From San Francisco To Japan - The Electrical Wonders
( Originally Published 1915 )
That evening they had the first opportunity to see the wonders of the great exposition at close range. It may be interesting to learn something of the new advances made in the electrical effects, because in this respect this display will long be regarded as a great feat in illumination.
Hitherto all electrical displays depended on making an area brilliant and striking by the direct rays of the lamps themselves. But this was not the case in the magnificent illuminations of the Panama Exposition.
The most striking of all the buildings, called the Tower of Jewels, was a structure 435 feet high, which, of course, dominated the grounds by day, as well as by night.
It has a broad base and rises by terraces, finely modeled in all its parts, and delicately outlined, decorated on all sides by statuary and bespangled with jewels. These jewels are made of cut glass, the material of which was obtained in Bohemia.
The colors ranged from the deepest red to the palest violet, thus taking in all the colors of the spectrum, as well as the intermediate shades. They are called novoyems, and these were massed in such a way as to form medallions, shields, and other configurations.
Over 100,000 of these were used for the purpose of decoration and lighting effect. But the remarkable thing of the entire illuminating scheme was its entire absence from glare, such as may be noticed on the "Great White Way," in New York, and other areas where so many electric bulbs are massed together.
The boys were walking along the main thoroughfare, called Palm Avenue, and admiring the brilliant scene ahead, when they were accosted by a voice: "I have caught you at last, boys."
Turning they were delighted to meet Mr. Red-field, the Government official who had been of so much service to them in Salt Lake City. They were naturally overjoyed at the meeting.
"I am sure you must have had a jolly time," he said. "Come, tell me all about it."
They did; and he often stopped them to inquire specially about interesting things which, in their eagerness, they forgot to mention.
"I should have told you before, that 'the two men you captured at Reno were the heads of the big gang that the Government spent many thou-sands of dollars to run down. I am of the opinion you will hear something to your advantage when you get back to New York."
"Thank you for the information," replied Win-field.
"But how are you getting along? What are you doing?" was Mr. Redfield's next question.
The boys then told him of their latest adventures, and of their present employment.
"Well, I must say you have had some varied experiences. Let me see. You started as agents for the recovery of lost children; then became col-lectors and errand boys; helped to pilot a coal fleet down the Ohio; took up the job of farming in Kansas; engaged as detectives in running down criminals ; acted as policemen to effect the arrest of a maniac; served as public lecturers to educate the public about the wonders of zoology, and one of you is now serving as a zandac in a camel caravan. Well, that covers a pretty wide range."
The boys laughed as Mr. Redfield thus eloquently painted their accomplishments, and Stan-wood's comment told just how they felt about it, as he said: "For my part it never seemed so wonderful as all that. It looks as tbough we had done a lot of things, but it sounds bigger than it really is."
"Yes, there is a great deal of truth in that," responded Mr. Redfield. "Everything seems to come naturally to the participant; it is only startling when the story is told to some one else."
"But all these things have been very pleasant to us, and all of the experiences have taught us things that we would not have missed for any-thing," said Winfield.
"I am glad you feel that way about it; but I see you have been admiring the illumination. I am surprised at that, because I thought New Yorkers knew and had seen everything in the way of electrical signs."
"We were just talking about the way in which the electric lights shine; they don't seem to be bright, at all, and the light seems to be soft and not at all staring," said Stanwood.
"That is a good observation. It is really one of the features of this display. It is produced by what is called the indirect system of lighting."
"What is that? and how is it done'?"
What we see is reflected light only. The same principle is used as in the shaded lamp, which cuts off the direct rays, and enables us to see by the secondary rays."
"I understand now. Is that the way the lights are arranged on the Tower ahead of us?"
" Yes and that scheme has been improved upon, as you may be able to see in the great Horticultural Hall. It will pay us to go over and take a look at it."
Together they passed the Palace of Fine Arts, and entered the Hall. "You will notice," continued Mr. Redfield, "that they have here what is called a color-melting effect. This is brought about by a dozen electric projectors, or search lights, and numerous revolving screens, on which the light is thrown."
"But what makes the colors change in that way?"
"To explain that you will have to notice that when, for instance, one of the screens, with the blue, comes up close to the next screen, which, we will say, is yellow, they gradually move closer and closer until they blend, and then, gradually, a green appears, and so on, the tints gradually changing to pure colors.
"It must take a wonderful amount of power to run all the lights."
"In the Horticultural Hall alone over 25,000,000 candle power is required."
Is this dome made of glass?"
"Yes wholly so; it is 186 feet in height, and 154 feet in diameter at the base."
As they walked out of the building, Mr. Red-field said: "I understand that either tonight or tomorrow night they will give a display of the Aurora Borealis, if there is sufficient fog to war-rant it."
"What has the fog to do with it?"
"Why, that is the background on which to display the colors."
"I want to see that," remarked Winfield. "Yes; we will have a fog tonight, and I hope the display will be on."
Before Mr. Redfield had opportunity to proceed further, a peculiar light appeared to the left, near the Golden Gate. It was a brilliant red, which seemed to spread to the east, and was then followed by an orange, and then a yellow, and in quick succession, with green, blue and violet.
"There, we have had all the colors of the sun, or of the spectrum, as it is called. The Aurora Borealis, to which I referred a few moments ago, is the Northern Lights, which you may have seen, and the object is to imitate them."
"Do you know how it is done?"
"Well, in a general way, they have what is called a scintillator, that is, a form of searchlight projector, on a modified order of the apparatus we saw in the Horticultural Hall, and it is so arranged that it can regulate its beams, and produce the color effects, and cast them all along the bay from the Golden Gate to Sausalito, a distance of ten miles, at least."
"But there are several things that should interest you in your future travels, and as it is close at hand, we might go over."
"What is it?" exclaimed the boys in concert. "The Japanese exhibit."
"That's so; I have thought of that," said Stan-wood eagerly.
"It must be said to the credit of Japan that she has produced an exhibit which is the most instructive of all the displays in the Exposition, be-cause for about nine months the Imperial government has had experts at work everywhere in that country to gather the representative things in education, art, mines, metallurgy, agriculture, horticulture and food products."
"I was told that they had a regular village on the grounds," said Winfield.
"Yes; and that is what will be of the most practical value to you, because when yon have seen that you will witness just what you will meet when you reach Japan."
"This is a splendid opportunity," said Stan-wood, "and I wouldn't miss it for the world."
"We might go direct to the village; I visited it yesterday," said Mr. Redfield. "Do you see that huge image?"
"That is the reproduction of the famous Buddha of Kamakura, and guards the entrance gate."
Within the enclosure was a typical Japanese village, which not only contained the homes of the Japanese, but also a theatre, wrestling arena, restaurants, small shops, and stores of all kinds, shows and tea houses, all in operation, and in exact conformity with the customs and habits of the real village in native Japan.
They marched along from one feature of interest to the next, and plied their questions with great eagerness. The people were courteous and tried to make everything clear to the visitors.
"Over here is something out of the ordinary," said Mr. Redfield.
"What is that?" said Winfield.
"A theatre in which the actors are trained monkeys."
The boys laughed. "That must be comical," said Stanwood. "We ought to see that."
"It is well worth seeing, I assure you, for while it is not at all uncommon to have theatres of that kind in Japan, this is the only time, I believe,
where such an exhibition has ever been given else-where."
It was indeed remarkable to see the wonderful performance, not only of the ordinary acts, but some that were very complicated, and must have required considerable intelligence on the part of the little animals.
"We might partake of some refreshments," said Mr. Redfield. "That is really the better way to get acquainted with their customs."
Within the Japanese Garden were the reception hall, a special exhibition hall, an office building, and two tea houses, all built with unpainted natural wood. The color scheme was most remarkable.
Next they took in the tea room where a dozen or more young Japanese girls officiated. There were two of these rooms, one where the green tea was served, and in the other the Formosa product, and there was also a specially constructed room where the "ceremonial tea" was served.
"We might as well learn something about their ceremony in serving the tea," said Mr. Redfield. "What is that?"
"In Japan there is a special art and it is a time-honored ceremony, to serve tea. It is conducted with the utmost formality, and is a most difficult thing to follow in all respects, as all its movements must be carried out with great exactness."
"What funny little cups," said Winfield. "Yes, and they must be of certain shapes, and the decorations indicate the quality of the ceremony."
" Well, how did such a custom ever get a start, I would like to know," remarked Stanwood.
It was formerly one of the amusements of the nobles and the Samurai classes of people for centuries. It is claimed that the prime object is to provide a means for quieting the nerves. Note how slowly and sedately they go about the work; how every movement is calculated, and the extreme quietness with which they do one thing after the other."
After an hour of this experience they passed along the mechanical exhibits, and emerged through a side street which led to Palm Avenue. The first thing there to divert their attention was a genuine, up-to-date American lunch counter, where, to judge from the movement of the dishes, the employees were engaged in the occupation of trying to throw them record distances with the utmost rapidity.
'The boys stopped, and listened, and Mr. Red-field remarked: "Well, this is as good a contrast as I have ever seen. Imagine that restaurant in Japan."
"See here, Winfield, I have an idea. Why not set up an American counter in Japan and give an American ceremonial lunch there?" remarked Stanwood; and they laughed at the originality of the scheme.
As they were passing out of the enclosure, Mr. Redfield said: "I must have your addresses, but I suppose you can now be found every day at the Menagerie, or at the Oriental quarters."
"But you must tell us where you are staying," said Winfield.
"You will find my address on this card," he said, handing each of the boys one of them. "You must let me hear from you before you leave."