8 Beware of Charlatans

by admin on October 14, 2011

Exhausted, near-broke, and weary from weeks of accumulated land and sea travel, their money and luck finally ran out at the Kansas/Colorado boarder.  Waiting for a train change at the tiny whistle stop railroad station in Burlington, Colorado the Binghams became victims of an unscrupulous huckster.  Preying on Westward-bound immigrants a shadowy local resident had been convincing Europeans that a special head tax awaited them upon their pass through the terminal in Salt Lake City, Utah.  However, he said if they prepaid the tax in Colorado they wouldn’t be stopped again in Utah.

Many British and European travelers were accustomed to paying an entry fee into neighboring countries throughout Europe so this seemed a plausible, but expensive, fee.  The man had an official looking cap, stamp pad, and an entry journal and gave Harold a receipt for his payment.  As their train arrived Harold realized that his four tickets and wallet were gone.  And, upon summoning the station master to report the theft, he was also told that no such tax existed anywhere in the United States.  Of course the “taxman” had long since vanished.  Crushed and heartbroken Harold, Ida, and two sons sat in the deserted railway station and pondered their plight.  Finally, Ida persuaded the station master to let her use his company telephone to place a call to Edward for help.  Unable, or unwilling, to fulfill his promise of sponsorship, uncle Edward had left the Binghams to fend for themselves.  Ida repeatedly called the number in Oakland that she had for Edward, but Edward didn’t answer any of their long distance pleas for help.

However, Edward had revealed in an earlier phone conversation that his estranged father and younger brother lived in a little Colorado town called Lake Neccudah.   Ida was never really sure if Edward was telling the truth about the man whom she had heard stories about for all those years, but there was nowhere else to turn.  With the assistance of the station master and a long distance operator Ida reached the local directory for the little town of Lake Neccudah.  “Yes, I have a listing for Samuel Dunwell” the local operator replied. “Shall I connect you?” she said.  Ida trembled at the thought. “Yes, please” she whispered.  Out of desperation Ida had the operator place the call to her grandfather, Samuel, a man she had never met…

Samuel Dunwell had been a widower for almost 30 years.  His oldest son, Edward, had gone to California years earlier seeking to make his mark in the trans-Pacific shipping business.  Trading on his father’s name Edward tried numerous times to succeed in business.  Each time he seemed to fall just a little short of what it took to make it.  Each time he grew a little more disillusioned with pursuing a goal.  The facts were that Edward had neither the savvy nor the drive that his bigger than life father had.  Edward and Samuel hadn’t spoken in years.  Thankfully, Charles was totally different.

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