18 April 1906 – 108 years ago


Seamen Cooke and Faries photographed in San Francisco on 14 April 1906 (JB is standing)


JB’s handwritten account of the great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906

In April of 1906 J B Cooke was a seaman in the US Navy and stationed onboard a ship in San Francisco harbor. On Saturday, 14 April 1906, he and a good friend of his, of whom all I know at this point is his last name, Seaman Faries, went ashore in the the afternoon and commemorated their visit with photographs taken at a studio there. This is one of the photos; there were at least 3 taken, each with different expressions and poses, but of the same two individuals in the same naval uniforms.

Subsequently, JB wrote on this one of his experience on the back side of the photo. His text reads:

On Sat April 14th came ashore with Faries. Put up at the Winchester hotel. Made reservation for Wed the 18th and deposited some money with the clerk for a “Rope Yarn” Liberty.*

We came ashore at 7:30 a.m. to help put out a fire camped on Folsom St. dock. No money and no liberty. Some folks said an earthquake started the fire.

Later he wrote below (The San Francisco Earthquake)

Although he played a minor role in the recovery efforts after the earthquake, JB clearly loved San Francisco and the area. He would meet his first wife there, Alvina Nagel, and later retire from public service to San Francisco, with his 2nd wife Anne. (They had an apartment on Broadway, towards the western end I think).

*A Rope Yarn Liberty is navy lingo for permitted early leave on Wednesdays, usually devoted to personal errands.Essentially Wednesday afternoon off.

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