We were lucky in Spenard
by Wanetta Ayers
When the 1964 Alaska earthquake first hit, my mom was in the kitchen making sloppy Joe's for dinner.
The three of us were huddled around the television watching the start of Fireball XL5.
Events are a bit jumbled, but I remember running and being tossed around. The freezer nearly fell on my sister, but my dad caught it. The television fell over. Dinner slid off the stove.
I tried to run out the front door where the family car was rolling back and forth. My dad grabbed me by the collar and pulled me back inside.
The quake lasted a long time. And then it was quiet.
We were lucky in Spenard – our home was intact. Most of the streets were passable. We filled the bathtub with snow and boiled it for water. We lined up at the school for various shots. The volunteer poked through my skin and shot the vaccine right out the other side at me. Second time was better for her, not so much for me.
Over the course of the next month, my dad was gone a lot. He mustered out to Kulis ANG and flew many aid flights during that time. He brought home flight MRE's (Meals Ready to Eat), fixed the television with a soldering iron, and still had time to let me and Denise stand on his boots and “dance” with him.
I burned the palm of my hand during this time, and he sat and held me on his lap while my mom put a baking soda poultice on it.
On April 25, on a flight from Valdez to Anchorage, after dropping off Governor Egan and others, the ANG C-123 he was on crashed into Prince William Sound shortly after takeoff. Accounts are that the fuselage remained on the surface for a short time before sinking.
All four souls on-board perished.
A Note from Anchorage Memories
So sorry for your loss -
And thank you for sharing your 1964 Alaska earthquake story.
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A powerful story about a young teenage girl caught in the JC Penney building during the 1964 earthquake.
An amazing story of survival.
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