Heidi, Robin, and I spent the weekend in San Francisco shopping for school clothes and having a mini vacation in celebration of my 40th birthday. We were talking and laughing in our beds late at night. Making plans and agreeing as to where to go the following day was our topic… until the earth shook beneath us! It felt like when you float in the ocean waiting for the next wave and you feel yourself lift and sink. It sounded as if two trains collided right beneath our room. We were in a small bed and breakfast in the middle of many huge buildings all setting in the center of San Francisco! We knew immediately what the sound had been. Robin turned the TV channel trying to get some information.
I thought being in San Francisco, a city known for earthquakes might mean immediate coverage on a local station. It didn’t. About an hour after the quake it was barely mentioned on the news. All the report gave was the time it had occurred and that it registered 5.8. My girls and I certainly thought it should get more coverage!
In the morning several guests were having breakfast in the dining room while we were. A couple on their honeymoon sat at a table next to us. Their suitcases were beside them. They spoke in whispers but we were able to hear them. The husband was saying he didn’t care how many days they were booked, they were eating and catching the next cab to the airport. He’d had enough of California!
I asked the young woman waiting on us why the news hadn’t said more. She told us the news tries not to ever mention quakes unless major damage happens in order not to panic the city. We had tickets to return home on Amtrak the following day and decided to stay another night. That afternoon we found ourselves on the “Earthquake Experience Ride” at Pier 39. We decided the real thing had been much more impressive. While the movement had been very noticeable the sound had been frightening.
I anticipated hearing people speak of it during the day but no one seemed to even care enough to mention what had happened.
Our adventure took place on August 9th. In October a “Big One” hit San Francisco. It registered at 8.1. Part of the Oakland Bay Bridge collapsed, nearly 300 people were killed. It was felt as far away as Southern California.
In the years that followed when we’d camp at Santa Cruz or shop in the antique stores in Aptos we would ask if the quake had caused the people we were talking to any damage. To a household the answer was always yes. It had taken down old fireplaces, walls, ruined china cabinets etc. in everyone’s home. A beautiful Catholic Church we pass every time we go to the coast had its steeple and bell tower fall.
The earthquake had happened mid day. Some of the boys at Adam's soccer practice had become dizzy and fallen, the bins in our warehouse swayed, the water in our pool sloshed out at each end, the dogs howled, and it stopped our grandfather clock!
I was sitting in my car outside a beauty shop waiting for one of the girls. My car started bouncing up and down. I looked in the rear view mirror expecting to see Larry with his hands on the trunk pushing the car up and down. Instead I saw ladies rushing out of the beauty shop. Some had curlers in their hair, some were in the middle of getting a permanent, but all had a terrified look of their face. We had felt the rolling of the earthquake. I’m sure there were new cracks in the sidewalks. I know we had a new crack in our kitchen tile. I don’t recall any real damage in our area but we sure had an exciting topic of conversation for the next few weeks.
Oh yes…. the news did cover this quake!
A few weeks later Larry and Robin spent the day in San Francisco going through the area of the quake damage. They saw first hand the devastation of the city and the bridge. One six story apartment building was now a five story apartment building. The bottom story had been smashed away but the building still stood.