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A Lady in Boomtown: Miners and Manners on the Nevada Frontier - Page 84

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of their pain- wracked faces stays with me, together with the scuffing sound of trunks and beds and wagons and skates, anything that could he made to do duty as a carrier. As the third night settled down, Hugh had not returned. Reports came of men impressed into service down in the fire region, of men collapsing with the strain and being carried off, unknown, to emergency hospitals. All that night I sat on the edge of the coping around our friend’s garden, watching. Unknown to me, my poor husband was having his own share of trouble. When Hugh walked onto the Oakland ferry, no one told him he couldn’t get back into San Francisco. The city was under martial law; the soldiers were instructed to keep every possible person out of the city area. After several days, with the help of an official of the Southern Pacific Railroad, he was able to get back into San Francisco. Hugh walked all night. In the pink- tinted darkness of the morning, we met in the center of the street and cried in each other’s arms. Hugh was completely done in; he lay on the couch in one of the rooms and slept twelve hours with all the noise and the people constantly walking through the room. One good thing that came out of this trip was that down in the burned area, engaged in relief work, Hugh met the minister who had married us. This gentleman told Hugh to stay where we were, and as soon as he could secure a proper conveyance, he would come for us and take us out of the city. Day by day food and water became more scarce. Besides this, we were all getting awfully dirty. Water was brought into the city in watering carts, and my father and Mrs. Mason’s Chinese cook went to the place in our district where it was available, but it was many blocks away and not much could be carried at a time. On one of these trips my father met a bakery wagon distributing loaves of bread. It was stale but edible, and we were glad to eat it dry. Sometime in the following week, our minister arrived with an express wagon and an old mattress rolled up. On this grandmother and I sat, while Hugh and my mother and father sat on the rear of the wagon, their feet dangling over the back. We still had with us the sewing machine, the boxes of Hugh’s clothes and mother’s bundles of “ laundry.” As we approached the burned area, the devastation that met our eyes was fantastic. North, east, and south, we saw nothing but miles and miles of smoking ruins and drifting ash. The progress of the fire had been checked only a few days earlier, but already the streets were being cleared so that some sort of regular life could be resumed. Our bundle around us, we crossed San Francisco Bay on the ferry and huddled into the local train for Alameda, where we were met by Hugh’s brother Masons. WC were taken to the Shrine



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