Bakin' and Shakin' at Valley Campus
Submitted by Jim Adams
Las Positas College
January 24, 1980 was the first anniversary of my employment at
Chabot College, Valley Campus (now Las Positas College). To mark the
event, I had prepared a coffee cake for the staff (only five of us
at the time) to share at break time. Little did I know that a much
more dramatic celebratory event was about to take place.
At around 11 a.m., I was in the laboratory with Karen Pihl's Biology
1A class when I felt some ominous shaking. I looked to my left and
saw a large glass cylinder containing glass pipets tip over and
crash to the floor. By that time, we knew it was an earthquake, and
eventually we cleared the building.
Returning to the Preparation Room area to look for more damage,
especially spilled chemicals, I found little more than two cabinets
of prepared microscope slides which had tipped forward enough for
the doors to swing open and several trays of slides, with 20 slides
in a tray, to slip out and fall to the floor. The cabinets
themselves were heavy enough not to fall. We had to replace quite a
few slides, but the damage was comparatively minor. Fortunately I
don't recall any chemical spills, probably because of the direction
of the quake movement, but we did lose a few other pieces of routine
It was a different story in the library, where the direction of
movement was enough to collapse all or most of the bookshelves.
Linda Lucas was librarian at the time, but she is recently deceased.
My most memorable experience related to an experiment I was
preparing for the Biology 1 class at the time. It was a genetics
investigation involving fruit flies (and we still do that
experiment), and I needed to prepare about 100 or more cultures of
the tiny insects for the student projects. This necessitated
anesthetizing the flies, sorting them under a microscope, and
whisking them into culture vials. Of course, the microscope
illuminators were electrically powered, and the power was out all
around town because of the quake. With classes cancelled, I needed
to leave the building and go home. But I also needed to prepare the
Fortunately, our kitchen window at home faced the west. So I took
the flies home, along with a microscope and the necessary supplies,
and sorted fruit flies on our kitchen table at 524 Oriole Avenue for
the rest of the afternoon by the light of the setting sun, until the
sun went down.
Return to Table of Contents