Patrick M. Keulen – Fort Richardson

Well I remember it like it was yesterday. My dad was stationed at Fort Richardson. My dad, mom and two sisters were all sitting down to a Good Friday dinner a little after 5:00 p.m. Back then my mom would set the table with plates, cups and saucers and I remember hearing the cups start to make a tinkling sound and saw a really curious look on my mom’s face when all of a sudden it hit.

It was such a furious force not shaking but more of a rolling movement. I looked up to see the kitchen cabinet doors swing open and all the dishes falling out breaking on the floor and then saw our huge china hutch fall over. My dad and I started walking around the house, why I really don’t know, we were all in shock. My dad face was white as a ghost and his eyes were bulged out. There was a roaring sound I can still hear.

My mother who was 8 1/2 months pregnant with my youngest sister was crying hysterically and curled up in the fetal position in the corner of our living room with my two sisters who were also crying. My mom was begging us all to come to her because if we were going to die we would all die together. My mother a devout catholic thought it was the end of the world. That was the most courageous thing I ever witnessed in my entire life. Our priest Father Van Dyke came to our house that night and stayed on his knees until the morning praying the rosary. We were out of power and all I could see were his lips moving by candlelight.

In the days that followed the tremors were scarier than the quake. They seemed more violent. We went downtown Anchorage and saw all the wreckage, it was unbelievable. Our babysitter’s boyfriend was killed when a huge cement block from the J.C. Penny’s building crushed him.

I loved Alaska and still do. Living in Fort Richardson was so much fun, the military made it a great place for kids. It was by far the best time of my life. I can remember ice skating in the middle of Ft Rich and sledding and snowman and the forests. I still can recall a day when me and my friends built a huge three ball snowman and watched it disappear during a snowstorm. I also remember getting into trouble when my friends and I all stayed out late playing not knowing what time it was until the M.P.’s came to find us. It was after midnight but still light outside.

We stayed another two years and then eventually settled in California! I really laugh when my friends get freaked out with the 3.5’s here.

I never get scared during an earthquake not after that Alaskan whopper.

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