Bristol Rd to La Borinqueña

Ricardo Olguin

I was 10 years old. The weather was hot and dry, our Indian summer in the East Bay. The sky was orange, as it is with every earthquake weather.

I lived on Bristol Road in Dublin, and I was riding my most favorite skateboard at first westbound on tamarack drive and turned north onto Bristol Road. I was skating with my best friend Eli Gonzalez. I was two houses down from my house on the sidewalk when I heard the loudest cracking, like a sheet of tile being cracked, but not falling or crashing to the ground.

I turned, looking south when I seen the road lift up and ripple like a wave towards me. There was a car that slammed on the brakes, and the woman got out of her car screaming.

I seen my mom standing in the archway of these massive Spanish archways we had in front of our house and she started screaming for me and Eli to hurry up, we were having a major earthquake and to get in the house under a doorway.

She grabbed us as we approached the house, and pulled us inside under the main doorway of the house.

We stood there, listening to the glasses we had hanging in the kitchen area and the pot rack over the center island in the kitchen.

It seemed like forever, but it was only 15 minutes. All of our neighbors came out and I remember a PG&E truck driving down the street with a loudspeaker saying “This is PG&E, please don’t go back into your houses until we come and check your dryers and pilot lights. Do not turn on any gas appliances until we get to you.

Then the neighbors came over and said the Bay Bridge collapsed. So we turned on Channel 2, KTVU, which I think everyone in the Bay Area watched religiously. Dennis Richmond and Elaine Corral came on for a special report.

The next day we went to Oakland because my dad, an alcoholic, had just gotten off the Cypress Structure to stop for a beer at La Borinqueña, a popular Oakland bar. He watched the freeway crumble behind him. He helped rescue people.

I’ll never forget, there was a Chevron gas truck in one section of the freeway that didn’t collapse, but maybe one foot in front and one foot in back was gone. Seriously, pure luck saved that driver.

I will never forget the smell of the blood as we stood looking at the Cypress Structure. It will always stay with me.