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Like the hastily built memorial of a battlefield–the cross aslant on bloody ground–a cruelly chalked square on a San Francisco sidewalk today marked the spot where two victims of the rioting died.

herman volz lithograph of general 
strikeFresh flowers and small shrubs ringed the spot, still darkly stained with the life blood of Howard Sperry, longshoreman striker, and George Coundourakis, marine cook, at Steuart and Mission streets.

Long before dawn friends of the dead men, with small bunches of blooms in their hands, stole to the spot, carefully chalked the square and ringed it with their offerings. A few moments "the prayers of rough men"–and they walked away.

Careless, hurrying feet knocked the flowers aside, but they were replaced in the early morning.

Marks of feet printed the sidewalk with the stain of the crushed flowers.

Seeing this, sorrow turned to bitterness, and signs, "Police, murder, two men shot in the back," were added to the epitaph.

Later in the morning, crowds bound uptown from the ferry gaped in wonder at the unusual "grave site" flowers, American flags and flags of the International Longshoremen's Union–

"Look at the roses, the flags, what–"

Then a startled face, whitened suddenly, showed that the speaker understood.

"Men were killed there yesterday–"

Skirts of young girls, hurrying to their jobs, whipped past. Flags on the "grave" gently stirred in the breeze.

Some stopped and stared up at the headquarters of the I.L.A., draped in mourning banners for the dead men.

Bitter faces stared down at them. Low whispers and bated talk.

The crowds hurried on.

Red Roses–and blood, mementoes of San Francisco's "bloody Thursday."

Shortly before noon, when the roses began to droop, police came and swept them up, threw them into a patrol wagon and hauled them away.

"The flowers obstructed the sidewalk," they said.

And hurrying feet soon blotted out the epitaph.

July 6, 1934

Return to the Museum's General Strike Page.

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