1906 Earthquake Survivors To Gather In San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — When Bill DelMonte was just a few months old, his father rushed him out of San Francisco by horse and wagon through the flames that ravaged the city in the wake of the 1906 earthquake.

On Sunday, the 105-year-old Marin County resident will be the guest of honor at a lunch for earthquake survivors held in advance of the 105th anniversary of the temblor on Monday.

DelMonte, whose father owned Fior D’Italia restaurant in North Beach, is one of the last three known survivors of the quake.

The other two will be at Sunday’s lunch in spirit, event organizer Lee Houskeeper said. Ruth Newman, 109, lives in Pebble Beach, and Rose Cliver, 108, resides in Novato, he said.

“After an exhaustive national search, we believe they’re the only three left,” Houskeeper said.

The Fior D’Italia restaurant’s building was destroyed in the April 18, 1906, quake, but two days later its owners began operating out of a tent to feed the city’s residents.

Officers stationed at the Presidio brought water to the cooks so they could make soup, Houskeeper said. The restaurant continued to serve customers from the tent for an entire year while the city was rebuilt.

Police Chief Jeff Godown will join DelMonte at Sunday’s lunch, where the centenarian will share his experiences with reporters.

Then at 5 a.m. Monday, city officials will gather at Lotta’s Fountain at Kearny and Market streets to kick off the city’s annual earthquake parade and wreath-laying ceremony.

Mayor Ed Lee, Godown, and Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White will ride in a car with DelMonte as the procession makes its way to 20th and Church streets at Dolores Park for the annual painting of the fire hydrant that saved the mission, Houskeeper said.

The festivities will culminate with a Bloody Mary breakfast at Lefty O’Doul’s restaurant at 333 Geary St.

Sunday’s lunch will begin at 2:30 p.m. at John’s Grill, located at 63 Ellis St., San Francisco.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services may have contributed to this report.)

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