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Monday, April 20, 2009

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

Posted By on Mon, Apr 20, 2009 at 12:01 AM

click to enlarge 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. - ALL PHOTOS   |   JOE ESKENAZI
  • 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.
 

click to enlarge 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."
  • 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."
click to enlarge It really throws things off when you come dressed in period garb, but can't resist texting on your iPhone.
  • It really throws things off when you come dressed in period garb, but can't resist texting on your iPhone.
click to enlarge 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...
  • 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...
click to enlarge That would be Azalia Merrell along with her boys (from left) Phineas, David, and John. But wait -- there's more.
  • That would be Azalia Merrell along with her boys (from left) Phineas, David, and John. But wait -- there's more.
click to enlarge There's this guy!
  • There's this guy!

click to enlarge 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.
  • 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.
click to enlarge 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).
  • 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).

click to enlarge April 18, 1906, 5:12 a.m.
  • April 18, 1906, 5:12 a.m.



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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Bio:
Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.

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