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Chapter 7 WRITING FOR POSTERITY FROM HAWAII S Helen was not the first person to go to Hawaii from Hampton Institute. Samuel Chapman Armstrong grew up in Hawaii as the son of missionaries, and he modeled Hampton on the all-male Hilo Boarding School. Founded in 1836 to train missionaries, Hilo shifted its focustopreparingyoungHawaiianstobecomecarpenters,housepainters, and shoemakers. Armstrong maintained his ties with the islands during and after his work at Hampton. Helen left Hampton with mixed feelings. “The people here feel badly at my going away and really make me feel badly by their frequent protestations. I did not know how much my work counted for until now. I am ready to leave it. Yet I feel if I ever get strong enough again to be ambitious it will be worth to me all that I am giving up in leaving all that are dear to me for a time.” The thought of leaving her friends and colleagues saddened her more as the time approached. “The people here feel so badly about my going away that I really feel badly myself. I shall stop teaching to-morrow afternoon [January 8, 1901].” She waited until the last minute to complete her arrangements, a habit that continued throughout her life. Helen started for the West Coast on a night train from Philadelphia. A through sleeper took her from Chicago to San Francisco. She gained “a pretty fair idea” of a western town from spending part of a day in 129 Kansas City, Missouri. As the train departed Las Vegas, New Mexico, she wrote: Most of to-day [January 18] we have spent crossing the Rock Mts., where the scenery of course is superb. . . . dining service is splendid and I go out for two or three meals each day. This road supports dining stations where they stop twenty five minutes for meals and does not have on a dining car beyond a certain point. We have passed many things of interest among them the mining villages, adobe houses, prarie dogs, burrows, coal mines, and have followed the old Santa Fe Stage Road for many miles. The herds of cattle dotted all over the praries have been of course a novely to me. No matter what the outcome of this change the trip has been worth all that I have risked I am sure. I get healthily tired each day so’s that I sleep well at night, and have a good appetite for my meals. . . . As soon as it gets dark the porters begin making up beds for those that desire and that makes us all want to begin preparations. At the end of the “perfectly ideal” trip, she spent three days in San Francisco. At sea, the ocean threw its worst at the passengers of the newly refitted steamship Sonoma. “The sun broke through and cheered us as we sailed out through the Golden Gate. With a brisk breeze blowing we steamed out past the Presidio, the Cliff House and out to sea. We enjoyed the breeze and were accustoming ourselves to the new sensations when the spray began to dash up into our faces and then over the sides of the vessel at such a rate that we were glad to move back. It grew worse and worse and by five o’clock we all realized that we were right in a wind storm and had a bad night before us.” Most of the passengers fled to their cabins as the crew raced to lash down the furniture and close the portholes. Intrepid Helen remained on deck: I have always felt that if you can only keep in the air you will feel much better than by staying in closer, smaller quarters. Knowing from every indication that I myself was getting ready for a “squall” I lunged forward to a 130 Writing for Posterity from Hawaii seat grasped it and sat down. Then, immediately down came the sickness and I was thankful that it was on the deck where the darkness of night and the storm in a way spared others the sight. So sick, so sick! I thought that nothing worse in this life could be. I could fully appreciate what the whale felt after swallowing Jonah and was glad to have been relieved of my own burden. Over I keeled on the setee with scarce life enough to hold my head up, and the boat rocking and lunging and plunging and I wondered how I ever could reach my...


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