The first earthquake I actually remember was March 22, 1957.  My mom was 7 months pregnant with my twin sisters, my older brother was at school, and my sister and I were playing in the back room – a room built out the back of the house on stilts.  It started swaying back and forth and we went running in to my mom, with our dog, Peanuts, barking.

That earthquake – as I just looked up – was a mere 5.3 on the Richter scale.  Small, but it caused a lot of damage.  Our house on 19th Avenue had a lot of cracks and plaster fell from ceilings and walls.  (It was all lathe and plaster.)  I remember being wide-eyed and “WHAT WAS THAT?!?” but I don’t remember being scared.  Probably because my mom played it down so well.

Speaking with her about it years later, she confessed that she had been a  complete wreck inside – but couldn’t let us see her fall apart.  She had to make sure that we weren’t scared.  My fireman father was at the firehouse, of course, so it was up to her.  Married to a fireman and mother to – eventually – six children, it was a role she had to play often.

I think the road above is Skyline Boulevard – the west side of the lake.   Parts of it and John Muir Drive on the south side slid into the lake that March morning .  As kids we spent a lot of time riding our bikes to Lake Merced and going fishing.  After the quake, we all drove over there to see the damage.  Pop flashed his fireman’s badge and we got to go in and see it all up close.  It was pretty cool growing up with a San Francisco Fireman for a father.

Another road that collapsed was El Camino del Mar.  It ran from Lands End above Sutros along the Golden Gate to Lincoln Park and then the bridge.  The section from Lands End to Lincoln Park was never repaired and Mother Nature has reclaimed most of it.  The section is now part of the GGNRA and called “The Earthquake Walk.”

We lived right between the two of them.

The next good one was the1964 Alaska earthquake.  We didn’t actually feel the quake in San Francisco, but, living a mere 2 blocks from the ocean, we were down there to surf the tidal wave in!  Hundreds – if not thousands – of people flocked to the beach that day.  Fortunately, we were all disappointed.  The tidal wave that destroyed Crescent City up by the Oregon border barely caused a ripple 350 miles south.  Fortunately.

I can’t even begin to count the earthquakes I’ve felt over the years.  Most of them were “Oh.  Earthquake.”  and ya keep on doing what you were doing.  The really damaging ones – like the 1989 quake – really are few and far between.

October 17, 1989.  I had received the phone call that I had been hired at San Francisco General Hospital earlier that day and was at my sister’s in San Bruno getting ready to watch the World Series.  We lost power for a few days and in those pre-world wide web and cell phone days, the nation watched what was happening but we were clueless.  All we had were battery-operated radios and they were hyping things left and right.  The sky was definitely falling.  When we heard the Bay Bridge had collapsed and the Cypress freeway had collapsed, we didn’t believe it.  Surprise.

So… fast-forward 22 years and here I am outside of Philadelphia when a 5.9 earthquake hits – and I don’t even feel it!  Talk about cheated!  I rather like the superior nonchalant “Oh. That little thing? Did a truck drive by?”  attitude that only a native San Franciscan who has survived a score of earthquakes can pull off with perfect aplomb.

I’m bad.  I admit it.  And I was cheated!

Nonetheless, I decided we should have something “San Francisco-ish” from my childhood for dinner.  Victor and Cybil did, after-all, feel the quake.   They would need comforting.  I decided upon Hamburger and Potatoes.

My mother knew how to stretch a pound of hamburger and this was always one of my favorites… Fried potatoes in one pan, hamburger, onions, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, and S&P in the other.  When both are cooked, they are combined and served.

Since we still have a few bell peppers from the garden, I added them, too.

The perfect comfort food for a stroll down Earthquake Memory Lane…