Nostalgia rather than fear was the overriding emotion in our home during the March 1964 Earthquake. As we had been living in that howling wilderness otherwise known as Spenard for less than two years we styled ourselves as temporarily transplanted Californians rather than locals so the first few tremors brought on smiles and “Hey – just like back home” rather than any expressions of fear. It wasn’t until we lost our television signal (and the closing scenes of the “Invasion” episode of ‘Fireball XL5) that I began to feel any emotional distress.
However things were a little different during today’s quake– I was chatting on the phone with my sister Heather when she stopped for a moment then said: “Oh boy…earthquake!See the hanging lamps? – they’re bouncing all over the place.”
Intestinal Stukas started churning my insides as I nervously glanced around my own living room, but I was puzzled to find all our lamps perfectly motionless.
Suddenly the proverbial lightbulb flashed on and I made a conclusion of my own:
- Heather wasn’t asking me to look at the lamps, she was talking to my nephew Zack.
- My hanging lamps weren’t bouncing around because Heather, Zack and the quake – were 4135 miles away in Sterling Alaska.
For my dad aviation was the best yardstick for measuring the march of progress – he was born into a world with biplanes and lived to see television broadcasts of regular shuttle service to the International Space Station. For me it’s been phones: 55 years ago a call from Tennessee to Alaska would have been made only under the most dire circumstances, taken the help of at least three operators and would be made using a device that could not be owned by an individual – it had to be leased from the phone company.
I’m still getting used to it.