Holman's Department Store
Low tide was 5:17 a.m. on a Thursday. If Doc left Monterey on Wednesday morning he could be there easily in time for the tide on Thursday. He would have taken someone with him for company, but quite by accident everyone was away or was busy. Mack and the boys were up Carmel Valley collecting frogs. Three young women he knew and would have enjoyed as companions had jobs and couldn't get away in the middle of the week. Henri the painter was occupied, for Holman's Department Store had employed not a flag-pole sitter, but a flag-pole skater. On a tall mast on top of the store he had a little round platform and there he was on skates going round and round. He had been there three days and three nights. He was out to set a new record for being on skates on a platform. The previous record was 127 hours, so he had some time to go. Henri had taken up his post across the street at Red Williams' petrol station. Henri was fascinated. He thought of doing a huge abstraction called Substratum Dream of a Flag-pole Skater. Henri couldn't leave town while the skater was up there. He protested that there were philosophic implications in flag-pole skating that no one had touched. Henri sat in a chair, leaned back against the lattice which concealed the door of the men's toilet at Red Williams'. He kept his eye on the eyrie skating platform and obviously he couldn't go with Doc to La Jolla. Doc had to go alone because the tide would not wait.
Chapter XVII of "Cannery Row"
Probably nothing in the way of promotion Holman's
Department Store ever did attracted so much favourable comment
as the engagement of the flag-pole skater. Day after day, there
he was up on his little round platform skating round and round,
and at night he could be seen up there too, dark against the
sky, so that everybody knew he didn't come down. It was generally
agreed, however, that a steel rod came up through the centre
of the platform at night and he strapped himself to it. But he
didn't sit down and no one minded the steel rod. People came
from Jamesburg to see him and from down the coast as far as Grimes
Point. Salinas people came over in droves and the Farmers Mercantile
of that town put in a bid for the next appearance, when the skater
could attempt to break his own record and thus give the new world's
record to Salinas. Since there weren't many flag-pole skaters
and since this one was by far the best, he had for the last year
gone about breaking his own world's record.
Chapter XIX of "Cannery Row"