Today, we remember the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. While it happened around 5 PM in the SF Bay area, I was over in Japan. Stationed over in Germany just outside of Frankfurt, we were waiting for the World Series to start. That year’s series featured the Oakland A’s and its neighbors across the bay, the SF Giants. That led to nicknames like the Bay Series, the Bridge Series, etc. We were pretty excited in Germany because we were going to be able to watch it live via satellite. That sort of thing was just becoming more common for us in the military. Now, it’s pretty much taken for granted.
The film and report from that earthquake were another mind-blowing reminder of nature’s strength and human fragility. We build these things thinking they’ll be ‘forever’. Nature comes along and knocks them over with a hefty shrug. Watching on television, we saw the baseball stadium shake and said almost as one, “Holy shit.” It’s a military expression commonly used back then.
I ended up stationed in the SF Bay area, arriving in Feb, 1991. We visited Santa Cruz the next year. Its streets and businesses were still recovering from the earthquake. A drizzly day, seeing all the destruction which still remained stilled our spirits. Businesses and people were coping and regrouping.
As I remember that earthquake and those times, I remember songs, too. One of them is “Stand” by R.E.M., a catchy song with silly lyrics. “Stand in the place where you work, think about directions, wonder why you haven’t before.”
It was like, whaaat?