image from pugetsoundferries.com
Those Silver Bones
“I don’t know what it is, but there is just something
extraordinary about the Kalakala.”--Steve Russell.
There once was an Art Deco ferry boat called the
Kalakala. It was launched in 1935 as a ray of hope
during the Depression. It was like a Buck Rogers
space ship churning her way through Puget Sound,
like a Flash Gordon mini-ocean liner, turning heads
for 25 years, like a king-sized turkey roaster with a
double row of perfect round portholes marching along
each side, one on the car deck, and one for the
passengers above. A huge flying bridge protruded
out over the bow, capturing a hammerhead profile,
with two tall bow doors opening to a slender bow,
pointed like a sea bird’s beak, like a great shiny sea-
going Indian war canoe--a majestic proud polished
She was decommissioned in 1960. A Californian
bought it to make a restaurant and casino out of
it. It sailed down the coast on its own steam. That
dream failed, and it was bought, and towed to Kodiak
Island in Alaska where it became a rusty scrap heap.
A guy in Seattle bought it, and docked it on the
south end of Lake Union, where it continued to
deteriorate. In 2012 it was sold for one dollar to
a fellow in Tacoma who towed it to a dock in the
Waterway. After a year, it begin to list starboard,
sadly sinking. She became a hazard to other ships,
so they pumped her bilges and righted her.That’s
when I met her.
She was at an industrial dock, not open to the
public. I got permission to photograph it. She was
docked near an empty office trailer. There was a
weather-beaten sign that read--See the Kalakala;
soon to be restored. The sign was rotting, and was
smeared with sea gull crap.
There she was, the Silver Lady. She was aware of
me as she preened and posed. Her bow doors were
sprung open, an invite for gulls and crows. There were
two huge truck tires hanging starboard to protect her
from the dock. Her beautiful Native American name
was covered up with plywood, her stainless steel
railings were twisted and bent up along her upper deck,
the flying bridge was pummeled with broken porthole
glass, her car deck was greasy and splintered, her
stylish benches and tables were lop-sided, she was
pock-marked everywhere with rust holes and
barnacle blemishes, straining like an old athlete rising
up on shaky timbers one more time, but too arthritic to
take a bow during her final applause.
I captured images until I began to lose the light,
then just stood there for a while watching her patina
edges soften. I felt like I had experienced an
audience with exiled royalty.
In ’58 I
saw her shining glorious
in Elliott Bay.
Posted over at d'Verse Poet's Pub MTB