Over all the swing and dip and rhythm of the sea gulls. How beautifully they accent the movement of the symphony, like the baton of some great leader — this great beautiful Sunday morning symphony.
Then there is Alcatraz. Oh, Alcatraz, why should they have placed a prison there as a monument to men’s failure to order their lives in harmony with nature. Alcatraz, most beautiful island in the most beautiful bay, you sound an ugly, sinister, most unhappy undertone in the morning’s symphony.
Still it is a symphony. A symphony of San Francisco Bay. Why shouldn’t the composers put it into music. We’re sick of the song of the huntsman by the brasses, the strings and the wood instruments. With Whitman we exclaim: “Come, Muse, migrate from Aeonia,” and come out here to the West, and conserve the symphony of the bay which is already composed and waiting.
And for the argument, the overture, the prelude, there could be a sailing schooner with sails all set coming into the Golden Gate, in the full brilliant sunlight, or mysteriously through a fog, or against a sunset sky. It should be “full and by” like that beautiful painting by Coulter in the stock exchange of the Merchants’ Building.
Symphony of San Francisco Bay, boom of fog horns, calls and answers of the ferries, chug of the fishermen’s boats, twink of lights in the harbor at night, rhythm of sea gulls, and the brooding fog to soften it all. “Come, Muse, migrate from Aeonia.”
Are there others, I wonder, who feel as I do about crossing the street? There must be. Now I, when I cross, say Market street at Third, I run. I take my life and my bundles in my hand and run, darting swift glances to the left and to the right. It looks “hick.” I know it looks “hick.” And I care. But I prefer to be alive and countrified than sophisticated in an ambulance and so I run.
At corners, too. I think corners are worse. For there the machines may turn around and chase me, which they often do. It’s a horrible feeling.
There must be others who feel as I do about crossing the street, but they never betray it. I watch to see and when they cross, they just cross — that’s all. Not with nonchalance exactly, but with ease and assurance. Once I actually saw a man, a native son, I’m sure, roll a cigarette as he crossed at a point where even the traffic cop looked nervous.
No one ever gets killed or even injured. But always everybody is getting almost killed and almost injured. They like it. It’s a sort of sport. I’ve noticed it more since the city’s gone dry. The game is, if you are walking, to see how close to a machine you can come and not hit it.
Street cars, machines and people all go straight ahead and they all come out right. It’s the only city where it’s done with such abandon. They never stop for anything except taxis — not even fire engines.