Tustin reeled in the March 1933 earthquake

by Juanita Lovret
Reprinted courtesy of the Tustin News

March 10, 1933, 5:54 p.m. Tustin, along with the rest of Orange County, reeled in the Long Beach earthquake.

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 back yard.

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 maintain order.

The grammar 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 precaution.

Many homes 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 replacement.

 

 

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