Vignettes of San Francisco eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 75 pages of information about Vignettes of San Francisco.

But I am humble and if some day I meet a hot, tired looking woman who can’t find an apartment on Russian Hill, I shall say:  “Shucks, a marine view isn’t so much.”

Hilly-Cum-Go

This is a story for children, because they will know it’s only fooling, while grown-up people will believe it’s true.

The cable car isn’t a car at all, children, but is a hilly-cum-go, a species of rocking horse and a grown-up kiddie-kar.  It is a native of and peculiar to San Francisco, and is a loyal member of the N. S. G. W. It has relatives in the South, and the electric dinkie that rolls up and down between Venice and Santa Monica is its first cousin.  Some say that it is distantly related to the wheel chairs at Atlantic City.  It is not at all common.

The men who run it are its Uncles.  The parents live underground caring for the young kiddie-kars.  At times, if you peek down in that hole near the Fairmont and are careful not to be run over you may see them bustling about.  Before she was married, the mama was a Marjory Daw of the Daw family, famous see-sawers.  The children take after their mother.

The Uncles are very kind and pick the hilly-cum-goes up in their arms as tenderly as a woman would.  You must have seen them pick the little things up and run with them across the streets out of the way of autos.  And at night they tuck them in their little beds and hear them say their prayer which goes: 

Oh, dear me, I hope I’m able,
All day long to keep my cable.

These hilly-cum-goes are not run by electricity at all, but just pretend.  They are run by three things — black magic, white magic and a sense of humor.  Black magic takes them up the hills, white magic restrains them down, and the sense of humor is in the Irish conductors.  You may hear, if you listen, the magic coming out of the ground, “Kibble-kable, kibble-kable,” only fast as anything.  At noon time it goes “Putter, putter, putter,” and at bed-time, “Kuddle-kiddie, kuddle-kiddie.”

This magic is very, very important.  Especially going down hill.  Did you ever, my dears, descend that precipice at the end of the Fillmore street line?  What is it that keeps you from landing flat on your nose on Union street?  Nothing but white magic.  What is it that keeps you from shooting from the Fairmont, straight down into the St. Francis?  White magic.

The sense of humor is also very important.  Suppose a stout person gets on, the conductor hops immediately to the opposite side for ballast.  That takes a sense of humor.  If the hilly-cum-go is full of young people, especially sweethearts, the Uncle jiggles the hilly-cum-go horribly, but if old people are on it goes — “See-saw, Marjory Daw,” just gently.

I trust, dear children, that all these facts will make you appreciate more the hilly-cum-go, and when you sit on it so cosy, so intimate with the street, riding along looking at the scenery, you will be thankful, that poor old horses do not have to tug you up hill, and that you have this sturdy little creature to haul you about.  Nice little, old hilly-cum-go.

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Project Gutenberg
Vignettes of San Francisco from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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