Today, October 17th, marks the 24th Anniversary of the Loma Prieta Earthquake. That was during the Bay Area World Series between the Oakland A's and the San Francisco Giants. I wasn't watching the game at Candlestick Park because I was in bed with what I thought was an intestinal flu.
I had started the day working at Neiman-Marcus, but was sent home. So I was asleep with my three Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Nell, 'Libet and Dundee (whose ashes reside in my "Buddha Box" -- my Japanese home temple -- along with a small box of Dennis). This was before Frontline, the flea and tick ointment, and my dogs then seemed to have continual flea problems; so I used to sleep in my socks and jogging sweats. (Today I sleep in just a t-shirt.)
I awoke to the bed shaking. Didn't think anything of it at first because three scratching dogs regularly shook the bed. But then it started to bounce up and down, and I noticed a crack appear on my bedroom wall, a little like the Biblical account of the fall of Babylon. In a start I jumped out of bed and stood in the door frame (later learned not to be the safest course to take, particularly in newer buildings -- better to hide under a desk.) All of a sudden, I felt fine -- terrified-- but not ill. I guess the adrenaline rush took care of any minor ailments. In a real emergency, you can't afford to be sick.
My friends Hugh and Miriam Cameron had to leave their home in the Marina District on Divisadero Street. They were only a block away from the collapsed and burning apartment buildings, whose images convinced the rest of the country that San Francisco had been completely destroyed.
My cousin Jim Wiley's house in Aptos was completely wrecked when it was knocked off its foundation. All that was left was the lap pool.
At least our phones still worked-- though the lines were overloaded. That's a principal reason I'm keeping my land line, even though I use my iPhone for most calls. In a major earthquake it's predicted that most cell phones will be inoperable for several days.