Islands, through the discoveries of the
chemist Dr. Dean, who took the chalmoogra oil used in India over a
thousand years ago as a cure (but according to tradition, the sufferers
considered the cure worse than the disease) and made it possible to
Some of us stopped to investigate the powerful wireless station with the
instruments capable of receiving messages at a distance of 5000 miles.
Still others told of the island at the Pearl Harbor Naval station being
purchased for ten thousand dollars and then being sold to our government
for 400,000 dollars.
Many had not only received the leis, but a new native name as well, for,
as you know, it is the Hawaiian way of labeling everyone with some name
that to the Islander expresses their predominant characteristic.
We were gazing at the magnificent sunset, when someone who seemed to
have inside information, repeated the old adage, "A red sky at night is
the sailor's delight, but if followed by a red sky in the morning, it's
the sailor's warning." We had all found the tranquil waters of the
Pacific so refreshing after the rush and excitement of Honolulu
sightseeing, and did not know that the worst storm the Empire State had
experienced was before us.
Most of us rolled out of bed the next morning, and the only reason some
of us did not fall to the floor was because the bureaus stopped us half
way, with many a resounding thud. Many of the party did not attempt to
get up or out of the staterooms. Will we ever forget the dining tables
equipped with metal railings, divided into sections to hold in the
dishes? Even then, the eggs and cream rolled over the cloth or into our
unreceptive laps, and the way the waiters moistened the cloth in the
spots where they set the water glasses in an attempt to make them stay
put. But they would not any more than our tummies would "stay put."
We then appreciated the necessity of the railings all over the ship,
especially when we commenced to hit each side of the passage way in
trying to step forward. Edward C. Wagner was jestingly remarking to
Louis Glass that if he should fall, there would be broken "Glass." It
was but a short while afterward when an unexpected lurch of the ship
threw him to the deck, breaking his glasses.
We all remember that the deck chairs had an unpleasant way of sliding
until they hit the opposite wall, bouncing out the sea-sick occupants.
Even in getting out of the chairs (tied to the railings) many of us
fell. The upper deck looked like the ward of an emergency hospital. Mrs.
A. F. Morrison had fallen, breaking a bone in her wrist, Mrs. E.
Dinkelspiel had her head injured, Louis Glass had a bandage over his cut
face, and scarcely anyone escaped without black and blue marks.
To see one of our capitalists being led weakly by a strong attendant,
while grasping his mal de mer tin firmly, was a sight unnoticed, in the
tumult of rushing waves. Of course, all portholes were closed, two of
the crew narrowly escaped being washed overboard. Their spotless uniform
of white had long since been discarded for rain coats and high boots.
Some of us slept out on deck rather than negotiate the treacherous
stairs to the uncertain joys of a stateroom in which the trunks had to
be lashed to the walls to avoid painful contact (you see, many of us had
the vivid recollection of the crashes that woke us). In most cases the
dainty bureau scarfs upon which reposed the Cologne bottle, mirror,
powder, hairpins, etc., etc., had dashed into one conglomerate, broken
mass on the floor.
M. A. Gale and Warren Shannon (usually the life of the party) were seen
in dejected heaps, with only half-closed eyes visible above the steamer
Mrs. Carrie Schwabacher gathered about the piano those well enough to be
about (after the storm had been raging for two days and nights), playing
old-fashioned songs, to try to raise the drooping spirits.
Chanticleer never greeted the morning with gayer spirits than this
party, when we saw the clouds had rolled away, and when someone
repeated, "On the road to Mandilay, where the flying fishes play" (while
we watched the flying fishes play), all the old familiar quotations took
on a new significance of realty.
On October 10, Dorothy Gee, the Chinese girl banker of San Francisco,
presided over the ceremony celebrating the tenth anniversary of the
Chinese independence Day, held in the steerage. Besides giving a clever
address, she acted as interpreter for the speeches delivered by F. R.
Eldridge, chief of the Far Eastern Division for the Bureau of Foreign
and Domestic Commerce, A. F. Morrison and A. I. Esberg.
Many of us felt a great curiosity to see the engine that had pushed us
through the storm, so we descended countless iron stairs, down to the
very bottom of the ship; above us towered a bewildering assortment of
ladders, levers, pipes and valves. The heat was over-powering, so we
rushed to the ventilator and cooled off quickly. The deafening noise
prevented us from hearing all the engineer's explanations. Next we were
taken singly (as the space between the two massive doors will not permit
of more) through the two massive doors separating the boilers from the
rest of the ship. In case of an accident all the doors of the ship,
including these, could be automatically closed from the deck, dividing
the ship into three compartments.
We saw how the thirty-seven cakes of ice, consumed daily, were made,
inspected the laundry and peeked in where the precious, rapidly
diminishing liquors were stored, and we all felt satisfied that we knew
"What made the wheels go around."
With the regular meetings of the Executive committee, with Herbert
Hoover's Trade Investigation committee (consisting of Lansing Hoyt, C.
J. Mayer, Gordon Enders, E. Kehich, Paul Steindorff and headed by F. R.
Eldridge), mingling with the party to assist in establishing friendly
commercial relationship; with all those identified with certain
businesses and professions divided into groups, and even with the women
organized, we felt ready to meet any Oriental dignitaries, or
We remember well how often Warren Shannon, with his unfailing humor,
sent us into gales of laughter, auctioning off the numbers that
represented the possible run of the ship on the following day. Louis
Mooser bid the first one hundred dollars on the number that won the
pool. C. H. Matlage, William Muir, F. H. Speich, Louis Brown, Mrs. S.
Schwartz and Mrs. Carrie Schwabacher were also heavy bidders.
Everyone started borrowing clothes from everyone else, right after
breakfast, the day of the masquerade. P. J. Lyon made a very gay girl,
C. R. Reed went as Woodrow Wilson, A. I. Esberg as a Chinese, C. B.
Lastrete as a bandit, Margarete Rice as Cleopatra, Mrs. Bruce Foulkes as
a beautiful Spanish senorita, Constant Meese, W. Levintritt, F. W. Boole
and C. H. Matlage as "Four Dainty Kewpies," Edward C. Wagner as an
oiler, and Carl Westerfeld was a regular devil.
Of course, Mrs. A. Gee, Mrs. A. B. Luther, Mrs. Washburn, Mrs. Wheeler,
Mrs. Boole, Mrs. Wood, Mrs. Shannon and Mrs. Grady looked charming, as
usual. The Misses Bridge, Miss Kinslow, Miss Neff and Miss Bell also
looked attractive. Dr. Gates, Dr. Judell, Miss Simon, Mrs. Rothenberg,
Mrs. Denson, Mrs. Dunn, Mrs. Yates, the Misses Hunter, Mrs. Barnard,
Miss James, Mrs. Ross, A. W. Morton, Jr., and Mrs. Krull went to such a
lot of trouble to get up their interesting costumes. Henry S. Bridge
had, "a fine make-up" and looked like a real Southern Negro. Pretty Miss
Howlett and Miss Wood always made one think of the posters of "Sweet
Warren Shannon's Entertainment committee, assisted by Miss Moore, Miss
Craig, Mrs. Bercovich and Mrs. Panter, certainly discovered the talent
on board and we will always be grateful for the sweet singing of
charming Mrs. Gale, Mrs. Brown, Mrs. Schwartz and Miss Reed and the
playing of Miss Moore, Mrs. Alexander and of our talented "Mary."
If anyone felt a bit out of sorts all they had to do was to think of the
courage and sweet, uncomplaining manner of Mrs. Morrison or what good
sailors Mrs. Anna R. Luther and Miss Louise Elliott were trying to be.
Columbus never strained his eyes more eagerly to see land than the San
Francisco Chamber of Commerce representatives did, when someone said
that the dim outline of Fujiyama might be visible above the hazy shore
that looked as much like clouds as land.
All the men of the party were so busy with their field glasses, admiring
Yokohoma Harbor's wonderful fortifications, that they did not even hear
the women question what sort of a dress would be suitable for the coming
grand reception, and yet, at the same time withstand sight-seeing in the
dust of the streets. Even Mary Garden on her opening night did not
receive such rapt attention as did this harbor.
As we looked down over the huge side of the Empire State upon the
turmoil of humanity, baggage and freight and the uneven street beyond,
we gave thanks to the Baptist missionary, who is credited with making an
old baby carriage into the first rickshaw, for the convenience of his
sick wife. When we saw the little brown men actually run away with our
most corpulent representatives, without any apparent effort, we forgot
all about "Man's inhumanity to man" and no baby ever enjoyed its first
perambulator outing more than our party.
First, we swooped down upon the banks to change our money, but the yen
and sen counted out to us seemed as valueless as stage money. However,
we grew to respect it, after visiting Benton Dori and departing with
elaborate kimonos that the shrewd businessmen and women of the party
would have passed by as being too expensive, at home.
It was great fun after being extravagant to figure out that a yen is
only a little over half as much as one of our dollars and that one had
only spent half as much as one thought.
Our party met the ladies (some of them American college graduates) and
gentlemen of the Yokohama Chamber of Commerce at a big reception in a
theatre. The governor, through his interpreter, said that our arrival
was on the first sunny day they had had in some time, that the
chrysanthemums were just blooming, and that this was a good omen, for
the war clouds had vanished. Geisha girls danced while singing a
specially composed chant of welcome, and an elaborate luncheon was
served in an adjoining hall. A. I. Esberg and F. R. Eldridge answered
the welcome saying, "That we hoped to establish much more friendly and
permanent relationship with the people of Japan."
Most of the party had the inevitable tea in the foreign settlement,
known as the Bluff. Most of these houses are of the vintage of fifty
years ago and range in rental from $125 to $150, unfurnished, the tenant
having to install his own plumbing if he wishes such a luxury. We wanted
to know why some better arrangement was not made and were reminded of
the law that does not permit of any foreign ownership of land.
Louis Mooser, former head of the San Francisco Real Estate Board, was
much interested in the situation. It seems that about one-seventh of the
small area available for foreigners was under perpetual lease to the
Germans and we were told that when war broke out it was taken over by