Earthquake Items

San Francisco News Letter/October 24, 1868

A short time after the first shock the entire population turned out to celebrate the event. The greatest good humor prevailed; there was no fighting. The procession began to move at six minutes to eight A.M. Its extent was equal to the total length of the habitable streets, but it was only two seconds in passing a given point—the door-post. The most numerous society represented were the Dash-aways, and these dashed away faster than ever before. A few stayed in the vicinity of the earthquake to see it out. From these brave souls we obtained the following particulars regarding the movement: The earth first humped up its back, then twisted half round, shook itself gently, and lay down. After this it became uneasy again, and wrinkled up. A general squirming now took place, accompanied by a spasm, a contortion or two, and a subterranean sneeze. Things began to look mixed, and t’other could scarcely be told from which. A gentle rocking began ending in a spiral twist from the southwest downwards. Then there was a revolution of the surface round twelve separate centers, accompanied by a threshing machine obligato. A few small quakes now branched off for the interior, but soon returned disgusted, and joined the main body. After a protracted top-spinning, a series of evolutions began, in which a picked corps of mountains charged round with distressing looseness, ending in a waltz across the Peninsula. Then there was a leap, then a thump, then a sprawl, and finally all creation missed stays and came down by the run. A great many people, on rushing into the street among the falling bricks, neglected to take along their umbrellas, and got damaged. One gentleman got a brick in his hat, where it has remained ever since. The hat will probably have to be amputated.

A lady on Stockton Street had her door locked, and being unable to find the key, had to crawl through an aperture so small that she was compelled to leave most of her apparel behind. A gentleman who lives opposite experienced the same difficulty in the same aperture.

An apple-woman on the corner of Montgomery and Clay was so badly injured that she is regarded as unsafe, and will probably have to be removed. The work of demolition will be begun before the rainy season sets in.

A man passing along Battery Street got entangled between two shocks, and was so badly twisted round that his left leg is now his right arm, and he is obliged to look north-west to see the sun rise.

A woman on Russian Hill was so badly frightened as to be unable to speak. A neighbor decoyed his wife to the spot, and, by a miserable subterfuge, kept her there all day waiting for a shock.

Two men were standing on top of the shot-tower at the time. One was picked up in Stockton, and the other has been heard from at the Farrallones.

A dog belonging to a friend of the Alta felt it coming and howled. When politely requested to keep still, he yelped. When counseled to silence by a boot-jack, he roared. The Alta has conceded to its friend’s dog an intelligence superior to its own.

The constant jars broke all the eggs inside the hens—worse than mislaying—and they died.

There were other things happened, but as our reporter has not been seen since he left his coat-tail on our door-latch, a complete list of casualties could not be obtained.

(Source: California State Library, Microfilm Collection)