Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Difference a Few Days Makes

Below are two vintage videos. One was taken two weeks before the San Francisco Earthquake in 1906. The second was taken a few days after the earthquake and the devastating fire ravaged the city.

I found them absolutely fascinating. The second one is a bit long, but offers glimpses of the same area. It also shows some of the fire and the tent camps that sprang up in the aftermath of the disaster.

The difference in the scenery is stunning, but the people—ah, the people still exude energy and verve. They often look tired, but never daunted. I was enthralled and I have to say that my mind immediately jumped to the verses in James chapter 4—“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’”

I’m not advocating a fatalistic viewpoint. But these videos remind me that no one knows what the future holds. I need to prioritize. Let some of the little stuff go, invest more in relationships rather than striving for riches.

I hope you will find these videos as affecting as I did.

San Francisco, 1906, Two Weeks Before the Quake from Steven Danner on Vimeo.

San Francisco Earthquake and Fire from Red Channels on Vimeo.

If you took the time to watch the videos (sorry the second one is particularly long,) what stood out most to you?

Influenced by books like The Secret Garden and The Little Princess, Lisa Karon Richardson’s early books were heavy on boarding schools and creepy houses. Now that she’s (mostly) all grown-up she still loves a healthy dash of adventure and excitement in any story she creates, even her real-life story. She’s been a missionary to the Seychelles and Gabon and now that she and her husband are back in America, they are tackling a brand new adventure, starting a daughter-work church in a new city. Her first novella, Impressed by Love, part of the Colonial Courtships collection, is coming in May, 2012.


  1. Wow, the domed tower in the background of both is what I really noticed. It's eerie to see the difference.

  2. It's amazing to see the buildings that survived when so many didn't. I agree I focused on that dome too for a long time.

  3. I'll have to watch them when I get into town to my daughter's ... pesky bandwidth restrictions!

    Just the difference between the first two shots are alarming. We get so accustomed to the world around us, so comfortable in it, how would we respond if it all disappeared? A good reminder to set our minds on things above...

  4. We take a lot of things for granted. I hope you get the chance to be able to watch them, Niki. It's good to know my future is not controlled by be circumstances, but is in my Abba's hands.

  5. I have to watch when I get home, and I will. The verse that talked about us being but a mist really stood out to me. Not that I think it was meant literally, but it is really showing us that everything really could disappear in a moment - and once again I'm reminded that I need make each moment count.

  6. Good point, Suzie. Carpe diem! SEIZE THE DAY!

  7. Lisa,
    Interesting post. I'll have to watch these during my free download period--hate Hughesnet.

    I read a historical mystery not long ago that took place in the recently rebuilt town--and they were investigating an old crime that happened during the earthquake. Interesting period of history. And odd to think you can watch video that old online.

  8. Lisa, that could also be translated as: Suzie, quit playing that stupid computer game and do something useful, your mist is starting to evaporate.

  9. Barb, I remember being shocked when I found youtube video of Corrie TenBoom. It just never occurred to me that there was anything like that available. This is much earlier than that and I had that same "wow" sensation. Seems like it became more real to me.

  10. Suzie. I would never say that to you! (Although I should probably say it to myself more often!!)

  11. Wow! I learned this week that we never know what the future holds, when our dearest friends lost their son in a tragic car accident. It makes me thankful for all those little things and you're right, we have to let some of the trivial things go. Timely and wonderful post.

  12. Jessica, I'm so sorry that your friends are dealing with such a tragedy. Thanks for sharing with us. It is a reminder to every parent to cherish our kids.

  13. Speaking of vintage history, I love the many old buildings that dot my hometown. I enjoy the many framed photographs of old buildings and people and the written descriptions of each. Thanks for sharing with us!

    Btw, I'm holding an MC Blogfest in Jeannie's honor! Drop by and join us, please! <3

    Can Alex save Winter from the darkness that hunts her?
    YA Paranormal Romance, Darkspell coming fall of 2011!

  14. Elizabeth, I love old photos too. Maybe it's just that I'm a visual person, but the past seems more alive--like it really could have happened when I can actually see evidence of it.

  15. Hey Lisa, I didn't have time to watch them yesterday so watched them this morning - well, until I was halfway through the 2nd one and my laptop froze. *sigh

    But from what I saw, here are my observations:
    1st video:
    - congestion! A person could get run over quite easily
    - a variety of conveyances and they were all over the place as if there were no rules about which side of the road you were supposed to drive on
    - the motor vehicles had steering wheels on the right side
    - saw a couple bustles (in 1906?) talk about out-dated fashion

    2nd Video:
    - a lot less conveyances and the ones that were there were over-crowded
    - saw only 1 streetcar in action
    - when the camera changed to side view, saw many men standing with hands in pockets just staring at the ruins
    - so much light now that the buildings weren't shading the street
    - an open, small town feeling as you went down the same street

    Thank you for these videos, Lisa. I don't know how you dug them up, but they're a treasure of information about 1906 daily life. I saw newsboys, doctors, all in their daily fashion. Excellent. Just excellent.

    (Now I'm not saying the catastrophe was excellent, you understand, just that someone had the wherewithall to record it.)

    Anita Mae.

  16. I know what you mean, Anita Mae! I caught the bustles too. A good reminder that not everyone is "current" in their fashion.


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