Shel Holtz (shel@NETCOM.COM)
Sun, 20 Feb 1994 22:31:57 -0800
Hi, everybody! It's been quite some time since I last posted. I
have been collecting Digests daily, but only today got around
to reading them -- all the way back to mid-January! You can
imagine how long it took me to get through them. As usual they
were all enlightening, impressive, and fun to read. There were
three to which I'd like to add my 2 cents, but first an update.
There are two reasons for my absence from the List. My job hunt
and a little 6.6 (or 6.7 or 6.8, depending on which specialist
is talking) earthquake that struck just about directly under my
house on January 17. The quake jolted us awake, just as it did
everybody else in the San Fernando Valley, at 4:31 a.m. I tried
to get out of bed to get to Ben and Rachel, but the force of
the quake threw me back into bed. When the shaking finally
stopped, we were in pitch black. We kept a flashlight in the
drawer of the bedside table, but the drawers had all flown out
and the table overturned, so it took a while to find. The
inside of our closet collapsed, making it hard to get to shoes,
which were important, since everything in the house that could
break _did_ break! We kept calling to the kids to stay put.
It also took a while to find Michele's glasses. She keeps them
on her bedside table, and I found them about seven feet away on
the floor by the bedroom door.
Finally, we were able to get to the kids. Rachel, at nearly 5
years of age, wasn't too frightened (although she got that way
as the aftershocks continued over the next weeks). Her room
also suffered the least damage. We couldn't get to Ben,
however. His armoir, about six feet tall and weighing about 250
pounds full, had fallen over on his bed. He was unhurt, but we
had to help him climb over the armoir. About 10 minutes after
the quake struck, we were able to get out of the house. I
situated Michele and the kids in the car, where we could turn
on the radio to hear the news. With one of the three
flashlights we finally found, I helped a neighbor find a
flashlight, then we went up and down the block helping people
turn off their gas. Michele gave away one flashlight to another
neighbor who couldn't find one.
We saw the sky to the north fully ablaze and thought the Target
store was on fire. Turned out to be the gas main explosion at
Rinaldi and Balboa (where Prez Clinton later visited), which is
about 2 blocks from my house. Also 2 blocks away is the Kaiser
Permanente building that collapsed. There were also fires to
the southeast and to the west that we could see.
With daylight, we went back into the house. Our 30-inch
television had flown about six feet, landing upside down. All
of our crystal and china flew out of the cabinet, and lay in
the most expensive pile of rubble I've ever seen. (Amazingly, a
Fitz and Floyd china teapot in the shape of Ebeneezer Scrooge
-- a gift my wife had received -- rested on top of the pile,
its lid still on, and not a chip on it!) My laser printer was
upside down four feet from its usual resting place, but the
shelf above my computer had collapsed, wedging the computer in
place so it was all right. Every door and drawer in our kitchen
was open, contents strewn in a godawful mess all over the
kitchen floor. Furniture was topped and broken, doors were
askew and wouldn't close, and ugly cracks riddled our walls.
We spent the first night in a tent pitched on our front lawn.
On Tuesday, I took Michele and the kids to my father-in-law's
house in San Diego, then came back to deal with the mess. I
didn't get power back on until late Tuesday, the phone came
back on Wednesday, and fresh water wouldn't be available for
almost two weeks. All in all, it was quite an experience. Our
house was finally green-tagged after inspection, which means
it's safe, although there is much "cosmetic" work to be done.
Nobody was hurt, for which I thank God regularly. We have two
friends who lost their homes, and an elderly couple from our
synagogue -- my wife knew them through her Sisterhood
activities -- were killed in the collapse of the Northridge
Meadows apartment building. Another assistant scoutmaster from
our troop broke his thumb and tore a tendon looking for his
daughter during the shaking. I don't know anybody in the Valley
who wasn't affected to some degree. And the level of
destruction evident by driving around is awesome -- the
pictures on television cannot begin to convey the extent of the
All this while I'm finalizing my seven-month job search! By
next Monday, I'll know whether I'm going to San Francisco, New
York or Florida -- but one way or another, I'll be saying
good-bye to Los Angeles, my hometown. It's difficult to
convince people we're not leaving because of the quake!
**Scouts and Emergencies**
The quake also leads me to respond to John Bush's comments on
January 23 about scouts and disaster assistance. I'm now sure
how much the local troops were able to help during the time
immediately after the quake, but they were pressed into
services in the following days, particularly in the emergency
centers and tent cities, where they did everything from dish
out food to entertain children. I received a call from Council
(after my phone came back on) asking if the troop could help
out at one of the shelters near us.
This wasn't my first involvement in a disaster. When I worked
at Camp Whitsett in the Southern Sierra Madres, all staff over
the age of 16 was part of the camp fire crew. We were trained
in firefighting and got to put our training to use in 1973. We
were the first on the scene of a major forest fire. When the
USFS joined us, we continued to work for two days, side-by-side
with the pros. We did not have to be "babysat," and we were
commended after the blaze was contained for our efforts --
basically two days without sleep, working in shifts right on
the front of the fire.
I remember the days when Search and Rescue Explorer posts were
regularly involved in the search for missing hikers and the
like. I can only guess where this new perception comes from,
that Scouts are incapable of lending a serious hand. Better
than speculate, perhaps it's time to redouble our efforts at
enhancing an accurate and positive image of the capabilities
that Scouts can bring to an emergency because of the unique
training they receive.
That was a fascinating discussion about the wisdom of youth
working with AIDS victims. I particularly found Jessica Ryan's
February 3 thoughts interesting. Jessica said:
"Care of said patients is going to have to rest in the hands of
those trained to care for them, and not someone who is just
feeling a strong compassion and loves to help someone in need."
These two classes of people are not necessarily mutually
exclusive. Several years ago, when I was trying to decide what
community activity to become involved with (other than
Scouting), I selected AIDS. Two good acquaintances from my
professional association had died of this horrible disease, and
I wanted to do something in their memory.
AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA) is the major local volunteer
agency that provides training to those individuals who have a
strong sense of compassion and a desire to help. There are many
ways to help. The "Buddy" program is one that puts volunteers
in direct contact, and requires the heaviest training (in order
to address just those issues that Jessica raised). But there
are other needs as well. There is a food bank, an awareness Hot
Line, training programs that require volunteer trainers, and
more than a youth volunteer could do. And APLA (and its sister
agencies across the country and around the world) prepares its
volunteers to deal with both the physical and emotional
challenges of undertaking this kind of compassionate effort.
Thus, someone with the desire, compassion and love that Jessica
mentions _can_ become one of those trained to care for people
suffering from AIDS.
**Bank of America and Transamerica**
On February 3, Fred Harned replied to an earlier post by
clarifying that Bank of America and Transamerica have no
connection. True. The confusion probably arises from the fact
that they were, in fact, the same company at one time. The
original firm was founded by A.P. Gianinni. When anti-trust
laws went into effect in the early part of the century (20's?
30's?), the two were forced to split. (I used to be a
Transamerica employee and all TA employees received a company
**Chris Haggerty, this is for you!**
Your post on February 7 mentioned that you were at Whitsett.
When was that? I was on staff from 1970 to 1973, and my son
went for the first time with T549 last summer. I haven't been
there myself in about 20 years, and I miss it! Working there
were some of the best summers of my life.
Anyway, folks, it's good to be back!
ASM, T549, Granada Hills, California (land of shaking!)
Eagle Class of 1969
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Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City