"On the morning of April 18, 1906 Portland’s largest circulation newspaper, the Oregonian, landed on porches and appeared at newsstands too early to include reports of the biggest story of the new century.
“Instead, Portlanders read the grim account of three African-American men lynched by a mob in Springfield, Missouri, and they followed the plight of two hundred thousand Italians left homeless and destitute after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. They scanned the story of Portland’s fierce suffragist Abigail Scott Duniway who rallied local women and delivered a rousing talk the night before. (The electorate would decide – and deny – women’s right to vote in June).
“Yet by midmorning, no one paid attention to anything but what news they could get from San Francisco. An operator of the local Postal Telegraph Company had suspected trouble as he completed his night shift. Just afterfive o-clock in the morning, his connection with San Francisco went dead. He queried the operator in Ashland, the southern Oregon exchange for north-south transmissions, but Ashland had been severed from the Bay Area as well.Eighteen minutes later the Sacramento office relayed the news from Chicago that San Francisco had been struck by the worst earthquake in California history, causing massive devastation and death.”
Excerpt, Marie Equi, Radical Politics and Outlaw Passions by Michael Helquist. Published by Oregon State University Press, September 2015. Available at bookstores and at online sources.
NOTE: Marie Equi was the only woman doctor who joined the “Oregon Doctor Train” to rush relief to San Franciscans after the calamity. She was proclaimed a heroine by the San Francisco Mayor, the California Governor, and the US Army.
McMenamins Kennedy School, Portland
Monday June 27, 2016, 7pm
Free and Open to the Public