Saturday, June 18, 2016

One More Story

I've written quite a few posts about my grandfather so I think this will be the last one, at least for a while.

He often told us about experiencing the San Francisco 1906 earthquake and fire.

Since their homes were destroyed, people camped out in parks.

My grandfather and his daughter stayed in the Jewish Cemetery (now Dolores Park) and had only a carpet hung on the fence as shelter.  My very pregnant grandmother was graciously invited to stay with a woman in a nearby house that hadn't burned.

Then my grandfather discovered that his parents' home a few blocks away at Market and Dolores streets had been spared, so the family went to stay with them.

My great-grandfather was a butcher at the slaughter house on Potrero Hill. He walked up to his place of work and pushed a wheelbarrow loaded with a side of beef all the way down to the cemetery, where he cut it up and gave meat to the hungry people still camping there.

The water mains were broken, so the only way people in the area could get water was to walk to the hill above Market Street where the US Treasury was, and fill whatever containers they had from the spring. The line was usually a mile long.

A few days after the quake (I guess the fire was no longer a danger) my grandfather decided to walk down to the Wells Fargo building and see what had happened to the place where he worked. In every block someone in the militia stopped him at gunpoint and forced him to spend an hour picking up bricks and other debris. It took him eighteen hours to walk down and back and he was never that tired at any other time in his life.

I was born in New Jersey, and came to California when I was four years old. When I got married and we moved to a victorian flat in the mission district my aunt told me, "You're just like a salmon coming home to spawn."

A few years ago I discovered I had moved to the SAME BLOCK where my grandparents had lived at the time of the earthquake! The fire that destroyed my grandparents' home had stopped on the other side of the street. (I didn't actually "spawn" while we lived there, but we did get our first two foster kids.)


BarbaraB said...

Janet Ann, This is a great family story. You're fortunate that you have this treasure trove of family lore. I hope you won't quit writing about your grandfather--just keep sprinkling the stories about him among your posts.

Janet Ann Collins said...

Thanks, Barbara.