Monday, October 1, 2007

It Was 20 Years Ago Today...

Longtime locals and natives at least 25 or so years old on up should remember what happened on the morning of October 1, 1987 when the magnitude 5.9 Whittier Narrows Earthquake rattled SoCal and became the first large earthquake in nearly a generation to strike the area.

The Militant remembers it well: Waiting at an RTD bus stop on the way to school, the young Militant was kicking back, listening to The System's Don't Disturb This Groove cassette on his Walkman headphones, when at precisely 7:42 a.m. he heard what sounded like a huge swarm of pigeons fly off into the sky, then the rattling of storefront accordion security gates, then someone screaming, "GET AWAY FROM THE BUILDING!" Looking westward down the street, he seemed to remember it...rolling.

More rump-shaking than the late '80s funky pop music in the young Militant's headphones, this was the ultimate disturbance of an even bigger groove.

"This is an earthquake!" the young Militant finally realized.

Having been born an unspecified measure of time after the 1971 Sylmar Earthquake (and perhaps even conceived due to it), he had never seen or felt this phenomena he had been raised to fear and prepare for. For years he was taught to duck under the tables at school, hands covering the back of his neck (to help shield vital nerves and arteries and minimize further injury), or stand in the middle of a doorway...but none such event came. Now he was outside, nowhere to go really, so he just stood on the sidewalk by the bus stop and rode it out.

The rest of that day was crazy none the least, including checking on one of his younger siblings at the local elementary school, having his boombox radio, still blaring KFWB updates, stolen from the front yard when he wasn't looking, and a bizarre and potentially dangerous family car trip that night up the Angeles Crest Highway to check on the Militant's other sibling, who was at a school camp up in the mountains at the time (remember, this was before everyone had cellphones...)

Everyone was safe and nothing was really damaged aside from a vase here and there and some cassette cases careening down to the floor, and a noticeable fracture in the chimney (which still stood after the even bigger 1994 Northridge Earthquake and still stands today). But still, it helps to be prepared for The Big One, or any major emergency.

And that's one to grow on.

No comments: