Friday, October 17, 2014

UPDATED Twenty-Five Years Ago Today

CPA Boy's ticket from Game 4, played at Candlestick

If you live in the Bay Area chances are the Loma Prieta Earthquake comes up in conversation from time to time. All of us have a story to tell about it.

On October 17, 1989, I had been dating CPA Boy for just over two months. We both still worked at the same credit union but in different locations. He was working as a teller at the Petaluma branch while I was in the accounting department at the Administrative branch in Santa Rosa.

CPA Boy is a die hard Oakland Athletics fan. In 1989 he had season tickets with his brother and they had already attended the first two games of the World Series in Oakland, where the games were against the San Francisco Giants in the first (and so far only) Bay Bridge Series.

Games 3, 4 and 5 would take place in San Francisco at Candlestick Park. Games 6 and 7 would return to the Oakland Coliseum.

On that Tuesday at the credit union we had a "Casual Day" so we could wear baseball shirts and jeans. This was a big deal because casual days were rare for us in financial institutions in those days. Normal dress was business suits, dresses, skirts, heels and nylons. If it was appropriate for church it was appropriate for work!

But I have no memory of what shirt I wore! I assume it was something related to the Oakland A's because I was newly dating a huge fan of the team. (He might have broken up with me if I wore a Giants shirt. Plus I look terrible in orange, San Francisco's color!) I don't remember if I borrowed a shirt or bought one! The A's colors are green, gold and white and I look good in green!

The quake hit at 5:04 p.m. (The credit union was open until 6 every night.) I was close to going home because I worked in administration so my hours were closer to 8:30 to 5:30. I was chatting with my co-worker Di and our boss Sheff. I was sitting at my desk which was right next to the window. We just sat there and waited for the shaking to stop but it wasn't strong enough for us to RUN AWAY FROM THE WINDOWS! (Which is what you are supposed to do!)

Then the electricity went out. You can't do any banking without electricity: no computers work and the cash is more vulnerable. Step one is to escort all customers out of the building and lock the doors.

And you aren't sure where the epicenter is when an earthquake strikes. It turns out that this one was in the mountains of Santa Cruz, located about 120 miles from Santa Rosa. We felt a good jolt in Santa Rosa but not strong enough to do anything but cut the electricity.

Today you can turn on the TV, radio, or Internet and find out the location and magnitude within a few minutes as long as you have electricity. Or a smart phone will do as they rely on satellites instead of electricity, at least until you need to charge them! In 1989 we only had the radio and it took longer to get that information out to the public. We heard that the Bay Bridge had collapsed (it hadn't but a section of the upper deck collapsed on to the lower deck; it was the Cypress Freeway structure that had collapsed).

Anyway, I went home to my apartment which was on the other side of the freeway from where I worked. My apartment still had electricity so I turned on the TV and watched the coverage. I think I called my parents briefly to check in but we were supposed to stay off the phone lines to keep them open for emergencies.

So my Loma Prieta Earthquake experience was minor in the scheme of things but you never forget where you were during the Big Ones.

The World Series was delayed for ten days and still played at Candlestick Park. The Oakland A's won games 3 and 4 and took the World Series title. CPA Boy and his brother got tickets to Game 4 from an acquaintance so they got to see the A's win the World Series!

The San Francisco Giants are in the World Series again this year. I wonder if other people get a little nervous expecting another earthquake when the game plays in San Francisco (at AT&T Park though, not Candlestick). The odds against that must be astronomical, right?