You Can’t Do That On Television

Mitch Kocen

I was seven years old and living in Rohnert Park (about 90 minutes north of San Francisco). I was watching You Can’t Do That On Television in the living room while my dad was watching the World Series in the kitchen. The cable cut out a moment before the shaking started.


Once I felt the tremors I quickly ducked under the table, just as I was taught in countless earthquake drills at school. My dad sprinted through the living room and ordered me to get out from under
the table (it was glass, a factor that hadn’t been considered in my haste to follow instructions). I stood in the doorway until the earthquake stopped, and then we both went outside.

I remember a few aftershocks, and being very frightened that more would happen. It took some time for my father to coax me out of my panic, and we listened on his battery-operated radio to hear the news of what happened around the bay. Nothing in our home was damaged, and my parents shielded me from many of the images of the destruction. It wasn’t until years later that I saw any of the photos of the collapsed bridge or the smashed freeway.