Susan Erlwein Davis – Kenai

March 27th, 1964…, what a day. I was 18 years old, a senior at Kenai High School. My sister Kathy was 16. We got off the school bus and walked the mile and a half of our homestead road to our cabin on Longmere Lake. I fixed our dinner and was doing the dishes when the quake hit. I remember the water in the sink stood up sideways, and then fell back down. We didn’t have doors on the kitchen cupboards and things started falling out all around me. My sister started to become hysterical so I chased her around the cabin, held on to her, and told her we were going outside. I opened the door. The trees were laying on the ground one minute and upright the next, then back down again Then, the lake started to crack open and the mud from the bottom shot many feet up into the air. It looked like the cracks were headed straight for us, so we huddled there in the doorway until the shaking finally quit. I didn’t think it would ever stop, it felt like forever.

The main phone lines were out, but we were on a party line, so the neighbors were all picking up their receivers and checking on each other. My boyfriend and his family lived about 2 miles away, and thankfully his dad decided to drive down and check on us. He knew our parents and other siblings were in Anchorage for the day. I must have been in shock because I told him we were fine. He started driving up the hill, then stopped and backed down. He told me my face was white as a ghost, and that we were going home with him. I was so very grateful. They had six children at the time, and lived in a 10×55 mobile home, but made room for us. It was cozy and comforting. We all sat around listening to the battery radio, and waiting for news.

It was at least a day before we heard that the rest of our family was OK, and then it took my mom 3 days to get home since the Kenai River Bridge, and most of the Portage bridges were out. She told us that right before the earthquake started, she and my sister were on their way to J.C.Penney’s to go shopping, but that she changed her mind and they drove by the store, and on down to 19th Ave. where they were staying with friends. She was sure happy she made that decision.

While we were cleaning up all the mess in the cabin, Mom pounded a nail in one of the log beams and hung a wrench up on it so we could watch for the aftershocks.

To this day, any earth shake brings back all the vivid details, and the fear.

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