Homeless, Edwardians, Very Old People Mix at '06 Quake Commemoration

All Photos | Joe Eskenazi
Quake survivors William Del Monte, 103, and Rose Cliver, 106. No, they don't let you wear a hat like that until you turn 100.

As a convoy of archaic fire trucks led by an ethereally beautiful convertible Jaguar -- of the vintage that Isadora Duncan may or may not have died within it -- turned from McAllister onto Market, the old emergency vehicle's sirens began to wail. It was not quite 5 a.m., and the homeless men snoring on crushed cardboard boxes blearily shook their heads and grumbled.

Those sleeping in the streets exactly 103 years earlier also had an unwelcome pre-dawn wake-up call when the city tumbled down upon their heads before proceeding to burn to the ground.

Every April 18, a commemoration of the great quake of 1906 is held at Lotta's Fountain at 5:12 a.m. -- the fatal hour. Naturally, the 2006 celebration drew throngs of the historically minded out at this ungodly hour to witness centenarian quake survivors flirting with Mayor Gavin Newsom. Newsom wasn't there this year -- a shame, as it'd be intriguing to see what his hair looks like at that time of day, and speculate what time he had to arise to get it that way -- and the survivor count is down to just a pair. The crowd was smaller too, and was populated by the folks who usually show up to events such as these: City employees, history buffs, people who enjoy dressing in costume, and homeless people who happened to be on-scene.

Since you folks probably didn't feel like getting up at the crack of dawn (we know; we didn't see you there), enjoy a few photos of this year's commemoration. Maybe we'll see you there next year -- if you go, perhaps we'll let you take the photos.

For the day, water flowed through Lotta's Fountain. When asked if it was potable, a nearby police woman answered curtly, "I wouldn't drink that if I were you."
It really throws things off when you come dressed in period garb, but can't resist texting on your iPhone.
Along with Master of Ceremonies State Senator Mark Leno (who really seemed like he was enjoying himself) other city officials in attendance included Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White and (pictured) Police Chief Heather Fong and her perpetually ill-fitting cap. And, speaking of hats...
That would be Azalia Merrell along with her boys (from left) Phineas, David, and John. But wait -- there's more.
There's this guy!

And him! And, since in 2009 we have a black president, why not a black Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico? He could be Emperor Norton IV.
With sunrise still a ways off, the convoy rolled off for another year -- leaving the town in the keeping of its usual pre-dawn denizens (who seemed eager to get back to bed).

April 18, 1906, 5:12 a.m.

My Voice Nation Help

Now Trending

From the Vault


©2014 SF Weekly, LP, All rights reserved.