When I write my stories for Personal Genealogy, I try to think of the first thing that comes to mind when I read the prompt. With “DISASTERS”, 9/11 should have been my first thought, but it wasn’t. The Loma Prieta earthquake was. I guess proximity matters just a bit?
On October 17, 1989, I was standing just inside the door to our apartment in Mountain View, California, dusting the bookcase to my right. I felt something and looked across the apartment in time to see the ceramic piggy bank that sat on my desk in our bedroom. It was at that moment suspended in mid-air. And then it came crashing down.
Before my brain could even think the word, “Earthquake,” it thought, “Hey, I can’t usually see my desk from here” The entire apartment building had shifted about 30 degrees giving me the previously unseen vantage point of my desk from the front door.
I eventually got to the word, “Earthquake,” and that’s when my brain remembered to open the front door and stand in the doorway while the shaking continued. Roughly every piece of furniture fell over and the kitchen cabinets were barely hanging on the walls. From standing in the doorway and being bounced back and forth, I had bruises up and down both sides of my body for a few weeks.
The death toll was in the millions by day two and the entire bridge had, of course, fallen. Or at least that is how the news portrayed it. At the time, I was attending San Francisco State University and traveling there by train. No one spoke of anything else for weeks. The radio had that high pitched sound only no one was saying it was a test. The afternoon of the quake, Marc and I went to hang out with my dad. Scary times like that require one’s husband AND dad, I think.