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Westside Watch

Tales From the Quake: Parties and Premonitions

January 20, 1994

After Monday's earthquake, residents of Santa Monica's San Vicente Boulevard milled around outside their apartment buildings, reluctant to go inside. One group fired up a barbecue; another had an open-air happy hour, complete with Coors Lite, Seagram's, raisin muffins and Grape-Nuts.

Then there was Doug Imscher.

An unemployed salesman, Imscher did not permit a major shaker to interrupt his job search. He set up shop in his car and spent the residential down-time writing personal notes to prospective employers.

So if there's anyone hiring out there, here's a man who does not lack for concentration.

*

TOY QUEST: Monday's pre-dawn earthquake caught more than 1,000 people waiting in line at the Third Street Promenade for a chance to buy--you guessed it--Power Rangers.

A store called Puzzle Zoo had replenished its supply of the action figures, the Christmas season's hottest, and ultimately scarcest, item. Despite the cold weather, bundled-up families, toddlers included, had huddled together in sleeping bags, lawn chairs and tents waiting for the store's scheduled 8 a.m. opening.

Because of the quake, the store never did open on Monday, but one would-be Power Ranger customer didn't let a little shaking get in the way of a little toy shopping.

"I know this is a dumb question," the woman said during a phone call to Promenade executive director Ron Cano. "But are you still selling the Power Rangers?"

Cano said he replied, "Yes, it is a dumb question and the answer is no."

*

INSIDE INFORMATION? Three days before the shaker, a group was handing out flyers in Santa Monica announcing that the Earth's "present civilization is about to be recycled--spaded under--in order that the planet might be refurbished."

On Monday, after the earthquake, representatives of the group, Total Overcomers Anonymous came to the Times Westside office and declared, "We told you so."

*

DOUBLE TROUBLE: Jim Davis spent many of the hours before the Pretty-Big One worrying about nature's caprice. But he didn't have earthquakes in mind.

It was blizzards in the East, he said, that kept him awake in Santa Monica. Davis and his wife, Liz, had a scheduled flight to return home to Albany, N.Y.--unless, that is, snow would prevent them from landing at home or making a connecting flight in Minneapolis.

It was touch and go with the snow, Davis said. Then it was rock and roll with the earth.

All of a sudden, getting out of Los Angeles was the problem. Evacuated from their parents' home because of a gas leak, the couple tried to rearrange their trip at a pay phone on Montana Avenue.

The tremors they had dismissed early in the week as "kind of cute" had been supplanted by something major to tell their snowbound friends about. After all, what's a little blizzard compared to having every dish in the kitchen jump out of the cabinet?

"We could fly to New Jersey," Liz Davis told her husband.

His response: "Why?"

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