Dave Rice – Government Hill

In 1964 I was 7. I lived on Ash Place in Government Hill about two blocks from the elementary school, which I attended. I was sledding on our favorite hill on the other side of E. Loop Rd. and was walking up the hill when the first tremor hit.

The first thing I remember was the water tower at the top of the hill making a lot of noise. My worst fear during the whole thing was that the tower would fall on me! After losing my footing and sliding to the bottom of the hill, I tried to stand up but the earth was moving in waves. It was like being on the surface of the ocean, with waves of earth passing underneath me. The next thing I noticed was spruce trees hitting the ground on either side as these waves passed underneath them. Next were the cracks in the earth propagating around me. I remember seeing 2-3″ cracks opening up and running for tens of feet. It is amazing how, after 40 years, the memories of that thirty minutes are still so vivid.

My oldest brother has even better stories. He was 17 and was moving furniture on the third (top) floor of the JC Penney building when the outside walls fell away. He remembers looking out of the building and seeing the destruction in the Fourth St. area as it was happening.

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