J: Jolted as only California can jolt an audience. A World Series Memory

J: Jolted as only California can jolt an audience. A World Series Memory


October 17, 1989 the 3rd game of the World Series was just starting in San Francisco: San Francisco Giants vs. Oakland Athletics. Where were you when this one hit hit the Series out of the ballpark?

The devastation was widespread, millions in damages, loss of life and a lot more than a baseball game disrupted. Now you remember, right?

I know where I was—at home. That was one of the years we decided our kids would be better off if we had no television.


I recently saw GONE GIRL, so as Amy would say, let me set the scene. Even though I agreed with my wife about the storing the TV into the garage, we got in some argument [my fault] about it so there was no going back. The disagreement was the night before the quake. A friend of mine said his wife’s family had no TV in 1963 so she had no visual memory of the JFK assassination. Until the next day I was a lot like that. Our dog paced back and forth, never stopping for hours. From the radio reports I knew the general outlines of the event: chaos, disaster equipment, a fallen freeway, fires and a whole lot of people trying to get home. This predated universal use of cell phones so communication, even if the towers survived, was nil. My suggestion that the natural event would be educational for the kids was now persuasive.

A few months before our family vacation had been to the Bay area. We included a ride in the harbor, Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf and other sights. On night my wife and I awoke as the bed shook. We nudged each other and whispered, “Earthquake, let them sleep and they’ll never know.” After a few tremors we went back to sleep. When the real one hit in October we bout said, “We felt the warning shock that night in the motel.”

Again, uh, let me set the scene. A week after the quake I attended an English teachers conference in Yosemite. Hey, even if the talks are poor the scenery is spectacular. At least 3 of the speakers there all had the same story. They taught at Berkeley, SF State, and maybe a Bay area high school. “I’m really sorry. The slides and handouts I had prepared are in my office/room and the building is condemned so I couldn’t get in.” My best guess is they winged it and gave good talks anyway.


A year later I read an article in the newspaper about a minor incident from that night. A guy at the game went to the parking lot to find his car had been stolen. And that night the police would have really cared. Over the next several months vehicles were and bodies were recovered from the fallen highway and as best they could they let the families know. The guy whose car was stolen at the game got a call from the police about his car. It seems they found it crushed like a pancake with a dead body at the wheel. See, crime does not pay.


When the 1906 earthquake hit San Francisco my grandfather moved there to work on the reconstruction of the city. He was a paperhanger, carpenter, painter, and a jack-of-all trades. My Dad even remembered being there as a little kid. Snatches of memory—he was about 5.


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