A Rocking Thanksgiving

The earthquake that hit the East Coast in the summer of 2011 took me back 60 years.

It was San Francisco in the late 1950’s, and I was six. These were carefree and glorious times.  These were the days of flying a homemade kite with a tail made of cotton rags, of spur-of-the-moment hula-hoop contests with the neighbor kids and roller-skating on the front driveway and the accompanied skinned knees.

On Wednesday, November 25, 1958, San Francisco was hit by a powerful earthquake. Though I was a child, I remember it like it was yesterday.  I was at home at the time. Out-of-town family had already begun to arrive for the Thanksgiving festivities. My grandmother and great grandmother were at home, getting ready.

When the shaking began, I was sitting on the toilet (of all places!), wondering to my young self what in the world was happening.  All of a sudden, my grandmother burst through the bathroom door, pulled up my pants and hustled me towards the front door of our house.   In the process she grabbed her mother.  My grandmother obviously had experienced earthquakes prior to this one. Before flying through the front door with us in tow, she passed the tall wooden liquor cabinet and reaching in, grabbed a large bottle of aged Irish whiskey.

I don’t think I had ever seen my grandmother move so fast!  The next thing I knew we were all standing in the middle of the street staring at the front of our house.  I remember thinking to myself, ‘how strange it was to be standing in the middle of the street when I was so frequently told not to go out in to the street.’

Well, we lost our chimney in that quake and a lot of dishes were broken, too.  But gladly we all survived without a scrape.  I still wonder, as I did then, about my grandmother’s reasoning behind grabbing that large bottle of Irish whiskey. I don’t remember her drinking it, but maybe she did behind my back. Anything to calm the nerves!

So when the earthquake struck in August 2011, I knew exactly what to do. Take action, protect yourself and your loved ones, and drink up.

What are your memories of childhood? What events are stuck in your mind? The simpler times of youth, or the disasters that brought the family together? We’d love to hear your stories!