This is ONE OF 2 responses to Vol 10 Holly 12 ("Stuart and Suzanne")...
It's true I was in Ohio when the big San Francisco quake occured, but having lived in California for twenty years I do have some experience experiencing earthquakes.
The biggest quake I have witnessed was the Sylmar Quake in 1971 when I was a sophmore in high school. I believe it registered 6.4 on the Richter scale, a mere toddler compared to the Bay Area's most recent tumbler; still it was enough to shake down a newly built hospital, collaspe a few freeway overpasses, and make the swimming pool water in our apartment building splash onto the roof.
I remember, it was a hot morning (in my experience, earthquakes seem to occur during unseasonably hot weather) in the spring around 7:00. I was lying in bed when I heard the dishes rattle on the other side of our apartment in Van Nuys. The rolling or rattling seemed to take a long time to get to my side of the apartment, but it must have only taken seconds. Then my bed, my room, and the walls started to shake. It went on for about three or four minutes and seemed that it would never stop. I remember how noisy it was. It was like a giant beast roaring. The sky as I remember it was red. Since school was cancelled, I played catch for hours with the other kids in the apartment.
I remember about ten years ago - I was at my parents house in L.A. watching the USC in the Rose Bowl when another earthquake occured. This was a baby, @ 3 or 4 on the Richter scale. Still I ran to the doorway immediately. I remember, after the trembler, I was shaking for a long time afterward. The suddeness of earthquakes is what I think is most frightening about them. I still freak whenever I feel even a small trembler.
The last quake I was in was a year or two ago when Kathy (my wife) and I were staying at my Mom's house in L.A. It was a hot night, so we were sleeping in the living room underneath a huge breakfront that my parents have had for years when an earthquake struck. I immediately woke up and threw myself on Kathy. The break front swayed ominously over us, but it didn't topple over -- only a few books and some wooden fruit fell off.
Kathy would have slept right through it if I hadn't jumped on her. Her first thought must have been "oh brother, not Lust-in-the-night again." My 64 year old, angina ridden mother, her maternal instincts not dimmed a whit, came running into the living room when the Quake hit. The worst part of the quake was having her get all mushy about possibly losing us.
I'm in Ohio now, land of tornados, black ice, and transplated Appalachian rednecks. I'm not sure I feel a lot safer here.