Contributed by Kathleen Haynes
Contact Myrtle Bridges May 31, 2008
On board SS CRETIC
July 7th 1912
My Dear Mother,
When I said in my last letter don't read my letters I of course didn't mean to the Tates. They very
probably would like to know what I was doing. All Friday we sailed through tropical seas, bright sunshine
and brighter colors in the water which was filled with all sorts of jelly fish formations, anemones and
all the things sailors call whale food and then about 9 that night we sighted a light on St. Michaels,
[Sao Miguel] one of the Azores, and at twelve dropped anchor in the harbor of Ponta Delgada. Oh, the
approach was lovely; sailing up on a moonlit sea with the water all phosphorescent, and around the bow
raced dolphins and porpoises only a foot or so from the prow, every now and then leaping from the water.
We ran through several schools of fish, millions of them that just whitened the water, and just as the
ship struck eight bells the cathedral on land boomed out twelve. The first sound of land since we left
Then yesterday was spent in town, very picturesque it was too, with its queer little houses, all
huddled up and painted the most striking shades of pink and blue, sea green with tiles on the roof
of harmonious colors, and little iron balconies all touched up with gilt on the black paint. Some
had tile fronts of blue and white and ochre and white that looked bath room floors. A quaint old
church almost in ruins, with its pretty toned bells, convents and narrow little cobble stone paved
streets over which rattled rough carts, and donkeys loaded with baskets, and little goats drawing
wagons. One automobile of about1904 rattled up and down with the man in the tonneau crying loudly
The most beautiful thing was the gardens of an Italian count, who lives there and owns the hemp
plantations. The most wonderful trees and vines and shrubs, thick foliage, and the air heavy with
perfume, gardenia, magnolia and wonderful roses and japonicas and the most gorgeous hydrangeas you
ever saw, and geraniums six feet high with blossoms like carnations, and Sago palms in bloom and a
tree called "Bird of Paradise" flaming in its colors.
The streets were filled with beggars, horrible looking cripples, and from all of them, "money, money, money."
The island had high mountains, raises hemp, and the most delicious pineapples in the world is Portugal's
possession. All the pineapples are raised under glass. You see miles and miles of hot houses.
Monday the 8th:
Got to the Madeiras this morning and anchored in the harbor of Funchal which looks quite a lot like the
Azores. Two or three funny little Portuguese gunboats were in the harbor, and on shore were the soldiers
from the garrison dressed in uniforms that looked like overalls. The mode of transportation is sleds chiefly,
that slide on wooden runners over the grooved paving stones. Lovely gardens here too, and all up the mountains
we passed plantation after plantation all _?_ off and shored up to prevent washing away. And over all grow
potatoes, figs, palms, bananas and corn and grapes.
We ascended by the Funicula, then came down a way in a lummock suspended by it's two ends to a pole which
two men carry, chattering all the while.
Little children flock around you everywhere throwing you azaleas and hollyhocks and roses and crying
"money, money, money." Then we had breakfast and slid down the hill in a wickerwork basket at about 30 miles
an hour it seemed to me. And everyone has to be haggled with as to prices, and Jewed down and cussed out.
This island is the biggest of the five, in very deep water that's blue and very, very clear, and all around
the coast were little boys that begged for coins to be thrown in and down they'd dive for them. Some little
fellows dove all the way from the upper deck to the water which is about 60 feet. The town was filled with
strangers, not ourselves only, but a mail boat was just in from Beunos Aires and about two hundred of her
passengers came ashore.
Saturday night we had quite a wonderful masquerade party and two ladies fixed me all up as a pirate (?)
in a dandy costume that they sewed all day and I went with a girl who bobbed her hair and frock and all until
she looked about eight. There's really a dandy bunch aboard and I'm having a splendid time. Really think I'll
be sorry when she lands at Naples. It's just like home to get back the old boat from one of these ports. I can
imagine what cruising is like. I shall close this now and post it at Gibralta tomorrow, or Wed. Hope you are
well and enjoying "your vacation" just one tenth as much as I am. Give my love to all the Tates. Devotedly Donald.
PS: Tuesday 9th. If you'd keep all the letters, when I get home I'll read them again and many things will come
back to me I know, funny experiences and anecdotes and all that I forget now, ever day until after I write and
then too I don't write well and there's so much I'd like to tell you of.
With love, Don.
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