A Start in Life by C.F. Dowsett, 1891.
In my bedroom was a coil of stout Manilla rope screwed into the floor, near a window, so that an escape might be secured in the event of fire. The towels provided are a kind of compromise between a duster and a pocket handkerchief--rather disappointing to one accustomed
to his "tub." New York is great in tram-cars, worked by horses, mules, and electricity, also elevated railways...
In San Francisco, Dowsett praises the Palace Hotel, still in existence today. Years ago I read with incredulity of how practically every male used to chew tobacco and spit everywhere in public; here's Dowsett's graphic confirmation:
Of course, as most people know, the (to us) disgusting
practice of spitting is common in America; spittoons are universally provided in public and private places. At Merced Court House is this notice: "Gentlemen will not, and others should not spit upon the floors." Huge spittoons are provided there.
The awful guttural which precedes the constant expectoration of Americans is most trying. It excites in persons near them and who are unaccustomed to it, a sensation of necessity to vomit, as it conveys a fear that your neighbour is about to vomit over you. It is not the excusable expectoration arising from an accumalation in the air passages, but a continuous fusilade of saliva. It is a disgusting practice, and I believe will die out in America as its citizens travel more in the old countries and become used to manners more refined than such a one as this.
"Genial" is Dowsett's favorite adjective, particularly in describing California's climate. It's full of quaint/bizarre little details like this one:
To put in the potatoes a settler would need the help of a labourer, to whom he would have to give one dollar per day and his board, or, if the labourer be a Chinaman, one dollar and a quarter per day without his board.
Was that because Chinese immigrants didn't want to eat American food, but others did? Or was predjudice such that whites wouldn't have Asians under the same roof? No explanations here.
A twelve room house cost $3,000 to $4,000. On the other hand, macaroni was 15 cents a pound, not that far off from what it is today.
The most interesting thing to me is the worldview when agriculture was still the primary means of earning a living. No matter who you were or what your personality or inclinations, fruit farming would seem like a decent choice of career, or even a way to get rich if you believed every word C.F. Dowsett wrote...