An Explicable Journey……….#14 (the 50’s)


Mike’s Dad was never one to share his plans with anyone, and for the most part this even included the boy’s mother.    On many occasions like this one,  the family would pile into the car after supper on a Friday Night,  and  would soon realize  they were on their way out of town,  and only then,  would  be notified of where they were traveling to.  It might be San Francisco,  San Jose,  Walnut Creek,  or even Sebastopol.


 Dads weekend excursions were all what the family referred to as one beer stop destinations,   meaning that they were less than a two hour drive from home and Dads propensity for a bottle of  beer could be filled before arriving at his objective.  Mike soon realized where they were going as they headed north on  the East-Shore Highway, recognizing the large oil tanks as they headed past Point Potrero in Richmond.   Soon the smell of the refineries gave way to that of the bay.   It was finally said aloud, Sebastopol, that meant Grandma and Grandpa Marvin’s house,  the journey now having purpose and destination.


He wasn’t troubled with the essence of the bay, there was a consensus about its odor that  most people didn’t like  because of the runoff from the factories, canneries, and even sewage.   To him it was a smell, not an odor, just the forming of the word odor conjured up something bad.    He could see the water now and his Dad maneuvered onto the access road approaching the toll hut for the Richmond  San Rafael Ferry.  The  access road to the ferry slip was wide enough for cars to park on  while waiting for the arrival of the boat.  On the San Rafael side of the bay, cars waiting at Point San Quentin to embark for Richmond had to wait until those aboard had disembarked before traveling almost down a 1/2 mile of pier. The pier with its ferry slip extending out into the bay because of the shallowness of the shoreline water.


The  large white boat arriving was the Klamath,  having crossed on the Eureka and the Sausalito, but it was not the first time that they had crossed the bay on this ferry.  Mike always thought it strange that sailing vessels were called ships, but submarines and ferries were called boats.  He knew that ferry boats unlike ships, had not bow or stern, they were much like a streetcar, having a pilot houses at both ends, never having to turn around.  The Klamath gently pulled into the slip,  brushing her cushion of tires mounted on the pylons as she came to berth.  The docking crew anchoring her  mooring lines, while the deck crew began to lower the automobile ramp.  Mike never had counted the cars , but looked on  as at least fifty departed the boat.


As soon as the cars had disembarked, the old De Soto boarded the vessel with its five passengers.    Leaving the car, Mike and his family went to the stairway and up to the lounge that was in an area amidships.   Inside, benches were lined beneath the windows in rows for passenger seating, and the center enclosures provided public restrooms,   a snack bar area offering beer as well as soft drinks, and food items.


Mike spending the bay crossing, outside on the deck,  the clasp of the bay breeze buffeting his face with the ever present salt air, and the rise and fall of the boat with the swells.    The awareness making his enterprising young mind soar, wondering what attainment would be ahead to facilitate this esoteric sense of purpose.  The expanse of the water, motion of the boat, the conversation of a journeying sea breeze.  the youth very much aware of his surroundings,  and with it, envisioning the high adventure of the maritime past.  Then the sound of the Eureka’s horn breaking Mike’s brief spectral journey,  it was time to return to the car and onto Sebastopol.



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