A Lady in Boomtown: Miners and Manners on the Nevada Frontier - Page 81
the one I had worn to Tom Lynch’s wedding. It was utterly inappropriate, but it was the handsomest, so I thought it ought to he saved. By the time we were ready for the street, my mother had arrived. My sister felt she could leave us and attend to her own troubled situation, intending to meet us at our home later in the day. As she departed, she promised to take care of my baby clothes and bring them to mother’s that afternoon. I was glad to have them safe with her and not mussed or soiled. I was so proud of them; every stitch had been put in by hand, involving months of sewing with the daintiest of embroideries and the finest of lawn. As I packed my handbag, by good luck I picked up all my toilet articles including my toothbrush, which was more than my poor husband did, much to his discomfort in the following weeks. His beautiful clothes were still stacked in the corner ready to be carried away, so we couldn’t leave those. And we had another inconceivable burden – a sewing machine! As I was planning a new outfit after my baby’s arrival, I had brought my little Wilcox and Gibbs with its hand attachment, intending later on to “ have in” the sewing woman with patterns and style books. The machine was heavy, but my mother insisted we could carry it. The sewing machine must go! So, with two suitcases, Hugh’s two stacked suit boxes, and a sewing machine, we stepped out of the Palace Hotel onto Market Street. Massive confusion met our eyes. We walked slowly up the streets, past the White House department store, where thousands of dollars worth of real lace fluttered softly in the morning breeze through shattered show windows. We climbed the hill to the Colonial Hotel, where my grandmother lived, and there I stayed until late in the afternoon, while Hugh and Mother, laden with our luggage, continued up the Powell Street hill to our home. At the time we separated in the morning, none of us had any idea of the magnitude of the disaster that had overtaken San Francisco. We knew the earthquake had been more severe than any we had ever had before; but we didn’t realize that the water mains had been severed, and that our fire chief had been killed in his bed by falling brick. We knew only later, when information spread from one frightened citizen to another. What was ahead of us? Through the rest of the day my grandmother and I sat at the window, watching the horse- drawn trucks from business houses carrying goods to the outskirts of the city for safekeeping. Large trucks from Shreve’s and Gump’s department stores raced up and down, loaded with massive silver trays, candelabra, pictures, and objects of art, every priceless object unwrapped and exposed to the soft rain of cinders. Two men with shotguns rode on each truck.
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