Tag Archive for: The Madness of Mercury

With each Zodiac Mystery, I try to find a unique section of the city in which to place a story, or search for historic or unusual buildings.  No problem there, because San Francisco is a city that truly values and preserves its architecture and history.  In the first Zodiac Mystery, The Madness of Mercury, I ‘borrowed’ a mansion on Telegraph Hill.  All Signs Point to Murder highlighted Pacific Heights and the dangerous currents of the Golden Gate straits.  Tail of the Dragon takes place downtown in the Financial District, Enter a Wizard, Stage Left, at a theater in North Beach, and now, Serpent’s Doom, focuses on Chinatown, one of my favorite neighborhoods. 

I was reminded recently of two really unique structures that I hadn’t thought about for years — the windmills of Golden Gate Park.  When I first lived in San Francisco, I spotted them in the distance, as I stood at the curve of Point Lobos leading down to the Great Highway and the Pacific Ocean.  I couldn’t believe my eyes.  Windmills!  Two of them!  I had never seen anything like it and I couldn’t imagine why there were windmills at the western edge of Golden Gate Park, right across the road from the ocean.  I asked every native San Franciscan I met about them, but never got a satisfactory answer, sometimes a vague reference to wind power to pump water.  Water for what, I wondered?  I investigated further and drove into the Park to get a closer look, or at least as close as I could get because they were off limits at the time, unsafe to get any closer.  They had stood unused for almost a hundred years, the structures and the sails were in terrible disrepair, rotting from insect and water damage. 

But it was those windmills that made Golden Gate Park possible.  Once upon a time, the western end of the peninsula that is San Francisco was absolutely uninhabitable, nothing but miles of sand dunes over bedrock, layered in fog.  The now densely populated and extremely expensive area was considered unlivable.  It was a 25 year old civil engineer, William Hammond Hall, who designed the Park.  The area was so problematic that even the renowned landscape designer, Frederick Law Olmsted, turned the job down. 


The windmills were needed to pump 1.5 million gallons of groundwater per day to irrigate the park.  The Dutch (North) Windmill was built in 1902.  It stands 75 feet tall, somewhat restored, it’s surrounded by thousands of tulips in the Queen Wilhelmina Tulip Garden.  The Murphy (South) Windmill was built in 1907.  Six short years later, a motorized system was installed and eventually, the windmills were no longer needed. 

Finally, in 2011, the Murphy Windmill was beautifully restored, but operates only occasionally, and with caution.  Inside are floors of gleaming wood and stairways leading upward, a cozy lounge with chairs, rugs and a desk, even a shelf with wooden shoes.  Hopefully, no one will throw a sabot into the works of that windmill!  And the view from the top is incredible. 


Years ago, I remember reading a Marcia Muller novel in which her detective hides out for the night in the abandoned and rotting Murphy Windmill!  Now that these are restored, I guess the windmills won’t have the same haunted cachet for a setting in the Zodiac Mysteries.


What do you think?  Could there be a crime there?  Was a worker crushed in the machinery of the windmill?  Did he jump?  Or was he pushed from an upper deck?  Maybe I’ll think about that and see if I can use the windmills in my next story. 


(This post first appeared in Novels Alive on June 13, 2022.)


I’m always casting about for interesting locations to use in the Zodiac Mysteries.  Not just the historic or beautiful settings all around San Francisco, but the mysterious — secret stairways, dark alleys, and weird and haunted tunnels.

Julia Bonatti, my San Francisco astrologer, is a native – a rare thing, since most people come to the city from other places.  She grew up in her grandmother’s house on Castle Alley in North Beach, but now has her own place out on the Avenues, near the ocean where the fog rolls in every afternoon. 

Right around the corner from Julia’s apartment was (in real life) one of the most infamous residences in the city.  The home of Anton LaVey, San Francisco’s celebrity occultist and founder of the Church of Satan.  The house at 6114 California Street is gone now, but I remember it well.  It was completely black and surrounded by a dilapidated fence.  Local gossip and legends surrounded LaVey and his family.  His wild parties and Friday night sabbats in his home with his followers, and his pet panther Zoltan, were legendary. 

LaVey sported an immaculate goatee, always wore a flowing black cape and drove around town in his coroner’s van.  He had started his career playing the organ in a burlesque show but once his fame was established, he could be found playing the Wurlitzer at a local bar, the Lost Weekend, in the Sunset District.  He performed satanic blessings at the Wax Museum at Fisherman’s Wharf and he’s honored by his wax likeness there now.

Many legends and stories have followed LaVey – that he worked for the San Francisco Fire Department, played the devil in ‘Rosemary’s Baby,’ performed satanic rituals in a rock tunnel at Land’s End and put a curse on the Sutro Baths that caused it to burn to the ground shortly after. 

LaVey was likely more a showman than a sorcerer so I doubt most of these stories are true.  What I do know for a fact is that he kept his pet lion Togar in his home.  His neighbors were very concerned about the lion, to say the least and one day, the lion escaped its cage and tore through the house, demolishing walls and plumbing.  LaVey and his family barricaded themselves in the bathroom and called out the window to neighbors for help.  Thankfully, Animal Control arrived and the family was saved. 

Some claim the rock tunnel at Land’s End is still haunted from LaVey’s rituals, and now a new apartment building stands where LaVey’s all black house once stood.  I do have to wonder if the people living in the new building at 6114 California Street know about LaVey’s legend or hear any eerie groans in the night. 


I knew when I started to write my first mystery that it should be set in San Francisco, a city noted for its artists, poets, musicians and writers, not to mention breathtaking views, dark alleys, secret stairways and FOG, lots of fog!  And I wanted my protagonist to have an unusual profession, one that would put her in touch with people from all walks of life.  That’s how my crime-solving astrologer, Julia Bonatti, came to life. 

I’m not alone, of course.  There are many San Francisco mystery and thriller writers who have lived in, or written about the city.  And many people have investigated where some of these famous writers actually lived, or used their own address(es) for their fictional sleuth(s), like Sam Spade.

For example, Jack London was born at 615 Third Street.  Mark Twain, Samuel Clemens, worked at the San Francisco Morning Call at 612 Commercial Street, now the location of the Transamerica Pyramid.  One of my favorite locations is the Seal Rock Inn at 545 Point Lobos Avenue at Land’s End.  The Seal Rock Inn is still there and still welcoming guests, but for a long time, it was the residence of author and journalist, Hunter S. Thomson.  Thomson wrote Hell’s Angels (1967), Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1971)and Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail (1972).  Those last books were written in Room 204, a room with a breathtaking view of Land’s End.  Thomson’s lines conjure up the setting: 

“Dawn is coming up in San Francisco now: 6:09 a.m. . . . at the Seal Rock Inn . . . out here at the far end of Geary Street: this is the end of the line, for buses and everything else, the western edge of America.”

He also wrote that listening to the 200 seals (actually sea lions) on the rocks at Lands End was a lot like spending the night in a dog pound. 

But my all-time favorite San Francisco author is Dashiell Hammett, who lived in several different apartments while he wrote The Maltese Falcon, The Continental Op, The Glass Key and other books.  Hammett lived at 620 Eddy Street in the early 1920’s.  He suffered from the Spanish Flu (his generation’s pandemic) and tuberculosis.  He was so worried about his wife and young baby, that he moved to 891 Post Street, Apartment 401 where he wrote Red Harvest, The Dain Curse and The Maltese Falcon, and finished The Maltese Falcon while living at 1155 Leavenworth, Apartment 2. 

If you’re interested in the works of Dashiell Hammett, check out Up and Down These Mean Streets, the website of Don Herron, a San Francisco mystery and thriller (particularly Hammett) enthusiast and expert.  And if you’re ever in the city, don’t miss his famous walking tours!

Hammett used the apartment at 891 Post Street for Spade’s residence in The Maltese Falcon.  And 20 Monroe Street is now re-named 20 Dashiell Hammett in his honor. 

Just before the Stockton Tunnel overpass is a well-known plaque that reads: 


My sleuth, San Francisco astrologer Julia Bonatti, lives at 366 30th Avenue, just a few blocks from the Seal Rock Inn.  I won’t reveal why I chose that address for Julia, but I can tell you she loves living close to the ocean and hearing the sound of the fog horns day and night! 


Julia Bonatti, my crime-solving astrological sleuth in the Zodiac Mysteries, writes an advice column, AskZodia, for her hometown newspaper, the San Francisco Chronicle.  Julia’s column stretches reality quite a bit because how many big city newspapers would have space for a ‘Dear Abby’ type of feature? 

Julia enjoys the work, but sometimes really struggles with some of the letters to Zodia.  Some are sad, some are heartbreaking and some are just plain worrying.  And Julia worries a lot about what she’s sending out into the universe in her column.  Here’s one example: 

Dear Zodia ~
My birthday is September 13, 1974 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  I’ve been married for 26 years.  I’m very unhappy and confused.  I care about my husband, he’s a good person, but to be honest, I’m bored.  Bored with him and with married life.  I’ve been thinking about telling him I want a divorce, but I’m really afraid what this will do to him.  Please tell me what to do.
                ~ Growing Older

Dear Growing Older ~
Your sign off name says a lot.  You’re afraid life is passing you by and soon it will be too late for adventure.  What you’re not telling me, and I know because Neptune is opposing your Sun sign, and over the last year or so, opposed your Venus, is that you are attracted to someone else.  Here’s the thing about Neptune transits: they can lend a great aura of mystery or fantasy.  Much if not most of this is not real.  Think very carefully about your choices because in time, you may regret leaving your marriage. 
Wishing you well ~
                ~ Zodia

And here’s another:

Dear Zodia ~
I’m at my wit’s end.  My mother’s new boyfriend is a complete creep.  He makes me very uncomfortable whenever he’s in our house.  I don’t want to be alone with him, and so far I haven’t been, but I’m afraid to be in the same room with him when my mother’s not there.  I’ve tried to talk to her about this, but she thinks I’m imagining things and trying to make her life difficult.  I don’t know what to do.  What should I do?  My birthday is May 6, 2004 in Berkeley at 3:20 p.m.
                ~ Creeped Out

Dear Creeped Out ~
Trust your instincts, no matter what anyone says.  Unfortunately, there are bad people in the world, predators, and some of them date women with young children for that very reason.  By all means, speak out about your concerns.  Your transits show a Pluto aspect to your Moon, this may indicate the difficulties between you and your mother right now, but no matter what astrology can tell you, always trust your instincts.
                ~ Zodia

But the really strange thing — I never wondered if there was a real AskZodia.  I no longer live in San Francisco but manage to visit a few times a year, so I don’t often get to read the Chronicle.  But one day at a street fair, I glanced at a newspaper and spotted the Chronicle’s astro column.  I was stunned!  Why hadn’t I discovered this before?  There is a REAL AskZodia!  His name is Christopher Renstrom, not Julia Bonatti, and he’s a famous astrologer, a real one, unlike Julia! 

I’d be willing to bet Christopher would have no problem responding to AskZodia questions.  After all he has a terrific new book out — The Cosmic Calendar: Using Astrology to Get in Sync with Your Best LifeSo I’m sure he’d offer some great advice and solve all of these AskZodia problems. 

If you’d like some real life astrology, check out Christopher’s website, follow him on Facebook and Twitter @rulingplanets.  You won’t regret it! 

And if you’d like to enjoy a good astrological murder mystery, don’t miss Julia’s first adventure in The Madness of Mercury

Iceland Noir began in 2013, founded by Icelandic writers Yrsa Sigurðardóttir and Ragnar Jónasson. The team today includes Óskar Guðmundsson, Lilja Sigurðardóttir and Kristjan Atli Ragnarsson and probably many more that I didn’t have a chance to meet.  If you haven’t heard of these authors, you’re missing out, so be sure to check out their books.

I first heard about this crime writing festival in 2015 and I was fascinated.  I knew if there was any way possible, I wanted to attend. 

This year, the conference had the biggest press-team ever with journalists from the Sunday Times, The Telegraph, ITV, LBC, RÚV, DV, Fréttablaðið, GayIceland, Mannlíf and Vikan, plus bloggers and freelancers from Crime by the book, the House of Crime and Mystery, the Killing Times and travellingbookjunkie.

I’m a huge fan of Nordic Noir of all sorts and had become very interested in Icelandic writers after discovering Arnaldur Indridason at my library and caught the series Trapped on Netflix.  I was delighted to meet Dr. Noir, aka Dr. Jacky Collins of Newcastle Noir, a passionate supporter of crime fiction.  Even the first lady of Iceland, Elísa Reid, and the founding director of Iceland Writers Retreat and the Prime Minister of Iceland, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, both crime fiction aficionados, participated in the conference.  I even had a chance to say hello to Martin Edwards often seen at Malice Domestic and many other attendees.  For a full list of authors, click here.

This year, the festival was held on November 16th and 17th at the lovely Iðnó theatre at Vonarstræti 3, Reykjavik, by a pond filled with ducks and swans.

I was thrilled to be included on a panel exploring the supernatural – ghosts, trolls, elves and things that go bump in the night – with authors William Ryan, James Oswald and Michael J. MaloneDavid Headley of DHH Literary Agency and Goldsboro Books was our moderator. 

Icelanders are unashamedly mystical.  They truly believe in elves and trolls and the hidden folk (Huldufolk).  And let’s not forget ghosts.  it’s a terribly important subject even for locals who admit they’ve never seen an elf.  I chatted with a tour bus driver who told me, very seriously, that his grandmother could speak to the elves.  In Iceland, if a large rock is in the way of a building project or a new road, it must not be moved or disturbed until an elven translator is called in to communicate.  This is serious stuff!  If you’re interested in learning more, here’s a very informative YouTube video about the hidden people.

The panels started at 9:00 a.m. on the first day and continued till 7:00 p.m.  By the way, did you know it’s still dark as night at 9:00 a.m.?  My hotel was a few blocks away and braving the dark, the wind and the cold, I sat through as many panels as I could.  On Saturday evening, everyone was invited to a showing of I Remember You, a film based on the book of the same title by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir.  I hope it reaches the U.S. soon because it’s one of the best supernatural thrillers I’ve ever seen.  The actors were brilliant and the production values were excellent.  After the film, the festival continued with a ‘Drunken Authors Panel’ and a live band.  I wouldn’t have missed this conference for the world!

Needless to say, I did all the touristy things too.  The Golden Circle tour led to a field of active geysers and the Strokkur geyser at Geysir Hot Springs that erupts every five to eight minutes.  We crossed the rift valley between the North American plate and the Eurasian plate on the surface of the land, which is constantly moving and slowly making Iceland grow larger by an inch or more a year.  Then the tour moved on to the gorgeous Gullfoss waterfall.  Certainly not the biggest waterfall in Iceland , but it’s considered to be the most beautiful.

I was hoping to check out the Icelandic Museum of Sorcery and Witchcraft, especially in light of the panel I had taken part in, but time did not permit.  It’s located in the town of Holmavik in the Westfjords of Iceland and a little too far for me to travel on this trip.  The museum is curated by a sorcerer and If you’re really curious, you can read more here.  Fascinating and creepy!  There’s even more about Viking magic in this interview with the sorcerer himself at his cottage in Bjarnarfjörður.

Of course, I signed up for the Hop On-Hop Off bus tour of Reykjavik which was very informative, but I think my favorite pastime was taking pictures of the charming Christmas shops and Nordic style homes.

I visited the Hallgrímskirkja Lutheran cathedral in Reykjavík.  At 74.5 metres high at the top of a hill overlooking the city, its architecture echoes the basalt columns of the island.  In the 10th century, Icelanders worshipped the old pagan gods of their ancestors.  But later, conversion to Christianity was a matter of law after a compromise between the Christian and heathen chieftains around 999 or 1,000.  Unlike the U.S., there is no separation of church and state in Iceland, although there are ongoing debates about changing this.  But there are even more changes in the wind.  The old Norse pagan religion is still alive and a new Odinst temple is being erected for the first time in 1,000 years.

The northern lights were at the top of my list but sadly my tour had no luck that night.  The bus took about thirty of us out to a vacant field near the town of Akranes to wait in the cold.  It was a crystal clear night, with clouds low on the horizon, far away from light pollution.  We waited till midnight but only saw a slight glimmer.  Our tour guide’s hopes were high, but the sun’s protons or electrons were not cooperating.  Reykjavik Excursions generously offered a free tour for the following night, but I had other plans and couldn’t make it.  I later learned from other tourists they had a great experience on a boat tour out to sea, where the northern lights cooperated.  Sigh . . . maybe someday I’ll see them.

The best tour of all was the Blue Lagoon.  There are other less expensive thermal spas, but the Blue Lagoon is very impressive.  For the basic admission, you receive flip-flops, a comfy robe and a towel.  This also includes a silica face mask and a free drink from the bar in the pool.  A wrist bracelet with a scanner was attached to my wrist in case I wanted to purchase different face masks or drinks that were not included.  A shower in the nude is the first step, then donning my bathing suit, I ventured out to a very cold meeting room and finally to the outdoors.

It was quite cold but utterly beautiful.  A huge baby blue lagoon among black lava rocks with mist rising everywhere.  I hung my robe on a rack and ran down the ramp into the water as fast as I could.  Two hours later, I climbed out, feeling as though I was embarking on a planet with much greater gravity than our earth.  My hair was super shiny from the silica and my muscles felt wonderful.

Oh, and last but not least, I visited the Phallological Museum.  (Dr. Noir had graciously given me a free ticket.)  The “Penis Museum” was started by Sigurður Hjartarson, a retired teacher, who began a life-long search for peni and research into all sorts of animal and sea creatures.  When Mr. Hjartarson’s collection became too big for his living room, his wife put her foot down and insisted the collection had to go, so he set up his first museum in a small Icelandic town.  Later with the help of his son, the museum moved to a location in Reykjavik.

The museum claims that its collection includes the penises of elves and trolls, though, as Icelandic folklore portrays such creatures as being invisible, they cannot be seen.  There are even lampshades made from the scrotums of bulls.  The museum’s quest now is to obtain a human penis and believe it or not, one or two men have volunteered.

I was able to cover a lot of ground on foot and there was no lack of restaurants of all types – Arabic, Vietnamese, French, Italian, not to mention Icelandic.   But I have to say after what I’ve heard, I didn’t want to actually try fermented shark.  Would I visit Iceland again?  Yes, in a heartbeat.  The landscape is absolutely awesome and there is so much more to see there.

My trip may have been a once in a lifetime journey, but I do hope I can return someday and continue to explore this fascinating island at 66 degrees north latitude.

SPRING FLING BLOG HOP (1)March 20th ~ The Vernal Equinox is here!

You might not think that’s such a big deal – not like the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year or the Winter Solstice, the shortest day, but the two equinoxes, vernal and autumnal, are just as important.

Maybe I get excited about all this planetary stuff because my protagonist in the Zodiac Mysteries, Julia Bonatti, is an astrologer and she pays a lot of attention to the stars.

X-equinox_full_widthEach equinox and solstice is an astronomical event brought about by the shifting of Earth’s tilt on its axis. On this day the sun will rise exactly due east and set due west. At the moment of the equinox, the hours of the day and night are exactly equal all over the world.  This year the vernal equinox occurs on March 20th at 3:29 a.m. on the west coast.  But here’s an astrological chart of the event set at the Greenwich Meridian.

SunEntersAries2017If you look near the top of the chart, you’ll see the symbol for the Sun  at exactly 0 degrees and 0 minutes Aries.  It looks like a circle with a dot in the middle.  The very beginning of the the zodiac.  A harbinger of the coming spring.

X-Russian eggs

Many cultures and religions through the eons have celebrated this time of the year with festivals and symbols of rebirth and fertility. The egg is a prime symbol, promising new life.  Folklore tells us that eggs balance on their ends most easily at the equinox.  Seeds, like eggs, hold the potential of new growth.  Rabbits, because of their many offspring and constant breeding, are also associated with spring festivals.

X-RabbitPassover takes place in the middle of the Hebrew month of Nisan and although the calendar was constantly being adjusted, the most important factor in deciding the day was the spring equinox. No Ruz (New Day) is celebrated in Iran, a festival rooted in the beliefs of Zoroastrianism.  In Egypt the Festival of Isis was held as a celebration of spring and rebirth.  The ancient Romans observed the Feast of Cybele, a mother goddess at the center of a Phrygian fertility cult.

astarte-1In Poland, a little lamb made of butter or sugar is placed in the center of the Easter table, which is laden with food and decorated with eggs. In Italy, colored eggs are baked in braided loaves of bread at Easter.  In Russia, the celebration of Maslenitsa is observed as a time of the return of light and warmth.  St. Patrick’s Day is March 17th and we’ve all heard that St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland .  A double meaning here because the serpent was a metaphor for the early pagan faiths of Ireland.

X-OestreEaster is named for the Saxon goddess, Eostre, a goddess of the dawn. And the date of Easter is determined by a moon cycle – always the first Sunday on or after the first full moon after the vernal equinox.  This year the first full moon will appear on April 9th.  It’s sometimes called the Pink Moon or the Egg Moon or the Sprouting Grass Moon.  So this year Easter will be celebrated on April 16th.

GoddessMany holidays dedicated to the great mother goddesses take place in the month of March: Astarte, Isis, Aphrodite, Cybele and the Virgin Mary. The goddess shows herself in the blossoms, the leaves on the trees, the sprouting of the crops, the mating of birds, and the birth of young animals.  We are reassured that life will continue.

earthWe are bound to our beautiful blue ball and its movements. We depend on the earth, so of course our important festivals are celebrated at the solstices and the equinoxes with symbols that hark back to ancient pagan influences.

How will you celebrate this Vernal Equinox?  Will you do something special to show your gratitude to our planet?   Plant a tree?  Call your representative or senator and ask her or him to protect the EPA?  Start a flower garden?
Happy Spring ~

flowersBut wait ~ don’t go away – Click the links below to follow the Spring Fling Blog Hop with all these other authors:

Allyson Charles: https://www.allysoncharles.com/blog
Gillian Baker: http://gilianbaker.com/blog/
K.B. Owen: http://kbowenmysteries.com/blog
Layla Reyne: https://laylareyne.tumblr.com
Kirsten Weiss: https://kirstenweiss.com/blog
Mona Karel: https://mona-karel.com/blog/
Misterio Press: https://misteriopress.com
Shannon Esposito: http://murderinparadise.com/blog-2/
Victoria De La O: http://www.victoriadelao.com/

And you can visit me at Facebook or Twitter @askzodia too!

All Signs Point to Murder
(Book 2 in the Zodiac Mysteries)
Coming soon:  August 8, 2017

Rob Ramer was the perfect husband until he committed the ultimate family faux pas ~ he shot his sister-in-law to death.  Was this a murder plot or a tragic accident? Julia Bonatti, San Francisco astrologer, vows to find the answer in the stars.

Connie’s a guest at Shelley’s Bookcase talking about the Zodiac Mysteries and her protagonist, Julia Bonatti, San Francisco astrologer.

Connie’s a guest today at Le Coeur de l’Artiste to talk about creating charts for her characters.

Interview with Connie di Marco at Laura Brennan’s Destination Mystery.

Is a very special day ~ It’s the anniversary of the 8.3 earthquake that struck the city of San Francisco at 5:12 a.m. on April 18, 1906.

Madness of MercuryJulia Bonatti, San Francisco astrologer and my protagonist in the Zodiac Mysteries, is a native San Franciscan, and since most of the city’s residents hail from other places, being a native is a point of honor.  You’ll learn more about Julia on June 8, 2016 when her first adventure, The Madness of Mercury is released.

Now, Julia’s lived in the city her entire life.  She experienced the Loma Prieta quake that brought down the freeway in Oakland and a section of the Bay Bridge, destroyed a large apartment building in the Marina and caused death, injury and lots of other destruction in and around the city.  She’s certainly not old enough to remember the Big One, the 1906 quake that destroyed the city, but every year, she attends the remembrance ceremony that takes place at Lotta’s Fountain at the corner of Market and Kearny Streets with thousands of other people who gather in remembrance of the dead and in tribute to those who rebuilt the city.

SF_Bay_area_USGSAfter the quake, a conspiracy of disinformation began.  The world was told that fire destroyed the city, not the earthquake.  It was the supposedly true story I heard when I first lived in San Francisco.  And even people who had grown up there believed the lie.  But thanks to historians we now know that to be untrue.  Yes, the city burned, but it was the 8.3 quake that leveled the city before any fires started.  The powers-that-were in the city – business people, politicians, insurance companies, the Southern Pacific Railroad — had to propagate the lie.  They needed investors and money coming in to rebuild and so the truth and the dead were swept under the carpet, or actually into the Bay.  That’s not a lie.

San_Francisco_in_ruins_view_from_Captive_Airship_above_Folsom_1906In past years, survivors of the 8.3 quake were honored but sadly, they are all gone now.  William “Bill” Del Monte, the last survivor, who was three months old in 1906, died in 2013.

On April 18th, at 4:00 a.m., San Franciscans gather at Lotta’s Fountain, a cast iron structure at Market and Kearny Streets.  Lotta’s Fountain stood in 1906 and was the place where people gathered and left messages, searching for loved ones.  The commemoration begins at 4:30 a.m., at 5:00 a.m. the Mayor hangs a wreath and eleven minutes later the countdown to 5:12 a.m. begins.  At 5:12 a.m., the sirens blare, followed by a minute of silence.  Then a sing along of “San Francisco.”

Lotta's FountainIt only takes a tiny corner of
This great big world to make the place we love
My home upon the hill, I find I love you still,
I’ve been away, but now I’m back to tell you…
San Francisco, open your golden gate
You let no stranger wait outside your door
San Francisco, here is your wanderin’ one
Saying I’ll wander no more
Other places only make me love you best
Tell me you’re the heart of all the golden west
San Francisco, welcome me home again
I’m coming home to go roaming no more

I may not be attending the ceremony this year, but having survived the 1994 Northridge Quake, I’ll be there in spirit to give thanks, to honor the dead and the courage of those who were able to rebuild this beautiful city by the bay.