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The Roosevelt Boys’ Club’s newsletter, Our Junior Citizens published this eyewitness account on July 28, 1906. The Mission District club house was in the 1200 block of Treat Ave. near 26th and Harrison streets, the site of Garfield Square, and currently occupied by public housing.


A Member of the Roosevelt Boys’ Club writes of His Experience
During and After the Great Earthquake.


It was between five and half-past five Wednesday morning the temblor came: backwards, forwards, sidewards it shook, making things dance on the bureau as if they were alive, while the dishes in the pantry and the China closet rattled about at a great rate. I guess no one had time to think what had happened, at least I didn’t. I just held on to [the] side of the bed to keep from falling out and ducked my head in the pillow, for I was so scared I couldn’t even yell. When the shaking had somewhat subsided I jumped up and ran into my mother’s room where my father and mother and my small sister slept. My father didn’t seem scared very much but I guess he was, all the same, and so were all of us except the baby; she just sat up in bed and didn’t even cry, but I’ll bet she thought it was kind of funny whenever we heard a rumble we all piled down into the back yard as fast as we could.

When we went upstairs again we looked in the pantry—what a scene! broken cups, saucers, plates; on the floor, in the sink and everywhere. It was the same way in the parlor where some of our vases had broken. At first we thought that a number of things had been broken but we soon found out that we had come off very lucky for the things that had broken had gone into so many pieces that it looked more than it really was. When we had cleaned up the broken crockery and bic-a-brac and eaten some sandwiches that my oldest sister had been going to take to a picnic with her that day, we all felt better and went to the window to look out.

People lined the sidewalks and everything was confusion. Looking up the street we could see where a large plate glass window had been broken in a store at the corner and when we looked away down town to see where the City Hall was you could see right through it. A fire was blazing further down town and rumors were spread around that the Cliff House had fallen into the water and that certain cities along the coast were under water.

Nobody knew what to do and everybody seemed rattled. The fire was rapidly increasing and at intervals slight earthquakes would cause small sized panics. People would rush to the middle of the street between the car tracks and stay there quite a while after the shock had passed away. We had stayed in the house and ran down stairs at every slight shock and we soon got tired of that so my mother and sister sewed some sacks together and my father and I made a tent in the back yard and began a camp there; we made a brick fireplace in the yard by digging a hole in the dirt and placing bricks around it, leaving a place for a draft and then put a piece of tin over the bricks for a stove top. My mother then went after some stuff to eat so that we wouldn’t be without something if we had to go up to the hills to get away from the fire. By the time it was gaining headway and cinders from the fire came floating down on us until there was a thin layer of them all over the yard.

The sun shone blood-red through a thick haze of smoke and people began coming in a steady steam from the district near the fire. Some carried all they had save in little carts or wagons which had before been only playthings. Hatless, coatless, mothers and fathers, with children all packing something trudged on in the direction of the hills. Night came and my father and two sisters and I slept until morning in our tent. My mother stayed up all night watching the fire with my aunt, mother and grandmother who had come over to stay with us and had brought ample provisions for two or three days. Our little brick stove now came in handy for we cooked all our food on it and if it had not been for the circumstances under which it occurred I believe we should all have enjoyed our camping out; but as it was it was anything but pleasant. There was no water and the noise of buildings being blown up continually startled us.

Photograph of earthquake victims in line for provisions in the Mission District.

We went home and for two or three days after the fire we had not much to do but get provisions, cook (now out in the street for there were no more fires allowed in back yards), sleep and eat. The people seemed to take this all in good humor and when you walk around you see the most comical names on some of the camps and on others such names as Camp Thankful, Camp Grateful, etc.

The above article was written some weeks ago, and the camps Master Lloyd speaks of have now pretty well disappeared from the streets. In the Mission district, where the Roosevelt Boys’ Club is situated there is little to be seen that is out of the ordinary away from the various relief camps in the parks.

Return to the earthquake eyewitness accounts.