The dynamic San Francisco fog was beginning its creep across the Bay, as it does most summer afternoons, when the bus doors swung open and Harold B. Wobber stepped off on August 7, 1937.
“It’s a great day,” Wobber, 47, said to a fellow passenger, “for what I’m going to do.”
“What’s that?” the passenger, Lewis Naylor, asked him.
“You’ll see,” said Wobber, a World War I veteran.
They disembarked at the turnstile leading to the brand new Golden Gate Bridge, a spectacular marvel of engineering and design. At the time, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world. More than 200,000 people had flocked to the bridge to celebrate its opening on May 27, 1937.
But what Wobber was about to do would change its future, making it not only a destination for those seeking inspiration but also a place for those haunted by despair.
Wobber, a descendant of one of California’s pioneer families, and Lewis, a professor from Connecticut, began their walk across the bridge. The fog closed in on the bridge as they covered just over a mile and half, reaching the Marin headlands and turning back, according to the story that Naylor told an Oakland Tribune reporter that day.
Halfway across the bridge, Wobber handed the professor his coat.
“This is where I get off,” he told the professor. And he began to climb over the railing. Lewis tried to stop him grabbing his belt.
But Wobber told him to “go along about your business and leave me alone.” Then he broke free and plunged 260 feet to his death, according to the story in the Oakland Tribune the next day.
A crowd gathered as Coast Guard boats and harbor patrols searched for Wobber in the churning waters below,…
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