Friday, July 20, 2007


It was only a 4.2, but I live only 2 miles from the epicenter -- so it shook me awake big time at 4:42 a.m. I headed immediately for a doorway. And then it was over, with nothing knocked over and no cracks in anything. Yay!

I remember an earthquake that rocked my college dorm back in the day. It was in the 5 range, and it also occurred in the middle of the night. After the rumbling was done, the students whooped and hollered their approval. That's not something I've ever heard since then, after earthquakes.

Then of course there was Loma Prieta. I was on a MUNI bus 29 heading home from SFSU. We were stopped in traffic on 19th Avenue and suddenly the bus started to rock very dramatically back and forth. The impression I got at first was that a group of teenagers had possibly teamed up to rock the stationary bus. Then I looked at the lamp posts overhanging the M line tracks, and saw them twanging back and forth. It was then I realized there was an earthquake going on.

It took hours to make the trip from there to my home bus stop, with all the traffic lights out of commission. When I got to my apartment, I found everything that could be knocked over or fallen down, knocked over and fallen down. My roommate and I had a coat rack that had fallen over and jammed itself against the door, so I had to shove it open. The upstairs neighbors and I checked for gas leaks and found none. There were scary-looking cracks in my kitchen wall.

My roommate had been some distance away when the quake happened so it took her much longer to get home. By then it was dark and we started to hear the sounds of people roaming the neighborhood in an abnormal sort of way. An object hit our back door and shattered. We sat in the dark, listening to the radio, and ate almonds. Radio DJs were really scared and, as I realized later, blowing things way out of proportion. They actually said the Bay Bridge had completely fallen down!

SFSU classes were cancelled for the rest of the week. A pizza joint in the Outer Sunset offered free pizza, so we went down there and had a slice each. I experienced my first BART ride during that time, since the SFSU library was closed and music students had to go to UC Berkeley to do research for their term papers.

I remember calling up "The Wonder That Is Daniel" Magazin, who I knew worked in downtown SF, to make sure he was OK. He told a story of dodging flying glass in Union Square.

I had a flute student in the Marina district and I remember going to her apartment a week or so later to give her a lesson, and passing by some houses with supports under them with condemned notices on the doors.

What am I trying to say with all these reminiscences? That I was there, but I was awfully lucky. Many of us were there and escaped with just some fright and inconvenience. We could just as easily have lost our lives on the Cypress structure or on Pacific Avenue in beloved Santa Cruz.

It wasn't until years later that I saw the famous World Series game interruption, since I didn't have a TV that year. I'm sure that must have been awfully dramatic for viewers tuning in from elsewhere. They all must have thought California had finally fallen into the drink as so many have predicted.

In other news, the flute choir reading session that includes "Remove Before Flight" has been moved to Saturday morning, August 11th at 9:00 a.m. So if you are going to the National Flute Association convention and intend to hear it, that will be your new date and time.


Les said...

Wow. I don't miss earthquakes.

I heard a rumor that you're not supposed to stand in doorways anymore, because the door can swing around and pinch your fingers or smack you in the face. Generally, I make sure not to have anything over my bed and just stay where I am, if I'm in it.

Polly Moller said...

I heard that rumor too, and maybe I should have gone under the kitchen table. But old habits die hard. At least in my doorway, the door is a sliding door, so it won't swing around.