Keep on the Sunny Side

Jenny Chung, guest writer


Standing on the street and gazing at my own bakery, I felt indescribable happiness. It was a perfect day. The sunlight was warm, and the wind carried the smell of early summer. On April 18, 1906, it was the day when I opened my bakery, Cherries on Top in San Francisco, California.

I opened the door and strode across the kitchen, and there was Julia Johnson, my best friend and co-worker of our bakery.

“Good morning Lucy,” said Julia as she continued kneeding bread.

“Good morning Julia. Why did you come so early today?”

“I couldn’t sleep well last night becauseI was so excited to think of our first day of baking!” said Julia as shewalked around the kitchen.

“Lucy, can you mix the milk, flour, and eggs in the bowl?” asked Julia, while she prepared the wrap for the candies and chopped the slightly bitter tasting walnuts.

“Of course!” I stretched my arms to the top of the shelf and grabbed a silver-colored bowl. I poured the milk on the bowl, mixed with the flour and eggs, and put it into the oven. I set the timer to forty-five minutes, and Julia and I made puddings and cake pops then ate bland pieces of the bread with strawberry jam, careful not to burn breads in the oven.

The next couple of hours were flustered. Luckily, people kept coming to the bakery, but unluckily we had no time to sit down on the chair. As the clock pointed three, the bakery became slack. I stretched my arms to the air and combed my fingers through my brown straight hair. Then I turned on the radio and listened to So long, Mary.

Suddenly, the floor started to quake, and the plates started to fall off from the shelf and broke with a crash.

“Hurry! Get under the counter!” Julia shouted.

“Julia!” I cried, trying to reach her outstretched arms. Quickly, I grabbed her hand and pulled her toward me. Involuntarily, we plugged our ears and just waited for the shaking to stop. A few minutes later, Julia cleared her throat, wiped sweat from her face, looked at me and said, “What . . . what happened? What happened to our bakery?”


A Few minutes later, it was almost four o’clock in the afternoon. The floor still seemed to quiver every few minutes.

“Lucy . . . our . . . ” Julia stammered. She stood on the kitchen table and stopped mid sentence as she saw the disaster. I came out from the counter, and my hand covered my mouth.

“Our bakery . . . is . . . collapsed.”

“Tell me this is just a nightmare- not reality”

“I wish I could say that.”

“Let’s go to the street and see what happened.” My voice trembled on the verge of tears of fright and sorrow.

When we went to outside, the whole city was swept by the dire earthquake. Many people panicked, and severe fires broke out with suffocating smoke pervading throughout the city. A myriad of buildings swayed furiously, and brick walls trumbled and crashed into Van Ness Avenue as it raised acrid clouds of dust (Don). Some children lost their parents and cried, and some people tried to steal the food from other people’s shops. As we wandered aimlessly around the avenue,we saw a pram with broken wheels.

“Julia, what should we do if a baby is inside?”

“I . . . I hope not.” Julia said as she opened the pram.

“I was actually relieved there wasn’t an abandoned baby inside” I said with a sigh (Gregory).

Then suddenly, one girlcollapsed in the street. We ran toward her and grasped her hand and tried to keep her stay awake. Herarms and cheeks were bleeding, and there was a blackcrust on herwhole face.

“Please! Someone help her!” I shouted. Then one woman approached us. Her uniform was muddy white, and her name was written on the name tag, embroidered in blue on the uniform. M.D. was displayed on her name tag, but I had never seen female doctor in my life. Her name was Kristina Williams. Kristina checked the girl’s pulse then took out a long needle from a brown bag, pierced the bottle of transparent liquid and filled the disposable syringe. She tapped the syringe few times and injected into the girl’s arm.

“She will be fine. She just had extreme stress and dehydration. I think I have to carry her to the refugee camp because it is nearby Letterman Hospital” Kristina said andwiped off the sweaton her face.

“Refugee camp?” Julia asked.

“Yes. It’s managed by the army and more than three camps are located on the Presidio. It is actually the same as highly-organized tent towns” (Don).

Because all the power and the water of our bakery went out, Julia and I decided to go to the refugee camp. We went back to the bakery and dragged out our clothes, money, and wateron luggage, wagons-anything with wheels. Then we were ready. We looked back at our bakery and other neighbor buildings. Tears streamed down our faces.

“It was the first day,” sobbed Julia. “It was the first day of our bakery…the bakery was my dream…I didn’t even finish baking cookies.” She wailed at the black sky covered with the smoke.

“I know…I know” I wept. We wiped away our tears and headed to the refugee camp with Kristina (Gregory).

* * *

The next day, Julia and I arrived at the refugee camp. The atmosphere of the camp looked far away from that I expected. The majority of the people were crying, and the children seemed like they lost their parents during the earthquake. Some people were bleeding and cared by the group of men who were wearing the white uniform. We unpacked our possessionsin our tent. Julia sank down into the chair.

“I’m already exhausted,” Julia hardly hardly.

“You can sleep on the right side of the bed. I’m going to walk around the camps. I might be late.”

I came out from the tent and walked the street. I smelled bread and cookies coming from across the tent. Meandering through the maze-like tents, I finally stumbled upon the kitchen.

“Can I help you guys?”

“Of course! We are cooking some food for the children. Can you help us to bake cookies?”

“Sure.” I said as I grabbed the bowl and mixed the eggs and flour together.

* * *

For the next few weeks, I helped injured people, taught them baking, and cleaned the refugee camps. Day-by-day, people helped each other, and people’s effort started to change the atmosphere of the camps from depression to hopefulness. Some children formed playgroups in the camps andplayed with the baseball trading cards, some women did the laundry at the river. There were no depression or pain anymore; it seemed like people strived to stabilize their mood. A few weeks later, many people recovered their health and became energetic. Kristina said that the city became stable so that people could go back to their homes. After that, Julia and I set on the bench and grinned to each other. I listened to Julia sing Keep on the Sunny Side:

“Well there’s a dark and a troubled side of life

There’s a bright and a sunny side too

But if you meet with the darkness and strife

The sunny side we also may view

Keep on the sunny side, always on the sunny side

Keep on the sunny side of life

It will help us every day, it will brighten all the way

If we keep on the sunny side of life” (“Keep).

Works Cited

Don, Denevi. The Great San Francisco Earthquake and Fire, 1906. California: Celestal Art

Publisher, 1981.

Gorman, Robert. The 20th Century. California: Salem Press, 2007.

“Keep on the Sunny Side lyrics – The Whites.”,2017,Web. 4 April 2017.

“1906 San Francisco Earthquake.”A+E Networks, 2009, Web. 27 March 2017.


Gregory, Kristina. Earthquake at Dawn. Harcourt, 2003.