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Saturday, October 19, 2013

Pig in a Poke Chapter 11 Making money on the Bay

Shipping Business
The news we were in the shipping business caused both Cindy and I to be speechless. 

We had no idea what was going on.  Cindy said she was pretty sure he was going to sell the mine but she didn’t have a clue about this ferry business.

Bartlett said we are going to be out of here in two weeks and will have an office in Stockton and San Francisco.  There is a ware house at both offices one of which you will manage and I will handle the other.

He said, “You and Cindy will run the Stockton office and I will handle the San Francisco business end.  You must learn to move the goods in and out quickly. 
The reason I decided to do this was I have wanted to get Cindy out of this miner]s atmosphere for a long time.  Now she is married and will be raising a family I didn’t want them to be here as that happened.

The company who bought the mine will do very well over time but will have to invest a lot of money to keep it going for the long run.”

Packing up to leave was as expected a bigger job than we thought.  The trip to Stockton is not an easy trip.  There weren’t many wagons available so we gave away much we would like to have kept.

In the middle of our move, Cindy wasn’t feeling well which worried me and I kept asking questions about how she felt till she finally came out with it.

“I’m pregnant and that is the problem.  It’s nothing to worry about.”

I had to think about that for it wasn’t a word I was familiar with.  I had heard; “I’m with child” and other such expressions but pregnant was new to me.  I asked her to explain that to me. She said, “We are going to have a baby or at least I’m going to have one.”

I had known women who were in that condition that worked in the fields and milked the cows and all the chores like washing and ironing and it didn’t seem like a big deal.  But again I knew one or two who died in child birth and that thought scared me.

She said, “I will be alright in a day or two it is just all the excitement about the change in our lives.  This is all I have ever known since I was small.” 

The next day she said she began to feel better which made me feel relieved about her making that long trip.  In the end we took only the things that had some family history meaning and things that were necessary for setting up house keeping.

The trip to Sacramento we had made many times but going to Stockton was new to us. It was only fifty miles by the birds to Stockton but due to the condition of the roads it took us three and a half long days to get there.

We had three wagons loads of things we valued and we unloaded them in the warehouse until we found a house to live in.  Our goods fit in a small corner of the stockroom for it was huge.

We had to get settled quickly for the ferries were due in a few days.  Bartlett managed to find a Captain and crew for each of them.  Seemed most of them had tried their luck in the gold fields but had to give it up and go back to what they knew best.

Cindy had hired dock hands to unload the ferries and move the goods to the warehouse where people would come and pick up their merchandise they had ordered.

The ferries had six state rooms as well as Captain’s quarters.  While the main business was hauling freight it was necessary to have room for passengers at times.  It took a full day to make the trip each way.  The ferries had a shallow draft which was great for the rivers but a little unstable on the bay in inclement weather.  Still the weather had to be very bad to cause a cancellation of a scheduled trip.

It took a couple of trips for us to get everything under control.  While there were expected problems we got through them, and as time went by we eliminated almost all of the difficulties.

Our Captains were all seasoned pilots and the crews were top hands.  What’s more important was they needed jobs which made them give more attention to their duties and to show up on time.  I knew very little about the shipping business so I made several trips to San Francisco and back while getting to know the ferries as well as the crews. 

I didn’t want to cause extra problems but I made a few suggestions to the Captains which they either implemented or explained why it was impractical.  All in all we got along well for I knew when to back off before tension set in.

After a dozen or so trips I had a good understanding of what the Captains faced and how I could help them do their job.  All the while Cindy was controlling the distribution of the goods we handled. 
We got some wagons and teamsters to deliver supplies the merchants couldn’t pick up without a great deal of trouble.  After a couple of months things were running as smoothly as you could hope for and it was a good thing for Cindy was about to have our first child.

I was pretty nervous about the whole thing, much more than Cindy was.  Her shapely figure had long disappeared and was replaced with extra weight and a large tummy.
When she tried to snuggle next to me she could only get within arms length unless she turned her back to me. As the day approached we talked about a name depending on whether it was a boy or girl.

We finally settled on Julie for a girl and Samuel for a boy.  One night she woke me and said it is time.  I went to got the doctor and he brought his wife along in case she was needed. 

After daylight I heard a loud squall and I knew someone had arrived.  The doctor’s wife came out and said, “You have a boy child.”  By this time this whole thing seemed unreal and I was in a state of shock.  The doctor said, “Cindy is fine you can go in and see her for a little while.”

The first thing she said was, “Did you meet Samuel?”

I said, “No not yet.”  About that time the doctor’s wife brought him in after cleaning him up.  She said, “I think he is hungry.”

To be Continued

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