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Sunday, February 17, 2013


Train Ticket Taker
Leon left the hotel with a feeling of accomplishment for he had convinced a total stranger to help him out.

He didn't like deceiving the Lady but what was he supposed to do?

If he said I want to go to the gold fields someone has to pay for my transportation for I don't have the money that would have been futile.

It was a long night sitting in the waiting area, but the thought he would soon be on his way to California made it more bearable.

The sun came up, and his benefactress came in with a porter in tow with her baggage. When she saw him she motioned for him to come on and they went to the ticket counter. She turned and asked "Are you sure this is what you want to do?"

Leon quickly answered, “Yes I'm very sure.”  She turned and said, one ticket to San Francisco coach seating please. The ticket agent looked at her and wondered why a finely dressed lady would travel for six days in coach; nevertheless he filled out the ticket and stamped it.

She turned and gave him his ticket and said, “Let's get some breakfast for sometimes the meals on the train are not very good.”  Then she said, “This is my compartment number; we can have dinner together each day if you wish. Just make sure you wash up and don't get smelly.”

Leon walked through the train and got acquainted with the other passengers and when the train stopped at some stations there were people selling all kinds of food and cigarettes, and he would step off and buy some sandwiches and snacks.  
The diner car charged about four times as much for something to eat so Leon only ate there with Mrs. Loomis once a day (which she paid for).

The trip was long and tiring.  People played cards, checkers and read books to pass the time.
Leon asked the conductor how fast the train was going and he said, let me see. With that he took out his railroad watch and began counting the telegraph poles along side the railroad and when one minute had passed he knew how fast they were traveling.

The conductor knew how many poles were in a mile and he figured out how much time it took to travel a mile.  Leon thought that was pretty smart and wished he had a railroad watch that kept perfect time. The only one he ever had was an Ingersoll dollar watch which only lasted a year.

After dinner he would visit Mrs. Loomis in her compartment and talk for some time, she told him her name was Gabrielle and he could call her Ellie instead of Mrs. Loomis.

She had a large house on Nob Hill in San Francisco and had gone to New York to visit friends and do some business.  Leon couldn't imagine what it was like to deal in high finance but just talking to her was exciting.

They finally arrived in Oakland and had to take the ferry across the bay to San Francisco.  Leon had seen some large cities but there was something in the air in the Bay Area that was different from the other places.

He had told a grizzled old man he was going to the Klondike, and the man said that it is about played out and now Nome was the place to go.

In their conversation Mrs. Loomis gave Leon her address, and told him when he returned from Alaska to stop by and visit her.  
She was a very wise woman and knew something was amiss, and had guessed he was not there to visit a sick mother. 

She went on to say he probably needed some money, and she gave him a few dollars and said, “You will have to work your way to Nome and back.”

One last bit of advice she gave him was, “There will be more money made in Nome than in the gold fields.  It will be up to you to figure out how to discover it.”

 To be Continued

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