I’ve told you how much I loved my Childcraft books, correct? Especially the ones that had historical little vignettes presented as narrative?
I met, among a host of others, Robert Louis Stevenson, Homer, Louis Armstrong, Sitting Bull, Belle Boyd (Lady Spy) and that guy who was the first to break the 4-minute mile.
One story began with two police officers walking the beat and chatting. In two paragraphs I already liked and respected the men. And then–the unthinkable. An earthquake tossed a piece of concrete at the men and killed one of them outright. I felt betrayed, but kept reading, because that is how good Childcraft writers were back in the 1960’s.
The rest of the five page story told how Officer Edward F. Parquet, who survived, rescued dozens of people from a collapsed and burning hospital. I loved that man.
At the end of each little vignette would be an explanation of what had happened in the story, who were the heroes and the historical significance. This particular story occurred during the San Francisco earthquake in April, 1906.
The explanation ended by telling me, “Many of the people who were there are still alive today.”
In my modern ranch house in the late ’60’s, in the days of rock music and anti-war demonstrations and Bonne Bell lip gloss, it didn’t seem possible.
But guess what??????
There are still survivors TODAY! One hundred and six years later a handful of people are still around to commemorate the April 18 anniversary of the quake. Truly. Three 1906 earthquake survivors who won’t see the sunny side of 100 again were at the celebration.
These frail people transported me from 2012, back to my bedroom in 1969 where I was actually living through a 1906 earthquake alongside a courageous policeman who was risking his life to rescue every single person in a hospital.
To Officer Parquet, Earthquake Survivors, Childcraft, and Bonnie MacConnell, who wrote “Give Me Strength!” about the quake:
I salute you.