Archive for the ‘South Bay’ Category

My friend Louie and I were really excited to get into the ballpark. My first World Series game ever. We took the escalator up to the upper deck as our seats were there, a dead center field view. We stopped so I could make a phone call to my wife in Clovis, CA. My wife had gone to the movies and said she would be looking for me in the crowd. It was a minute or so after 5 pm as I hung up and we walked through the tunnel to look for our seats. We stopped, looked out at the field, players could be seen warming up. I grabbed the railing, to assure myself, that I was actually at my first World Series game!

I heard a roar, thought it was a jet plane flying over or near the stadium. Looked up and saw nothing. As I scanned the stadium, I saw the light standards swaying, then to my horror saw the entire stadium moving as a mold of jello moves if one shakes the plate it sits on. Louie looked confused, I remember telling him to grab the rail, it’s an earthquake. It shook for what felt like minutes, the only thought was if the stadium falls, please Lord let me fall on something soft so I don’t die! Candlestick did not fall!

When the shaking stopped, we saw players from both teams scrambling to get to the center of the field. We calmly walked to our section and promptly sat in our reserved seats. We heard a loud yell and saw a young man with a piece of concrete on his shoulder, literally running down from the highest rows with his prized possession. People around with radios began talking about a possible cancelled game. One individual with a small watchman tv said the Bay Bridge had fallen. Not even asking, I grabbed the small tv and there were photos of the section of bridge that had fallen and a car hanging over the edge. We sat talking and soon after it was announced that the game was cancelled, hold on to your rain check ticket.

Walking out was a little surreal, no panic, no yelling, everyone walking out, strangely quiet. It was close to 6 pm when we got to the car. Little did we know what lay ahead. After what seemed an hour , we got on to 101 South and proceeded home. The radio was our only contact with the outside world. We learned of the Cypress Freeway collapse, the fires, and the destruction the earthquake caused in and around the Bay Area. Each time we got under an underpass, we prayed for traffic to move. There were few lights to be seen on each side of the freeway, and the traffic moved ever so slowly. Our fear was that one would fall on us as we sat there in the car. At approximately 9:30 pm we were in San Jose. We stopped for gas, and someone there said Pacheco Pass was closed. I didn’t want to think about driving to King City and cutting across the hills and into Coalinga, so on a chance that it was open, we took 152 East in Gilroy. We were fortunate, it was open and I finally got home close to 1 am.

Louie and I did return for the game 9 days later, we both held our breath when the lights flickered in the 7th inning. My Giants lost the game, and then the series, but that day in San Francisco is one that will be with me as long as I live!

By Froylan L. Ramirez


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I can still feel the waves in Grant Road raising my Toyota truck up and down, over a 1-foot swing, as I watched the sine waves roll north up Grant, from Portland where I was stopped in the middle of the road.

I turned and looked down Portland, and the first thing I saw was the church monument at that intersection swinging. It’s that tall monolith. Then the residents that lived on Portland at Grant, two elderly people. Husband and wife, they were holding onto the garage, but kept falling and getting back up. And looking down Portland (still from a stationary position) I observed the pepper and pine trees thrashing back and fourth, creating a dense pollen cloud that I could not see through. I turned down Portland and drove through the cloud of dust, then Carmel Terrace, and I was home. The kids ran out to meet me, and were visibly shaken. I went inside, all the cabinets had open doors and my wife was cleaning up some broken glass in the kitchen. I went around and secured the area (no gas leaks, and the power was out).

“This is the point that I started my tape recording

I pulled out my trusty Honda EX1000 generator, fired it up, and got the TV and some of my ham radios going. We watched the local news via the antenna, and several of my neighbors came by to join us in front of the TV, as I seemed to be the only one with a generator on my street.

We broke out the camping equipment to make dinner, then as soon as I was finished, about 9:00 pm, I received a call from the Palo Alto Red Cross Disaster Coordinator (Ted Harris, N6IIU) via the SPECS Amateur Radio Repeater that I was monitoring, and I was dispatched to open up a shelter at the corner of Escuela Avenue and ECR, in Mountain View. I responded, opened the shelter, and checked in displaced residents all night. In the morning, Mountain View Fire came by to inspect the building, and determined it was condemned due to structural damage, and the shelter was moved to the main Remington Park facility, where it was in operation for about 5 days.

By Eric Tofsrud

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The World Series

I had just sat down to watch my SF Giants destroy the Oak A’s in my newly-built 1988 apartment in S. SJ. area. — Then, at 5:04pm the 7.1 hit….trying hard to hold on to my lamp that almost fell, while sitting on my couch.

Many weeks after, I kept on having ‘chills’ down my back not knowing if big aftershocks were going to {surprise me] un-awared.

*I do Not mind Quakes at all. But it is the “Not Knowing When” they will occur is the biggest Fear 🙂

By Steve Hall (via Facebook)

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The Cabrillo College Men’s Water Polo Team played De Anza College in Cupertino at 3:30 pm on this date. The game was a disappointing loss but the following event provided an adrenalin rush-  hi!  ho!

We were returning home and approximately halfway between Saratoga and Los Gatos on Highway 9.  I was driving the lead college van of two with 15 student water polo players, assistants and managers on board.  Suddenly I couldn’t turn the steering wheel. Initially I thought I’d lost the power steering.  What was happening? I felt like we were experiencing unprecedented gravity.

We looked out the window and saw the eucalyptus trees swinging right and left at a 40 degree angle……. We realized it was an earthquake! We got to Los Gatos, the freeway was closed so I swung down through Los Gatos on Santa Cruz Ave. Broken glass and running water were everywhere. Somehow we got on to Highway 17. What was amazing was that we did not encounter anyone from Los Gatos to Cabrillo. We found out later that Highway 17 was closed before we got on it. How did we pull that off?

Coming over 17 was an adventure. The lane divider/barricades were split open every ¼ mile. I recall three different times that all 4 lanes of the pavement were split and separated, and raised and lowered. We were fortunate that there was enough shoulder to go around. The absence of vehicles and people from Los Gatos to Cabrillo was eerie- enhanced by a reddish hazy sky.

No one was around when we arrived at the College, although the gym was wrapped with yellow tape. We crossed our fingers and parked the vans and stored our equipment.

Local players on this adventure were David Barton, Brent Erickson, Kevin Ferreira, Bill Hackbarth, Richard Harbison, Mark Harris, Matt Nowark, Andy O’Brien, Gordon Spaulding, Carl Tresser, and team assistants Danny Over, Joy Williams, Shelli Lopes, and Kadance Giroux.

By Ted Bockman, head coach of the water polo team

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I was in choir practice at my church, Menlo Park Presbyterian Church, and we were getting started on the Christmas season songs. There was a Boy Scout meeting in the room directly above us and they were rough-and-tumbling around like boys do… and we had sent someone up there two times to tell them to knock it off and settle down because they were a big distraction for us. So the earthquake started to hit, and at first we were all giving dirty looks to the ceiling because we thought, at first, that it was the Boy Scouts again. Then the windows started rattling terribly, we started moving around in our chairs and the piano began to shuffle across the room. At that point, we were all pretty sure that it wasn’t the Boy Scouts but an actual earthquake. It only lasted 15 seconds, and after the ground was done shaking so violently, we calmly filed outside and continued our practice because, after all, we were all California kids and we had plenty of earthquake practice by then. That was a pretty interesting day and I thought it was very exciting.

By Bekki Sterling

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I was driving my 1985 Plymouth Voyager minivan on Blossom Hill Road in south San Jose, approaching Cottle Road, at 5:04 PM.  My first thought was that all of my tires had gone flat at the same time, as the van suddenly became almost impossible to steer.  Then I realized it was an earthquake, as the power poles began to sway and the traffic light suspended on its cables jumped up and down.  Being in a moving car, I didn’t feel the direct shock of the earthquake, as the tires and suspension system damped out all but the larger wave movement.

I had just dropped my daughter off at ballet class and was on the way to the soccer field with my boys.  I got to the soccer field and the coach had the kids sitting on the ground.  The large power lines near the soccer field were still swinging back and forth.  The radio news said the Bay Bridge had collapsed, so everybody decided soccer practice was over.

I was one of the first parents to get back to the ballet class, where the girls and the teachers were beginning to freak out.  When I got home, the electricity and water were off, but as campers we weren’t as inconvenienced as some of the neighbors.  We had one of the few swimming pools in the neighborhood, so I went around to all the neighbors and told them I had put the cover on the pool and we had 17,000 gallons of drinking water.  One of the neighbor ladies said “Eeww” – she wouldn’t drink swimming pool water – I told her to think it through and come see me when she got thirsty.  (It turned out more water was used for flushing toilets than for drinking.)  And the water and electricity were back on in a day and a half or so.

By Paul Burnett

(read this story for Paul’s daughter’s memory of being in the ballet class during the earthquake.)

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Well, I think it’s best to start with a little background… I was born in 1979 and my family moved to San Jose, CA when I was four. By 1989 I was 10, and I’d had duck-and-cover drills since kindergarden. My father was also very safety-conscious (it’s his profession), so we’d been drilled at home as well – if the ground starts shaking and you are indoors, get under the piano, stand in a doorway, or best of all, get into the bottom bunk bed (our bunk beds were hand made and pretty special – each post was a solid 4×4 piece of wood, the connecting pieces were 2×6’s – that sucker could have stood through a nuclear attack!)!

When the earthquake hit, I was 10 years old, and in ballet class. It was a fairly typical dance studio – very large open space, a full wall of mirrors, and two of the other walls were floor-to-ceiling windows. In other words, LOTS of glass. My memory is a little blurred, but I remember seeing the floor wave, kind of like the ocean – you could see the shock waves coming. I don’t remember how I felt at the time, but I don’t remember being scared – more excited, I think.

My ballet teacher (who was a newlywed and a fairly recent transplant from – well, somewhere without earthquakes!) did the worst thing possible – stood in the center of the room-made-of-glass and called for all the children to come stand with her. I was normally a very obedient child (at least in formal class settings!), but I KNEW that I was supposed to be in a doorway, so I broke away and ran for it. I really don’t remember it lasting that long, but since there was time to see it happening, ignore the teacher, run to the door and brace there, it must have been more than several seconds…

Luckily, none of the glass in the studio broke, and no one in any of the classes (there were several studios) was at all hurt. However, when went through the lobby of the studio to exit the building, the trophy cases in the lobby were smashed and many of the trophies had fallen out of the cases and were lying in the shattered glass on the ground. I remember picking our way carefully past the shattered glass in our soft-soled ballet slippers…

Again, my memory is foggy. I know we waited for our parents in the parking lot, because that’s where I was when my dad got there. However, I don’t know how LONG I waited for him. I know he’d dropped me off, then gone to my brother’s soccer practice, so he had to drive back – but it can’t have been far because I don’t think I waited long. I don’t remember being scared or worried or anything, but at this point, I may have been. I think by the time he got there, he knew that everyone was OK, because I think I remember him telling me that Mommy (who was at home) was OK and so was everything in my room (so maybe I was worried about my room?)… But it’s all very foggy.

I DO remember my ballet teacher collapsing into the arms of her husband when he arrived and sobbing that she “wanted to go HOME!” And I developed a rather unseemly case of superiority, because *I* knew what to do when the earthquake hit and *I* hadn’t been totally scared like that. I mean, honestly, what was the point in freaking out like that? The earthquake was over, and everything was OK!

Looking back, I still have a little bit of that feeling in me – and earthquakes are part of what I like about living in CA. This may be in part because I’ve never been personally injured, known anyone who has been personally injured, or lost anything more important than a class dish – or it may just be a result of growing up with them, but of all the natural disasters, I really do think that I’m best suited for earthquakes. You go about your life and every once in a while, the earth moves. Big deal! Heck, most of the time it’s kind of fun! It lasts a few seconds, you look around and check for damage, then continue going about your life. Much better than boarding up your window in preperation for a hurricane or hunkering down in a basement when you hear a tornado warning… This may come back to bite me when “The Big One” hits, but of all the natural disasters, I’ll take earthquakes any day! =)

By Vala Burnett

(Go here to read Vala’s father’s memories of Loma Prieta.)

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