March 10, 1933,
5:54 p.m. – Tustin, along with the rest of
Orange County, reeled in the Long Beach
That evening is
stamped indelibly into my memory. My parents and
I were seated at the heavy, old table in the
kitchen, eating the last bites of our supper.
Mother had brought a banana cream pie she had
baked that afternoon to the table and was
cutting wedges for our dessert.
Suddenly a noise,
one I could never describe until I heard a sonic
boom, shattered the quiet. The tabled heaved and
bucked like a small boat in stormy seas. We
tried to rise, but the tilt of the table threw
us back into our chairs. Weird noises, pounding,
rattling, creaking and groaning, added to our
confusion and fear.
When the table
finally stilled, we struggled to our feet and
rushed to the back door. There we were stopped
by a cascade of bricks blocking the screen door.
Mother and I huddled behind my dad until no more
bricks rolled off the roof. Then he forced the
door open and we stumbled over piles of bricks
on the porch and steps as we exited into the
The giant walnut
tree was still swaying and bending, its branches
sweeping the ground. Except for the rustle of
the tree, the evening was eerily quiet. No birds
called. No dogs barked.
We went back into
the house and started calling the family to be
sure they were safe. Amazingly, the telephone
operator was still on duty
Rumors flew as
after-shocks continued. Several people pulled
into our drive to warn us that if the Irvine Dam
broke, the area would be flooded. Others came to
report hundreds injured and hurt in Santa Ana,
Anaheim and Long Beach.
The next day,
despite after-shocks, was sightseeing day.
People swarmed into downtown Santa Ana, gasping
at the damage while police, the National Guard
and volunteers from the American Legion tried to
school was the only building in Tustin with
major damage. The school lost its brick facing
and second floor auditorium. Classes met in
vacant store buildings and the Tustin
Presbyterian Church for almost a year while
repairs were made. The First National Bank lost
some trim and later removed its turrets as a
suffered a few cracks in their ceilings or
plaster walls, but only Los Alisos, the Roy
Ozmun house where Madame Modjeska once lived,
had extensive damage. However, some 50 homes
reported that their chimneys needed repair or