Walking Home from SF State

Jeffrey Linn

When the quake hit, I was studying in the library at SFSU. I felt the first slight shaking, and wondered if it was an earthquake, but as it got stronger, I knew that it was. The lesson of many years of California elementary school earthquake drills kicked in, and I dove under the heavy library table. Seconds later, shelves were jumping up and down and books were falling down all around me. I was horrified as the thought came to mind—“I’m in the old part of the library!” Fortunately, the structure held, and when the shaking stopped, I looked out from under the table. The piles of fallen books had released decades of accumulated dust, and a cloud was slowly rising to the ceiling. I’d never realized that old books were so grimy.

Afterwards, I had to make my way back home to the Mission. Because of the power outages, all electrified transportation was out of service—no Muni, no trolleys. So I started walking home. By the time I made it to the Inner Sunset, it was getting dark, and the bars were starting to fill up. I peeked through the window of the Little Shamrock on Lincoln & 9th, and saw brief images of the fire in the Marina and the collapsed deck of the Bay Bridge. Then the power went out, and I kept walking.

By the time I made it to the Castro, it was dark and the bars were packed. Everyone knew it was a huge event, and the folks of the Castro are never ones to pass up an opportunity to throw a party. There was a sense of both revelry and generosity–the Walgreens had closed, but the manager and employees were standing in front of the store, handing out free batteries and flashlights to whoever wanted them. It was festive and joyous. The rest of my walk was quiet and uneventful. When I got back to my apartment on Oakwood Street, it was dark—the power was still out, but was restored within an hour.

Candlestick Limo Service

Geoff Butterfield

I was in my early twenties when the Earthquake happened, making my living as a limo driver while I attended SFSU. I had a job that day to drive a Hollywood film executive and his grandson to see the World Series game at Candlestick. I dropped them at the ticket gate and told them I would pick them up at that same spot after the game.

20 minutes after I dropped them off, the earthquake hit. I was actually sitting in the back of the limo, watching the pre-game on the TV when it felt like I had been hit by another car. I jumped out of the limo, all fired up to confront whoever had just hit my car and was stunned: all the cars in the lot were bouncing up and down. It was like a low-rider convention!

The game was cancelled and people started to leave. It was still light out and I was actually surprised at how smoothly people seemed to get out of the stadium. Everyone was pretty cool about it, but— I couldn’t find my people! I later learned that the exec had panicked and grabbed the first ride he could get. However, I stayed there until 9:00 that night — I refused to leave until I knew they weren’t there.

I remember driving down 3rd Street that night and thinking it resembled a scene from “Escape from New York”. Lots of tough characters out in the street along with the occasional trash can fire, but all was well. Made it home to Noe Valley without incident and spent the rest of the evening at the Rat & Raven commiserating with the neighbors.