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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesRoughing It De Luxe - In the Haunt of the Native Son
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Roughing It De Luxe - In the Haunt of the Native Son Post by :JuvioSuccess Category :Long Stories Author :Irvin S. Cobb Date :May 2012 Read :911

Click below to download : Roughing It De Luxe - In the Haunt of the Native Son (Format : PDF)

Roughing It De Luxe - In the Haunt of the Native Son

THERE are various ways of entering San Francisco, and the traveling general passenger agent of any one of half a dozen trunklines stands ready to prove to you--absolutely beyond the peradventure of a doubt--that his particular way is incomparably the best one; but to my mind a very satisfactory way is to go overland from Monterey.

The route we followed led us lengthwise through the wonderful Santa Clara country, straight up a wide box plait of valley tucked in between an ornamental double ruffle of mountains. I suppose if we passed one ranch we passed a thousand--cattle ranches, fruit ranches, hen ranches, chicken ranches, bee ranches--all the known varieties and subvarieties.

In California you mighty soon get out of the habit of speaking of farms; for there are no farms--only ranches. The particular ranch to which you have reference may be a ten-thousand-acre ranch, where they raise enough beef critters to feed a standing army, or it may be a half-acre ranch, where somebody is trying to make things home-like and happy for eight hens and a rooster; but a ranch it always is, and usually it is a model of its kind, too. The birds in California do not build nests. They build ranches.

Most of the way along the Santa Clara Valley our tires glided upon an arrow-straight, unbelievably smooth stretch of magnificent automobile road, which--when it is completed--will extend without a break from the Oregon line to the Mexican line, and will be the finest, costliest, best thoroughfare to be found within the boundaries of any state of the Union, that being the scale upon which they work out their public-utility plans in the West.

Eventually the road changes into a paved and curbed avenue, lined with seemingly unending aisles of the tall gum trees. Soon you begin to skitter past the suburban villas of rich men, set back in ornamental landscape effects of green lawns and among tropical verdure. You emerge from this into a gently rolling plateau, upon which flower gardens of incomparable richness are interspersed with the homely structures that inevitably mark the proximity of any great city. There, rising ahead of you, are the foothills that protect, upon its landward side, San Francisco, the city that has produced more artists, more poets, more writers, more actors, more pugilists, more sudden millionaires--cries of Question! Question! from the Pittsburgh delegation--more good fiction and more Native Sons than any community in the Western Hemisphere.

You aren't there yet, however. Next you round a sloping shoulder of a hill and slide down into a shore road, with the beating, creaming surf on one side, and on the other a long succession of the sort of architectural triumphs that have made Coney Island famous. You negotiate another small ridge and there, suddenly spread out before you, is the Golden Gate, with the city itself cuddled in between the ocean and the friendly protecting mountains at its back. The Seal Rocks are there, and the Cliff House, and the Presidio, and all. New York has a wonderful harbor entrance; Nature did some of it and man did the rest. San Francisco has an even more wonderful one, and the hand of man did not need to touch it. When Nature got through with it, it was a complete and satisfactory job.

The first convincing impression the newcomer gets of San Francisco is that here is a permanent city--a city that has found itself, has achieved its own personality, and is satisfied with it. Perhaps, because they are growing so fast, certain of the other Coast cities strike the casual observer as having just been put up. I was told that a man who lives on a residential street of San Diego has to mark his house with chalk when he leaves of a morning in order to know it when he gets home at night. A real-estate agent told me so, and I do not think a Southern California real-estate agent would deceive anybody--more particularly a stranger from the East. So it must be true. And Los Angeles' main business district is like a transverse slice chopped out of the middle of Manhattan Island. It isn't Western. It is typically New Yorky--as alive as New York and as handsomely done. You can almost imagine you are at the corner of Broadway and Forty-second Street.

San Francisco, it seems to me, isn't like any city on earth except San Francisco. Once you get away from the larger hotels, which are accurate copies of the metropolitan article of the East, even to the afternoon tea-fighting melees of the women, you find yourself in a city that is absolutely individual and distinctive. It impresses its originality upon you; it presents itself with an air of having been right there from the beginning--and this, too, in spite of the fact that the ravages of the great fire are still visible in old cellar excavations and piles of debris. Practically every building in the main part of the town has been rebuilt within eight years and is still new. The scars are fresh, but the spirit is old and abides.

This same essence of individuality tinctures the lives, the manners and the conversations of the people. They do not strike you as being Westerners or as being transplanted Easterners; they are San Franciscans. Even when all other signs fail you may, nevertheless, instantly discern certain unfailing traits--to wit, as follows: 1--A San Franciscan shudders with ill-concealed horror when anybody refers to his beloved city as Frisco--which nobody ever does unless it be a raw alien from the other side of the continent; 2--He does not brag of the climate with that constancy which provides his neighbor of Los Angeles a never-failing topic of congenial conversation; and 3--He assures you with a regretful sighing note in his voice that the old-time romance disappeared with the destruction of the old-time buildings, the old-time resorts and the old-time neighborhoods.

It has been my experience that romance is always in the past tense anyhow. Romance is a commodity that was extremely plentiful last week or last year or last century, but for the moment they are entirely out of it, and can't say with any degree of certainty when a fresh stock will be coming in. This is largely true of all the formerly romantic cities I know anything about, and it appears to be especially true of San Francisco. Romance invariably acquires added value after it has vanished; in this respect it is very much like a history-making epoch. An epoch rarely seems to create any great amount of excitement when it is in process of epoching, or at least the excitement is only temporary and soon abates. Afterward we look back upon it with a feeling of longing, but when it was actually coming to pass we took it--after the first shock of surprise--as a matter of course.

No doubt our children and our children's children will read in the text-books that the first decade of the twentieth century was distinguished as the age when the auto and tango came into use, and people learned to fly, and grown men wore bracelet watches and carried their handkerchiefs up their cuffs; and they will repine because they, too, did not live in those stirring times. But we of the present generation who recently passed through these experiences have already accepted them without undue excitement, just as our forefathers in their day accepted the submarine cable, the galvanic battery and the congress gaiter.

(Illustration: EVEN THE PLACE WHERE THE TURKEY TROT ORIGINATED WAS TROTLESS AND QUIET)

Age and antiquity give an added value to everything except an egg. In my own case I know how it was with regard to the Egyptian scarab. For years I felt that I could never rest satisfied until I had gone to Egypt and had personally broken into the tomb of some sleeping Pharaoh or some crumbly old Rameses, and with my own hands had ravished from it a mummified specimen of that fabled beetle which the ancients worshiped and buried with them in their tombs. But not long ago I made the discovery that, in coloring, habits, customs and general walk and conversation, the scarab of the Egyptians was none other than the common tumblebug of the Southern dirt roads. Right there was where I lost interest in the scarab. He was no novelty to me--not after that he wasn't. As a boy I had known him intimately.

So, when I was repeatedly assured that the old-time romance had vanished from San Francisco, and with it the atmosphere that bred Bohemianism and developed literature and art, and kept alive the spirit of the Forty-niner times, and all that, I made my own allowances. Those who mourned for the fire-blasted past may have been right, in a measure. Certainly the old-time Chinatown isn't there any more--or, at any rate, isn't there in its physical aspects. The rebuilt Chinatown of San Francisco, though infinitely larger, isn't so picturesque really or so Chinesey looking as New York's Chinatown.

I did not dare to give utterance to this treasonable statement until I was well away from San Francisco, but it is true all the same. I cruised the shores of the far-famed and much-written-about Barbary Coast; and it seemed to me that in its dun-colored tiresomeness and in its miserable transparent counterfeit of joy it was up to the general metropolitan average--that it was just as tiresome and humdrum as the avowedly wicked section of any city always is.

However, I was told that I had arrived just one week too late to see the Barbary Coast at its best--meaning by that its worst; for during the week before the police, growing virtuous, had put the crusher on the dance-halls and the hobble on the tango-twisters. Even the place where the turkey trot originated--a place that would naturally be a shrine to a New Yorker--was trotless and quiet--in mourning for its firstborn.

The so-called French restaurants, which for years gave an unwholesome savor to certain phases of San Francisco life, had likewise been sterilized and purified. I wished I might have got there before the housecleaning took place; but, even so, I should probably have been disappointed. What makes the vice of ancient Babylon seem by contrast more seductive to us than the vice of the Bowery is that Babylon is gone and the Bowery isn't.

Likewise the night life of San Francisco, of which in times past I had read so much, was disillusionizing, because it wasn't visible to the naked eye. On this proposition Los Angeles puts it all over San Francisco; for this, though, there is an easy explanation. Los Angeles boasts what is said to be the completest trolley system in the world; undoubtedly it is the noisiest in the world. The tracks seem to run through every street; there is a curve at every corner, I think, and a switch in the middle of every block. Every thirty seconds or so a car comes along, and it always comes at top speed and takes the curve without slackening up; and the motorman is always clanging his gong in a whole-souled manner that would entitle him to membership in the Swiss Bellringers.

Naturally the folks in Los Angeles stay up late--they can't figure on doing much sleeping anyhow; but either San Francisco has fewer trolley cars to the acre or else the motormen are not quite so musically inclined, and people may get to bed at a Christian hour. Most of them do it, too, if I am one to judge. At night in San Francisco I didn't see a single owl lunch wagon or meet a single beggar. Newsboys were remarkably scarce and taxicabs seemed to be few and far between. These things help to make any other city; without them San Francisco still manages to be a city--another proof of her individuality.

The old romance of the Old San Francisco may be dead and buried--the residents unite in saying that it is, and they ought to know; but, even so, New San Francisco may well brag today of a greater romance than any it ever knew--the romance of achievement. Somebody said not long ago that the greatest of all monuments to American pluck was San Francisco rebuilt; but if there was pluck in it there was romance too. And there is romance, plenty of it, in the exposition these people have planned and are now carrying out to commemorate the opening of the Panama Canal.

To begin with, citizens of San Francisco and of the state of California are paying the whole bill themselves--they did not ask the Federal Government to contribute a red cent of the millions being spent and that will be spent, and to date the Federal Government has not contributed a red cent either. Climatic conditions are in their favor. Other expositions have had to contend with hot weather--sometimes with beastly hot weather; those other expositions could not open up until well into the spring, and they closed perforce with the coming of cold weather in the fall. But San Francisco is never very hot and never really cold, and California becomes an out-of-door land as soon as the rains end; so this fair will be actively and continuously in operation for nine months instead of being limited to four or five months as the period of its greatest activities.

Then, again, there is another advantage--the exposition grounds are situated well within the city; the site is within easy riding distance of the civic center and not miles away from the middle of town, as has been the case in certain other instances in this country where big expositions were held. It is a place admirably devised by Nature for the purposes to which it is now being put--a six-hundred-acre tract stretching along the water-front, with the Presidio at its farther end, the high hills behind it, and in front of it the exquisite panorama of the Golden Gate, with emerald islands rising beyond; and Berkeley and Oakland just across the way; and on beyond, northward across the narrowing portals of the harbor, the big green mountain of Tamalpais, rising sheer out of the sea.

Moreover, the president of the exposition and his aides promised that the whole thing, down to the minutest detail, would be completed and ready months before the date set for opening the gates--which furnishes another strikingly novel note in expositions, if their words come true; and they declared that, for beauty of conception and harmony of design, their exposition of 1915 would surpass any exposition ever seen in this country or in any other country. Probably they are right. I know that, when I was there, the view from the first rise back of the grounds, looking down upon that long flat where men by thousands were toiling, and building after building was rising, made a picture sufficiently inspiring to warm the enthusiasm and brisken the imagination of any man, be he alien or native.

There isn't any doubt, though, that the people of San Francisco are going to have their hands full when the exposition visitors begin to pile in. By that I do not mean that the housing and feeding accommodations and the transit facilities will be deficient; but it is going to be a most overpoweringly big job to educate the pilgrims up to the point where they will call San Francisco by its full name. All true San Franciscans are very touchy on this point--touchy as hedgehogs, they are; the prejudice extends to all classes, with the possible exception of the Chinese.

I heard a story of a seafaring person, ignorant and newly arrived, who drifted into a waterfront saloon, called for a simple glass of beer and spoke a few casual words of greeting to the barkeeper--and woke up the next morning in the hospital with a very bad headache and a bandage round his throbbing brows. It developed that he had three times in rapid succession referred to the city as Frisco, and on being warned against this practice had inquired:

"Well, wot do you want me to call her--plain Fris?"

That was the last straw. The barkeeper took a bung-starter and felled him as flat as a felled seam--and all present agreed that it served him right.

An even worse breach of etiquette on the part of the outlander is to intimate that an earthquake preceded the great fire. That is positively the unforgivable sin! In any quarter of the city you could get many subscriptions for a fund to buy something with silver handles on it for any man who would insist upon talking of earthquakes. To make my meaning clearer, I will state that there are only two objects of general use in the civilized world that have silver handles on them, and one of them is a loving cup; but this article would not be a loving cup. A native will willingly concede that there was a fire, which burned its memories deep into the consciousness of the city that recovered from it with such splendid courage and such inconceivable rapidity; but by common consent there was nothing else. It does not take the stranger long to get this point of view, either.

If I were in charge of the publicity work of the San Francisco Fair I should advertise two attractions that would surely appeal to all the women in this country, and to most of the men. In my press work I would dwell at length upon the fact that in this part of California a woman may wear any weight and any style of clothes--spring clothes, summer clothes, fall clothes or winter clothes--and not only be perfectly comfortable while so doing, but be in the fashion besides; and to be in the fashion is a thing calculated to make a woman comfortable whether she otherwise is or not.

To see a group of four women promenading a San Francisco street on a pleasant morning is to be reminded of that ballet representing the Four Seasons, which we used to see in the second act of every well-regulated extravaganza. The woman nearest the walls has on her furs--it is always cool in the shade; the one next to her is wearing the very latest wrinkles in spring garniture; the third one, let us say, is dressed in the especially becoming frock she bought last October; and the one on the outside, where the sun shines the brightest, is as summery in her white ducks and her white slippers as though she had just stepped off the cover of the August number of a magazine. There is something, too, about the salt-laden breezes of San Francisco that gives women wonderful complexions; that detail, properly press-agented, ought to fetch the entire female population of the United States.

(Illustration: THE WOMAN NEAREST THE WALL HAS ON HER FURS--IT IS ALWAYS COOL IN THE SHADE)

For drawing the men, I would exploit the great cardinal fact that nowhere in the country--not even in Norfolk or Baltimore or New Orleans--can you get better things to eat than in San Francisco. For its size, I believe there are more good clubs and more good restaurants right there than in any other spot on the habitable globe. Particularly in the preparation of the typical dishes of the Coast do the San Francisco cooks excel; their cuisine is based on a sane American foundation, with a delectable suggestion of the Spanish in it, and sometimes with a traceable suggestion of the best there is in the Italian and the Chinese schools of cookery.

To one whose taste in oysters has been developed by eating the full-chested bi-valve of the Eastern seaboard and the deep-lunged, long-bodied product of the Louisiana bayous, the native oyster does not greatly appeal. A lot has been written and printed about the California oyster, but in my opinion he will always have considerable difficulty in living up to his press notices. It takes about a thousand of him to make a quart and about a hundred of him to make a taste. Even then he doesn't taste much like a real oyster, but more like an infinitesimal scrap of sponge where a real oyster camped out overnight once.

There is a dream of a little fish, however, called a sand dab--he is a tiny, flounder-shaped titbit hailing from deep water; and for eating purposes he is probably the best fish that swims--better even than the pompano of the Gulf--and when you say that you are saying about all there is to be said for a fish. And the big crabs of the Pacific side are the hereditary princes of the crab family. They look like spread-eagles; and properly prepared they taste like Heaven. I often wonder what the crabsters buy one-half so precious as the stuff they sell--which is a quotation from Omar, with original interpolations by me. The domestic cheese of the Sierras is not without its attractions also, whether you eat it fresh or whether you keep it until its general aspect and prevalent atmosphere are such as to satisfy even one of those epicurean cheese-eaters who think that no cheese is fit to eat until you can't.

Another thing worthy of mention in connection with this California school of cookery is that you can pay as little as you please for your dinner or as much as you please. There are three standbys of the exchange editor that may be counted upon to appear in the newspapers about once in so often. One is the hoary-headed and toothless tale regarding the artist who was hired to renovate religious paintings in a church in Brussels, and turned in an itemized account including such entries as--"Correcting the Ten Commandments"; "Restoring the Lost Souls"; "Renewing Heaven"; and winding up with "Doing Several Odd Jobs for the Damned."

The second of the set comes out of retirement at frequent intervals--whenever some trusting soul runs across a time-stained number of the Ulster Gazette giving details of the death of George Washington--I wonder how many million copies of that venerable counterfeit were printed--and writes in to his home editor about it.

And the third, the most popular clipping of the three, concerns the prices that used to govern at the mining camps in the days of the early gold rush. The story that is most commonly quoted has to do with the menu of the El Dorado Hotel, at Placerville, where bean soup was a dollar a plate; hash, lowgrade, seventy-five cents; hash, eighteen-carat, a dollar--and so on down the list to seventy-five cents for two Irish potatoes, peeled.

The cost of living may have gone down subsequently in those parts, but it has gone back up again--at certain favored spots. If the Argonauts, those hardy adventurers who flung their gold round so regardlessly and were not satisfied unless they paid outrageously big prices for everything, could come back today they would have no cause to complain at the contemptible paucity of the bill after they had dined at any one of half a dozen ultra-expensive hotels that are to be found dotted along the Coast.

I append herewith a few items selected at random from the price card of a fashionable establishment in one of the larger Coast cities: caviar imperial d'Astracan, two dollars for a double portion; buffet Russe--whatever that is--ninety cents; German asparagus, a single helping, one dollar and forty cents; blue-point oysters, fifty cents; fifty cents for clams; Gorgonzola cheese, fifty cents a portion; and, in a land where peaches and figs grow anywhere and everywhere, seventy-five cents for an order of brandied peaches and fifty cents for an order of spiced figs. Even seasoned New Yorkers have been known to breathe hard on receiving a check for a full meal at certain restaurants in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

On the other hand, you can step round any corner in San Francisco and walk into that institution which people in other large cities are forever seeking and never finding--a table-d'hote restaurant where a perfect meal is to be had at a most moderate price. The best Italian restaurant in the world--and I wish to say, after personal experience, that Sunny Italy itself is not barred--is a little place on the fringe of the Barbary Coast.

There is another place not far away where, for a dollar, you get a bottle of good domestic wine and a selection from the following range of dishes: Celery, ripe olives, green olives, radishes, onions, lettuce, sliced tomatoes, combination salad or crab-meat salad; soup--onion or consomme; fish--sole, salmon, bass, sand dabs, mussels or clams; entrees--sweetbreads with mushrooms, curry of lamb, calf's tongue, tripe with peppers, tagliatini a l'Italienne, or boiled kidney with bacon; vegetables--asparagus, string-beans and cauliflower; roast--spring lamb with green peas, broiled chicken or broiled pig's feet; dessert--rhubarb pie, ice cream and cake, apple sauce, stewed fruits, baked pear or baked apple, mixed fruits; cheese of three varieties, and coffee to wind up on.

The proprietor doesn't cut out his portions with a pair of buttonhole scissors, either, or sauce them with a medicine-dropperful of gravy. He gives a big, full, satisfying helping, well cooked and well served. There is some romance in the San Francisco cooking, too, if the oldtimers who bemourn the old days only realized it.

If this seeming officiousness on the part of a passing wayfarer may be excused there is one more suggestion I should like to throw off for the benefit of the promoters of the exposition. Living somewhere in California is a man who should be looked up before the gates are opened, and he should be retained at a salary and staked out in suitable quarters as a special and added attraction. He is the most magnificent fish-liar in the known world! I do not know his name--he was so busy pouring fish stories down a party of us that he didn't take time to stop and tell his name--but no great difficulty should be experienced in finding him. There is only one of him alive--these world's wonders never occur in pairs. That would cheapen them and make them commonplace.

He swam into our ken--if a mixed metaphor may be pardoned--on a train leaving Oakland for the East. We were sitting in the club car--half a dozen or so of us--when he drifted along. At first look no one would have suspected him of being so gifted a creature as he proved himself to be. He was a round, short, tub-shaped man, with a button nose, and a double chin that ran all the way round and lapped over at the back. But, though his appearance was deceiving, anybody could tell with half an eye that he excelled in extemporaneous conversation. Right off he began shadow-boxing and sparring about, waiting for an opening. In a minute he got it.

The tall man with the long face and the stiff white pompadour, who looked like a patent toothbrush, gave him his chance. The tall man happened to look out of the car window and see in an inlet a fleet of beached fishing boats, and he remarked on their picturesqueness. That was the cue.

"Speaking of fishing," said the button-nosed man, "I'll tell you people something that'll maybe interest you. You may not believe it, either, me being a stranger to you; but it's the Gospel truth or I wouldn't be sitting here a-telling it. I reckon I've done more fishing in my day and more different kinds of fishing than any man alive. I come originally from a prime fishing state--Michigan--and I've lived in Colorado and Montana and Oregon and all the other good fishing states out West. But, take it from me, friends, California is the best fishing state there is. Yes, sir; when it comes to fishing, old California lays it over 'em all--she takes the rag right off the bush! I'm the one that oughter know because I've fished her from end to end and crossways--sea fishing, creek fishing, lake fishing and all.

"Down at Catalina they'll tell you, if you ask 'em, that I'm the man that ketched the biggest tuna that ever come out of that ocean. It took me fourteen hours and forty-five minutes to land him, and during that time he towed me and an eighteen-foot boat, and the fellow I had along for boatman, over forty-four miles--I measured it afterward to be sure--and the friction of the reel spinning round wore my line down till it wasn't no thicker in places than a cobweb. But tunas ain't my regular specialty--trouts and basses are my special favorites; and up in the mountains is where I mostly do my fishing.

"I'm just sort of hanging round now waiting for the snow to move out so's I can go up there and start fishing.

"Well, sirs, it's funny, ain't it, the way luck will run fishing? Oncet when I was living up there I fished stiddy, day in and day out, for two seasons and never got a bite that you could rightly call a bite. And then all of a sudden one afternoon the luck switched and in exactly forty-five minutes by the watch--by this here very watch I'm carrying now in my pocket--I ketched seventy-two of them big old black basses out of one hole; and they averaged five pounds apiece!"

We looked at one another silently. A total of seventy-two five-pound bass in three-quarters of an hour seemed a little too much to be taken as a first dose from a strange practitioner. And it was hard to believe they had all been basses; if only for the sake of variety there should have been at least one barytone. We felt that we needed time for reflection--and digestion.

Evidently realizing this, one of our number undertook to throw himself into the breach. As I recollect, this volunteer was the fat coffin drummer from Des Moines who had the round, smooth face and the round, bald head, and wore the fuzzy green hat with the bow at the back. I think he wore the bow there purposely--it simplified matters so when you were trying to decide which side of his head his face grew on. He heaved a pensive sigh out of his system and remarked upon the clearness of the air in these parts.

"You're right there, mister," broke in the button-nosed man, snapping him up instantly. "The air is tolerable clear here today; but you oughter to see the air up in the mountains! Why, it's so clear up there it would make this here hill-country air look like a fog. I remember oncet I was browsing along a cliff up in that country, toting my fishpole, and I happened to look over the bluff--just so--and down below I saw a hole in the creek that was just crawling with them big trouts--steel-head trouts and rainbow trouts. I could see the spots on their sides and their fins waving, and their gills working up and down.

"I figured out that it was fully a hundred feet down to the water and the water would natchelly be tolerable deep; so I let all my line run off the reel, a hundred and sixty feet of it; and I fished and fished and fished--and didn't get a strike, let alone a nibble. Yet I could look over and see all these hungry trouts down below looking up with expectant looks in their eyes--I could see their eyes--and jumping round regardless; and yet not a bite! So I changed bait--changed from live bait to dead bait, and back again to live--and still there wasn't nothing doing. So I says to myself: 'Something's wrong, sure! This thing'll stand looking into.'

(Illustration: IT'S A GREAT THING OUT THERE TO BE A NATIVE SON)

"So I snoops round and finds a place where there's a sort of a sloping place in the bluff; and I braces my pole in a rock and leaves it there; and I climbs down--and then I sees what's the matter. It was that there clear air that had fooled me! It was three hundred feet if it was an inch down from the top of that there bluff to the creek, and the hole was fully a hundred feet deep--maybe more; and away down at the plumb bottom all them trouts was congregated in a circlelike, looking up mighty greedy and longing at my bait, which was a live frog, dangling two hundred and forty-odd feet up in the air. But, speaking of clear air, that wasn't nothing at all compared to some other things I could tell you about. Another time----"

At this point I rose and escaped to the diner. When I got back at the end of an hour the other survivors told me that, up to the time he got off at Sacramento, the button-nosed man had been getting better and better all the time. He certainly ought to be rounded up and put on exhibition at the Fair to show those puny and feeble Eastern fish-liars what the incomparable Western climate can produce.

I almost forgot to mention San Francisco's chief product--Native Sons. A Native Son is one who has acquired special merit by being born in the state. You would think credit would be given to the subject's parents, where it belongs; but, no--that is not the California way. It's a great thing out there to be a Native Son. It counts in politics, and in society, and at the clubs.

And, after that, the next best thing is to be a Southerner, either by birth or descent. People who have Southern blood in their veins are very proud of it and can join a club on the strength of it; and some of them do a lot of talking about it. The definition is rather elastic--anybody whose ancestors worked on the Southern Pacific is eligible, I think.

Of course, there are a lot of real Southerners; but there are a whole lot more who--so it seemed to me--are giving remarkably realistic imitations of the type known in New York as the Professional Southerner. San Francisco excels in Southerners--the regular kind and the self-made kind both.

I was out there too early in the year to meet the justly celebrated San Francisco flea. He's a Native Son, too; but there isn't so much bragging being done on his account.

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