Monday, November 10, 2008

Where were you when...?

Well, the people have spoken, Barack Obama will be the 44th President. It’s one of the biggest news-making events of my lifetime, certainly, but it got me thinking of other big news events in my life and where I was at the time of those events.

Like the explosion of the shuttle Columbia in January 2003. I was on my way to Heavener and stayed in a hotel in Idabel the night before. Cynthia and I got up early and I looked out the window around 8:00 that morning to the south only to see trails of smoke in the sky. It had exploded only seconds before, ironically over east Texas and Tyler . Scott Lieberman, a Tyler cardiologist and a local photographer, became famous world-wide when newspapers, publications and television ran his photos.

I have witnessed other events on television, too.
• I was watching the Ed Sullivan Show on TV the night the Beatles made there U.S. debut in September 1964. I had been out in the back yard playing with a football, when my mother called me in.
• The day Elvis Presley died, I was in the newsroom at the Longview News-Journal. I saw the very first photos from Memphis , Tenn. come over the newswire. I remember Ted Leach telling me how Elvis had been in Longview once with the Louisiana Hayride.
• I was in the same newsroom watching TV the day Challenger exploded after liftoff from Cape Canaveral in 1986. That was a horrendous sight.
• I was home and had just turned on the TV before going to work at LeTourneau University September 11, 2001 when the collapse of the first twin tower in New York City happened. At first I didn’t realize what it was, then the second tower was hit by an airplane and began to topple. I immediately called Cynthia (we weren’t married yet) to tell her to turn on the TV, that she wouldn’t believe what was going on. I went on to work and only a few moments later, there was a campus-wide prayer vigil.
• How can I forget where I was the day JFK was assonated in Dallas ? I was in Coach Perry’s economics class when Joe Babcock came around informing everyone it had just been announced on the radio a little after lunch, Nov. 22, 1964. And, I was in California out driving a new car around and heard on the radio that Bobby Kennedy, JFK’s brother, had been assonated in LA.
• Reggie Jackson’s three home runs in the 1977 World Series. (you knew I had to sneak in something about the Yankees, didn’t you?) Again, I was in the news room at LN-J, waiting to get the results on the wire to put it on the sports page.
• I was also in the news room, by myself, although we hadn’t yet put the ‘paper to bed’ and the death of Bear Bryant, legendary Alabama football coach, came across the wire. I quickly retrieved the photos and the story, and got in the next morning’s issue. Of course, it was big-time news, and I was just lucky to still be at the office after letting every one else go for the night.
• The Vietnam War. I was there first-hand to see it, from Dec. 1969 until Dec. 1970. Believe me, it was gruesome. It ended in 1975, when the U.S. withdrew all the soldiers.
• Hurricanes Katrina and Ike. I was on my way back from in Heavener and had stopped in Idabel for gasoline when the tail end of Katrina came through. Man did it rain and the wind blow! I’m just glad I didn’t have to go through it. Many people did, such as Mickey Wynn, who lived just north of New Orleans . With Ike, it blew through Tyler earlier this year and again the wind and rain were pretty amazing. It’s hard to imagine the force with which it hit Galveston and Houston . Cynthia and I have close friends (Steve Mattison and Len Menefee) living in Houston and they were without electricity for days.
• In December 2004, a tsunami hit Thailand and killed thousands upon thousands of people. I could only imagine the devastation it caused, and saw pictures and video on TV. That was a terrible sight, and I certainly am thankful we, or someone I know, didn’t have to experience such a disaster.

There are others, but unfortunately I can’t remember where I was or when they happened.


At November 10, 2008 at 5:33 AM , Blogger Craig Hall said...

I have a couple of special ones also. I was in the news room at the old Denison Herald when the news came across that Tom Landry had been fired. I still have that somewhere. I believe it was 1999, I had just gotten home and turned on the television to watch the World Series when an earthquake struck the bay area and interrupted the A's and Giants.

At November 13, 2008 at 8:27 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amazing, John, I was in that same class with you on the day of JFK's assassination. Joe Babcock came back into class and told us the news and we thought he was joking. But, shortly after the news came over the PA and we all listened intently. I remember going to basketball practice, but instead of practicing coach Hall just had us listen to tne news on the radio and then dismissed us. What a sad day! - Jim Patterson

At November 23, 2008 at 4:37 PM , Blogger Bill Hinds said...

Amazing John, I can identify where I was and what I was doing at the time I learned of most of the events you named.

I was in the Army and teaching school at Ft. Monmouth, N.J. when JFK was assasinated. I was pretty mad at JFK at that time because of the bad decisions he had made that caused the "Bay of Pigs" slaughter in Cuba. So it took me a while to realize how tragic it was for him to be killed that way.


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