Take a trip through 1906 San Francisco four days before an earthquake destroyed the city

My novel, Abel Bodied: Murder at the Malden Bank, based on the first murder during a bank robbery in American history, is set in my hometown of Malden, MA in 1863.

I had access to photographs, maps, newspapers and other historical resources from the era for my research. I often walked along the real locations to visualize how things were like in the 1860’s – but I really had to delve into my imagination to get a sense of the real people and the time in which they lived to convey the story I set out to tell.

However, I became immersed, transported directly back in time in an instant while watching this video of San Francisco in 1906 as this trolley with a film camera positioned at its front rambles along for over eleven minutes passing other trolley cars, horse and buggies, bicycles and pedestrians crossing the street. The original film has been painstakingly upgraded with current digital technology, colorized with ambient sound added to recreate somewhat accurately what was seen through this camera’s lens.

The scene is peaceful and chaotic at the same time as the speed of all vehicles seems to be about 10-15 mph – yet there are no defined rules of the road. Cars and buggies cut in front of one another or make indiscriminate u-turns in the middle of the street. Some pedestrians walk amidst the unpredictable action without a care in the world while others scurry out of the way. Boys chase and jump on the back of passing carts. The date that this film was taken was Saturday, April 14, 1906. The people in this film were living their lives with no idea as to the utter calamity that was about to befall them.

On Wednesday, April 18th at 5:12 A.M. a 7.9 magnitude earthquake would destroy an estimated 80% of the city and more than 3000 of its residents would die in the initial destruction and then days of fires.

Viewing these eleven plus minutes of video, I felt like I was along for the ride and imagined the myriad lives of those by chance crossing the camera’s path.

It is history come to life and it is an inspiration to any writer or aspiring writer’s base of knowledge if they wish to compose non-fiction and just a terrific resource for one’s creativity to write historical fiction as I prefer to do.

So, if you haven’t already watched the video first, your fare is paid for in advance with a front row seat guaranteed. Just click play and head back to 1906 San Francisco for a little while. I assure you, it is a journey worth taking!

Michael Cloherty

He’s All About Malden

Peter Caso

If you’re walking on the avenue or down a city street

Whether it’s Highland, Pleasant or Main

There’s a man you’re sure to meet

Whose Facebook page’s brought him city-wide fame

Seems like everyone knows his name!

You can call him Pistol or simply call him Pete!

He’s All About Malden

As the city continues to change and grow

He’ll keep you up to date

Of everything you need to know 

When a new business opens

He’ll be by the mayor’s side 

Here’s a salute from all of us to you, Pete Caso!

We’re grateful that your heart is full of hometown pride!

An ode to my friend, Peter Caso


My first book signing and the first opportunity to buy a signed paperback version of my novel is coming up in a couple of weeks.

The City of Malden is holding six Summer Festivals on Saturdays along Pleasant Street in Malden Square. There will a variety of food and entertainment. Here is a link with information and dates:


Malden Mayor Gary Christenson and the terrific members of his staff including Kevin Duffy and Kathleen Manning Hall, have been extremely generous and supportive of my novel’s release. I am very grateful. They have offered me a tent and a table to sell and sign my book during these events. The first festival is coming up soon, this Saturday, June 12th.

However, there wasn’t enough time for me to have copies printed and shipped for this event. The next festival will be held on June 26th and I will have a good stock of books ready to go! My table will be within feet of the location of the crime depicted in my novel, Abel Bodied: Murder at the Malden Bank. The First Murder During a Bank Robbery in American History.

The festival is scheduled from 12 P.M. to 6 P.M. I plan to be able to sell the first copy right at noon and stay as long as there is interest and I have books to sell and sign. I have priced the book after the year of the murder, at $18.63. The sales tax brings the cost up to $19.79 so my autograph or any inscription you ask for will only cost you 21 cents if want to pay with a twenty dollar bill! My handwriting is not superb so the cost seems about right!

I will also have custom bookmarks to sell for $1. If you buy the signed book with a twenty dollar bill, I will include the bookmark for free but you can also purchase the book and bookmarks with a credit or debit card if you choose.

I hope to see you there if you are able to attend this event or any of the festivals that follow. There will also be a signing event in the Malden Public Library, the building given by Elisha and Mary Converse to the city in memorial to their slain son, Frank, the murder victim in my novel. I am not sure of the date yet but it will be close to official release of the novel on July 12th.

It will be an honor to hold this event in the library that inspired my love of reading and my motivation to become a writer myself. It will also be very humbling to sell my novel in such a hallowed hall where the portraits of the parents and their son, who was taken from them at the tender age of seventeen, hang in a beautiful art gallery. I am presenting the library with three copies of the novel. Knowing that my book about such a tragic event in my hometown’s history will be on its shelves and shared with the people of the city is truly wonderful!

The City of Malden has informed me of some other exciting plans they have in connection with my novel and the story of the Converse murder. These plans completely astounded me! When the city is ready to make these announcements, I will share them with you!

Thanks so much again for your interest and wonderful reactions to my the release of my novel!

Michael Cloherty