1928: A Year of Tragedy, Accomplishment, and Fate

Kelsey Perez, guest writer


“Jack Bradman? I am so sorry.” The flustered nurse in the light blue scrubs gave me a sympathetic, sad look. These words left me paralyzed. How could one day be ordinary and the next a complete disaster?

March 12, 1928, started off as usual. People bustled in all directions near our small apartment in Los Angeles, California. Mom left early for work that morning, coffee in hand. Dad did not need to go to work early, so he took his time to shower and eat buttered toast.

“Bob, you need to set a better example for the children.”

“Helen, you know I try my best. It is just that there is no practical reason to wake up at six in the morning, when I go to work at ten.”

“That may be, but I do not want my children to grow into the habit of being tardy.”

The school bus pulled up to the street and collected all of us children. On the bus, I sat with a tall, blonde-haired kid named Michael. Michael was a nerdy eleventh grader, just like me. He reads the newspaper every morning and carries a briefcase.

“Dude, have you heard about the latest invention?!”

“You know I only hear news from you, Mike. What’s up?”

“We have created  Clip-On Ties! Now all men across the nation can easily look professional and sophisticated!”

“Mike, this is revolutionary!”

Talking about the news and politics, we soon arrived at school and the day went on as usual. It was nearly time to go home, when a blaring siren went off.

“Students! Get to the roof immediately!”

I did not know what was happening until I looked toward the San Francisquito Canyon. Huge, crashing waves engulfed houses and buildings all around and headed straight for Los Angeles. Rushing waters dominated the streets and enveloped entire shops. Thankfully, our school building was tall and protected us from the gushing waters, but the destruction was unimaginable. People were screaming and holding on to anything they could find on the street. Mothers were separated from babies; brothers were separated from sisters. I later learned there were even “bodies washed ashore as far as San Diego” (Harrison). More than six hundred innocent people were drowned.

It was the most terrifying experience I have ever had to witness and is rightfully considered the “second-greatest disaster in California history” (Harrison). The St. Francis Dam

failure, was beyond devastation.

Seven hours later, I was taken to a nearby hospital with the rest of the students. A doctor quickly checked me and moved on to more severe patients. In the waiting room, I was told that my parents were both in critical condition on the lower level of the hospital. I sped down several flights of stairs so fast that I ran into a nurse! She was wearing light blue scrubs.

“Jack Bradman?” she asked. “I’m so sorry. Your parents are dead.”

* * *

I, Bonnie Earhart, bubbled with excitement as I processed the mere thought of being the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. My heart jolted uncontrollably as I realized what I was about to do.

Technically, Amelia was “asked if she wanted to be the first woman to fly the Atlantic” and I was supposed to stay at home and cheer my sister on, but could I honestly resist this golden opportunity? (History.com). Sure, I might have to fake a trip to the beach and sneak on to the mighty aircraft theFriendship, but it was a risk I was willing to take. I excitedly packed my bag, and with a look full of mischief, I organized a plan to stow away on to the plane that would change history.

The next day, my family and I anxiously waved good-bye to Amelia as she entered the plane. I promptly turned to leave on my supposed beach trip and headed for the exit. As soon as Grandma Muriel and Mom were out of sight, I dashed to the runway and straight for the plane.

Getting into the plane was not all that difficult. I sprinted to the entrance and immediately found the perfect hiding spot. There was a small corner with three suitcases that could be easily rearranged to cover me. Once I was safely in the corner, I desperately tried to calm my jittery nerves and my thumping pulse. It was impossible.

Under the suitcases, I could barely hear the muffled voices of the captain and Amelia:

“. . . Ninety-two degrees latitude . . .”

“. . . make a stop in either . . . check the control panel . . .”

“Take-off in two minutes . . .”

Suddenly, I felt my whole body shake as the plane took speed and lifted off of the ground. I clung to my knees and hoped that I would not let out a squeal of excitement. It was hard not sharing my enthusiasm with Amelia: we both had a passion for aviation.

When Amelia and I were both young, we wanted to create a mechanism that could fly. I did not particularly like heights, but I really enjoyed the mechanics and science behind a flying machine. We always used to say that Amelia would fly our great invention and I would be the co-pilot that was actually a technician. Sadly, we both grew up and never fulfilled our dream. Although Amelia remained passionate for aviation, I grew shy and did not trust in my abilities and skills in any subject or hobby. During this expedition, however, I was forced to face my greatest fear.

After what seemed like an eternity, I fell into a light slumber. Forty-five minutes went by, when I was abruptly awakened by a fierce arm that yanked me out of the suitcase pile:

“Bonnie, we need your help right now!” Amelia shouted.

“What? How did you know . . .?”

“Not now, Bonnie! Please! The plane is going down in any second!”

I hastily got to my feet and saw black smoke rising from the cockpit. My insides crumbled as I realized these peoples’ lives depended on my knowledge of the plane’s design.

The world depended on me. My sister depended on me. I dove into the cockpit.

* * *

June 27, 1928, seemed to be a dim, dreary day in Burry Port, South Wales. Amelia and her sister, Bonnie, are at a local coffee shop enjoying their last day in Wales before the long trip back home. The sisters are exhausted from the past, hectic days due to their remarkable landing in Burry Port. They quietly sip coffee and read the daily newspaper.

“Amazing! The first telephone connection between the United States and the Netherlands just happened last Tuesday!” Bonnie squeals.

“That is incredible! Dad will be thrilled!”

“Most definitely! As crazy as it might sound, all of these achievements make me think anything is possible.”

“It does seem that way. We have already discovered mysterious fossils and trained dogs to facilitate disabled people.”

“Don’t forget we also invented the first air-conditioned office in San Antonio!”

At that moment, a man in a black suit looks at a small picture, and approaches Bonnie Earhart. He then asks her to help direct the reparations for the new St. Francis Dam. He explains that her skill and talent for mechanics and engineering were clearly shown during the desperate situation on the planeand were greatly needed in California.

Not sitting too far away is a young man reading the most popular book in the country. He is still recuperating from a traumatic experience and takes encouragement from Amelia and Bonnie Earhart’s new book20 hrs., 40 min. In order to recall accurate details of the plane expedition, the sisters had written the book in a matter of days.The man sits there deep in thought, when a waiter sits opposite of him.

“That is an astounding book you got there.”

“Indeed. It makes me feel like I actually know Amelia and Bonnie in real life. I also think it proves that this world can prosper no matter how many downfalls it faces.”

“What is your name, young man?”

“Jack. Jack Bradman.”

Works Cited

Harrison, Scott. “St. Francis Dam collapse left a trail of death and destruction.”latimes.com, 19                March 2016. Web. 05 April 2017.

History.com, Staff. “Amelia Earhart.”history.com, 2009. Web. 05 April 2017.


Administrator, NASA. “Earhart Crosses the Atlantic.”nasa.gov, 19 June 2008. Web. 27 March                 2017.

Gillespie, Ric. Finding Amelia: The true story of the Earhart disappearance. Naval Institute                      Press, 2006.

Lloyd, Jonathon. “Remembering California’s 1928 St. Francis Dam Disaster.”                                             nbclosangeles.com, 14 Feb. 2017. Web. 05 April 2017.

Szalay, Jessie. “Amelia Earhart: Biography & Facts About Disappearance.”livescience, 29 Oct.                  2014. Web. 27 March 2017.