Tuesday, April 18, 2006

We interrupt our normal programming for...

...The 100th Anniversary of the Great San Francisco Earthquake and Fire.

Every year on April 18, at 5:00 a.m., there is a gathering at Lotta's Fountain in downtown San Francisco, to commemorate The Big One on 1906. Since this is the 100th anniversary, I just HAD to be there! I got there at 4:00 a.m., expecting a crowd, and yes, there was A CROWD, especially by the time things got started. (Unfortunately, I'm not great at photographs in a crowd, in the cold, in the dark, and holding the camera up in the air in the hope of shooting over a wall of 6'4" photographers who just HAD to be in front of me!)

As you approach the intersection of Kearny and Market, Geary Street is lined with horse drawn fire wagons, which was sort of cool. You then turn the corner onto Market where there was a HUGE section of press corps opposite the fountain, which itself was surrounded by a platform from which various presentations will be made.

Among our speakers are, of course, Mayor Gavin Newsom (my photos of whom do him such an injustice that I will not post any here), Representative Nancy Pelosi (photo posted here, so you can get an idea of how far back I was) - uh, where was Senator and ex-mayor Feinstein?? - and a handful of (VERY OLD) survivors.

The coolest moment of the entire thing was at 5:13 a.m., when the earthquake struck. At that point a wreath is laid on the fountain and there is a moment of silence, until a bell starts ringing. And then church bells in the distance start ringing. Then fire alarms from some surrounding buildings start to go off. And finally, the fire trucks which are surrounding the area start their alarms, all building into a eerie cacophony. It really was cool and I don't know how or if it was captured by any of the news stations that were carrying it live.
Newsom lays the wreath at 5:12 a.m.

Then Mayor Newsom interviewed the (VERY OLD) survivors. The most entertaining of which was Norma Norwood, age 99. Why was she there? Norma said, "I'm an earthquake baby. I was conceived and born in a refugee tent in Golden Gate park. And taken care of by a group of prostitutes on Nob Hill." Mayor Newsom, "How are you doing now, Norma?" Norma, "I'm cold, but you're here to warm me up!" She was a hoot! There were several who seemed confused as to their age at the time, but when you're 103 or 106 years old, I guess what's a few years?

The memorial ends with everybody singing "San Francisco" which was sort of nostalgic and just on the ok side of schmaltzy.

Then I popped back home to wake up Maxxxxx! (HA!)

[KRON-4 in S.F. was to televise it. I've Tivo'ed but not watched yet.]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am so excited too, Jay! I am working like a demon to get my work done (ha!) so that I can take off for two weeks and two days -- this Thursday and Friday and the next two weeks. If I come into the office on Thursday, they will never let me get out of here on time. (I worked on Saturday and till 8:00 p.m. last night. Never say that I am not a martyr!) If I work on May 5, I will be exhausted because I plan to party the night before! Woo hoo is right! I am looking forward to seeing lots of you.

I think it is so touching that you were part of the celebration this morning. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!