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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

What-where-when meme

...Mac tagged me on a cool meme.

1. President Kennedy's Assassination - 22 November 1963

I was in second grade at St. Francis of Assisi School, and lived in Allentown, Pa. I had seat on the aisle closest to the windows. Our nun, Sister Angela, had been called out of the room and was out for a few moments. She quickly came back in and said "President Kennedy's been shot." She ducked out in the hall again for a minute or two, and rejoined our class and said said "We don't know how bad it is. Fr. Walters [the pastor] was listening to the radio and heard the report, he was in Texas." I remember wondering "what was he doing in Texas?" None of us cried, but sat there in stunned silence.

We had a scheduled bathroom break, and as usually we filed upstairs it two by two in silence to the rest rooms. When we came back downstairs, we assembled in the chapel. [Which served as the parish church, as the new church building had not yet been completed.] We said prayers, and were informed that the president had died. Shortly afterwards, school was over for the day [I lived in Allentown, Pa. at the time.] I can remember walking home and turning on the news, and the coverage was the equivalent of 24/7 now on all networks. I remember that whole weekend like it was recent. He was killed on a Friday. The next morning I remember walking to the church to light a candle. It was the first news story I really followed. I'd watched the news before - but it was something that happened a child that young could grasp. I saved pictures from the paper. Had I been slightly older, I would have saved the articles too. I was cutting out pictures for a scrapbook which I'd made, and when I saw Jack Ruby shot. I remember calling out to my mom, who was in the kitchen to tell her what had happened. I have to say I was glad at the time that Oswald had been shot. I did feel sorry though for Marina Oswald and her kids, and Officer Tippett's family, I always wonder what happened to his wife and children. The only time I cried was the night of the assassination, as I was going to bed and thought about Caroline (who was a year younger than me) - it made me feel awful that her dad was killed like that. Jackie Kennedy was considered heroically stoic and dignified throughout. I have to say that during the Kennedy Administration you NEVER heard about "Camelot" -- that was all propagated by Theodore White AFTER the assassination. You'll find NO reference to it prior to the assassination.

2. England's World Cup Semi Final v Germany - 4 July 1990

Blissfully unaware. I was having a good summer. I'd returned from vacation in the south of France in May of that year ... and was working on documenting and straightening out the batch files for the computer jobs that ran overnight which produced the work plans for Tomahawk missile factory floor assembly at General Dynamics. Good thing too, because it came in damn useful in August that year - as that's when Kuwait was invaded.

3. Margaret Thatcher's resignation - 22 November 1990

I can remember watching the news reports with my mom. We'd thought it was tacky the way the "old boy network" stabbed her in the back when she was out of the country on business. 10 John Majors weren't worth one of the Iron Lady. [Sorry Stephen!!!]

4. Princess Diana's death - 31 August 1997

It was late afternoon and I was going to a baseball game that night. I had been coming out of Old Town onto highway 8 and I flipped on the radio that night and heard the initial reports. She'd been taken to the hospital but had not yet died. The report said there were at least two deaths and two badly injured, including her. When I went to the game that night, many people had had their radios (and quite a few people normally took to the games to listen to the commentary. You could literally SEE the news of her death pass in waves through the stands. When we got home from the game that night, the TV cameras were trained on the removal of the Mercedes from the tunnel. I wrote to an English friend of mine about it, and it turned out I was the one who informed him of what had happened. Because it happened in the wee hours local time, many of us in the US knew about it before those in the UK and elsewhere. My friend, Tim, had not yet flipped on his radio before he'd read his email. Every now and again I see one of the princes photographed riding in a car without a seatbelt and I want to scream "put your seatbelt on, you MORON!"

5. Attack on the twin towers - 11 September 2001

I must have been one of the last people in North America to know. My father had died on Sept 8 in Pennsylvania, so I'd come back east for the funeral. I'd flown out on Monday the 10th and was staying with my aunt and uncle the night before and was to be "passed on" to my dad's side of the family around noonish that day for the drive up to the coal region. About an hour away. I'd had a nice sleep in and woke up about 8:25, and gone down to greet my aunt and catch up on family aunt had had the TV/Radio on, but had turned it off when I came down. We chatted until shortly after 11 eastern time. We'd then put my suitcase in the car to go meet my dad's sister and her husband. I was seated in the car, when a neighbor from across the street had hailed my aunt. She was gone for a good 5-10 minutes and I was starting to get antsy, when my aunt told me "the twin towers have been hit and destroy, the Pentagon's hit, and there was a plane crash in Pa." And I said "Who are at war with - they're going to get it." I did not cry at the time, I was stunned and angry, and when I'm stunned and angry I don't cry. I *almost* shed a few tears at the 21 gun salute my dad received, but not quite. I was glad my dad didn't have to live through that time, as ill as he'd been. For two months until we retaliated I woke up angry. I have never felt like that before. About that same time I was fussing around with photograph doing up albums, and had come across a photo one of my uncles had taken in the NY harbor when he'd taken my young cousins to see the Statue of Liberty. He'd caught a photo of my cousin perfectly framed with the twin towers in the background. And I finally cried for about 10 minutes.

6. The election of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger to the papacy - 19 April 2005

I'd walked down to a liquor/deli shop for lunch. They had a nice sidewalk eating area, with television. As I walked into order my usual Italian sub sandwich, the news was showing the crowds cheering the announcement that a pope had been elected. I said to the counterman "who's the new pope?" He said "I don't know ... some German name..." abd I said "Ratzinger?" And he said "yes, that's it!" So by pure serendipity I got to see and hear his first address as pope to the public. I can remember thinking "Benedict XVI huh?" Yeah, like he thought of THAT on the spor of the moment. Just once it would be nice to have an unconventional name in modern times. I await "Pope Bubba." Digi, put the word in your boy's ear.

This was a fun meme, so if it strikes your fancy, feel free.


Adrienne said...

Enjoyed reading this. I did it too..

Anonymous said...

"Our nun, Sister Angela, had been called out of the room and was out for a few moments" You were taught by Catholic nuns!!! You lucky!

gemoftheocean said...

Tara. Believe me, we STAYED in order while sister was out of the room too.

Sr. Angela was from Puerto Rico IIRC.
We had a combined 2nd / 3rd grade room that year.

Rob said...

I answered on Mac's comment board. Similar context to your answers. Its obvious we are contemporaries.

gemoftheocean said...

RJW Yup. I'm class of '74 if memory serves we're within about a year of each other.

The Digital Hairshirt said...


Sorry, Patrick is going to be His Holiness, Pope Optimus Prime I.


PJA said...

Love the new picture at the top of the blog!

I was having my "hair done" in a high class barber shop in Moreton-in-Marsh when Maggie was ousted. God alone knows where I was for the rest - sleeping, by the sound of things!

Mulier Fortis said...

Great answers Karen!

Stephen said...

1. I wasn't even a twinkle in my mother's eye - my parents didn't meet until 1965.

2. I was in France, on a French exchange programme, staying with a French family near Geneva. We didn't watch it - they weren't football fans, and neither am I.

3. Adios Maggie. I was home sick from school for some reason (I was in the Upper Sixth that year), I watched it all unfold live on TV. the BBC suspended regular programming (we only had 4 channels then - Channel 5 hadn't started, and my family didn't have Sky).

4. I was in my flat in London. It was the week before I was due to hand in my MA thesis. I'd been at work that Saturday, come home, made dinner, then did MA work for a couple of hours, then collapsed in front of the TV; I saw the first newsflash that she'd been in an accident, fell asleep in front of the TV, and when I woke up the next morning it was as if all hell had broken loose. London was a *very* strange place to be that week.

5. 9/11 - in my apartment in Toronto. I'd just moved into a new place on the first of that month; the night before, I'd painted my living room, and planned, that day, to give two coats to the bedroom. I got up *early*, put down dust sheets, painted the first coat in the bedroom (which took a couple of hours), then went into the other room to make coffee/breakfast, and turned on CNN just in time to see the second plane hit live. Then I spent about three weeks watching CNN along with everyone else.

6. Ratzinger - again, I was in Toronto - actually, in the same apartment. I didn't see it as breaking news, just later on the BBC World News.

Mary said...

I enjoyed reading this. I answered this over at mulier fortis. I went to Catholic school with the nuns, too, back on Long Island, in the 50's and 60's. I love The Trouble With Angels. It was what Catholic school SHOULD have been. Our nuns were like the Gestapo. Now that I am older, I have given them amnesty, because I realize that, during the Baby Boom, there were 40 to 60 kids in one room with one nun! No wonder they were so harsh!
I am presently the wife of a Protestant minister.

gemoftheocean said...

Hi civilla,

Thanks for commenting. For whatever reason I avoided the over crowded classes.. I went to school in the 60s and 70s. 30 kids was about top in my classes the norm was about 25 or so.

I had ALL nice nuns, except for one, who shall go nameless, although by now she is probably DEAD. DEAD. DEAD as a DOORNAIL. I'd have gone to her funeral just to confirm that she is, in fact, DEAD.

gemoftheocean said...

Stephen, enjoyed your responses. It was a long time if you were still in the upper sixth when maggiekins was ousted. Hope you're nice and dry and not getting hit with 5 feet of rain and gale force winds.

Anonymous said...

Karen, you really had a time of it didn't you, with your Dad's passing (may he rest in pace) and the Twin Towers tragedy.


I 'm going to take up the meme too :-)

Anonymous said...

I mean especially as it was all happening in the same week.

gosh!That's a lot to handle in one week.

gemoftheocean said...

ukok. Absolutely. I was shell shocked for weeks. I'm always good IN a crisis. [I fall apart weeks afterwards, just as everyone else is starting to recover...]

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