First Experiences of the San Francisco Earthquake

The following material is taken from Howard Pease’s Writing In Depth.  It contains biographical material obtained nowhere else.  In this section, Howard recalls his childhood experience of the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906.  The unique characteristic of this excerpt is that Howard is describing how he crafted this event into his book Mystery At Thunderbolt House.

Flash! On the instant I had a complete book laid out before me like an architect’s design. Our inheritance in Chapter One. My own family as a boy moving to San Francisco with a new way of life leading to bickering, arguments, mishaps, frustration, clashes, all ending the good family life we had once known and only now appreciated. Then the final section with the earthquake at 5:13 on the morning of April 18th, as I remembered it, wakening in Stockton, eighty miles from the center of the quake, with my room trembling all round me. And I could see myself jumping out of bed in my long cotton-flannel nightgown and rushing into the hall and seeing my parents in the same kind of nightgowns standing at the open front door. And while the terrifying tremor went on I could see past them to the two big elms at our curb swaying and shivering as in a wind. And I could still hear my mother’s firm voice repeating the ninety-first psalm: Thou shalt not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flieth by day.

I will continue this selection in another posting to bring in the stories of his family members in San Francisco in these fateful days.

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