In October of ’89
things were going fine;
Then came the seventeenth,
that trapped and killed people beneath,
The cypress while cares were in a line.
The time was 5:04
when fate knocked on the door;
The earth began to move,
as the fault made a grove,
and shook things to the floor.
Shake Rattle and roll,
I ran into a pole;
only a black eye,
I said with a sigh,
because Santa Cruz took the toll.
It shook at 7.0
it took down things in a row;
“We’ll have a bigger one,” they say,
But not for me, NO WAY!!
Because I’m leaving, but where will I go?
My husband and I had just sat down with our 9 year old son and was helping get his homework started. I have lived in the Santa Clara Valley the better part of my life and didn’t fear earthquakes. We were in Campbell, close to the Los Gatos side.
I heard the rumble and knew it was going to be bigger then a 5. So I suggested we leave our bottom apartment, and the bouncing started. I now knew we must be fairly close to the epicenter, because of the bounce before the rolling and shaking started. My son took off in a run, and I ran out after him. Our apartment building formed a court yard in between a mirror image of the apartment building next door, safe from falling stuff. So I shouted at my son, “Stop, Sit” and he did, so I was just slowing down when the first jerk threw me into the car port pole. As the shaking was going on my mother and daughter were coming down the stairs from the apartment above me. The first hard jerk almost threw them off the stairs. The neighbors where coming out the doors and we all semi stood in the courtyard.
I had started high blood pressure medication that week, and when I started chest pains, headache and feeling woozy, I was afraid I might have gone into heart failure, so the family took me to Good Samaritan Hospital. As I walked through the door to emergency, they had a tag that looked similar to a baggage tag. They were able to see me right away, as the family stayed together in the waiting room. Turns out I had hit the pole hard enough to get a concussion, bruised breast bone, bruised ribs, hip and ankle. They sent me home and told me I could fall asleep until midnight.
When we got home the power was out, so the family found a restaurant that was open. Customers were even helping out the staff by filling peoples coffee as they passed tables to fill their own.
Partially filled booths offered seating to strangers so that more people could get something to eat. It was quite an experience to see people coming together.
Power was out most of the night in Campbell, and we couldn’t see in the apartment to see what was out of place, broken or dangerous, so we grabbed the couch cushions, and lined the courtyard and truck beds. Neighbors brought out camping lights, candles, games and radios. Phones were down around town, but you could call the east coast. Radios were relaying information back to our area. This family was safe, or that family had gone to be with Aunt so-and-so type stuff. I was tucked into the bed of a truck and taken care of by all. The children from the two complexes thought it was great fun to have a camp out. All night long we had after shocks. The power would come on, and then an aftershock would cause it to go out again. The ground felt like it was moving all the time for about 3 days.
When we got back into our apartments in the morning, we discovered the things that fell were on the same side of the walls in all apartments. Mom’s dishes that were on the counter to dry were okay, but the knickknacks at a 90 degree angle from them had fallen or scooted to the edge. On the same wall down in our apartment, a dresser had fallen over.
It took me a few years before any moving ground or rumble caused my heart to jump. Now I’m back to the seasoned Californian. “Oh that’s about a 5.”
By Linda Moore (poem written in October 1989)
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