Posts Tagged ‘Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting Company’

Presented below is the third day of the Loma Prieta “Earthquake Collage” written by Robert Sward, a poet and novelist, from his work with students and faculty and staff at Cabrillo College. (Move on to Day 4, or back to Day 2.)

Thursday, October 19, Day 3

Theater director Wilma Marcus says at the moment the quake hit, a student was being video-taped as she sang these lines from the Carole King song, “…I feel the earth move under my feet…”

Later, re-playing the tape, W. saw the singer’s face contort as she was thrown about the room. Young singer clinging to support beam as video camera went dead.

B., another colleague, says all he wants to do is to play the cello.

Dinosaur Hatching Weather

The nights are dark and, apart from the occasional aftershock, siren and house shaking, silent. The days are hot. Blue sky and windblown clouds. Businesses and schools closed. People going around in bathing suits and shorts.

Bright, sunny, 90 degree weather… day after day. Before the Great Earthquake of 1906, there was also a hot spell, says the San Francisco Chronicle… just like now. Seismologists insist there’s no connection.

Indian summer before and after. “Too good to be true weather.” But this is California. Whatever the weather, it’s earthquake weather.


“California sits on the boundary between the Pacific and North American plates, which are moving with respect to each other at about two inches a year,” says seismologist Kate Hutton.

“…quakes happen because [the two] plates do not move smoothly along a fault line. They catch, like two pieces of sandpaper being rubbed against each other, and then suddenly slip…”


Confronted with evidence of a 7.1 earthquake, Mother Nature flutters her eyelashes and responds with a look of innocence, “Who, me?”

Normally near our house we see hummingbirds, hawks, robins, blue jays… Why is it that… have all the birds vanished?


Outside the Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting Company, where Shawn McCormick, 21, and Robin Ortiz, 22, died when a wall fell on them… Police have strung a yellow and black ribbon, “Scene of Crime–Stay Out…” This yellow and black tape, in fact, surrounds the entire downtown area.

An NBC television crew is rumored to be waiting for Vice President Dan Quayle to arrive. The Vice President of Disaster is coming to the scene of a Disaster.

Later, G. and I re-trace our steps thinking that Quayle, if he has in fact arrived, will by now have left. But he hasn’t even appeared. Next we learn that Gov. George Deukmejian will avoid a mob scene and detour to the demolished Warehouse Liquor Store on Soquel for a photo opportunity. A policeman says the Duke will appear for about 90 seconds, make no comment to anyone, and then leave. Dan Quayle or George Bush may or may not come with the Duke.  Quayle, Bush and the Duke apparently want to be seen “seeing” the disaster area so they can be seen later in the day on television seeing the disaster area.

Reporters trying to “place” Santa Cruz (California’s favorite seaside resort), attack guidebooks and the “World Almanac:”

•        California’s Holy Cross, so named by Father Serra in 1791, one of the padre’s twenty-one missions.

•        Situated along the coast off US Highway 1, seventy-four miles south of San Francisco.

•        Population 44,100, altitude twenty feet

•        Major industries: agriculture, tourism, manufacturing, food processing and high technology

•        Largest employer: UCSC with 4,400 employees

•        Home to the Joseph M. Long Marine Lab – ‘Visitors are greeted by an eighty-five-foot long skeleton of a blue whale.’

Hard data that will become part of that ‘roll of bad news flung at our doors each morning,’ as Charles Atkinson puts it.


TV: Bush, Leon Panetta and Mayor Mardi Wormhoudt tour the mall looking solid and normal. The buildings, on the other hand, look ghostly. I identify with the buildings.



No, it’s not the San Francisco Earthquake and it’s not the World Series Earthquake, but the Loma Prieta, in honor of a remote peak near the quake’s epicenter.

“…the Loma Prieta event occurred on a deeper fault, a dipping fault deep in the root… of the San Andreas system of faults and it was not the vertical strike-slip faulting that one would have guessed would occur…”

–News Item

It’s a Spanish name. Loma Prieta, the Earthquake of the Dark Hill. “Seismologists continued to argue about how high the quake climbed on the Richter scale. They would finally settle on 7.1. But on Thursday, they agreed on one thing: The quake was one of the five great natural disasters to occur this century in the United States.”

–News Item

San Andreas Fault. Saint Andrew. The saint of lost things. How did Saint Fault get his name?


Read Full Post »

I live in the east bay but on October 17, 1989 I decided it would be a great day to visit my sister in Santa Cruz. Her daughter was going to turn 7 on October 19th and I thought it would be fun to go shopping with my sister and get her a birthday gift. I had 4 boys of my own. My husband had the day off from work so he agreed to watch the boys while I drove down to Santa Cruz to go shopping. I didn’t want to make things too hard for my husband so I took my youngest son with me. He was going to turn 3 that November. He was always happy and was easy to take places.

I picked up my sister at her house on the west side of Santa Cruz. I really wanted to go shopping downtown in all the interesting stores that only exist in Santa Cruz. She wanted to go to the Capitola Mall though, so I relented and we went to the mall. I didn’t get to visit my sister a lot but when I did I would normally stay until about 5 PM before I headed for home. On this day her daughter was in daycare and she had agreed to go and help out at the day care center at 3:30. I was vaguely annoyed about this because it didn’t leave us much time for shopping. We left the mall and I drove my sister back home and dropped her off at nearly 3:30.

I decided to head downtown and do a little shopping on my own. Downtown is where I wanted to go in the first place and it might be a while before I would have another chance. I liked to park around the corner and down two blocks from the Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting Company. I would have time to put my son in his stroller and walk up one side of the street and down the other and then maybe stop for juice and coffee at the Coffee Roasting Company. I was headed downtown and only a few blocks away when I turned around to look at my son. He had his head back, his mouth open and he was SOUND asleep. He was in the kind of sleep little kids go into where it’s a bad idea to wake them up and expect them to be happy about it. I was annoyed and could not decide whether to risk waking him or to just give up on my plans altogether. I really wanted to shop in the downtown area. At the last second I suddenly decided it was too much to ask of a tired 2 year old and I turned and got on the freeway and headed for home.

I had probably been home for 15 or 20 minutes at 5:04. My 4 year old son was in his bedroom in the back of the house having a nap. I thought the rest of them were all out in the front yard. I was in the kitchen doing dishes. The house began to creak terribly and I knew it was an earthquake. I closed the upper cabinet with the dishes but the cabinet door immediately swung back open and hit my hand. I took two steps toward the room where my son was sleeping but the house was shaking so violently now I could not walk and was hanging on to the edge of the sink. I realized I was not going to make it all the way back to his room and there was nothing I could do. I moved over and opened the door going out to the garage so I could stand in the doorway but the water heater was right on the other side and was shaking violently and then the door swung out and back and HIT me pretty hard hurting my arm. I closed the door and wedged myself into the corner of the kitchen by the door. I had a had time deciding if the earthquake had stopped or not. I felt like I was shaking inside and things were still moving. My ceiling fans in my living room were swinging back and forth.

At the worst it had felt like the house was really going to come down on me and my son and there was nothing I could do. Now, it stopped and I could not believe the dishes were still in the cabinets and the china cabinet had not fallen over, in fact, just about everything seemed ok. I rushed back to my son in the back bedroom to find him still sleeping but his aquarium was missing about 4 inches of water and the carpet was soaked. Everybody outside knew we had an earthquake but didn’t think it was as bad as it was. I was sure it must have been centered right under us! I turned on the TV but found we had no power. Then we had power but still no TV. Then within 30 minutes we did have TV and they were showing the Bay Bridge. When they said it was centered closer to Santa Cruz I began calling my sister. All I could get were recordings stating not to use the phone lines. Still, I wanted to know if my sister was OK.

News reports began to state Santa Cruz was the hardest hit and they had no info coming out of Santa Cruz and were flying over it with helicopters. I was very scared my sister and her family might have been hurt. I kept calling. About 10 PM I called again and suddenly she answered, “Hello?” I realized I could not talk but finally was able to say her name. She said “Oh hi, guess what? We had a big earthquake here and I don’t have any power!” I realized she had no idea the magnitude of this earthquake. I began to fill her in and told her to make sure she had batteries and water. It was weeks before we were able to visit my sister again. When we finally were able to go and see her we still had to take highway 9 to get there. Her house had some bad cracks inside and the chimney was cracked. It never did get fixed. She was renting the house.

I think about that day every time there are stories about earthquakes. I remember as clearly as if it were yesterday turning around and seeing my little son so sound asleep in the back seat. I wonder, what if he had been awake? How different that day would have been.

By Nancy in Fremont

P.S. Nancy adds this story about her sister and niece’s experience at day care:

She went to work at the day care place at 3:30 in Santa Cruz.  She was still there at 5:04.   She was outside at recess with all the kids.  Her daughter, who was going to turn 7 on the 19th, was alone in one of the classrooms.   Her daughter was a bit of a problem child and had made a mess in the book area of the classroom.   The teacher in her room told her she could not come outside until she cleaned it up.   She was cleaning it up when the earthquake started.  I think the little book area was in a corner of the room.   There was a 3 or 4 foot tall book shelf on one wall and a mirror on the other.   The mirror and possibly the windows broke and the book shelf fell over on top of my niece.   My sister ran to look for her as soon as the earthquake was over and when she ran into the classroom there was her daughter with books on top of her and things broken around her.   She was ok but she was crying and said “Mommy!   I DID NOT do this!!”

Read Full Post »