None Darker Than Me

Racial obsession in 19th-century San Diego

Q. Where was she when you first saw her?

A. Just in the act of stepping over the rail.

Q. On which side of the car track was she?

A. The left hand going east.

Q. Your car was going east at this time?

A. Yes sir.

Q. And she was on the left hand side?

A. On the left hand side.

Q. How far from the track was she when you first saw her?

A. I forget whether it was her right foot or left, I think it was her right foot was just going over the rail when I seen her. Coming up behind my head light, you see, I could not see the woman, but just as soon as she stepped in the light I seen her. It was very dark, cloudy, if you remember.

Q. Was her back towards you?

A. Yes sir.

Q. At what time was this?

A. It was close to 5:55 when I struck the lady, it was not half a minute from 5:55 when I hit her.

Q. You looked at your watch?

A. I looked at my watch just as soon as my car stopped.

Q. What date was this, of the month?

A. The 14th.

Q. November 14th?

A. Yes sir, November the 14th.

Q. Of 1897?

A. Yes sir.

Q. On National Avenue, City of San Diego, County of San Diego, State of California?

A. Yes sir.

Q. When you first saw her, was she facing you?

A. No sir.

Q. Her back was towards you?

A. Her back was towards me and she never looked up from the time I hollered. I hollered at her twice. I hollered just before the car struck her, and just as she went to step in the track. She never looked up at all, just looked right at the ground, and she never made a noise of any kind when the car struck her at all.

Q. How far from the front of the car was she when you first saw her?

A. Well, she was between fifteen and twenty feet, not over twenty feet from me when I first seen her.

Q. You sounded the gong before you reached 30th street?

A. Yes sir.

Q. Did you sound the gong after that?

A. No sir.

Q. You did not sound the gong when you first saw her?

A. I had no time for it.

Q. What means did you take to stop the car?

A. I grabbed my controller handle with one hand and my reverse with the other. I brought my controller handle back to about the sixth notch, and throwed my reverse the other way, reversed the car.

Q. That is all the means you have at hand for controlling the speed of the car, is it?

A. To make a sudden stop, a quick stop, yes sir. Of course we have our brake, but we never depend upon our brake to make a quick stop. I was taught that when I went to the San Diego Electric Railway.

Q. If you could have used the brake, would that have assisted you any?

A. No sir, it would have been a disadvantage.

Q. How far did your car go after you saw the woman before it stopped?

A. Well, I do not think it went over — after I seen her I could not say, from the time I struck the woman I think the car went about twelve or thirteen feet. I made an [awful] sudden stop. My car was going at the time about five miles an hour when I seen the woman, when I first seen her.

Q. Was it going at full speed?

A. Oh no, no sir.

Q. Not as fast as you usually run?

A. Oh no sir.

Q. You had brought it to a partial stop, you say, before you reached 30th street?

A. Yes sir.

Q. And had just fairly started again?

A. I throwed my current off before I got to 30th, expecting a stop. When I seen that I did not get no bell, I put my current on again, you see. I always aim to catch my car at the same speed she is going, when I throw my current on; it is a saving of current and everything, it is a saving of everything, and just as I got my current back on to the car, this lady stepped out in front of my — and I just grabbed my handles and hollered at her. I hollered at her just as she went over the rail, I hollered and grabbed my handles, one in each hand.

Q. Could you from your position see just how you struck her?

A. I think I struck her on the hip, I could not be certain, with the controller stand, I think it struck her on the hip. It struck her pretty close and I think on the right side — I would not be positive but I think it was on the right side. I could not say which side it was on, but I know the controller stand struck her on the hip or pretty close to it.

Q. From the position that you occupy usually as a motorman, can you see a body close up in front of the car, in front?

A. I can see within three feet of the end of the car. I can see close enough to reach a switch point and throw the switch, just as good of a night as I can of a day. The car I run has the patent headlight on it, it sets down right on the dash.

Q. Was there any electric light near this crossing?

A. Well, there is a light at 31st street and one at 28th.

Q. Did that give much or any light at this point where you struck the woman?

A. No sir.

Q. Your headlight, how far ahead does that throw the light?

Read Part 2: As Far South as I've Ever Been

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