Barbara Bowen

EARTHQUAKE —California 1932

6.8 on the Richter scale as Father, my sister and I sat on the floor working a jigsaw — Mother was in the kitchen making celery soup for supper. We got out the front door on our bottoms because we couldn’t stand and all met in the back garden, including our brother roller-skating back from digging a hole with friends. “Gee, Ma, wasn’t it a beaut”, he cried out.

Father went back into the house after 15 minutes and brought out the soup (which had not been shaken off the stove!). I guess that was what Snubs our bull terrier had for his supper too. He drove us to an open field where we would be safe in case more houses fell in after-shocks. Then mother drove him to the dock where the captain’s gig was waiting to take him to his ship, a 6-inch light cruiser. He dispatched some of the crew ashore to help with getting people out of the rubble and with medical help where needed. About one hundred people had been killed.

Mother drove us back to the field and she, we three kids and Snubs settled down for the night only to be roused by a nut who raced by shouting “Tidal wave! Tidal wave!” (false alarm) but Mother had quickly driven to higher ground believing him. How we did all this in a pre-cellphone era I don’t remember, but we wound up the following night staying with friends in Pasadena.

Barbara Bowen
Southbury, CT 2012


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