Dreams Can Sometimes Turn into Nightmares by Cate Masters
Disaster and hope often intermingle in strange ways. When I first read about the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco, the city’s utter devastation amazed me. The more I learned, the more I wanted to know.
What really struck me about this disaster was the response of the people affected: their sheer determination to get their lives back on track, and as soon as possible. The 1906 earthquake had catastrophic consequences, killing as many as 3,000 people in what was then one of the largest cities in the U.S. Many survivors witnessed horrific deaths, either by the earthquake itself, which toppled poorly constructed buildings onto those trying to escape the quake’s aftermath, or the citywide fires that resulted. Officials shot anyone suspected of looting, and in a few extreme cases, executed people trapped by debris and otherwise doomed to die horrific deaths in the fire. Some really chilling accounts of such instances completely gripped me.
While the disaster changed a way of life for San Francisco residents, it also engendered hope across the nation. President Teddy Roosevelt sent food rations and supplies by mule and train. The stricken San Franciscans rolled up their sleeves and got to work clearing debris. If left standing, some shops reopened for business the next day.
The pioneering spirit was still very much alive. What also fascinated me was the gritty strength of the women. They worked side by side with the men to clear debris, or do whatever it took to get the city, and their lives, functioning again.
So, like any writer, I thought: wow, what a great setting for a story! I love writing strong, feisty heroines. I couldn’t wait to toss two unsuspecting characters into the melee.
But not two ordinary people. No, both Norah Hawkins and Gerard “Mac” MacKenzie had disastrous pasts, and desperately needed to leave them behind. San Francisco beckoned to them: Norah dreamed of opening a respectable gentleman’s club, and Mac dreamed of tickling the ivories playing the latest ragtime melodies. They couldn’t know that the city would strip them of their dreams, and challenge them in the deepest way.
One of the great things about the early 1900s is that photography, while still crude compared to today’s standards, was no longer in its infancy. In fact, I found this video of San Francisco, pre-earthquake – how amazing is that? Horse and carriages sharing the street with automobiles, street cars and pedestrians, who all are apparently unconcerned with a possible collision!. It’s a wonderful illustration of the hustle and bustle of this vibrant city.
Thanks so much for reading! Sweet dreams.
Multipublished, award-winning author Cate Masters has made beautiful central Pennsylvania her home, but she’ll always be a Jersey girl at heart. When not spending time with her dear hubby, she can be found in her lair, concocting a magical brew of contemporary, historical, and fantasy/paranormal stories with her cat Chairman Maiow and dog Lily as company. Look for her at http://catemasters.blogspot.com and in strange nooks and far-flung corners of the web. Learn more and order your copy of Betting It All here.
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