I just visited with my 93 year old neighbor, Mary. She was wiping off her hands when she answered the door. I asked if I was interrupting. “No” she replied, as she was cleaning paint off her trembling hands.
She showed me what she was working on. It was a scene from a cherished place in Alaska. She said she had always wanted to return to Alaska, but she felt that her traveling days were now officially over. (She had heart surgery last month.) Painting made her almost feel like she was back in those places again.
Alaska was one of her favorites. She and her husband lived there for 14 years. Her husband was a second-generation Alaskan. She said that her husband’s father had gone north to Alaska during the Gold Rush. Her husband was born when his father was 65.
She told me that summers are very nice but that the rest of the year was sometimes tough. She had a photograph of the thermometer at the bank showing -74 degrees. She said that it was often -40 but the kids still went outside and life went on.
They were there during the Earthquake. She said it was right around her birthday and her anniversary.
I looked it up. The Good Friday Earthquake happened at 5:36 pm on March 27, 1964.
She was cooking dinner. When the rumbling first started her husband hollered up to their two young kids, “What are you two doing up there to make such a ruckus.” In seconds, they knew it was more than kids roughhousing.
The magnitude 9.2 megathrust earthquake was the most powerful earthquake recorded in North America.
She said there were large ships thrown miles inland. There were two types of tsunamis produced by this subduction zone earthquake. The tectonic tsunami and smaller, local tsunamis. The largest tsunami wave was in Shoup Bay with a height of 220 feet. That could toss a ship for sure!
Some areas were permanently raised up 30 feet and some places dropped 8 feet.
Her favorite town of Valdez in the Prince William Sound, was basically destroyed. Valdez moved to another location after its waterfront was wiped out from the massive underwater landslide.
She was painting what she fondly remembered from the pre-earthquake waterfront.
She advised me to go to Alaska as soon as I could.
You just never know how many todays or tomorrows you have.