On October 17, 1989, I was just 2 months shy of turning 10. My family (mom, dad, brother, sister) and I were visiting my grandparents in Fremont, California before we moved to North Dakota (my dad was Air Force, and that's where he had been stationed).
My grandfather and dad were settling down to watch Game 3 of the World Series in the living room. My mom and grandma were doing something in one of the bedrooms. My brother, who was just 3 days shy of turning 8, was around. I was sitting in the "Patio" where the kids' TV was, watching "You Can't Do That on Television" on Nickelodion.
All of a sudden, it felt as if my brother was shaking the couch. I remember realizing it was an earthquake, and running into the kitchen. As I did, I saw my mom run towards the living room, and heard the adults shouting "Where's Kimberly??" (My sister was only 4 at the time). As I was crossing the kitchen, I saw my grandma's Hen Cookie Jar fall and shatter on the floor.
I made it into the doorway leading to the living room, and stood there while the earthquake finished. My dad had run outside, looking for my sister, who was still no where to be found.
Once the shaking ended, and the adults had made sure my brother and I were OK, my mom went outside to also look for my sister. I can't remember how long it took for them to return, or who brought her in, but it turned out that she was in the front yard, holding onto a tree when the neighbor found her, and snatched her up so she would be safe. The neighbor told my parents that before she picked her up, my sister had said "I don't like the rolling grass!"
In the hours that followed, I remember being very anxious, as if it would all happen again. My grandfather continued watching the coverage of the fires and the Bay Bridge collapse. I didn't watch all that; I only caught bits and pieces as I moved through the house. I remember not wanting to go to bed that night, either.
I watched some YouTube videos today, mostly of World Series coverage before and after it happened. Not much footage is to be found of the actual earthquake, but a lot of pictures of the aftermath. I remember watching the Made-for-TV movie of the collapse of the Cypress Freeway, and the Earthquake Experience at Pier 39, where they actually simulate the 7.1 magnatude earthquake.
No earthquake I've ever been in has come close to that experience. A few summers ago, there was a swarm, and the largest was a 5-pointer, but I was driving and didn't feel it. I was in England when the 1994 Northridge Quake happened, too.
I consider us lucky that all we lost was a cookie jar. And I still feel for those who lost so much more.