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Earthquake Day

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Today is April 18, the 104th anniversary of the 1906 quake. I often refer to it as Earthquake Day – it’s shorter and people here know what I mean.

It’s an interesting one this year. James Marryatt, my 2nd great-grandfather and international man of mystery, and his family were here then. I think they may have moved to Oakland prior, which makes little difference other than to escape the fury of the flames. It would have felt just as terrifying, and they would have seen SF afire from West Oakland.

My great-grandmother, Florence Marryatt Williams, was perhaps a teenager at the time of the quake. She lived past 100 – well into my lifetime. Pity my father was too self-absorbed to have brought me to see her at some point. (Adds credence to my mother’s grounds for divorce, which I discovered the other day.)

I wonder what it was like in those days, warm, sunny spring days like this anniversary, yet scary and grim and full of uncertainty. I wonder if she ever gathered with the other survivors at Lotta’s Fountain. I covered an anniversary once; it would have bee quite a different experience had I known my family would have been among their number.

The number is much smaller now. One day there will be a commemoration of another quake, one I hope my daughters will survive and will become another part of our family’s lore.

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