Various Burbank High School Class of 1974 Bulldogs answer the question, “What do you remember about the February 9 1971 San Fernando earthquake?”


Vicki Herrin Fields - Being scared out of my mind!

David Young - I remember a bookcase falling on me. I was scared. Where do you go when the earth is moving? But the thing that I really remember was getting home late with my Dad after going to dinner the night before. When we got out of the car to walk up the driveway to the house, I stopped and commented on how quiet it was. No dogs barking, no crickets, no frogs, just an eerie silence. We both stood there and listened for a while, shrugged our shoulders and went in the house. On the bright side, John Muir was closed. NO School. WhoooHoooo.

Sherrie King - I remember the shaking and our bed moving (shared with my sister) I felt peaceful and the thought of this is what the end of the world feels like. Then my Dad came running in and grabbed an ankle of each of us and jerked us to the floor and laid on top of us. The radio said Burbank schools were open, Patty Martino and I walked to Muir to find out it was closed. Went home, my parents at work...started cleaning up all the broken glass. Friends who lived close to the Dam were evacuated and stayed with us a couple of weeks. I remember being scared to take a shower without my Mom or sister in the bathroom. LOL!

Susan Wilson Whitt - I remember that day. I ran into my dad’s room scared to death and he's just lying in bed telling me it will stop.

Joanne Ramsay Fothergill-Birnbaum - I remember my sisters and I jumping in my big double bed. What I really recall is the hospital in Sylmar being destroyed.

Waneen Cormier Post-Marks - My grandfather was in that hospital in Sylmar just a few weeks prior.

Jean Vierra - I remember it woke me up, everyone except me, standing in the hallway, (strongest part of house), afterwards I took a shower and walked to school only to find they had cancelled it for the day and being mad ‘cuz had I known, I would've slept in...!!!!!

Gary Bardakji - Having moved to California in 1967, this was the first earthquake I went through. Very scary but I think the constant aftershocks were more unnerving.

Waneen Cormier Post-Marks - I was 13 years old, sick and laying on the floor next to my parent’s bed. The mirror above the dresser just missed me when it fell. My blown glass collection was destroyed, along with a lot of dishes and glasses. I remember a yellow hue and thinking a bomb had been dropped (remember all of the drills growing up?). I found it frightening and watched the news all day and reports of all of the damage.

Vicki Herrin Fields - Our birthdays are only 5 days apart, and I was 14. LOL

Waneen Cormier Post-Marks - Maybe my memory is failing me.

Glen Hoel - I remember going around the neighborhood and checking on friends and family to make sure they were OK. Also remember the smell of the liquor store on Glenoaks and Scott Rd. the mix of all the broken liquor bottles was really bad

Bill Prinz - The quake woke me up from a sound sleep. I too thought it was the apocalypse or the Russians hitting us with a nuke. I jumped out of bed and ran across the room to the door watching my stereo speakers that were mounted on the wall and hoping they wouldn't fall down and break (they did not). Thankfully there was no damage to our house or any mess to clean up. I road my bike to Muir thinking there was school but saw my friends standing around since the school was shut down for the day. We road bikes all over town looking at the damage. I remember too that it was a really warm day like it is today. My buddies and I were lying on the grass looking up the sky, enjoying the sunshine and feeling the aftershocks rumbling beneath us.

Gary Bardakji - The day of the Northridge earthquake was also very warm as well as many others. I really believe there is a correlation.

Bryan J Varner - Almost slept through it. Barely caught a few seconds of the ride. My mother was freaking out. I was so happy school was out. Put my motorcycle helmet on and rode my bicycle all around for hours checking everything out. Figured nothing that hit my head would hurt me. That's all I remember from that day. Of course all the news that followed soaked in too.

Karen Greer Clayton - Had a blast that day. No school, worked with friends cleaning up the grocery store, and actually got paid.

Karen Vereuck - I was sound asleep - my bed moved clear across the room and I screamed "DAD" - he came in I grabbed my clothes - ran to bathroom and had him stand guard by bathroom door - just so freakin’ scary - I had not ever felt an earthquake before that day!!!! YIKES!!!! So sad for people that did not make it!!!

Joanne Ramsay Fothergill-Birnbaum - And praise for those that did

Karen Parker Strong - I remember the aftershocks were frequent and big.

Sue Cooper - I wanted to scream but couldn't--was lying in bed looking up and riding it out. After the shaking stopped, Dad ran outside to the garage in his underwear to check on his hobby project to make sure it was OK. Mom took me to school to find Mr. Burnside out there with his megahorn, which of course he didn't need, telling us all to go home. I was lab assistant for Mr. Gore that semester, so when we were allowed back on campus, there was a mess of molasses that had spilled all over the life science lab supply room that we had to clean up. I remember watching all the coverage on TV.

Karen Vitale-Brister - I remember that devastating day very well

Pamela Anglin Howland - Me too!!! Scary stuff for our age. I thought we were being bombed. I no way... at that immediate moment thought that it was an earthquake...

Waneen Cormier Post-Marks - Pam, I think we saw too many of those nuclear bomb movies at Bellarmine.

Margaret Donohue - We went to our business in Sylmar and put out the fire. Shell trucked in water. It was hazardous to work there due to all the chemicals that spilled. (Our business was a pharmacy). We had to run a road block to get into our store. We set up a makeshift register and sold bandages, rubbing alcohol, analgesics, batteries and flashlights.

Vicki Herrin Fields - My mom, brother and I were underneath the kitchen table watching the kerosene from my dad's lantern collection leak under the stove!

Waneen Cormier Post-Marks - Yikes.

Heidi Terrio - I was on the third story of our house and the glass lamp fell on the other bed and shattered. The mercury light switches made the lights flicker and stay dim when we had no dimmer. I thought the world was come to an end, and I could hear my mom scream all of her children's names from downstairs. Our pool cracked, all the food in the pantry crashed down. I was fearful for days after! I slept in the family room and only ran up to my room to get clothes for about a month.

Wesley H. Clark - Viki Gardemann and I were talking to one another in the middle of Lincoln St. that afternoon (no school) when an aftershock happened. It was like surfing Lincoln St. - weird. You could feel the wave motion under your feet. Anyway, she screamed as loud a scream as I've ever heard in my life and ran back into her house.

In the big morning shock I looked out the kitchen window at the built in pool in our backyard and was surprised to see water lapping out everywhere.

I recall being awakened by flashes of light, which I was told was transformers blowing. Or something. What WERE those?

Everybody pronounces the word "temblor" as "trembler." Makes sense.

That night I watched the first run "All in the Family" episode where Archie Bunker discovers that his manly, archery-loving friend (Phil Carey) is actually gay. I was watching it and the temblors kept waking up my mother, who would jump up yelling.

"Big doins' in town," as she used to say.

Waneen Cormier Post-Marks - Wow! What a great memory retrieval system, you have.

Wesley H. Clark - Well - somebody's gotta do it. You and me.

Oh! Yeah! Another thing. My Mom had just sold her nice antique curio cabinet with the rounded glass panes to a woman in Sylmar. The next night or so we got a call from her complaining and wanting to know if she could get her money back. Hahahaha!

Waneen Cormier Post-Marks - Oh my!

Wesley H. Clark - Did you all take a drive over to San Fernando to look at the wrecked buildings? We did. My mother was a born tourist. I remember seeing that building where a wall had fallen and you could look into the interior of the rooms. Mom said it looked like one of her doll houses.

BTW: You all know that the Verdugo Fault runs along, more or less, the base of the hills at Sunset Canyon Drive, right? It could be the next beach front property when THE BIG ONE hits.

Wesley H. Clark - Sorry, you have awakened a memory monster: Now deathly afraid of earthquakes my pal Angela and her mother sold all their stuff, got on a plane and went to live with relatives in... South Philly. Ha! That didn't last long. Winter weather, east coast style. They were back living in Burbank within six months.

Joanne Ramsay Fothergill-Birnbaum - I love your recapture of events. So true as we were in the depths of the epicenter.

From Chris Hill (Class of 1971) - I’d add… the most hilarious Johnny Carson show I will ever remember was when they taped that evening’s show (at 5:00 p.m.) and there was a large aftershock.  Johnny literally jumped over his desk and landed in Ed McMahon’s lap.  My Dad and I laughed so hard. But we remembered that same aftershock knocked the rest of our chimney into the neighbor’s driveway. Our family lived on Verdugo Ave. just below Bel Aire Drive in a two story.  I was upstairs when the quake hit and my bed slid across the room (hardwood floors). I thought my little brother flew out his upstairs bedroom window as it opened (no screens) and no brother.  He had run downstairs by the time I ran to his room.  Anyhow, my daughter now lives four blocks from where the Olive View Hospital crumbled and I keep reminding her to be “prepared” for the big one.  Just as I should do as I live in the Pacific Northwest!

Wes Clark adds: I remember that Tonight Show episode, too. Bob Newhart was a guest. A tremor hit the studio while he was talking to Johnny and he seemed nervous.  

Youtube home movies of the San Fernando earthquake damage



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