Wednesday, February 11, 2009

My Love/Hate Relationship with Valentine's Day

It's that time of year again... Freakin' Valentine's Day!

My earliest crappy memory of V-Day occurred just shy of the holiday on Feb. 9, 1971. I was 6 yrs. old, in first grade and had all of my classmates valentines cards carefully organized on a shelf in my room in the house where I lived with my dad and grandparents. At 6:00am I was jolted awake by a thunderous noise and violent shaking. My bed seemed a thing possessed as it shuddered & shimmied its way across my room. I laid there as still as possible, somewhat in shock as to exactly what was going on.

My dad eventually appeared in my doorway, shouting my name. He was afraid I might be gravely injured, since I wasn't moving a
muscle, just laying stiff on my bed which had taken on a life of its own. Once I realized my dad was calling me I sat up and in one fell swoop he had me in his arms and was struggling down the hall to get us out of the house.

Both of my grandparents, my dad and myself made it out of the house. My grandpa had suffered an injury to his knee when the washing machine shifted and caught his leg between itself and a cabinet but other than that we were none the worse for wear. I remember well, all of us sitting in lawn chairs in the backyard for several hours, wrapped in blankets to ward off the chill of the cold morning air. My dad and grandpa were unsure if the house was structurally sound or if there might be a gas leak. It was also important to be careful of aftershocks following the quake. So the sun was high in the sky before the men felt it safe enough to go back inside the house.

As for me, my mind was centered on school. Would I be able to go today? (No, not for another 2 weeks due to some
damage to the school.) Would we still have a Valentine Party? and did the rock-candy experiment our class had worked on survive the earthquake? All the answers of course were NO.

I don't have much of a memory as to the damage incurred to our home. A lot of broken dishes and food on the floor because cupboard doors had flown open and spilled their contents (kitchen cupboards all across the region were all fitted with latches following the quake.) I also remember the washer and dryer had pulled loose from the wall and were standing in the middle of the kitchen. But! I'll never forget the mess of those valentines scattered all over the floor of my room, some of them damaged when the shelf collapsed and the bed had run over them. It's funny how the littlest thing becomes so important to a child.

It was a while before I understood this type of devastation had occurred:

That's a truck you see crushed under the fallen overpass... And no, the occupant didn't survive.

This is an aerial view of the VA hospital, 35 patients died here.

Authorities feared the San Fernando dam might collapse, causing the evacuation of some 80,000 people who lived in the valley below.

I really shouldn't complain because for some Feb. 9, 1971 was a horrifically life altering event. With regards to my life however, Valentine's Day from that point on, pretty much followed a similar pattern, though never quite as violent, but still leaving me with the same sinking feeling.

If you're interested, here's another personal account I found of the quake.

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4 Comments:

Blogger Stacie said...

Wow...that's just crazy! I can't even imagine..I've been in a few rumbles before when we lived in WA state, but it was such a smoothe rollling motion and the only damage ever reported was some store in town a shelf fell or something..I cant' begin to imagine the devastation of that kind of a quake.
and it is funny how the mind of a child works..how valentines day will always bring memories of that quake to you and how if forever tainted Vday for you..I always think of those little boxes of cards in the little square envelopes..I haven't really quite grown to think of valentines day as a grown up holiday even though my DH almost always takes me out to dinner or buys me flowers or something, I still think of it as a kids holiday..weird..
Stacie

1:41 PM, February 13, 2009  
Blogger Chris said...

What an incredible story and the pictures were awesome (in the terrible way).

But wait....1971, take away 1, carry the remainder, take the square root.....you're older than ME? I was sure you were younger by several years. Seriously!

4:07 AM, February 14, 2009  
Anonymous Leilani said...

Hi...and thanks for the comment on my blog. I was 16 in 1971, and you know teenage girls, they love the drama. The picture of the mountains behind the house was taken somewhere between Sylmar and Lake View Terrace above Foothill Blvd.
I enjoyed reading several of your blogs and your memory of driving through Pear Blossom on Hwy 138 is very accurate. They have pretty much smoothed out and widened all of 138 now, putting up traffic lights ta-boot, so it’s not the fun "roller-coaster" ride it once was. Since we moved to Pinon Hills the population has exploded from 3,100 to more than 6,000! We are in need of another grocery store!
Your idea about getting a puppy for Anna is really a pretty good one. We also had a yellow Lab, Old Dan, for 15 years. And the cats, puppies, and grand-children kept him young for years. Also for the gimping, have you tried giving her Glucossamine? It really helps. Our son named his dog, Old Dan after the book "Where the Red Fern Grows". There was another dog in the book named Little Ann; I think it's quirky that we have so many parallels...my husband thinks I'm quirky!

11:45 AM, February 14, 2009  
Blogger EmBee said...

Hey Stacie,
Having grown up in California, I've experienced all kinds of quakes. They're all scary because you know, the ground isn't supposed to MOVE. But the nicest are the slow rolling quakes. We once experienced one where we watched it roll across our living room. It looked a lot like a swell of water on a lake.

My husband also thinks V-day is a 'kids' holiday and thinks the whole flower and candy thing is stupid. Therefore cementing my mostly hate relationship with the day.

Hi Chris,
I was even surprised, looking through pics on the web, at the devastation. I didn't really read the newspaper back then.

And you know, it must be the youthful exuberance which comes through in my writing that gave you the impression I'm SO young! (thanks for thinking that by the way.)

And hey, those are some pretty impressive math skills you're throwing down!
:-)
(*throwing down, it's stuff like that isn't it?)

Leilani,
Isn't it odd to find someone on the web with parallel experiences? I lived for a time in Tajunga, just off Foothill Blvd. And the notion that there were anywhere near 3100 people in Pinion Hills when we used to visit my grandparents seems completely inaccurate. My personal census would've figured on roughly 35 residents... Okay, maybe 40. As with anything though, I guess urban sprawl is a given but I can't even imagine 6,000! Sounds like Pinion Hills has grown to the size of Victorville.

As for our dog Anna, she's 10 and getting gimpier every day. She's currently on a joint health supplement called DASUQUIN. It's been about a month now but it doesn't seem to be helping much.

It's nice to meet you, my new 'quirky' friend!
:-)

9:50 AM, February 16, 2009  

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