John Vonderlin: 1920: Movie-man drowns near Moss Beach

Story by John Vonderlin

Email John: [email protected]

Hi June,
Moss Beach doesn’t get mentioned often in the old newspapers, but this is one that they would have gladly done without. While the distaff rescuer bravely tried her best, she’d have done a heck of a lot better if nylons had already been invented. The best thing about this sad story is the date. It was published May 29th, 1920, in the “San Francisco Call.” That is ten years after the previous 1910 date that was the Newspaper Archive cutoff. How long before they add the 20’s and 30’s? I hope I’m ready, because the Coastside really started to hop in that period.  Enjoy. John
Charles A. Gilchrist Goes to Watery Grave Near Moss Beach San Francisco.—ln spite of desperate attempts to save his life, Charles A. Gilchrist of Oakland, a motion picture cameraman, was drowned May 20 while engaged in filming big waves four miles north of Moss Beach in San Mateo county.
Mrs. K. S. Heck, cousin of the drowned man, heroically tried to save Gilchrist by lying flat on the rock from which he bad fallen and throwing to him an improved life line, but her efforts failed and Gilchrist perished before her eyes. Mrs. Heck was 150 feet away from Gilchrist when she heard him utter a cry for help. Scrambling down a steep cliff, risking her own life, Mrs. Heck reached the boulder from which Gilchrist had fallen. He was struggling in the water when Mrs. Heck sighted him. Tearing her leggings loose, Mrs. Heck tied them together and, lying flat on the rock, held them down to Gilchrist. Gilchrist grabbed the makeshift lifeline and Mrs. Heck pulled with all her might. Just as she had dragged Gilchrist partly from the water the leggings parted, Gilchrist sank back into the water and disappeared before Mrs. Heck could repair the hastily improvised life line.