Uncle Charley Potter, on a steamship toward Cuba, writes his wife:
March 13, 1907 9:00 a.m. home time
My dear Ellen
As we expect to be in Havana this P.M., I will prepare a few lines to mail on landing after which perhaps will let Mabel do the height of correspondence. This is a good time to write now as we are in the Gulf steamer crossing the Straights heading a little west of south …on our “floating prison” nothing is in view but sky and sea. A fresh wind is blowing from East and the steamer is rolling so penmanship is rather uncertain and there was many vacant seats at breakfast table. The storm, however, which I have been anticipating, still flees before us and what little roughness we have had is only enjoyable.
We drew out from … Brunswick about 2 P.M. Monday, threaded our way down the muddy estuary to the sea, dropped our pilot, and heading into the Atlantic for an hour or two to get clear of the coast, turned southward. A strong N.E. wind was blowing. We had to don overcoat to be comfortable on deck and the steamer pitched and rolled the most I have experienced, and the passengers one by one withdrew to more secluded quarters.
Not many of them are people I care to form much acquaintance with, interested chiefly in playing cards and … getting together at the stern of the ship at night [for] what they call singing and talking, but a mild subdued interest in surroundings.
Most of them are indoor people and don’t know the power of the sun plus the reflection from the water, and thus many of them had become uncomfortably burned, eyes swollen, &c. The personal appearance of the women have certainly not been improved.
Am troubled quite a little with headache—I don’t understand it—you know it commenced before I left home. Have drank considerable coffee in consequence. Guess am suffering from lack of exercise. Feel best when chance to do some walking at Brunswick.
We steamed south hour after hour through Monday night and Tuesday A.M. About 10 A.M. Tuesday we came in sight of the Florida coast, saw close enough to make out lighthouses, hotels, and some smaller buildings, some foliage. All day long this panorama unrolled before us and faded away to the north. When about 10:00, I returned to my state room, my eyes tired with looking. A light-house flashed me good night.
Fortunately for me … I made acquaintance of a fine old man some 70 years old who had been a sugar planter in Louisiana. He came aboard at Brunswick with wife and young son and was familiar with the Florida Coast. The coast is of course low and I have no doubt was considered generally monotonous but we sat there on the starboard quarter in the sun, hour after hour, and I certainly passed a most enjoyable P.M. He pointed out among other things some plantations of the cocoa palms new on this coast….
The Palm! The Palm! The cocoa Palm!
In the [illegible] Seas by the isles of Palm!
Below is the dark blue water. Looking off to the horizon, bright blue encrusted with foam, but not noticeably different from our blue sea of the north. But, to look down from the deck where the foam from our prow swept past, the sea was just the color of your rinsing water when you have got in a dose of bluing and it is streaked with soap suds.
Several schools of Porpoises made our acquaintance and the flying fish put in appearance, those last haven’t as yet made very satisfactory exhibitions of themselves.
…If I have a chance [will], add something later. Temperature now like summer at home.
I will write a note next on the “cocoa palm” poem. That illegible word annoys me and I’m tempted to write in three nonsense syllables to complete the rhythm–but I think I have located the source–