Carl I.  Earth Measurer. Excerpt from unpublished
graduation in 1923 I saw a notice on the bulletin board that
the U.S. Coast & Geodetic Survey was offering commissions
to qualified Civil Engineering graduates. I was curious having
heard a great deal about that service from my professors, so
I wrote a letter asking for more information even though I had
already had an offer from the Standard Oil Co. for an assignment
was surprised to receive a letter in reply "Ordering" me to
report to a Public Health Doctor in La Crosse, Wisconsin and
if I passed a physical examination to report to headquarters
in Washington, Of course I knew I was not obligated in as much
as I had not actually asked for employment, but I suddenly felt
that I would like the service so I decided to abandon my idea
of the India assignment. That night I saw an ad in the paper
for an extra passenger who could share driving and expenses
to go east to Ithaca, New York. I called the given telephone
number and found out that he was driving east the next day.
He was a professor at Cornell University. He said that I could
ride with him as far as Elmira, New York and take a train to
Washington from there. Such small matters change our lives.
Instead of going to India I went off to Washington. I have never
regretted that decision.
remained in Washington at the office only a month after reporting
and then I received orders to go to Baltimore, Maryland and
report to Captain L. D. Graham on the Launch Elsie III. Actually
Graham was a Lieutenant but as he commanded a vessel the title
of Captain was appropriate. The Elsie had formerly been a yacht
belonging to Curtis of the Curtis Publishing Company and he
had donated it to the Coast & Geodetic Survey. It was in
dry dock and was being overhauled. She was powered by a heavy
duty gasoline engine, was forty-five feet in length and drew
four and one half feet of water. It took a month to complete
repairs and then we headed south through the inside passage
Inland Waterway went all the way to Florida except for a days
run outside around Cape Hatteras. Since that time outside passage
is no longer necessary. The waterway consists of interconnecting
sounds, rivers, and canals. At the present time at least six
feet of water is available throughout the passage but at that
time the Coast Pilot cautioned that no attempt should be made
to carry over three feet through the passage without a pilot.
Here we were, drawing four and one half feet!
completed repairs and headed south around the first of December
of 1923. My rank was Deck Officer, a rank corresponding to a
warrant officer in the Marines. It was not until a year later
that I was commissioned as Ensign.
trip down was fascinating. However we had our troubles because
of our draft. At times we went aground several times a day.
We often had to wait for a change of wind to pile up the water
in our end of the sounds to proceed. It was embarrassing because
there were many houseboats astern of us much of the time which
would have to wait for us to float to go ahead. Actually if
they would pass us when the opportunity offered itself, they
could have gone ahead with their shallow draft but felt that
a government vessel surely knows the best channel and they persisted
in following us. We had particular difficulty when we entered
the Indian River. As we reached Titusville, Florida we were
aground several times each day. We were towing our old Navy
motor sailer, a twenty-foot launch with an engine. We often
used the motor sailer to sound out the best water. When the
Elsie ran aground we would try to pull her into deeper water
by using a tow line and giving the launch full power as we would
pull forward in jerks. This was sometimes successful but at
other times it was simply necessary to wait for a change in
the tide which was several feet and the rise was usually sufficient
to float us.
day, north of Jacksonville, Florida, I was attempting to drag
the Elsie off a shoal on which she had grounded when my foot
caught in a coil of the line and in a flash I was jerked overboard.
I thought for a time that my back was broken. Fortunately Captain
Graham was remaining in Jacksonville for several days while
we resupplied the Elsie at a ship chandler. The Grahams rented
an apartment for that period of time and they had an extra room
in which they let me stay while recovering. I remained in bed
and called a chiropractor. As a rule I have little faith in
that profession but he made an adjustment to my spine which
relieved me of pain almost at once. It would appear that in
some cases the use of chiropracty is justified.
voyage through the Inside Passage was interesting. For the first
time I saw live alligators. From time to time a bare shoal would
be populated by eight or ten alligators of all sizes, varying
in length from two to ten feet. They remained motionless, sunning
themselves on the sand. Pelicans abounded and there were many
egrets and other exotic birds on the sand or in the trees.
never traveled at night. Each night we would tie up at a marina
or anchor near the channel in some town. We spent one month
on the trip from Baltimore to our destination in Lake Okeechobee
which was our eventual destination.
Stuart, Florida, we had to look into new Okeechobee Canal. We
were the first vessel of any size other than work boats to enter
the canal and it was not yet fully completed. Due to this we
struck a rock in the center of the canal in mid-channel at one
point and punched a small hole in the bottom. We made a temporary
patch before proceeding. There was a second lock at the point
where the canal entered the lake. Passing through that, we entered
the lake. We headed northwest to the mouth of Taylor's Creek
which was marked at the entrance by a light. We went up the
creek to Okeechobee City which is located three miles up Taylor's
Creek. There was sufficient water in the creek for the Elsie
but the water was covered by water hyacinths from bank to bank.
This posed no difficulty for the Elsie but it was difficult
to row a skiff through them. We tied up to a wharf in Okeechobee
City and that was to be our headquarters when not working for
the next eight months.
Okeechobee project was to execute a triangulation survey of
the lake, establish hydrographic signals in the water and on
the lake and eventually to make a hydrographic survey of the
Okeechobee is the second largest fresh water lake in the U.S.
being forty-two miles long and thirty-six miles wide. It is
very shallow and at times the Elsie was forced to anchor as
far as one quarter mile from shore. We towed a barge filled
with lumber for building our survey towers. Some of the triangulation
stations were located on the shore and others had to be located
in the water well off shore. We would tow the barge toward shore
until the Elsie went aground and then complete the tow as far
as possible with the launch. Then we would carry our lumber
and tools the final 100 or 200 meters to shore, wading through
the hyacinths which extended far our from shore.
water moccasins, a very poisonous snake, would be sunning themselves
on the hyacinths and as we went by the snake would slither off
into the water but no one was ever struck by one.
cyprus trees lined the eastern shore of Lake Okeechobee. We
used some of them for hydrographic signals by placing large
white cloth banners in the tops. The limbs were festooned with
Spanish Moss which had to be removed as we climbed. As we climbed
we nailed steps to the trunk. Captain Graham was below me adding
more nails to the steps. Once as I clutched a handful of moss,
a small snake head came out from the moss in my hand. I jerked
my hand away and the snake fell onto Captain Graham's hat below
me. He hurriedly jerked it off and it fell to the ground. The
Captain called down to our locally hired "Florida Cowboys",
"What kind of a snake is that?" One called back, "That's a gartah
snake, suh." The same thing happened a second time. When we
completed our signal and climbed down I asked, "Are those snakes
poisonous?" The reply was, "Oh yessuh, they'll kill ya sho."
We found out that they were the very poisonous coral snakes.
Thereafter we were more careful.
hired three local Florida cowboys to help us. They had never
seen a yacht as large as the Elsie and were proud to be working
on her. One day when we were going down Taylor's Creek we passed
a row boat with two men laboriously rowing upstream through
the hyacinths. One of our new hands called out, "Oar boy! Oar!
That's how I got my start."
November 1924 we completed the triangulation of the eastern
half of the lake and headed north. We had orders to make a new
topographic survey off St. Augustine and to do some launch hydrography
off the coast. On that job I ran my first plane table traverse.
I started from a triangulation station which was plotted on
my topographic sheet and traversed to the vicinity of another
station about four miles north. The station was on a sand dune
and we spent some time searching for it without success. The
sheet I was working on had a scale of 1/20,000. On that scale
ten meters is not much more than the width of a pin prick. The
Captain came up and scaled the distance from my last traverse
station to the station, found it to be twenty-five meters, laid
off twenty five meters from my traverse station to the plotted
triangulation and then pointed the alidade toward the station
and had the rodman give him a twenty meter distance. He said,
"Dig here." There exactly under the rod and covered by six inches
of sand was the triangulation station. At the time I did not
realize that that accuracy was pure luck and was miserable for
a long time at what I considered poor accuracy in my traverse
USC&GSS BACHE AND BRUNSWICK, GEORGIA
completed the St. Augustine project, Captain Graham was ordered
to Washington, and I was ordered to report to the USC&GSS
BACHE which was under the command of Captain Borden and was
working out of Brunswick, Georgia. The work was around Sapelo
Sound and Sea Island. At that time the BACHE was short of officers.
Two who were senior to me, Lieut. (j.g.) Rittenberg and Lieut.
(j.g.) Reed, were on detached surveying with a launch. I was
the senior officer on the BACHE at that time as the only other
officers were deck officers. Thus I had to act as Executive
Officer although I was a mere ensign. This state of affairs
later proved to be a source of embarrassment.
full time Executive Officer, Lieut. Egner, had been ordered
to the BACHE and was expected at any time. Reed and Rittenberg
completed their launch work and returned aboard. Captain Borden,
expecting Egner at any time, had me continue to act as Executive
even with two officers senior to me aboard. Captain Borden always
played golf on Saturday afternoons and was accustomed to inviting
his Executive Officer to play with him. He continued the practice
with me leaving two officers senior to me aboard to work. Finally
Egner reported and relieved me from an embarrassing situation.
young ladies in Brunswick welcomed the BACHE officers with open
arms. There was always a party somewhere on weekends. When we
reached the dock on Saturday afternoons we would frequently
find a car waiting for us and instructions as to where to go
for the house party in progress. The Brunswick girls were frequently
visited by girls from Savannah. This gave us a head start when
we moved our base to Savannah later. One of the Savannah girls
with whom I became acquainted in Brunswick was Suzanne Bell
who was later to introduce me to Marian but that is another
after we began basing on Savannah I met and took Mary Pettus
to a dance at the Savannah Hotel. During one dance while Mary
was dancing with someone else I sat down on a settee outside
the dance floor. I happened to start talking to a nice looking
young man who was also sitting there. Across the room a Marine
sergeant in uniform lurched across the floor very drunk. I remarked
to the man I had been talking to that I had been in the Marines
and hated to see that. This started an amazing series of coincidences.
1. We had both graduated from Minnesota in the same year.
2. We had both enlisted in the Marines at almost the same time.
3. We had both been sent to Cuba on the LEVIATHON.
4. We had both been on San Juan Hill. He was in the 127th Company
and I was in the 128th Company.
5. We had both been commissioned 2nd Lieutenant in the Reserve
at the same time.
upshot of the matter was that he suggested that Mary Pettus
get a date for him on Sunday, the following day. He would hire
an automobile and we would take a ride whereever the girls wished.
That was agreeable to Mary when I introduced him and she got
him a blind date. The date was Marian and, somehow, we automatically
switched. Mary became his date and I was Marian's. As a matter
of fact, I kept on dating Marian and we shortly became engaged.
My original proposal was to say, "How would you like to take
a trip to the Philippines?" Marian's acceptance was to say,
"Let's go." Since that time I have always said that I met Marian
through a drunken Marine. On a later occasion Rit and I took
Mary Pettus and Marian to dine at the Savannah Hotel. In those
days I often suffered from sinus headaches and I had a very
bad one that night. The colored waiter apparently thought I
was drunk and doubled the check which I paid to avoid making
a scene. However, it was not only noticed by Rittenberg but
also by Marian and Mary.
next morning I got up early intending to report the event to
the hotel manager and found Rittenberg on deck wrapping a brass
belaying pin from the past in paper. I asked him what that was
for and he said, "I'm going up to the hotel and get that money
back or take it out of that waiter's hide." When Rit reached
the hotel, and before he had a chance to tell his story to the
manager, the latter apologized and handed him the money.
waiter had already been discharged. We later learned that as
soon as Marian and Mary arrived at home the previous night,
they called the manager whom they both knew and told him the
story. In truth, the waiter had actually been discharged after
the manager collected the money from him.
Borden often let me take the ship up the Savannah River. At
one place on a bend a house stood on a point. At that house
a woman always came out on a porch and waved to passing ship's.
The story told was that her brother had been lost at sea many
years before and she waved to all passing ships thinking that
her brother might be aboard. It was said that she continued
this practice until her death.
next assignment was in southeast Alaska. Meanwhile, I had requested
a Philippine Islands tour of duty. After remaining in Washington
for a few weeks, I received my orders to take a train to Seattle,
Washington, and report to the Commanding Oofficer of the USC&GS
Motor Vessel NATOMA and proceed to Alaska on her. She was due
to sail about the time I would arrive.
my orders clearly stated that I could take a few days leave
enroute but if I arrived late in Seattle after a certain date,
I was to proceed to Alaska at my own expense and report to the
Commanding Officer there in Ketchikan. Actually, I did arrive
after that date which was clearly stated in the orders. Being
a babe in the woods, I took those orders literally. Upon arriving
in Seattle, I assumed that the NATOMA had left. Finding that
a ship was to leave on the day of my arrival in Seattle, I engaged
passage and sailed on her for Ketchikan. When I arrived in Ketchikan,
I learned that the NATOMA had been given a short assignment
in the state of Washington north of Seattle and the Captain
of the NATOMA had had to undertake that assignment short-handed
because I was not aboard. She would not reach Ketchikan for
I was, stranded in the most expensive town on the continent
with very little money. I counted my cash and realized that
it wold be difficult to exist until the arrival of the NATOMA.
Therefore I moved out of my hotel room and across the street
to a much cheaper room and conserved my cash by eating very
the USC&GSS SURVEYOR came into port a few days later. Captain
Sobieralski, the skipper, took pity on me after I told him my
story and ordered me to report to the SURVEYOR until the arrival
of the NATOMA. Thus, I could join the SURVEYOR Officers' Mess
and have a stateroom in which to sleep.
developed that I had erred in taking those orders literally.
I passed through the Seattle Office without reporting to Captain
Derickson, the officer-in-charge, who took my not reporting
to him as a personal insult. His wife was so angry with me because
of the "insult to her husband" that she ignored us when we reported
back to Seattle as a newly married couple and she gave Marian
a hard time.
loved my Alaska assignment. Basing on Ketchikan, our hydrography
and topography was done in Kaigani Strait, which was about two
hours west. Southeast Alaska is beautiful, but the sailing areas
are dangerous because of the many rocks. Great care had to be
taken when navigating the area. The steel plates of the NATOMA
were only 1/8 inch thick and a small rock could have torn out
her bottom. It was a comfortable vessel having been a yacht
of some former millionaire.
interesting events occurred while I was aboard the NATOMA. On
one occasion while I was doing launch hydrography (sounding
and plotting the depths), Lieutenant Witherbee was in charge
of the launch. He kept saying, "There is a brick (a pinnacle
rock) in this area somewhere." On a previous day he had spotted
the rock at low tide and had taken a sextant fix on it, so he
knew its position. He had just said, "It's around right about
here!" At that moment we crashed into it. The tides in Kaigani
Strait have a range of about thirty feet. The rise and fall
is rapid. We struck that rock at nearly high tide. Almost in
unison everybody leaped overboard into the water to attempt
to lighten the load sufficiently but to no avail. We were firmly
wedged on top of that rock which had a cleft in it like a marine
cradle. In a few moments we decided that we would have to wait
for high tide to float us, that was almost six hours away.
tide lowered rapidly and there we sat high above the water.
After a time the shoal containing the rock and launch bared
and we climbed down, went ashore and built a fire to dry out.
I have many time regretted not having a camera there. The launch
was riding on that rock almost thirty feet in the air above
the sandy shoal. It would have been a prize picture.
was after midnight when the tide came in enough to float the
launch and we could make our way back to the ship. Fortunately,
at that latitude and time of year it is never completely dark.
of our triangulation stations were atop mountains. Once I was
put ashore in a camp at the mouth of a small fresh water stream
which entered Kaigani Strait in a small bay. We were camped
there during the salmon run and we did not lack for fresh salmon.
In the mouth of that stream the water was only one to one half
foot deep and was crowded with salmon fighting their way upstream
to spawn. When we wanted a salmon we simply waded into the water
and hit one over the head with a club.
high blueberry bush grew on the shores of the Strait. The berries
were about the size of a medium size strawberry and were delicious.
At lunch time I would pick a cupful, fill the cup with canned
cream and some sugar, crush the berries and proceed to enjoy
them. One day, before I had time to crush them, my launch, having
been secured to a rock, started to drift away. Putting my cup
of berries down, I dashed out to secure the launch. When I returned
and picked up my cup of berries I found a thick layer of small
white worms floating on top of the cream. I ate no more blueberries
after that but I guess the added protein had not harmed me.
continued to gorge on fresh salmon while we were in camp. We
also found some berries called "salmon berries" delicious. The
salmon berry is probably closely related to the raspberry for
they are similar in appearance. One species is salmon color
and the other is like a black raspberry. They are somewhat larger
than a raspberry and not quite as sweet. Our cook made many
delicious salmon berry pies.
night we amused ourselves by building a huge fire of driftwood
on the shore and placing a vertical pole at the top. Then we
would set the pile afire and get up a jackpot giving the time
the pole would fall. The price of a ticket was ten cents and
the time intervals were at ten minutes.
I killed a deer and am able to say that I have a 100% record
at killing them. I have shot only once at a deer and killed
that one. I shot it on a mountain climb to occupy a triangulation
station and unfortunately was almost at the summit when I saw
the deer. Three were across the ravine about 150 meters away.
Lieutenant Reading had loaned me a rifle and I selected one
of the deer and shot at it. All three bounded away and I thought
I had missed. When we crossed to where they had been standing
I found a large pool of blood. We followed a trail of blood
for about 100 meters and found the dead deer. We camped for
the night near the top of the mountain and attempted to cook
some tenderloin for our meal. I cannot recommend freshly killed
venison. We learned a lesson there. Although we packed the deer
out to camp on our return, the added weight was difficult to
handle; but after the deer had been hung for awhile in the ship's
refrigerator it was delicious. The trail up and down the mountain
was difficult and whenever one slipped it seemed that the only
thing available to grasp to break the fall was a "devil's club"
a horrible shrub full of thorns.
one occasion Max Witherbee and I went ashore on a Sunday to
try for some trout. We were following a stream, Max was some
distance ahead when he suddenly stopped and motioned to me to
keep quiet. I cautiously went up to where he was standing and
saw what he had stopped me for. A mother bear was standing in
the middle of the stream on her hind legs, her right paw raised
high in the air. There were two cubs on the bank eating salmon
which their mother was catching for them. Occasionally the mother
would swing her paw through the water and throw a salmon up
on the bank which the cubs would pounce upon. When the cubs
had been fed and started to wander about, the mother flipped
up two more salmon and then climbed up on the bank to eat them
across Kaigani Street from our camp there was a deserted Indian
village known as Kaigani Village. All that remained of the former
settlement were about twenty totem poles in a badly decayed
condition. The carving on some of them was very elaborate and
at one time it must have been a beautiful sight.
one occasion I was dropped with one man on Petrel Island about
twenty miles west of Cape Muzon to occupy an old triangulation
station named Petrel. There was no surface indication as to
the location of the station but there was only a small area
where the station would have been established and I dug for
it there. About a foot below the surface I began to find some
rusty tin cans and I knew I was in the right place. Clearing
away the cans and dirt carefully I found a glass bottle encased
in a small blob of cement. This, according to the description
was the station mark.
night I found out why the station was named Petrel. We had put
up our tent when suddenly hundreds of petrels (often called
stormy petrels) started beating their wings on the tent and
trying to get inside. They started squirting a reddish fluid
on the tent until the canvas appeared to be soaking wet. This
kept up until we extinguished the light.
remained on Petrel Island for several days observing stations
in British Columbia and the U.S. Mainland, and every night we
had the petrels attacking our tent.
observing it was necessary to show lights to the other stations
and the petrols attacked the lights and our flashlights with
which we read our instruments. The night observations as a result
were quite unsatisfactory, and thereafter we completed most
of our work on heliotropes, an instrument for reflection of
the sun's rays during the day. Even after retiring into our
tent and tying the flaps, the light showing through the canvas
attracted petrels and scores beat against the tent, squirting
out a reddish liquid almost like blood until the tent was dripping.
Only after we doused the lights did the commotion cease.
Roberts was supposed to show me either a light or a heliotrope
from the main island below Mount Muzon. I never saw either one
although all the other stations faithfully showed both. However
one day while I was scanning the area with the theodolite telescope
a white target loomed up which I assumed to be a banner which
Roberts had erected over the station for me to observe. I hurriedly
tied it in with two of the other stations and thus supposed
I had completed all my Petrel Island observations. After returning
to the ship upon completing the job I said to Captain Campbell,
"I never saw either a light or heliotrope at Roberts' station
but I finished up observations on his banner target which showed
up well." Captain Campbell burst out, "What banner? Roberts
never showed a banner!" Well, I said "I saw one and right in
the proper place and that is what I observed upon." Whereupon
Campbell said, "It must have been his white observing tent.
Let's pray that it was exactly plumb over the station. If it
closed the triangles I will forget about it. If it doesn't,
God help you." Whereupon he used my angles measurements and
the triangles closed perfectly. Roberts must have plumbed the
tent exactly over the station mark. It was a break for me.
Alaska was beautiful in the early dusk on a clear day when seen
across the water. The different ranges of hills and mountains
were varying degrees of blue and gray and the result was a picture
that was unforgettable.
far from our camp at Kaigani Strait was a salmon stream which
came out into the sound from a small lake. There was an unusual
phenomenon here in that with an ebbing tide there was a small
waterfall in the reverse direction. This was due to the range
of tide in that area which was over thirty feet.
was engaged to Marian at that time and wrote a letter to her
every day although the mailing of them was usually two weeks
apart. She always received a packet of letters at a time.
Reading fancied himself as an inventor and gadgeteer. Our sounding
launch vibrated badly and, as I was taking the right sextant
angle to the shore signals during launch hydrography and plotting
them with a three armed protractor, I had much trouble because
of the vibration. One morning Scott got up early and did something
out in the launch which he thought would solve the problem.
we reached our sounding area and I started to plot on the drafting
table, I got a surprise. The table sank down when I started
to plot. When I removed the weight of my arms from it, it sprang
up and hit my chin. That morning Scott had put four bed springs
under the plotting board. I got through that day with great
difficulty. The next morning I was the one up early. I proceeded
to tear out Scott's bed springs and throw them overboard. I
preferred the vibration to being knocked out by the plotting
was a unique town built on a steep hill. The streets were like
switchbacks as they wound their way up the side of the hill.
A creek ran through one part of town and on the far side of
the creek was the "District". The houses were located on piles
over the creek. A common expression was that "Ketchikan was
the only city in the world where the fish and the fisherman
spawned in the same creek."
salmon cannery in Ketchikan was interesting. The salmon came
in on a conveyor belt, their heads and tails were cut off automatically,
they were scaled the same way and then passed through a set
of knives which cut them into pieces. The pieces were automatically
stuffed in the cans and the belt passed by a group of girls
who inspected the cans removing an occasional one or putting
some extra salmon into one not properly filled. The cans then
had the proper amount of salt inserted and the belt carried
them on through a steam cooker. As they came out from the cooker
they were capped automatically. The girls were either imported
from Seattle or were Siwash Indians hired locally. All were
known as "Herring Chokers". One Siwash family had seven girls,
all working in the cannery. All of them had fiery red hair.
Apparently their father had been a red-headed Irishman.
GEORGIA AND THE WEDDING
to Seattle, I took leave and headed for Savannah; enroute I
decided to stop in Chicago briefly to see Dad's brother, Uncle
Baxter. I had not seen him for many years. I was walking to
his rooming house through a dark street and was held up at the
point of a gun losing some money I could ill afford to lose.
Dad came to the rescue and loaned me enough to go through with
my wedding plans, but it was a struggle to pay it back.
met my train in Savannah. She admitted afterward that she was
not sure she would recognize me. I had been gone eight months
and she had known me for only a few weeks.
had a formal evening wedding at Christ Church. I had my first
tails for the wedding. The night of the wedding I was waiting
all dressed up at the Stovall's house and the carriage failed
to come for me. Eventually one of Marian's friends dropped by
and was surprised to find me waiting. I was rushed to the church,
arriving just in time to be led in by Gawin Corbin who was best
first night was spent at the Savannah Hotel, and the next morning
we drove out to the Lawton plantation in Garnett, South Carolina,
where we were supposed to have the week to ourselves. However,
Jock could not resist the temptation to come out too, and sure
enough he spent the week there in the house.
that week we took the train to Seattle. Those four days on the
train were the first real honeymoon we had. I nearly missed
part of it when once I ran across the street in a western town
to buy a box of candy and almost missed the train as it began
to pull out.
found an apartment on a hill overlooking Lake Union where the
NATOMA was berthed. I had one pay check of $183 coming. Otherwise,
I was flat broke. About one third of the check went out to pay
the first month's rent. Those were the conditions under which
we began married life. We remained in the apartment for a few
months until we took to the field and when we again returned
to our Seattle base the next winter we found a very nice efficiency
apartment, the Quinault, somewhat farther up the hill.
morning after we arrived at that first apartment and I had left
for work, Marian heard a knock on the door at 10:00 a.m.; going
to the door, she found it was Captain Campbell. Curiosity had
gotten the better of him and he was calling to see the bride.
As he introduced himself, Marian heard a crack in the kitchen
and excused herself to investigate. This was the first meal
she had ever cooked and she was starting well ahead of time.
She had prepared some apples for baking and put them in the
oven in what she assumed was a pyrex dish. However, the dish
proved to be glass and broke in the oven. Smoke poured out into
the other room where the Captain was waiting. We never heard
the last of Campbell's story about the bride's cooking.
first apartment was most unattractive but it was our first home
and we made the best of it. At least it was close enough for
me to walk home for lunch which seemed important at that time.
spent the winter months berthed in Lake Union working up the
Alaska records. One incident occurred that winter which made
an impression on me. Out in the lake about 200 yards away a
group of those wartime wooden ships, the Liberty ships, were
anchored in a mass. There was no crew but some caretaker guards
stayed aboard. On one day Reading, who was executive officer,
asked me to test our line throwing gun. This was a hand held
gun which looked like a rifle but held a shell with a very heavy
charge. A long metal slug went into the muzzle and it was connected
to a canister on the deck which held a coiled up line. When
the gun was fired the slug went out carrying a line from the
canister with it.
was obvious that the gun would have a terrific kick so instead
of holding it to my shoulder, I placed the butt against the
side of the wardroom as I pulled the trigger aiming in a general
way out toward the Liberty ships.
it turned out the charge burned out the line where it was fastened
to the slug and without the drag of the line the slug shot clear
out to the Liberty ships and landed somewhere among them. It
was just lucky that the caretaker was not in line with that
slug. We heard nothing from the matter so we assumed no harm
was done other than a deep hole in the side of the wardroom
where the butt of the gun had rested.
I held it to my shoulder, it would have been pretty badly bruised.
enjoyed those first months but the Dericksons never got over
the insult of my passing through Seattle on the way to Alaska
without checking in at the Field Office. They even refused to
let us make an official call. Not until Mrs. Cotton and Marian
went over to Victoria, B.C., to see them off for a Philippine
assignment did they relent. When we arrived in the Philippines,
Captain Derickson was just completing his tour over there and
they were most cordial to us.
were many parties in Seattle. They were invariably bridge parties
and Marian was a good player. We were much more formal in those
days than we are now. Any evening party meant dinner jackets
for the men and evening gowns for the women. At the first party
we attended, Marian wore her wedding dress. Mrs. Hardy, the
wife of Captain Hardy, the Director of the Field Office after
Derickson left, always called Marian before a party and said
she hoped she would wear her wedding dress so she never got
the chance to prove that she had more than one evening dress.
that first winter, Chief Engineer Silva was especially kind
to us. He almost never left the ship when I had the duty at
night, and since only one officer had to be aboard at any time
in the evening, I had the duty at night very seldom and was
free to go home. Marian wrote to Savannah telling about his
kindness and two years later when the NATOMA had gone through
the canal to the east coast and was based on Savannah, Dr. Corbin
went down to the ship and introduced himself and invited Chief
Silva to dinner at the Corbin's. In as much as Egner was in
command, he invited him also. Egner was clearly put out about
it as he considered himself a cut above the Chief Engineer who
was actually not a commissioned officer although he did wear
COTTON ASSUMES COMMAND OF THE NATOMA
the spring of 1926 Captain Harold Cotton assumed command of
the NATOMA. We had two projects under him. The first was a hydrographic
survey of the south side of Juan de Fuca Strait from the mouth
to Port Townsend at the eastern end. We based for a few months
at Port Townsend. The beautiful Olympic Mountains were just
south of Port Angeles. Mrs. Cotton had a car and took Marian
up to a beautiful mountain lake for picnics.
one occasion we all took the ferry from Port Angeles across
the strait to Victoria, B.C., for the weekend. Liquor was illegal
in the United States so Grace Witherbee bought two bottles in
Victoria and brought them back thrust into the front of her
dress. She said she was sure the Customs Officers would not
bother anyone in her condition and she was right.
Port Townsend there was a lighthouse and the lighthouse keepers
made a lot of money every year by catching and selling octopus
to the Chinese in Seattle. The manner of catching them was interesting.
An octopus always crawls into rocky ledges to hide. The lighthouse
keepers took advantage of the habit and sunk weighted wooden
grocery boxes to the bottom, buoying them so they could be recovered.
Every few days they would pull them to the surface and would
usually find them occupied by an octopus. No baiting was required.
There was a ready market for all they could catch and some years
they made as much as $15,000.
SAN JUAN ISLANDS AND ANACORTES, WASHINGTON
other assignment under Captain Cotton was a survey among the
beautiful little rocky islands known as the San Juan Islands
of the northwest part of Washington. The nearest town was Anacortes
and Marian found a nice place to stay with a congenial family
named Kasch. There were two nice young ladies in the family,
one of whom was attending college in Portland, Oregon. She and
a friend came home for a weekend and asked us to drive them
back to Portland with Mrs. Kasch's car. We agreed and when we
were returning on Sunday night we encountered a dense fog in
the last seventy-five miles north of Seattle. The only way I
could make out the road was to stand with my left foot on the
running board and peer out the side looking for the black oil
streak in the center of the lighter concrete pavement. Our speed
was never over ten miles per hour.
way to Anacortes there was a long steel bridge which had a deck
of smooth wood. I went out on the bridge very slowly and was
nearly across when we suddenly saw the lights of a car looming
up ahead. Actually the car was stuck on the shoulder and we
would not have struck it but the sudden turning on of the lights
startled me and I involuntarily braked which was the worst thing
I could have done. Upon hitting the brakes we began a slow spin.
Actually we spun in the center of that narrow bridge two and
one half turns never hitting the rail on either side. We ended
facing the direction from which we had come and had to go back
across and find a wide enough place to turn around again. Once
more we crossed the bridge at five miles an hour. At the end
we found the car that had turned on its lights. The driver was
a man who had given up trying to make any progress and was waiting
on the shoulder for the fog to lift. I had to make a sailing
time and could not wait and I went on. However, once I had to
stop and tell Marian that she would have to hold her knees together.
They were shaking so much that it was disturbing my driving.
As it turned out I arrived at the dock at exactly seven a.m.,
just as the NATOMA was about to take in her lines.
other episode in our San Juan Islands survey is worthy of mention.
There was a very narrow but long pass between two islands known
as Deception Pass. We arrived at the pass just before dinner.
Captain Cotton said he would go down and eat dinner and told
me to run in a circle until 7:45 when the current would be slack
and we would go through the pass then. After a few circles I
could tell from ranges that the current had already changed
and was flooding through the pass. I sent the quartermaster
down to apprise the Captain of the fact and he was told in no
uncertain terms that Captain Cotton had looked up the slack
water in the tide tables and 7:45 was the time we would go through.
Well, I waited while the current was getting stronger every
minute. By that time the current was so swift that we had no
control over the ship. At times we were spinning through at
right angles to the length of the pass. We were lucky to get
through without mishap, but the Captain's face was very red.
It turned out that the tide tables were no indication of the
current in the pass as the current was what is referred to as
a hydraulic current instead of a tidal current. He had more
respect for my judgment thereafter.
U.S.C. & G.S.S. GUIDE
the spring of 1927 I was detached from the NATOMA and ordered
to the U.S.C. & G.S.S. GUIDE which was based on Aberdeen,
Washington. The GUIDE was engaged in off-shore hydrography off
the coast of Washington and Oregon. It was my first experience
in tube sounding and R A R (radio acoustic ranging) for positioning
the vessel. In tube sounding a tube is lowered overboard while
the ship is under way. Enough line is paid out so that the tube
hits bottom. The design is such that the pressure gives depth.
The R A R was a recent development. Hydrophones were established
on the bottom near shore at a known position, the position being
established by sextant fixes to shore situations. The hydrophone
was then connected by underwater cable to a radio station on
shore. The position of the hydrophones was plotted by latitude
and longitude on a chart on the ship known as the boat sheet.
There would be several such stations on shore. Bombs of TNT
would be thrown overboard on the ship. The sound of the explosion
would be picked up by the hydrophones, pass through the cable
to the radio stations and a message would be automatically transmitted
to a receiver on the ship. Each shore R A R station would be
identified by a code signal to distinguish it. Assuming that
the cable time and the time of radio transmission was negligible,
from the time elapsed between the explosion of the bomb and
the time of the receipt of the message from the shore R A R
station, since the time of travel of sound through sea water
is known for varying temperatures and salinities, we could determine
the distance to each shore hydrophone. With two such distances
known, we could determine the ship's position. A third distance
gives a check.
R A R method gave fair accuracy for the scale of charts used
for off-shore hydrography and it was used for many years until
electronic methods were designed.
we nearly had a tragedy with the bomb. The bomber was a petty
officer who armed the bombs, lit the fuses, and tossed them
overboard. A mark on the ship's chronograph registered the time
the bomb went overboard and the time of the explosion. One time
as the bomber was about to toss the bomb over the side, the
fuse having been lit, the ship gave a lurch. The bomber fell
down and the bomb slipped from his hand and rolled into the
gutter. The bomber grabbed for it and missed and he fell again.
Finally he got his hand on the bomb with it's sputtering fuse
and while lying on his back tossed it over the side. By that
time the fuse was so short that the bomb exploded almost instantly
as it hit the water. Below decks such an explosion so close
to the ship makes a terrific concussion. In that case half the
crew dashed on deck to find the cause of the explosion.
had a happy ship on the GUIDE for the simple reason we all had
little use for the skipper who was Tommy Maher. He was one of
the most ornery men I have ever known. An illustration of the
extent he would go to annoy the officers and men was the time
the wives had planned a weekend picnic on the beach to which
Tommy had also been invited. All was arranged for us to leave
for the beach as soon as the ship docked at Aberdeen. The Captain
was aware of all the plans. He was nosing the ship into the
berth and suddenly saw the wives standing on the wharf. He promptly
backed out into the channel again, headed out and after running
out several miles, dropped anchor just off the channel, and
we spent the entire weekend at anchor within sight of the wives
who went out and picnicked by themselves.
Maher was noted for some of the stunts he pulled, but one of
the worst was the time he went to Seattle for a load of TNT.
He went to Seattle, loaded the trunk of his car with TNT, and
drove back to Aberdeen thereby breaking every law on the books
regarding the transportation of explosives. He had enough TNT
to blow up every town through which he passed, yet he had not
applied for a transportation permit and carried no sign on his
in the wardroom regaled each other with tales of his eccentricities.
Tommy never used SLOW or HALF speed signals to the engineroom
when docking the ship. It was always FULL AHEAD or FULL ASTERN.
At one time when he had made a particularly bad job of docking
and nearly snapped a steel cable which might have killed someone,
Burmister was standing in the door of the office telling us
about Tommy's orders on the bridge when Tommy showed up behind
him. Clarence could tell from our expressions that Tommy was
behind him. His face flushed but he manfully completed his story.
one occasion we were establishing an R A R hydrophone and had
dropped it to the bottom from the launch with the cable connected
and were about to float a line ashore to pull the cable into
the radio station on shore. The Captain was in the launch and
wanted to get some information ashore to the party on shore.
He was trying to call to them but could not be heard due to
the noise of the surf. I knew that the radio operator on shore
was familiar with the two flag semaphore system and I had not
forgotten it from my Marine Corps days so I climbed up on the
launch canopy and signaled to the radio operator. That was one
of my greatest mistakes. From that time on Tommy was always
dreaming up some long message to signal ashore. I regretted
the day I ever let him know I knew the semaphore code.
had a well known real estate man who was named Jones. He plastered
the entire area with signs "SEE JONES". He had a son named Goodbar
Jones and to distinguish him from his father locals always spoke
of him as Mr. Goodbar. A manufacturer of chocolate told Mr.
Goodbar that he had a good name for a candy bar and asked him
if he could use his name. Today when you see the MR. GOODBAR
candy bar you may remember that I knew the man for whom it was
before I was detached from the GUIDE, the Director, E. Lester
Jones, sent a message that he would inspect the ship on a given
date. There was much commotion aboard as Tommy had never paid
much attention to keeping the crew in the proper uniform. Most
of the seamen could be fitted out from the Clothing and Small
Stores of the ship but the chief petty officers were a problem.
Some had no uniform at all. Two of them solved the problem in
a unique way. Each had a single breasted blue serge suit. They
lapped the front over and sewed some gold buttons on it in the
proper places. By placing them in an inconspicuous position
during muster, it was hoped that their "uniform" would not be
noticed. There was one other problem.
wanted all of the officers to wear white gloves although the
only pair on the ship was the one for my full dress suit. Tommy
solved the problem in a typical Tommy Maher fashion. We went
up tho the local undertaker and borrowed white cotton gloves.
Most of them were several sizes too large so the wearer had
to take a tuck in the palm and fasten it with a safety pin.
If the Admiral had made a detailed inspection he would have
had some surprises.
omitted one episode that occurred shortly before I was attached
to the GUIDE. Scott Reading and I, before reporting to the GUIDE
but shortly after I had left the NATOMA, were sent to Tokeland,
Washington, to make a survey of the Bar at Willapa Harbor which
was south of Gray's Harbor, the harbor on which Aberdeen, Washington
was located. Scott chartered a fishing boat for the survey and
hired the owner to operate the engine.
and Martha Reading debated at considerable length as to whether
or not to take evening clothes with them. They eventually compromised
by deciding that the men could wear their uniforms so all that
they would have to take were evening dresses for themselves.
They had both heard that the Derickson's had a summer home there
and they assumed that Tokeland was a swank summer resort.
received a shock when we arrived. There were a number of deserted
cottages, many in a bad state of repairs, a hotel of sorts,
and a general store. The ladies assumed that we could stay at
the hotel but got a surprise on the first morning we worked
on the bar. The men had breakfast at 5:30 a.m. and left for
the bar. The ladies arose at 8:00 a.m. and went down to breakfast.
They found their breakfast of cold fried eggs, cold toast, and
cold coffee the same breakfast we had had sitting on the table
for them. The landlady told them in no uncertain terms that
she was not about to cook two breakfasts and if they wanted
to eat they would have to eat when the men did. They moved out
forthwith and found the only place they could rent. It was a
sparsely furnished house with two bedrooms, a living room, and
a kitchen with a wood burning stove.
Johnson, a former classmate of Marian's at Goucher College,
had been invited to visit us on the west coast and happened
to choose that time. Marian told her in a letter that we would
be at a beach resort. While Billy was there Marian and I had
to sleep on a bench which was located in a bay window so Billy
could have our bedroom.
bar we were surveying was about eight miles from shore. All
the topographic signals were located on shore. At times the
haze was so bad that for long periods of time they were not
visible on the bar and we were forced to drift or run in circles
while waiting for them to clear. This was during the salmon
run so we took the opportunity to fish. The owner of our boat
provided the tackle and on some days we caught twenty five to
thirty salmon. His tackle consisted of long, heavy hand lines
with brass spoon and hook. Possibly that was not sporting but
it was fun. We took few salmon for ourselves, giving the rest
to the owner of the boat who sold them so he made an extra profit.
one occasion we took Marian and Martha out for the day. They
enjoyed the fishing also. Once Marian caught a thirty-nine pound
salmon which was the largest we ever caught. We took a picture
of her with her fish and they were both of the same height.
we caught sharks as well. Once we snagged a small shark by the
end of it's tail and thought we had caught a whale. With it's
full go ahead power it was very difficult to land. Another time
we caught a young nurse shark and while we were examining it,
it gave birth to a young shark perfectly formed. We then opened
it up and found nine or ten young sharks which were able to
swim. All were perfectly formed. The ladies passed the time
catching crabs which they raked into a sack with a rake and
digging for clams.
MIDNIGHT TRIP TO HOQUIAM, WASHINGTON
this time Marian had not found out about her allergies to citrus
fruit and cotton seed oil. She was so thin that her "Floating
Kidney", the result of a diving accident, would often get twisted
and cause her much pain. One night in the middle of the night,
Marian was taken with a terrific pain in the area of the appendix.
We had no transportation but I found a couple of young men who
had a car and we got them to drive us to the nearest hospital
which was twenty five miles north at Hoquiam. Martha insisted
on going along. We reached the hospital and the only bed available
was in a room with two children. We parked Marian there and
Martha and I went to the hotel. We had no baggage and though
we asked for separate rooms the clerk said with a leer, "Would
you like adjoining rooms?" I snapped back, "We don't even want
them on the same floor!" The next morning the doctor decided
that the blood count indicated that Marian did not have appendicitis.
Apparently the ride over the rough road to Hoquiam had shaken
Marian's kidney back into place and the pain had subsided. Marian
later learned to manipulate the kidney back into place with
her hands when the pain would occur.
next morning I took Marian back to the hotel while I checked
out. I had bought a large bouquet of flowers and told her to
look very sick to substantiate my story to the clerk the night
before. Martha had already left in an early bus and we took
a later bus to Tokeland.
had no bath in Tokeland and no water supply. The hotel next
door had a spigot in front from which we carried water for cooking.
The event of the week which we looked forward to was the trip
on Saturday in the launch to Vancouver, Washington, at the head
of Willapa Harbor to take a room at the hotel and have a bath.
The entire party, including Billy while she was there, would
take one room and take turns bathing. We did bring our own towels
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