The 1925 Santa Barbara Earthquake: The Red Cross

"The first shock struck the city at about 6:44 AM. Within an hour there was a little green tent standing in the Plaza on De La Guerra Street, with the Red Cross flag flying above it and an energetic group at work inside and out. ... This was the duty of the Red Cross, and the women and girls worked on in a blazing sun, slicing bologna sausage by the yard and bread until their wrists ached, while an increasing line of 'customers' passed before the improvised counter and were fed.

"The cooks were a short, ruddy boy from the Naval Reserve and an older youth whose wordly goods were safe under six feet of masonry in the Californian Hotel; they pulled and heaved, sweated and were scorched to keep the tin cups full. As the sun grew high, some considerate person from the Yacht Club sent up a huge sail, which carpenters stretched on a hasty scaffold to screen the crew at the tables and protect the perishable food. ...

"There was no difficulty in finding workers, for the social opportunities implied in the occupation appealed to girls and young men who might not have responded so strenuously to the call of mere duty. ...

"So the week went on, with heavy work during the days and during the nights little beyond the dispatch of rations to the Marines and other guards on post. Restaurants began to open for longer hours, and men who were solvent tended to patronize them as well as find rooms of their own. The first-aid tent became unnecessary and was closed; the Canteen drew into narrower quarters, limited its operations to night hours and finally extinguished its stoves on Tuesday, July 14."

-Robert V. Merrill, assistant professor of French, University of Chicago (who happened to be in Santa Barbara at the time of the earthquake), from the Official Report of Relief Activities, the Earthquake Disaster at Santa Barbara California, The American Red Cross, Washington, D.C., June 1926.

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