A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic.
Comedy is tragedy plus time
Breakfast: Whole Wheat
tortilla with peanutbutter
TODAY on TV
TODAY ON DVD
DO I REMEMBER?
7 April 2004
1. When John F. Kennedy was shot (Nov. 22, 1963)
I was sitting in my office in the Physics Department at UC Berkeley when someone ran down the hall saying that the president had been shot. I turned on my radio and listened. When he was pronounced dead, I ran across the hall to the supply department and told them. A woman there screamed "NO! Hes NOT dead!" (they were listening to a different station, which had not yet broadcast the news). I remember the weekend being so unreal, and listening to Oswald being shot while we were driving home from breakfast at The Pancake Queen in Oakland. (I wrote an entry about this in 2000).
2. When Mt. St. Helens blew (May 18, 1980)
I remember the reports. No clear memory of the actual event, since it had been predicted for days. But a few months later we took our first foreign student, Eduardo, on a trip north and when we visited friends in Portland, they had ash from Mt. St. Helens in their backyard. We drove around wearing surgical masks so we wouldnt get ash in our lungs. The kids collected samples of the ash and after we came home, they set up a stand to sell lemonade and volcanic ash (not mixed together!)
3. When the space shuttle Challenger exploded (January 28, 1986)
I missed the actual event, but I was driving to San Francisco when I heard the news report on the radio. My biggest fear was for Gilbert, who had been dramatically affected by an earlier space problem (which did not involve people). I worried about how he would take this news. As I continued to drive, I heard an interview with a woman who was laughing and talking about how this was always a danger and you just took your chances. I thought how terribly callous she was--and then discovered I was listening to a pre-flight interview with Christie McCollough, who was killed in the explosion.
4. When the 7.1 earthquake hit San Francisco (October 17, 1989)
Boy, do I remember that one!! Ned and Marta were living in Oakland, Tom and David were at the World Series game at Candlestick park. Jeri was at work near Candlestick park, having to drive home across the Bay Bridge. Paul was in Davis and Walt was in Washington, D.C. I knew Tom and David were OK because all the reports were saying there were no disasters at Candlestick. I managed to reach Marta by phone before all the lines clogged up, so I knew she and Ned were OK. But it was 10 p.m. before we heard from Jeri, who had been trapped on the Bay Bridge when a section of it collapsed. She was stuck in San Francisco, with no way to get home and I managed to find her a bed with some friends that night. It was a terrible tragedy, especially the next day, watching the frantic struggle to free people caught under the collapsed freeway in Oakland.
5. When the Berlin Wall fell (November 9, 1989)
I remember when the wall came down, but dont have any strong memory associations with it.
6. When the Gulf War began (January 16, 1991)
The thing I remember most vividly from the Gulf War was listening to the two reporters broadcasting from under a table in a hotel room while the bombs fell and thinking how surreal it was to be watching the destruction of a city live in prime time.
7. When OJ Simpson was chased in his White Bronco (June 17, 1994)
We were at an engagement party for the son of friends of ours. All of us stood around, glued to the television, watching that damn Bronco inching its way along the freeway.
8. When the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City was bombed (April 19, 1995)
Like the fall of the Wall, I remember the event, but have no personal memories of it, except that I didnt realize the scope of the disaster because I couldnt quite make out the pictures (poor eyes) and didnt realize that what I was looking at was not an unusual architectural design, but half of the building gone. Who could forget the images of the firefighters carrying children to safety.
9. When Princess Di was killed (August 31, 1997)
Paul called me with the news. "Did you hear about Princess Di?" he asked. "What has she done now," I responded. At first I didn't believe him when he told me she'd been killed. I will always remember the sight of her children marching behind her coffin. It was only a year after David's death and I felt their pain very keenly.
10. When Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold opened fire on their classmates at Columbine High School (April 20, 1999)
That day and date are forever etched in my mind because it is the day Paul died. At first we thought he had killed himself in a depression over the events at Columbine...it was the only possible remote reason I could think of, grasping at straws. Later we decided that his death had been an accident. But yes, I will never, ever forget that day. I went to Denver the following year to see Steve perform The Last Session for the first time and a group of people went on a tour of the area, which was to include Columbine. There was no way I could have gone on that trip, so I elected to stay in Denver and see a matinee of TLS instead.
11. When Bush was first announced President (November 7, 2000)
The day that something died in this country. I remember it vividly.
12. When the 6.8 earthquake hit Nisqually, WA
I have no memory of this at all.
13. When terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center (September 11, 2001)
I talk about that in this entry.
We were in London, in the lobby of a hotel when we heard the news that there was
"some problem with the World Trade Center." We spent the next two days in our
room at this posh hotel, glued to CNN.
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