Monday, September 14, 2009

the Great Quake of '83

March 16, 1983 Wednesday 11 days to Alaska

Dear Ophelia,
"Today I found out I got a B on my final exam for Mr. Mountain. I got a C+ on my test for math. Daniel is really going to miss me. He was crying and stuff. I'm going to miss him too. I never knew how much he likes me even though he seems to hit me more often. I hurt him bad today. I hurt his feelings, "I'm Sorry." I am going to try to play with him more often. I gotta go so, bye Ophelia. Your friend, Jennifer. P.S. I love Daniel in a way. Don't tell."

Daniel was 15 years old. Jennifer and Daniel were, and still are, close siblings. She thinks they took each other for granted. They were always together but they lived separate lives now. Dan had his older friends and she had her own friends. She still had one foot in childhood and he had one foot in adulthood. They didn't do a lot together as a family during this time. Their dad had his own life too--work, work, work. Jennifer remembers feeling lonely. Her dad and brother didn't seem to need her as much as she needed a mother.

It's hard for Jennifer to speak her feelings to this day--to be vulnerable. Oh she likes to talk--it's hard to get her to stop talking! But when it comes to feelings, she writes. She wrote her apology to Dan. She wrote that she loves him. She didn't say these things to Dan. Jennifer prefers to walk softly and carry a big pen!

March 17, 1983 Thursday 10 days to Alaska

Dear Ophelia,
"Today Daniel and I got in a big fight and Daniel called Mom and we talked. I will miss him more than I think. I have no homework. Tomorrow is my last day at school. I got a C+ on my math final and a B+ on my life science I final and an A on my Greeks and Romans final. Muffie is so curly. I am going to miss Muffie so much. I gotta go, bye Ophelia. Your friend, Jennifer."

I think the sudden fighting with Dan was obviously related to Jen leaving--conflicted emotions all around.

Jen and Dan loved to flip each other up onto their backs. Now that's teamwork!

March 18, 1983 Last Day of School 9 days to Alaska

Dear Ophelia,
"This morning I got a check-out sheet and got it signed by all my teachers. After school I got a transfer sheet. School was boring and I said goodbye to all my teachers. When Dad got home we set up the beds for the garage sale tomorrow. Well I gotta go 'yawn' it's 1:00am. Bye Ophelia. Your friend, Jennifer."


March 19, 1983 Saturday 8 days to Alaska

Dear Ophelia,
"The garage sale is going okay. I made $26.50 but gave it to Mom. Lara came over and helped. We went to the marsh and ate dinner there which consisted of sandwiches from the deli. Lara is spending the night. Lara weighs 140 pounds. Well I gotta sign-off so, bye Ophelia. Your friend, Jennifer."

Foster City is built on a marsh. Daniel built his Eagle scout trail in those marshlands. The San Francisco Bay is adjacent to Foster City and dikes are built around the town to protect it from flooding. Jennifer enjoyed riding her bike through the marshes and on the dike. It was a nice, quiet place to have dinner.

Jennifer was in the Spinnaker house for the "Great Quake of '89", the Loma Prieta. Houses roll during earthquakes, but houses really roll when they are built on water! The shaking that day wasn't nearly as bad as the rolling waves under her feet. Jennifer could see her house change shape like it was made of jelly.

Jennifer, true to form, did not run for cover in the doorway of her bedroom during the 7.0 earthquake. Instead she leaped onto her fish tank that was sliding all over her dresser. The 110 pound girl wrestled with the 100 pound tank as the earth shook down highways, buildings and bridges. The water sloshed back and forth and the fish flew out of the tank--but she held it down until the shaking stopped. She was able to rescue all the fish before they died on her carpet. To this day, Jennifer has not lived a day without a pet and she wasn't about to lose those fish!!!

Freeway damage, Loma Prieta October 17, 1989 5:04pm (7.0 Richter scale)

Jennifer does not remember why she gave her mom the garage sale money...or if her mom actually took it.

March 20, 1983 Sunday 7 days to Alaska

Dear Ophelia,
"Today Lara went home early. It rained a lot so the garage sale didn't go so well. I'm not going to school next week because it's my last week and they are starting a new trimester. All the animals are fine. We haven't sold any beds yet. Well I gotta go okay. I'll write to you tomorrow. Bye Ophelia. Your True Friend, Jennifer."

The Big Garage Sale of '83

Jennifer and Lara are sitting at the desk. Jen's canopy bedroom set was for sale along with an antique bed that belonged to her mom. Jen's mom was pretty upset when she found out how little her dad eventually sold it for.

When Jennifer's parents divorced--they set their belongings (and the family dog) on the front lawn and sold them. Here she was again, selling her things and moving to another state. She was also leaving another dog behind. At least this dog wasn't being sold. She knew she'd see Muffin twice a year. She also knew that Dan needed Muffin more than she did. She would still have her cat and her hamster. Overall though, the garage sale brought back bad memories. There can be more heartache behind a garage sale than meets the eye! Sometimes, it's the quaking destruction of a family and the earth is rolling beneath their feet...

Where were you during the Big Quake of '89?

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