I’m halfway through Simon Winchester’s new book, “A Crack In The Edge of The World: America and the Great California Earthquake of 1906”.
Winchester has written an enjoyable synthesis of California history, northern California history–but having much earlier read John McPhee’s “Assembling California”, I find echoes of that great author’s work.
I’m not a geologist and I don’t pretend to understand all of what I’m reading.
Although I’m not done with Winchester’s book, I’ve become aware of one of the main points. Since 1906 most experts believed the quake’s epicenter (the point where the quake started) was in the town of Olema in northern California. That’s because there was so much visible movement of fences and roads there. The Olemans are proud to be at the epicenter–but it turns out the truth is Olema is not the epicenter. Mussel Rock in Daly City is! Well, Mussel Rock is very much within driving distance of El Granada. You can reach it by driving through Pacifica and it’s a beautiful, jagged cliffy beach (forget about the dump that’s nearby) where people hangglide.
Unlike Olema, which is really not the epicenter but the proud pretender, Daly City is the epicenter but Daly City doesn’t want anyone to know.
If you look at earthquake maps, the land west of the famous San Andreas Fault is on what is called the Pacific Plate–this is the “coast” of California where there sure isn’t a lot of land there compared to what’s on the other side, the east side of the San Andreas Fault which is located on what is called the North American Plate. And the rest of the US is sits on the North American Plate. Are you with me?
In El Granada we are living on the Pacific Plate.
That’s just part of the story. The San Andreas Fault has three parts–briefly, the northern and southern parts are locked in to the North American Plate but there is a 125 mile stretch in the center (at Parkview, California) that is not “locked in” and is always nervously fidgeting, caushing, if you think about it, immense stresses on the northern and southern parts. Pushing and pulling to free itself from the north and south. That’s the way I understand it.
Did I get it right?
L-R (last row) Candy Aggeler, Helen Fouser, Lynn Miller, Jan Gunther, Sue Sperry, Barbara Sawyer, Me, Janice Beckley
L-R (kneeling) Lynn Kalajian, Judy Howard, Lorrie Perry.
We were all members of “the Shalimars” a community service club encouraged by the YMCA, based near Stonestown Shopping Center in San Francisco. It was Lorrie Perry (later to become highly successfuly in the world of advertising) who came up with the name, Shalimars. Before I even knew who the “Beatles” were, and before they had set foot in America, Lorrie was making up promotional materials based on the campaign called “The Beatles Are Coming!”.
The Shalimars hosted dances at the YMCA (lots of “Louie Louie” every which way) charging a fee that we donated to our favorite charitiies, one of them a blind non-profit in the City. We also washed a lot of cars.
More commentary: Lyn Kalajian isn’t a doctor but could be one. Candy Aggeler is a famous artist who sells her unusual work to big stars like Elton John. Helen Fouser is an entrepreneur and very good pool player. Lynn Miller is an artist married to a restaurateur. Judy Howard has worked as a professional photographer. Barbara Sawyer is a mother and was Homecoming Queen. Jan Gunther, a teacher. Janice Beckley, a paralegal. Sue Sperry medical field, real estate.
I got to know the Coastside Comet Editor George E. Dunn’s son, also called George Dunn–and he was retired when I met him and he had been a newspaper man, too–and he insisted I have this photograph of Ox Mountain, because, he said, this is what that beautiful place looked like before it became a county wide refuse dump off Highway 92, a couple of miles east of the town of Half Moon Bay.
The influenza pandemic struck the Coastside in September 1918. The killer flu had moved from the east to the west coast but strangekly the epidemic was not the lead story in the newspapers. Was it because World War I was still raging with young American soldiers dying in the trenches in Europe?
In the U.S. army bases– crowded with recruits waiting for orders to go off to war–were hard hit by the virus. In the big East Coast cities, the manufacture of coffins lagged far behind the number of bodies needing burial, according to Alfred Crosby’s book, mentioned in earlier posts.
Like wildfire, the virus cut a wide swath of devastation behind as it headed to the West Coast. At its peak some 30 cases were reported daily in San Mateo—fortunately, the deaths from this horrific flu never matched the numbers back East.
No matter, everyone was frightened of every sneeze, of every sniffle, of every cough. In San Francisco legislation required “every person appearing on the public streets to war a mask”. While protective masks were serious business, some in the fashion world made light of it, adding masks as an accessory to the latest fall wear for women.
The Coastside Comet building later served as a U.S. post office, real estate and electric company office –and as the headquarters for local photographer R. Guy Smith–who had been the postmaster and real estate agent! What’s in all those bags?
Following San Francisco’s lead, a similar “mask” resolution was passed by a special session of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors. The penalty for being caught without a “muzzle” was a $100 fine and or ten days in jail.
Most everyone obeyed the law and wore pads of gauze tied in place with strings around the head. Mailmen and barbers and store clerks wore the mask. They were hot, scratchy and impractical.
One of Pescadero’s most controversial citizens, Loren Coburn, a grumpy landowner who was always at odds with the villagers, wore the mask but still fell ill and died at age 92. The flu also struck down Howard Frey, who at 24 apparently fit the more common profile of those who died.
More importantly, some believed the masks violated their personal liberties–and they made their voices heard.
That year Thanksgiving was a real thanksgiving as the epidemic began to pull back, with the bureaucrats who promoted mask wearing taking credit. But there were skeptics and Coastside Comet Editor George E. Dunn was one who questioned the efficadcy of the gauge masks. Dunn knew Coastsiders who had worn the mask and still succumbed to the flu.
The Coastside’s George E. Dunn knew San Francisco Board of Health Chief Dr. William Hassler– (who wore the “snort” version of the gauze mask, which observers said gave him a “pig-like” appearance–and the editor asked, “Answer this. Why is it that some folks who wore a muzzle on their mouths caught influenza and some folks who didn’t wear a muzzle didn’t catch influenza? Speak up!”
If there was an answer, it went unreported. (Dunn was later vindicated, as medical evidence indicated the mask offeredno significant protection).
By December the worst was over–and six days later this ad appeared in George Dunn’s Coastside Comet: “Two secondhand flu masks for sale, both in good order….”
Who is the handsome couple?
Do you remember “Barbara’s and Paul’s”–the popular seafood restaurant located in the old Ocean Shore Railroad station in El Granada? After Paul’s untimely death, Barbara opened the “Fishtrap” in Princeton–where Hazel had her place for so long and before that it was a Prohibiton roadhouse.
Locals talking, worriedly, about friends being rear-ended on Highway 1. “It’s happening all the time,” one woman said.
My boyfriend’s car was rear-ended two weeks ago at 8:15 a.m. near Miramar. Popped and broke the trunk lock and scared him– no wonder, his small car was struck by a monster SUV.
He called me and I ran down to make sure everything was okay. On the ground I found this small jagged piece of gray plastic. I picked it up only because I thought it was part of our car’s bumper or something–. I was holding the useless piece of plastic when the young man who hit my friend’s car (the kid must have been in “shock”) took the plastic from me, thanking me over and over as if it was worth a million dollars–by the way the house across the street sold in one week for $1.2 (see earlier post).
I have often dreamed of closing Highwy 1 between Princeton and Miramar, leaving the foot and bike paths–but we need access–something to work on. It seems like a good idea to close the automobile road between those two points.