Water Into Wine: Corvallis’ 35th Post Quake Anniversary

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earthquakeThough 35 years have passed since it happened, our children and our children’s children still bear the scars of The Big One. The mother of all earthquakes that rendered our duct tape shanty down to dust, ringing the bell at 5:54 a.m. that fateful Jan. 1 to the tune of a whopping 20.7 on the Richter scale. In just moments it was over, but we will never forget.

As an aside, I can’t really bring myself to do generational math right now… After all, what’s left of Linn County has a terrible pre-teen pregnancy problem, so we could be talking grandchildren of grandchildren.

First off, let’s give credit where it’s due. They warned us, after all. Those smug bastards with their 115-plus IQs. My idiot father Johnny, who is now 85 and completely incontinent… even he warned us. “Hey,” he once said to me, “all those brick walls downtown look like they could blow over with a fart.” I remember thinking to myself, shut up dude and feed me, because I’m a baby and I’ve got no idea what you’re talking about, you great bearded fool. Those were the golden years.

As you all know, in the days following the great disaster we learned that everything in Corvallis but parts of the university fell. A rift opened in the Willamette creating a waterfall, and the city of Lebanon was swallowed whole. Marys %$#@!, as it has become known, is both beautiful and terrible—occasionally devouring a frat kid, but we’ve got plenty of those so no biggie. Lebanon’s loss was huge to our community, as my father no longer had anything to write about and had to close down the now-legendary Linn-Benton Backwash. The Backwash Mourners Committee can be found in sub-central park on Thursdays, nestled within that little cove where you get a perfect view of people falling over Marys %$#@!. BYOB.

Speaking of BYOB, The Peacock Bar & Grill’s 35-year rebuild is nearly finished. Sources in local government say they’re almost out of loopholes to choke up the necessary permits. The six-story superbar will feature an all new Top of the Cock, along with a Top of That Cock’s Top and even a Top of That First Cock’s Top’s Top. You’ll even be able to visit my dad in his VIP cellar where you can witness him order his signature cocktail, the “Give me the &^%$@!, cheapest Scotch you have” before taking the “secret” tunnel over to the Darkside Adult Theatre.

But hey now, not all is doom and gloom and… obscene by early 21st century, silly, prudish standards. For example, remember how Steve Schultz, founding publisher of The Corvallis Advocate back in the day was crushed to death under a toppling Natalia & Cristoforo’s? Try telling me that wasn’t good news! Man, that guy, am I right? I was one of the good Samaritans that made sure to pour gasoline all over the rubble and set it on fire so there was no way for him to get out. That’s how I got this job, of course, as my heroism was recognized by current Advocate helmsman and Schultz successor Ygal Kaufman.

And you certainly can’t forget the tuitionless college we’ve got now, as well as how we got it. Oregon State University’s Seismic Sciences department took out that huge, secret insurance policy on the 16,000 students that were squashed during the megaquake… They made billions, and the federal government has forced them to pay it back to incoming students as part of a reparations order. I mean, we all know school is for suckers now, but at least it’s free.

Just last week our fair city crossed the $100 million threshold with its famous MegaQuake Amusement Park, celebrating the event with a free barf bag and condom for everyone attending over the weekend. While $25 million is promised to the Cascadia region outside of Sweet Home to jump-start their medical cocaine industry, the rest will be going to create another trail between Corvallis and Albany so bicyclists can piss off the farmers all over again. Of course, that $100 million is nothing compared to the royalties Oregon Public Broadcasting has collected after their incessant 2012-2031 articles about MegaQuake preparedness were seen as prophetic and syndicated a billion times. Hell, even I own the coffee table book. I heard some of them are going to be adapted for the new Bible.

In the end, so much has happened… how can one really sum up the effects of the single most important event in our local history? I could go on to talk about how we now have organic water in every home, or that we’ve lost our tourism industry to Philomath, who retained the state’s only standing Dairy Queen Brazier along the I-5 corridor. Ups and downs, folks. It’s not the event that holds us together, but our selective commitment to feeling better about ourselves by engaging in really visibly loud, but actually nearly useless community involvements. Earthquake be damned, look at us Corvallisites now! Nature’s water is our wine.

By D’Artagnan Beaver


earthquake 3Did You Stay or, Did You Go?
What Life Has Been Like Post-Quake
Our family had to move after the ‘31 quake, I still get bills from the Schonings for not giving a 30-day notice and the quake damage, I’ve learned to just ignore them. We tried living in Texas for 6 years after leaving here. Texans can’t make coffee or choose governors, and for some reason they have to park the right side of their car on top of the curb when they parallel park. I hope I never have to leave Oregon again.
— Johna Michelle
 Lebanon Crevice Falls State Park Ranger
We were lucky, the house was fine and I was telecommuting anyhow, so we were able to stay here. I know it’s wrong, but I was sort of amused that the downtown McDonald’s went down with everything else, I just kept saying “falling arches” in my head. Our house at the coast, is actually beachfront now.
— Carlos Romero
 Aerospace Engineer (retired)
We lived in the Witham Hill yurt community the first few years after the quake, and eventually moved back to where we grew up, to New Orleans. And, we all  know what happened to New Orleans. We came back to live in one of the tiny stackhouses in South Corvallis, the main disadvantage being there isn’t a grocery story on our end of town anymore.
-— Chris Hamphrey
School Janitor
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