1447 Harrison St.,
Oakland, April 19, 1906.

My dear Le Wat:

Things are perfectly terrible here from the earthquake. San Francisco is burning up, with no water to quench the flames, because every water pipe is broken. Your father’s business, all the business houses in the city except Folgers are either burned or destroyed by dynamite. You see they’re doing that in the hope of checking the fire, but so far it hasn’t done any good. Mr. Weed was here this noon and told us all about Uncle August’s place. The fire was all about, when suddenly a terrific windstorm, almost a hurricane came and hurled burning timbers 200 ft. into the air. They struck the roof, and one fell into the extract place - you know where that is much better than I do - kindling some boxes. That was last evening about 5:30, and since we have heard that the whole place is gutted.

The Chronicle, Call, Examiner, Palace Hotel, Emporium, City Hall, Post Office, Old Flood Building, Merchant’s Exchange, and every one of the big buildings in the city are gone. The St. Francis is supposed to be in ruins, but I’m not sure if that’s so. (Yes). The Fairmont is still standing, I think.

They say if you stand at the Ferry Building and look up Market Street, that every building on either side is down. The St. Dunstans collapsed in the earthquake, Mechanic’s Pavilion was turned into a morgue and hospital. It too, burned. Uncle Claus’ business, Dunchus’, Tillman Bendels, Brandensteins, all are gone. The filled earth near the ferry is sunken down, and the Cliff House is in the water.

Not a soul can enter the city without a military pass and ferryboats go only from the city to Oakland. People are just pouring in from S.F., churches are full of them, and there are 1000 cots at Idera park for the injured. People are going crazy; the parks over there are filled with homeless people. Mrs. Ogden’s brother is a doctor over there. He has lost everything and his family had to sleep out in a park last night. They’re at Ogden’s now.

We never had such a fright in our lives. I’ll tell you exactly how it was. At 5:14.AM, almost quarter past 5 on Wednesday April 18th we were all awakened by the most violent shaking from North to South. It was just as tho’ you were in a small boat on a stormy sea, only it was much jerkier. I’ll tell you what is more like it: a teacher shaking a boy back and forth by the collar. It was violent right along, and instead of getting less, it got more. Then came a most awful succession of crashes and I huddled up in bed expecting the whole house to collapse within a second. Next thing I knew, mama came rushing in a begged us to get under the bed. She thought it would be the only thing that would save us. Instead we rushed down stairs, and by that time the shock was past. It lasted 28 seconds. You ought to see mama’s room. It is a. perfect sight. Mackay’s chimney came crashing on to our roof, went through into the attic and was only prevented from falling onto her bed by the cross beams up there. Instead it knocked all the plaster and wood down and now you can see the sky through. Our poor dining room is a sight too. The plaster is cracked so badly that big pieces are falling out and the whole thing, all but the ceiling, has to be done over. Lots of our vases, pictures and knickknacks are smashed too. Imagine, Walter, everyone of your lovely marble statues except the one of Apollo, (I think its Apollo) in the dining room, is broken. The one that stood in the front parlor, of the mother and child is wedged into the floor so tight that I guess it will take two men to move it. Lots of tiles in your kitchen have fallen out too.

I don’t believe there are more than six chimneys in the whole town that haven’t been blown down. The High School has the upper story more or less caved in; the Physics room is crushed in by a heavy chimney. Mr. York went up there to look at it and he told Andrew that all but two of the seats and Mr. Coleman’s desk were smashed so that you wouldn’t know what they were. Just imagine if we’d been there. The Central Bank is partly ruined, but the Union Savings Bank isn’t much hurt. It’s sort of crooked, out of plush. Heegeman’s is bad; Smith’s is ruined. Don’t they always have the worst luck? Six people were killed here; most of them in the lodging place above the Empire Theatre. The shock made the building collapse and they were crushed. One man died of heart failure.

There are cracks in the ground near Kale’s boat house that are a foot wide, without exaggeration.——Some of this may seem exaggerated to you, but it isn’t. People that have seen San Francisco say that nothing you can say can impress the horror and ghastliness of it all upon the mind.

Of course they have martial law both here and in S.F. Mr. Weed says the drunk people over there are awful; the police and soldiers have to take them from them from the streets to keep them from being burned. And the robbers! -They shoot everyone that they see breaking into the places. All the Theatres and churches in S.F. are gone too.

The fire is nearing the Western addition; there seems to be nothing that will stop it, and everybody thinks that it will burn until every single building is gone. People are buying bread, flour and canned stuff by the loads because they’re afraid that food will give out. Last night we were so afraid of another earthquake (There had been about five smaller ones during the day) that we all took our mattresses and slept in the parlor and dining-room. About 10 o’clock Mr. McPike came to tell us about what he had seen in the city. He said he stood and looked down Kearney Street and Montgomery too, and they were both a mass of flames as far as the eye could reach. It’s been insufferably hot here to-day, probably partly from the awful fire. Last night half the sky was ablaze. All the water pipes were broken, but at last they’ve been fixed. Electricity is of f too, and the police won’t allow any one to use the stoves until the chimneys are up again.

April 20th

Dear Walter:

I had to stop last night. Rudy came for dinner. He spend the night before at Volkmann’s. They left their house, after having buried the silver, and are at the country club now.

Edwards have taken 27 strangers into their house—Cuttings have lots of them too-all from the city. You know there are about 400,000