When he joined the Army in December of 1947, Alaska was the last place in the world this writer wanted to be sent. In fact, each of the 12 times he went through processing, he responded to the question of his preference of overseas assignments with, “Anyplace but Alaska.” You see, he was born and raised in Alabama. Just the thought of below-freezing weather was enough to make him shiver.
March 27, 1964, was Good Friday, the day commemorating the Last Supper on the evening of Christ’s betrayal. At 5:36 p.m. Anchorage children were watching Fireball XL5 on KENI-TV Channel 2. Dinners were being prepared in homes all across Alaska. It was a fairly warm day, only four or five inches of snow on the ground. Roads were clear and trees were bare, their buds not yet starting to show and the sap still dormant under the bark. Not many of today’s residents remember that day. Those who were here will never forget it. This writer was one who experienced the second-worst earthquake ever recorded, the worst ever on the North American continent.
Ed. Note: Through protracted coaxing and arm-twisting that literally wore us out, ECHO team member Frank Baker convinced us to let him relate his 1964 earthquake story. Every year about this time I think about the March 27, 1964 earthquake—in an odd way, almost anticipating another shaker. The January 23rd earthquake of this year, measured at a magnitude of 7.9, brought that memory into sharper focus. Everyone in Alaska from Ketchikan to Dutch Harbor has told their 1964 earthquake story except me. You see, I was never allowed to tell one because I wasn't in Alaska when it happened. Even my parents wouldn't let me have an earthquake story. To this day, I've considered it terribly cruel and unjust. So now I finally have the chance to settle the score!