Re: Recollecting the March 22, 1957 5.3 Earthquake

03/08/07 - posted by Tom Bratton

That was an earthquake. I was at homme on 25th street right across from James Lick Jr. High when it hit. My Mother, also at home, was with my Grandfather in our back yard. When the shaking started I headed for the rear of the house. As I was making my way I remember seeing the ketchup bottle on the kitchen table doing strange things as were my own feet. When I emerged out on the upstairs porch the shaking had stopped. I saw my Mother and Grandfather standing motionless as if wondering if it was really over. My Grandfather was as pale as the house was white. My Mother finally broke the silence by saying how frightening the low rumbling sound was just before the shaking started. Later my Grandfather said all he could think of was what he saw on April,18th,1906.

He was delivering milk using his horse and buggy when in front of the Valencia Street Hotel the big one hit. He said he saw someone in the lobby behind the counter doing paperwork when the whole place sunk into the ground. When the shaking stopped and he got his horse back under control he went on and delivered to the rest of his customers and then went home to find out his wife, my Grandmother, had a frightening time of her own. The chimney toppled over sending the chunks of brick through the roof pinning her in bed. She was able to climb out from under just in time to catch the oil lamp as it was ready to fall over onto the wood floor. Eleven months later my Mother was born.

The next day, March 23rd, my friend and I went out to the Lake Merced area and I took pictures with my trusty Brownie camera of some of the open cracks along the road near the lake. There were also some windows that were boarded up on the tall apartments near the lake.
Of course 1989 made us put 1957 farther back in our memories but with a little proding it all comes back.

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