Monday, April 28, 2014


Debbie Cornue has been a wonderful friend of mine for many years. She was a special friend to Dennis, who considered her his older sister. The photo was taken in Venice during our last trip together in February 2006. We were in a cafe directly in front of the great Franciscan church, the Frari, where Dennis still resides.

Debbie bought a home in Yakima, Washington State three years ago. But we keep in touch. We went to Italy together two year ago last autumn with my sister Julie and Brother-in-law Tom Martin.

Best wishes to my good friend Deb on HER day and always!

Robert F. Rich ~ June 23,1883 ~April 28,1968

My maternal grandfather, Robert F. Rich, died the end of April 1968. I found out after a Saturday singing group jamboree at Mount Holyoke, Mother’s Alma Mater. I was with the Yale Spizzwinks(?). I remember seeing David Eisenhower with Julie Nixon before they married and before her father got the nomination. David sang with a group from Amherst. I had been working on a term paper for my NROTC Naval History class about the naval arms race between Germany and England before the Great War. Because I went to Woolrich for Baba’s funeral, I was able to get an extension on the paper. I was relieved—about the paper! Strange that I should remember that. Baba had the lead obituary in the New York Times on the page opposite the editorials. Today's obits don’t have so prominent a position. Admittedly, grandfather was featured partly because they thought him a crank. He had opposed every appropriations bill, denied a pension to Mrs. Roosevelt (he felt she didn’t need it, and was probably right) and proposed reducing funding for TVA from so many millions, to two cents. At least he had a sense of humor. (I hate to think that he might have been a supporter of the Tea Party today!)

Baba was a formidable man. He must have been a tyrant of a Father. Mother was in awe of him. One way he influenced her was his absolute stand on alcohol. He had promised his dying Mother that he would never touch a drop in his life. (And until just before the end, he hadn’t. Because of his heart condition, his doctor prescribed medicinal wine, though I’m not sure he knew what it was.) Mother had convinced me, though. I remember explaining her position to classmates my freshman year at Yale. Maybe drinking wouldn’t be a problem for me. Perhaps I would be able to hold my liquor, but the very fact that I might drink could lead to the irresponsible drinking by someone else – and in the greater web of civic obligations, I would be accountable for that other person’s irresponsible behavior – or some convoluted reasoning like that. As it was, my first drink was communion at Yale. I didn’t think that counted, so I was still determined to win grandfather’s platinum and diamond pocket watch. Then I joined the Spizzwinks. The rest you know. I became fond of Bourbon. Now I like only single malt Scotch— and, of course, good wine.

But I remember the spring of my Upper-Middler year at Mercersburg, when Mother and Dad came to pick me up in Dad’s new Ford and we drove to Washington to witness Uncle Elmer sworn in as Comptroller General of the United States by President Johnson in the East Room of the White House. Afterwards there was a reception at the Staats’ house in Spring Valley and we toasted Uncle Elmer with a bottle of champagne. Mother and I were the only ones who refused. Even grandfather took a sip.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Sulieman the Magnificent ~ April 27, 1494 ~ September 7, 1566

Painting attributed to Titian circa 1530 courtesy

Suleiman I, His Imperial Majesty Grand Sultan, Commander of the Faithful and Successor of the Prophet of the Lord of the Universe (Ottoman Turkish:سليمان Süleymān, Modern Turkish: Süleyman; almost always Kanuni Sultan Süleyman; 6 November 1494 – 5/6/7 September 1566) was the tenth and longest-reigning Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, from 1520 to his death in 1566. He is known in the West as Suleiman the Magnificent and in the East, as the Lawmaker (in Turkish Kanuni; Arabic: القانونى‎, al‐Qānūnī), for his complete reconstruction of the Ottoman legal system. Suleiman became a prominent monarch of 16th century Europe, presiding over the apex of the Ottoman Empire's military, political and economic power. Suleiman personally led Ottoman armies to conquer the Christian strongholds of Belgrade, Rhodes, and most of Hungary before his conquests were checked at the Siege of Vienna in 1529. He annexed most of theMiddle East in his conflict with the Persians and large swathes of North Africa as far west as Algeria. Under his rule, the Ottoman fleet dominated the seas from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf.
At the helm of an expanding empire, Suleiman personally instituted legislative changes relating to society, education, taxation, and criminal law. His canonical law (or the Kanuns) fixed the form of the empire for centuries after his death. Not only was Suleiman a distinguished poet and goldsmit in his own right; he also became a great patron of culture, overseeing the golden age of the Ottoman Empire's artistic, literary and architectural development. He spoke four languages:Persian, Arabic, Serbian and Chagatay (the oldest version of Turkish language and related to Uighur).
In a break with Ottoman tradition, Suleiman married a harem girl, Roxelana, who became Hürrem Sultan; her intrigues as queen in the court and power over the Sultan made her quite renowned. Their son, Selim II, succeeded Suleiman following his death in 1566 after 46 years of rule.

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Saturday, April 26, 2014

Friday, April 25, 2014


The Gallipoli campaign took place at Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey from 25 April 1915 to 9 January 1916, during the First World War. A joint British and French operation was mounted to capture the Ottoman capital of Constantinople, and secure a sea route to Russia. The attempt failed, with heavy casualties on both sides.

In Turkey, the campaign is known as the Çanakkale Savaşları (Çanakkale Wars), after the province of Çanakkale. In the United Kingdom, it is called the Dardanelles Campaign or Gallipoli. In France it is called Les Dardanelles. In Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, and Newfoundland, it is known as the Gallipoli Campaign or simply as Gallipoli. It is also known as the Battle of Gallipoli.

The Gallipoli campaign resonated profoundly among all nations involved. In Turkey, the battle is perceived as a defining moment in the history of the Turkish people—a final surge in the defence of the motherland as the centuries-old Ottoman Empire was crumbling. The struggle laid the grounds for the Turkish War of Independence and the foundation of the Turkish Republic eight years later under Atatürk, himself a commander at Gallipoli.

The campaign was the first major battle undertaken by the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC), and is often considered to mark the birth of national consciousness in both of these countries. As Anzac Day, the 25th April remains the most significant commemoration of military casualties and veterans in Australia and New Zealand, surpassing Armistice Day/Remembrance Day.
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Thursday, April 24, 2014

EASTER RISING ~ April 24 ~ April 30, 1916

The Easter Rising (Irish: Éirí Amach na Cásca), was an insurrection staged in Ireland during Easter Week, 1916. The Rising was mounted by Irish republicans with the aims of ending British rule in Ireland and establishing the Irish Republic. It was the most significant uprising in Ireland since the rebellion of 1798.

Organised by the Military Council of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, the Rising lasted from Easter Monday 24 April to 30 April 1916. Members of the Irish Volunteers, led by schoolteacher and barrister Patrick Pearse, joined by the smaller Irish Citizen Army of James Connolly, along with 200 members of Cumann na mBan, seized key locations in Dublin and proclaimed the Irish Republic independent of Britain. There were some actions in other parts of Ireland but, except for the attack on the RIC barracks at Ashbourne, County Meat, they were minor.

The Rising was suppressed after seven days of fighting, and its leaders were court-martialled and executed, but it succeeded in bringing physical force republicanism back to the forefront of Irish politics. In the 1918 General Election, the last all-island election held in Ireland, to the British Parliament, Republicans won 73 seats out of 105, on a policy of abstentionism from Westminster and Irish independence. This came less than two years after the Rising. In January 1919, the elected members of Sinn Féin who were not still in prison at the time, including survivors of the Rising, convened the First Dáil and established the Irish Republic. The British Government refused to accept the legitimacy of the newly declared nation, precipitating the Irish War of Independence.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE ~ April 23, 1564 ~ April 23, 1616

William Shakespeare (baptised 26 April 1564; died 23 April 1616) was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon". His surviving works, including some collaborations, consist of 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and several other poems. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright.

Shakespeare was born and raised in Stratford-upon-Avon. At the age of 18, he married Anne Hathaway, who bore him three children: Susanna, and twins Hamnet and Judith. Between 1585 and 1592, he began a successful career in London as an actor, writer, and part owner of a playing company called the Lord Chamberlain's Men, later known as the King's Men. He appears to have retired to Stratford around 1613, where he died three years later. Few records of Shakespeare's private life survive, and there has been considerable speculation about such matters as his physical appearance, sexuality, religious beliefs, and whether the works attributed to him were written by others.

Shakespeare produced most of his known work between 1589 and 1613. His early plays were mainly comedies and histories, genres he raised to the peak of sophistication and artistry by the end of the sixteenth century. He then wrote mainly tragedies until about 1608, including Hamlet, King Lear, and Macbeth, considered some of the finest works in the English language. In his last phase, he wrote tragicomedies, also known as romances, and collaborated with other playwrights.

Many of his plays were published in editions of varying quality and accuracy during his lifetime. In 1623, two of his former theatrical colleagues published the First Folio, a collected edition of his dramatic works that included all but two of the plays now recognised as Shakespeare's.

Shakespeare was a respected poet and playwright in his own day, but his reputation did not rise to its present heights until the nineteenth century. The Romantics, in particular, acclaimed Shakespeare's genius, and the Victorians worshipped Shakespeare with a reverence that George Bernard Shaw called "bardolatry". In the twentieth century, his work was repeatedly adopted and rediscovered by new movements in scholarship and performance. His plays remain highly popular today and are constantly studied, performed and reinterpreted in diverse cultural and political contexts throughout the world.

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Monday, April 21, 2014

INDIA ~ April 21, 1995 ~ October 1, 2003

April 21st is India Pudding's birthday. She died several years ago on October 1, 2003, the Fiscal New Year for the federal government-- also the anniversary of Mao Tse-tung’s triumphal entrance into Beijing in 1949, and my nephew Sheridan’s birthday in 1971, just a week before my senior recital at Yale. I called it “Potpourri of Song,” hence foreshadowing the title of this Blog. Amazingly, my brother Sherry came up from Virginia to my recital in the Saybrook Dining Hall just a few days after his son’s birth. But Sherry has always been a great supporter.

Again, October 1st also marks the premature end of India Pudding, Dennis’ beloved Blenheim Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. It was only after Dennis died that I think I figured out his original interest in the breed.

Dennis’ first and favorite Cavalier, Nell, had died several years before. When she was failing, we made arrangements with the vet at Pets Unlimited on Fillmore Street to come to the house, so that Nell would not end her life in a cold antiseptic doctor’s office. In a way it paralleled Dennis’ arranging a vet to come to his flat on McAllister when Nell gave birth to her five puppies. As Dennis described it, Nell didn’t need any assistance then. In her basket on the rose patterned window seat in Dennis’ yellow bedroom, she was transformed from a cute and dizzy puppy to the very personification of Earth Mother. “I had puppies…..what have you done?”

Now Nell’s fragile tricolor daughter, Lady St. Albans, was ailing. I called her Winkie or ‘Libet. (When my Mother heard that one of the puppy’s names was ‘Elizabeth Lady St. Albans,’ she exclaimed: “Ah, my namesake!”) Winkie’s end seemed near, but we decided not to call the vet. Everything seemed to be progressing naturally.

One Thursday I went to work and told my fellow supervisor, Dale Ilderton, that one of my dogs appeared to be dying. A few minutes later my boss, Francean Rible, came and told me to go home to be with her. I spent the day holding her in my lap or taking naps with her on the bed. For years ‘Libet had slept next to me and cuddled so close that Dennis remarked you'd have to separate us with a knife.

Late in the afternoon I needed to leave because I was in a Thursday night show at the Bohemian Club. It was Vaudeville Night. Dennis came to dinner and the show. He was dressed in a business suit and appeared to have a good time. On the way home, after getting off BART at 24th Street, Dennis turned right on Bartlett Street and stopped by a front yard rose garden to tell me that Winkie had died fifteen minutes after I had left the house. We wept, then continued home.

Dennis’ Irish side was soon apparent. Lady St. Albans was lying in state in a basket in the middle of the dining room table surrounded by four large silver candlesticks. A white linen napkin covered her body, and on top was a garland of white lilies.

A few days later Dennis had an accident at his temp job. After a cigarette break he rushed in the side entrance to Tiffany’s and slipped on the granite floor and landed on his shoulder. In great pain he went back to work until he started to faint. It turned out he had broken his clavicle. But he didn’t find that out until more than two hours later.

I think he missed only a single day of work, then returned with his arm in a sling. He was not going to lose that job at Tiffany’s. People were so impressed that soon he was offered a permanent position.

Meanwhile my sister Cynthia in Florida was considering sending a plant to honor the memory of ‘Libet. But Cynthia decided that she’d rather give us a puppy. She checked online and learned that puppies were out of her price range, so next she considered two and three year old dogs. Cynthia found a very attractive Blenheim with a breeder north of her, but concluded the dog was rather snooty. Then she visited another three-year-old Blenheim (red and white) with a breeder south of her in Homestead. This dog had a funny looking mouth— slightly undershot— but appeared to have a wonderful personality.

So Cynthia telephoned me to ask if it would be appropriate to give a dog to Dennis. I replied that it was extremely thoughtful and generous of her, but that Dennis was very particular and would want to choose his own dog. Furthermore, he would insist on a puppy because he would want to train the dog from scratch.

A few days went by. Then casually I mentioned Cynthia’s offer to Dennis. He stopped and thought about it for a few minutes, then said that it might not be such a bad idea to have an older dog. Lord Dundee was an older dog himself and might have difficulties adjusting to a rambunctious puppy.

So I called Cynthia back and asked if we could reconsider her offer. Cynthia went to Homestead and bought the dog and brought her home to Stuart. After two days, her husband Bob said they needed to send India to California immediately. He was afraid that Cynthia would bond with the dog and never give her up. So Bob and Cynthia got up at three in the morning to drive to Miami International and put a spunky little red and white dog on a direct flight to San Francisco.

I took the day off work, rented a car, and drove to SFO with my tricolor Lord Dundee in the back seat on December 23rd 1998. I parked on the roof of the parking garage and opened the rear windows a crack so Dundee had air.

At baggage claim I waited for an attendant to bring the airline kennel. I took a photo as he approached. When I opened the grated door, out pranced a happy, assertive— rather comic looking— red and white Blenheim girl. Her mouth was a little undershot. But she had beautiful markings and a luxurious coat.

I carried her in the kennel until we got to the car. Then I put her on a leash, opened the door and introduced her to Lord Dundee. He didn’t know what to think of her at first. I got a good photo of their meeting.

After taking Dundee home, I drove downtown and parked near Union Square. Carrying India in my arms when I got to the front door of Tiffany’s, I walked to the silver room in the back. With India on one arm and a camera in the other hand, I spoke from behind and said: “Mr. Graham” and Dennis turned from his customer and broke into a wonderful grin.

I was home only a few days. This was the day before Christmas Eve. After midnight mass at St. Francis, we celebrated Christmas early in the morning – or, middle of the night, as was our custom— before flying to Pennsylvania to spend a week with Mother at her retirement community, Green Ridge Village, in Newville near Carlisle.

All four children, Julie, Sherry, Cynthia and I, spent several days with Mother to enable her to divide her many possessions among us as she moved from her own retirement house into a single room in a main building for assisted living. She had waited until all of us could be there.

While I was gone, Dennis spent a lot of time with India. Her formal name was Tara’s Miss India. There was a Gone With The Wind theme to her litter. She was named for Scarlett O’Hara’s sister. Indeed, one of her own sisters was named Tara’s Miss Scarlett.

For the first few days Dennis said to her: “You’re not as beautiful as Nell. You’re not as cute… you’re not even as clever as Nell.” But then one day, Dennis picked her up in his arms and said: “You’re not as beautiful as Nell. YOU are as beautiful as INDIA….You are my India Pudding!” From that moment on she was completely his.

My sister Julie used to have a large St. Bernard named Pudding. Partly as a joke, we called our nineteen pound Blenheim Cavalier “India Pudding” and it stuck.

One time Dennis came home from work and greeted Lord Dundee, lying on the edge of the bed (with a pile of pillows leading to the trunk to help him to get up). He was a distinguished senior dog entitled to special privileges. India observed all of this, pranced over, hopped on the bed and whacked Dundee on the head with her paw. She considered that she was entitled to be greeted first!

Dennis used to comment on India Pudding’s assertive personality: “What would you expect from a dog born on Elizabeth II’s birthday, the day after Adolf Hitler’s … with a jaw like Mussolini!”

India loved to spend time with Dennis— in the garden, in the kitchen, especially in the car (when we had one) Of course, all our Cavaliers have had a passion for riding in cars.

When Dennis and I took our Mediterranean cruise from Rome to the Greek isles, ending in Istanbul, we left our three dogs (by that time Dundee had gone and I had bought my black and tan boy Rupert— named for Prince Rupert of the Rhine, nephew of Charles I, and commander of the Royalist cavalry during the English Civil War— and as a fee for his paternity duties, Rupert had ransomed his ruby sister, Rose) with our friend Nijole Adams in Sebastopol. Nijole had seven or eight Cavaliers of her own and slept with all them in a large king-size bed in the middle of her bedroom. Our dogs just joined the crowd.

From Rome, Dennis and I called Nijole to check on the dogs. Nijole said that Rupert was fine. What a sportsman. He loved to play ball. He never stopped! Her arm was about to fall off! And Rose… what a sweetheart. She was rather shy and stayed by herself a lot.

And India…how is Miss India? Nijole paused…….then slowly said: “Everybody knows she’s Queen!”

So India Pudding had joined a household with eight other Cavaliers …….and took over!!

Later when Dennis was let go from Lang Estate Jewelry, he helped out occasionally at our friend Chris Wahlgren’s rug store on 24th St. India loved to spend the time alone with Dennis at the store (since Rose and Rupert had proved unreliable, or rather too predictable with accidents on the rugs.) India romped over the rugs and exalted being with Dennis, whom she adored.

In his twittier moments, Dennis called India Pudding by the sobriquet “Contessa Zuppa Inglese” a special Italian pudding. How he loved her!

On October 1, 2003, my nephew Sheridan’s Birthday (eleven months before my own heart attack) early in the morning about 5:30, India hopped off the bed… and threw up on the rug. She tried to clean it up herself. I got out of bed and immediately became alarmed. I woke up Dennis. India was gone. She was only eight years old.

Her heart had burst. Dennis felt as if his heart had broken. I tried to comfort him by saying that at least it was fast. She didn’t seem to suffer.

"But,” Dennis, in great agony, cried out: “I didn’t have a chance to say good-bye!!!”

(Thankfully, that was not the case for me with Dennis.)

I took the day off work. We drove India to Pets’ Rest Cemetery in Colma for cremation as we had done for Nell, ‘Libet and Dundee. She joined the other boxes in our home Buddhist temple (eventually joined with Dennis’).

When Dennis died I had a custom urn made to the dimensions specified for the columbarium at Grace Cathedral. When I filled it with his ashes, I included three heaping spoonfuls of Nell and India, so he’d spend eternity with his two favorite dogs.

But then plenty of his ashes were left. I filled one small box to join the dogs in the Buddha box, another on grandfather’s chest in the Venetian bedroom, a third, which I took to his hometown Tipton, Iowa to be buried between his parents in the Catholic Cemetery, and still there was some left— even after scattering his ashes in two rose gardens in Harrisburg and under an azalea bush at Helen Heisey’s Hill House. He’s now under multiple rose bushes in England, France, Italy and Turkey (and in another box in the Frari in Venice).

A few months after India died, Dennis commissioned Alberto Tropea in Rome to paint a portrait of her from several photographs taken by Jeffrey Hardy when he stayed with us a few weeks before she died It’s a marvelous portrait that really captures her personality. It’s a little like the upward, adoring pose of Titian’s portrait of Mary Magdalene.

Only after Dennis died, did I figure out the probable origin of his interest in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, particularly Blenheims. (He had been a member of the Cavalier Club for several years even before owning a dog.) Watching a DVD of the First Churchill’s, I learned that the Battle of Blenheim was fought in 1704 on August 13th – Dennis’ birthday!

Now I have two Blenheims ~ three year-old Renzo and his seven year-old mom, Bette. I love them dearly. But India Pudding will always have a special place in my heart!

ELIZABETH II ~ April 21, 1926



Sunday, April 20, 2014

San Francisco Earthquake and FIRE 1906


To the Custom-house employees, the Appraiser's office attaches, detachments of troops and marines from the regular army and navy goes the honor of saving the Appraiser's building, the square block of stores and warehouses directly west of it, and Station B of the post office on the north line of Jackson street, above Sansome. The work of these firefighters demonstrated the benefit of even a little water.

The Appraiser's building is equipped with an artesian well, and on the roof, a 5,000 gallon tank hold the water pumped for flushing the toilets and general cleaning purposes. On the morning of the earthquake, when Appraiser John T. Dare reached the building before 8 o'clock, and saw that fire threatened the south or Washington street end of the building, he organized a bucket brigade and ordered that no water be used in any hose.

At each window he stationed one of a depleted force of Custom-house employees and Appraiser's attaches with mops and wet sacks, ordering them to douse any embers that fell on the window sills and to moisten any smouldering window frames. This work was kept up throughout the day, and by nightfall the fighters, completely fatigued by a hard day's toil, were rewarded with an assurance of success by the flames dying down on the low and dynamited Washington street buildings. All night a patrol watched the roof of the building and guarded the water tank with the same care and caution as though it were a bank vault.

Thursday the building was never in danger, and the watchers and fighters had a chance to rest. Early Friday morning, however, the north or Jackson street end of the building was threatened and the same tactic was employed as on the Washington street end, only that the fighting force was increased by the soldiers and marines, who fought like heroes in the face of heat that was almost overpowering.

A guard was detailed to patrol the roofs of the buildings on the square block west of the Appraiser's structure with buckets of water, maps and axes, and were ordered to smother all others and chop away any burning cornices. Their work was complete, and not one of the burning buildings in that location suffered more than a few hundred dollars damage as a result of the fire.

The building which housed Station B of the Post office was saved in precisely the same manner, although surrounded on three sides by the roaring flames and having a large hole rent in its roof by the failing of a heavy wall on it due to the earthquake, the soldiers and marines checked the flames with their wet sacks and mops and saved all the records, mails, stamps and money held in the office.

"The precision and determination with which these firefighters worked is beyond description," said Appraiser John T. Dare, yesterday, in speaking of the saving of this lone district in the heart of the northern burned section. "Never, even in war, did the soldiers and marines face the dangers they encountered in their glorious battle with flames, and never did the patriotic spirit of the few civilians and Government employees rise to such a height as when these soot and smoke grimed warriors, all but exhausted, came back to their superior officers and with the proper salute informed them that the danger had passed and the section was saved.

"If no official recognition is given to these men, their uphill victory will go down in the history of the city as one of the most remarkable and self-sacrificing acts of the calamity."

San Francisco ChronicleMAY 7, 1906

What the Chronicle article didn’t mention is that the excavation site for the new Custom House provided much of the water which saved the appraiser’s building directly behind it.

The Great San Francisco Earthquake in 1906 occurred on April 18th. But most of the damage was done by three days of fire following the earthquake. The fire was the result of severed gas mains and the corresponding breakage of most of the city’s water mains. (One of the notable exceptions was a fire hydrant at 20th Street and Church Streets. It is credited with saving the Mission District, and is painted gold every year on April 18th. It, in fact, saved the building in which I’ve lived going on thirty-eight years.)

The current Custom House on Battery between Washington and Jackson Streets is the second U.S. Custom House on the site. The first was built in 1855 and stood for almost exactly fifty years. (Coincidentally, there was a major earthquake in 1865, which severely damaged the columned portico, afterwards removed.) There was a competition for the new Custom House, won by a pair of architects from St. Louis, Missouri. Mssrs. Eames and Young had studied at the Ecole Beaux Arts in Paris. The new building is a pastiche Renaissance revival building with certain French influences. Everything of value from the old Custom House was removed and stored in the brick appraiser’s building directly behind, before the old Custom house was intentionally demolished in 1905.

Excavation for the new building began. But 1905/06 –unlike these past several winters – was extraordinarily wet, so that construction on the new building was severely hampered. That turned out to be most fortunate, because when the water mains were severed as a result of the earthquake, the construction site acted as a reservoir. Not only was water used from the artesian well on the roof of the appraiser’s building, but water was pumped from the excavation site, which helped save the appraiser’s building – and everything of value from the old Custom House. Then because the appraiser’s building survived, so did the oldest San Francisco commercial buildings on Jackson Street – today the location of some of the finest antique stores in town.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

POPE BENEDICT XVI Elected in 2005

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger elected Pope Benedict XVI on the second day of the Papal conclave, three days after his birthday (the same as mine).

Friday, April 18, 2014

SAN FRANCISCO ~ 5:12 AM, APRIL 18, 1906

San Francisco City Hall after the 1906 Earthquake. (from Steinbrugge Collection of the UC Berkeley Earthquake Engineering Research Center)

The California earthquake of April 18, 1906 ranks as one of the most significant earthquakes of all time. Today, its importance comes more from the wealth of scientific knowledge derived from it than from its sheer size. Rupturing the northernmost 296 miles (477 kilometers) of the San Andreas fault from northwest of San Juan Bautista to the triple junction at Cape Mendocino, the earthquake confounded contemporary geologists with its large, horizontal displacements and great rupture length. Indeed, the significance of the fault and recognition of its large cumulative offset would not be fully appreciated until the advent of plate tectonics more than half a century later. Analysis of the 1906 displacements and strain in the surrounding crust led Reid (1910) to formulate his elastic-rebound theory of the earthquake source, which remains today the principal model of the earthquake cycle.
At almost precisely 5:12 a.m., local time, a foreshock occurred with sufficient force to be felt widely throughout the San Francisco Bay area. The great earthquake broke loose some 20 to 25 seconds later, with an epicenter near San Francisco. Violent shocks punctuated the strong shaking which lasted some 45 to 60 seconds. The earthquake was felt from southern Oregon to south of Los Angeles and inland as far as central Nevada. The highest Modified Mercalli Intensities (MMI's) of VII to IX paralleled the length of the rupture, extending as far as 80 kilometers inland from the fault trace. One important characteristic of the shaking intensity noted in Lawson's (1908) report was the clear correlation of intensity with underlying geologic conditions. Areas situated in sediment-filled valleys sustained stronger shaking than nearby bedrock sites, and the strongest shaking occurred in areas where ground reclaimed from San Francisco Bay failed in the earthquake. Modern seismic-zonation practice accounts for the differences in seismic hazard posed by varying geologic conditions.
As a basic reference about the earthquake and the damage it caused, geologic observations of the fault rupture and shaking effects, and other consequences of the earthquake, the Lawson (1908) report remains the authoritative work, as well as arguably the most important study of a single earthquake. In the public's mind, this earthquake is perhaps remembered most for the fire it spawned in San Francisco, giving it the somewhat misleading appellation of the "San Francisco earthquake". Shaking damage, however, was equally severe in many other places along the fault rupture. The frequently quoted value of 700 deaths caused by the earthquake and fire is now believed to underestimate the total loss of life by a factor of 3 or 4. Most of the fatalities occurred in San Francisco, and 189 were reported elsewhere.
Excerpted from Ellsworth 1990.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN ~ January 17, 1706 ~ April 17, 1790

Benjamin Franklin (January 17, 1706 [O.S. January 6, 1705] – April 17, 1790) was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. A noted polymath, Franklin was a leading author and printer, satirist, political theorist, politician, scientist, inventor, civic activist, statesman, soldier, and diplomat. As a scientist, he was a major figure in the American Enlightenment and the history of physics for his discoveries and theories regarding electricity. He invented the lightning rod, bifocals, the Franklin stove, a carriage odometer, and the glass 'armonica'. He formed both the first public lending library in America and the first fire department in Pennsylvania. He was an early proponent of colonial unity, and as a political writer and activist, he supported the idea of an American nation. As a diplomat during the American Revolution, he secured the French alliance that helped to make independence of the United States possible.

Franklin is credited as being foundational to the roots of American values and character, a marriage of the practical and democratic Puritan values of thrift, hard work, education, community spirit, self-governing institutions, and opposition to authoritarianism both political and religious, with the scientific and tolerant values of the Enlightenment. In the words of Henry Steele Commager, "In Franklin could be merged the virtues of Puritanism without its defects, the illumination of the Enlightenment without its heat." To Walter Isaacson, this makes Franklin, "the most accomplished American of his age and the most influential in inventing the type of society America would become."

Franklin became a newspaper editor, printer, and merchant in Philadelphia, becoming very wealthy writing and publishing Poor Richard's Almanack and The Pennsylvania Gazette. Franklin was interested in science and technology, and gained international renown for his famous experiments. He played a major role in establishing the University of Pennsylvania and was elected the first president of the American Philosophical Society. Franklin became a national hero in America when he spearheaded the effort to have Parliament repeal the unpopular Stamp Act. An accomplished diplomat, he was widely admired among the French as American minister to Paris and was a major figure in the development of positive Franco-American relations. From 1775 to 1776, Franklin was the Postmaster General under the Continental Congress and from 1785 to 1788, the President of the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania. Toward the end of his life, he became one of the most prominent abolitionists.

His colorful life and legacy of scientific and political achievement, and status as one of America's most influential Founding Fathers, have seen Franklin honored on coinage and money; warships; the names of many towns, counties, educational institutions, namesakes, and companies; and more than two centuries after his death, countless cultural references.

My ninth grade Civics teacher, a Mrs. Madeira, at Camp Curtin Junior High School in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, used to recall how Benjamin Franklin had several times salvaged the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia --about to break apart from policy bickering --by inviting political adversaries to share a glass of madeira wine -- a variation of: "Have a glass of madeira, m' dear."

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The City of San Francisco's 164th Birthday

San Francisco standing tall 164 years later

By: Katie Worth
Examiner Staff Writer
April 16, 2010

Today’s issues are mere trivialities compared to those faced by San Francisco’s first city government, established 160 years ago today.
(AP file photo)

Think San Francisco has problems?
Today’s issues are mere trivialities compared to those faced by San Francisco’s first city government, established 160 years ago today. At that time, The City had grown tenfold in mere months, burned to the ground multiple times, lacked a water or sewer system, and had a pesky problem of people dying left and right and no one wanting to take responsibility for burying them.
The city of San Francisco was officially incorporated April 16, 1850. Just a few years before, The City existed as the quiet Mexican pueblo of Yerba Buena, centered around a plaza at what’s now Portsmouth Square in Chinatown.
After Capt. John Montgomery sailed into town and claimed it for the United States in 1846, there had been several makeshift governments hastily assembled by groups vying for power — at one point, there were three civil governments and one military government simultaneously competing for authority. Meanwhile, The City’s population grew from several hundred to 20,000 in little more than a year.
“There was very little law and order,” said professor Gray Brechin, a historical geographer at UC Berkeley. “It was sort of an overgrown mining camp with a harbor.”
The first charter — which would be replaced by new charters several times in the next decade — established the southern boundary of The City in the empty land approximately where 16th Street exists today, and the western boundary approximately where Webster Street runs today. It divided San Francisco into eight wards “so that each ward shall contain as near as may be, the same number of white male inhabitants.”
The City had just burned to the ground on Christmas Eve the year before — and was to burn six more times in the next year and a half — so fire abatement was of foremost concern to officials. The charter directed the government “to regulate the storage of gunpowder, tar, pitch rosin and all other combustible materials, and the use of candles and lights in shops, stables and other places.”
Though The City was bordered by water on three sides, it didn’t have many reliable water sources, a problem exacerbated by the mushrooming population, according to history professor Robert Cherny of San Francisco State University.
“They were housed in ships run aground, in tents, in whatever shanty was available,” he said. “Not surprisingly, there were no fire codes, so this was a very-flammable city.”
The first mayor of San Francisco, John Geary, spent much of his first State of The City address considering the fire problem.
The City’s first charter would not last long, Cherny said. By the next year, a group of vigilantes took over city government and insisted on a new charter. The same would happen again in 1856, he said.
Brechin said that period in San Francisco history is easy to romanticize, but the reality — a city filled with rats, prone to devastating fires, lacking sewage or water systems, and run by a constantly changing set of characters — is that it was a pretty ugly time.
“I’m glad I wasn’t there,” he said. “It must have been god-awful.”

City’s first ordinances

In the months after the incorporation of San Francisco, the Common Council of Aldermen and the mayor took on the issues of the day.
No. 7: Regulating Bar Rooms, etc.: All bar rooms and gaming tables in this city shall be closed at twelve o’clock, midnight, under a penalty of fifty dollars and not more than one hundred dollars.
No. 9: Relative to Supplying The City with Water Buckets: That the person or persons occupying any house or other building in this city shall keep in each of said houses or other buildings six water buckets marked with the initials of their names to be used upon occurrence of any fire.
No. 23: To Prevent Running Horses in the Public Streets: That no person or persons shall be allowed to race, ride or drive at such speed on any of the public ways within the limits of this city as to endanger or hazard the life or limbs of any person under penalty of not less than twenty nor more than fifty dollars at the discretion of the recorder.
No. 25: Against the Violation of the Sabbath: That no person or persons shall be allowed to play at any game of chance or hazard on the Sabbath under the penalty of not less than fifty nor more than five hundred dollars.


Mayor: John W. Geary
Population: 94,766
Leading industries: Mining, shipping
  • Several earthquakes felt throughout the year
  • City plagued by fires
  • Competing fire companies form; The City adopts rules for proper Fire Department organization
  • First dramatic entertainment, “The Wife,” at Washington Hall
  • Mygatt, Bryant and Co. opened first bath house on Maiden Lane
  • 500-pound grizzly bear caught near Mission Dolores
  • Mayor Geary welcomed new Chinese residents to San Francisco in a ceremony in Portsmouth Square
  • Presidio and other areas reserved for military purposes
  • Grand jury condemned gambling in The City as “a crying evil” and urged that something must be done about prize fighting, along with numerous houses of ill-repute
  • New sidewalk laid along Battery Street
  • Catholic Bishop Joseph Sadoc Alemany arrives


Mayor: Gavin Newsom
Population: 808,977
Leading industry: Tourism
  • City, schools cut services as budgets shrink
  • America’s Cup sailing race won
  • Mayor runs for state office
  • Crime lab scandal rocks city
  • Planned Transbay Transit Center will link with high-speed rail from L.A.
  • Santa Clara goes to ballot to steal 49ers
  • City breaks ground on Central Subway
  • U.S. Postal Service closes city branches
San Francisco Historical Society

Titian in the Frari (Venezia)