One man, long paralyzed from the neck down before the earthquake, regained the ability to move when a looter tried stealing his bags from beside him in a park, where he was placed by friends after rescue. Enraged, the man’s first act of mobility was to crack the criminal over the head with a plank of wood.
As San Francisco threatened to descend into lawless mayhem, Mayor E.E. Schmitz enforced a shoot-to-kill policy against looters. Taking the orders too far, one officer shot a thirsty horse who was “looting” water leaking from a broken hydrant.
Forty-six workers at the U.S. Post Office defied orders to evacuate and battled the fire that threatened their building with mail sacks soaked in water. Incredibly, not a single piece of mail was lost in the blaze, although many of the addresses to which they were destined no longer existed.
Despite being packed with one of nature’s fuels, another building to survive the quake and fire unscathed was A.P. Hotaling’s whiskey warehouse. The odd miracle prompted a local poet to create this famous ditty:
If, as some say, God spanked the town,
For being frisky,
Why did He burn the churches down
And save Hotaling’s Whiskey?