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Autobiographical Reminiscences of David Johnston
Chapter XXIX

From John O'Groat's to Land's End search
I have not one rod, pole or perch,
To pay my rent or tithes in church,
That I can call my own.

OAKLAND is a delightful city, well laid out, in the county of Alameda, on the east bank of the bay, which at this point is inconveniently shallow. To meet this difficulty the Central Pacific Railroad Company was, in order to answer the demands of an immense traffic to and from the great city, put to an enormous expense, by running a solid way with a double track of steel rails out one and a half miles to deep water, the terminus sufficiently widened whereon to build an extensive depot, which is, for comfort and convenience to the traveling public, surpassed by none. In addition to the above grand facilities the same corporation, for the privilege of running their trains through one of the streets of Oakland, agreed for a term of years to run a train to and fro every half hour, with nine convenient stoppages, without any charge, much to the infinite delight of Young America, who, to the annoyance of passengers and regardless of danger, play at hide-and-seek on the train. The drives around Oakland are remarkably beautiful, and the kindness we received at the hands of our neighbors can never be forgotten. By means of their carnages we visited every spot of interest within reach, and at great expense a neighbor of Clara's treated us to a journey to an entertainment at the Hotel Del Monte, at Monterey, which trip, together with the privilege of enjoying the rich country leading thereto, is held in grateful remembrance; al.;o the pleasant ride among the foot-hills of Berkeley, under favor of the same family. Within a radius of ten miles this may be safely pronounced one of the most wonderful and beautiful spots on the continent of America. This eastern shore of the bay is teeming with population: Berkeley, Brighton, Oakland, Alameda, might be said to be one town, and away beyond, ascending the foot-hills where my daughter Clara dwells. Still further out among these beautiful hills, are the chalybeate springs of Piedmont, a favorite place of public resort, where there is a well-patronized hotel, reachable for ten cents from the center of Oakland by street cars. The springs trickle from the rocks at the bottom of a very deep, romantic dell, and are evidently much impregnated with metallic substances, and are said to be eminently medicinal,—in short, a perfect panacea for certain diseases. From the neighboring heights are attainable rich views of the surrounding scenery, including the bay and its islands, and Lake Merritt. Here, also, is Mountain View Cemetery, ramifying among the beautiful foot-hills, teeming with roses of such varied tints and perfection as I never beheld in the east, all sheltered under the bolder mountains in the distance whose somber majesty makes the scene so bewitchingly complete.

To the north and west of this spot, on rising ground, is the bathing ground of Alameda, where we spent a week. This is a place of great resort during the bathing season, and a number of merchants across the bay-make a permanent residence here, who show great taste in their splendid gardens. As a public drive the contemplated boulevard around Lake Merritt will be the finest on the continent.

The University of California is situated among the foot-hills of Berkeley, a few miles to the north of Oakland. The buildings are plain and substantial, and the grounds arc extensive and well laid out, and adorned by a mountain stream running through a romantic glen, whose banks are ornamented with rich foliage and the finest and most grotesque-shaped oaks I ever beheld. From the buildings and the elevated grounds behind you obtain the most advantageous view of the celebrated Golden Gate, the bay, with its islands and its thriving towns in every nook, teeming with a healthy population.

Within a few miles of this delightful spot is Shell Mound Park, one of those enchanting places of public resort which appear in California to be much in requisition, and of which, I must say, the supply is more than equal to the demand. Picnicing is here reduced to a science. Churches, Sabbath and secular schools, societies open and secret, professions, trades, nationalities, pioneers antique and modern, all have their clubs, and all relax their labors by the periodical picnic.

The Scotch, famed for their cordial affiliation with the inhabitants of the country of their adoption, are here emphatically at home.

In Oakland we hired the house of Mr. Smith, on Sycamore street, which was furnished, intending to remain till we departed for the east. This is a lovely spot, centering within convenient reach of the finest drives through splendid scenery such as I have never before beheld, with an endless variety of roses and geraniums and all the hardier flowering plants in full bloom, perfuming the air with their rich effulgent beauty now, while I dot it down, this Christmas morn of 1884. Would that my pen were graphic enough to do justice to the blessings by which we are here surrounded, but, like all mundane things, they are evanescent, and the hour is silently but surely approaching when the dreaded word "farewell" must be pronounced. We flatter ourselves that the parting pain is shared by dear Clara, by her family, and by her numerous Oakland friends, who have proved so kind to us.

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