I was on the 54-Felton during the 1989 earthquake
Illustration by Jenifer Wofford
Do you remember where you were when the big one hit in 1989? Tomorrow is the 25th anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake, and Jenifer Wofford
of Earthquake Weather has been gathering stories about the quake. Stories on her site are accompanied by her wonderful illustrations such as the one above. San Franciscan Gabe Wachob happened to be riding the 54-Felton that fateful evening. Here’s his story.
On the evening of Oct 17, 1989, I was a 16 year old senior at Lick-Wilmerding High School. When the earthquake hit, I was on the 54 Felton on my way home after a late day at school (why I was going home at 5, I don’t remember). It was a normal day, except abnormally hot as we all know, except about 2 minutes after we crossed Mission (on Persia), while at a stop, someone started trying to tip the old bus over. Or so we thought. It was a strange experience – those old diesel buses were not exactly lightweight… When I looked up (during the shaking) I saw “standing waves” in the electricity lines above. I knew it was an earthquake.
The bus continued on the route – I don’t think we knew the magnitude of what had happened. It was clear, as we continued on, that it was a serious event, however. Driving through a part of town with 2 story stucco-d houses with garages on the first floor, we could see big cracks in the stucco around almost every garage.