I slept through the earthquake this morning (i.e., tremor; the epicenter of the actual earthquake was considerably farther west). My apartment is a combined ground floor/basement unit (I have to go down steps to reach it, but it opens out onto a patio and a wide lawn), so maybe that prevented me from being awakened by a swaying bed and the clattering of all my “stuff.” Also, my apartment complex is in a valley. Apparently the rattle and hum was more significant on higher ground.
I remember other tremors in Cincinnati history. The first was when I was eleven or twelve. I was sitting on one of the twin beds in my bedroom when the opposite bed almost seemed to “blur” at the edges, and the window above shook loudly. I wasn’t scared, but I did wonder what was going on. That wasn’t long after we used to have sonic booms that would rock the whole house, and I thought maybe it was something like that.
A bigger tremor hit in 1980. Again, I was sitting on a bed, but this time in my efficiency apartment. The bed began to tremble, the tall shelves with a bunch of knickknacks began to sway, and I heard a kind of distant, rolling rumble. It didn’t last long at all. It was almost comical how everyone ran out of their apartments or from their houses up and down the street. The group reaction reassured each of us that we hadn’t been dreaming. As we returned up the stairs, the elderly woman across the hall said, “Read your Bible! With everything going on in the world today…” I couldn’t tell if she was frightened or wishfully thinking of an Armageddon drawing nigh.
Later that decade, around 1985 or 1986, I was asleep on my small sofa bed (another efficiency apartment) and Diamondqueen, a teenager at the time, was spending the night and sleeping in a bedroll on the floor. Our overnight had been troublesome: The upstairs neighbor had had a noisy party; she’d awakened us coming down to apologize after I’d screamed at some of the guests who’d been having their cocktails nearly outside my apartment door; we’d had heavy rains for hours. Then I heard a loud crack and wondered what the neighbor was up to now. Within seconds I realized the foot of my bed on its flimsy metal frame was swaying.
“Are you kicking my bed?” I asked my sister irritably.
“No,” she replied from the floor. “But I just felt the earth move.”
Today, though, I missed all the excitement. Or, I should say I missed the cause of the excitement. There’s still lots of talk and amazement about the earthquake this evening. (I was awake for the aftershock around 11:15 a.m., and on the second floor of my three-floor office building, but I didn’t feel a thing.) My first sign that anything was wrong was when I heard one of the anchors on morning news say “centered near Evansville.” I use my television as an alarm clock; normally I fall back to sleep when the TV first clicks on, but today my eyes popped open. “Centered near Evansville” is disaster talk. I thought maybe it was an explosion or a tornado or a plane crash. Fortunately, the Midwest’s earthquake wasn’t that serious.
Ironically, today marks the anniversary of the Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906. Talk about an April cruelty: total devastation and 3,000 killed. I’m very glad today’s shake-up was so minor.