22 Years Ago 2Day

Tony Pierce reminded me that today’s the anniversary of the 1986 space shuttle disaster, and asks if we remember where we were when we heard the news. Pierce was in the middle of selling TVs somewhere in West Los Angeles when suddenly every demo model in the place was showing the explosion.

I totally remember where I was: stuck in traffic on my way to work in my little Mazda GLC hatchback on the southbound 170 through North Hollywood approaching the 101 Freeway listening to Rick Dees on KIIS FM. I remember him somberly making the announcement that the shuttle had exploded and relaying the initial details available. The first song he played was Life in a Northern Town by The Dream Academy whose melancholy melody got me choked up to begin with but when it arrived at the lyric “As the train rolled out of sight, bye byyyyyye…” I just broke down and cried. On those rare occasions it comes on the radio now, I go right back to that heartbreaking day.

So what about you… you ‘member, too?

11 thoughts on “22 Years Ago 2Day”

  1. I was in my apartment in Canoga Park running a bit late for the drive to Thousand Oaks where I worked. I remember stopping in my tracks dumb founded and feeling a sick pit over the loss of the astronauts and what it must mean to their family. Then I realized as sad as it was, they died doing what they wanted to do which took the edge off just a tiny bit. How many of us at the end will be able to think in that last fleeting moment they were doing something they wanted to do and it would make a difference.

  2. I was in middle school in Florida. I remember being outside with the other kids, looking up at the sky toward Cape Canaveral. I remember being adamant that I would still go up tomorrow if I had the chance.

    It was the day I became aware that teachers had feelings, too. I think that was the day that life became real for me.

  3. I was eight years old. We lived in Saugerties, New York. My mom’s friend Bryn called to tell her, and I remember my mom said, “The shuttle exploded?” My mom was a weaver, and I only knew shuttles as as weaving tool. I was very confused and worried about Bryn, who also wove, and later very sad when my mom explained.

  4. I walked into work @ CSC and asked the guard why the flag was a half-staff and he told me the shuttle blew-up. CSC was invloved in the shuttle software and either you were invloved or knew someone that was invloved. The sense of loss permeated the entire company. It was and is indescribable what we felt that day.

  5. I was in the 2nd grade. The entire school, (grades K – 5) had gathered in the library to watch the launch on the school’s only TV set. If I remember correctly, one of the teachers at my school either knew Christa McAuliffe or had herself almost gone up. There was punch and cookies. It was a big deal.

    The whole room went silent when the shuttle exploded. Everyone just sat there. Eventually, one of the teachers shut off the TV. Some of the teachers began to cry. Other teachers began to hurriedly corral their students to return to their classroom. Some of my fellow students cried. We went back to class and finished the day without discussing the event.

    The next day my teacher had a discussion with us about what had happened. I think we did an art project or drafted a letter to send our regards.

    I also remember my mother crying when we watched Reagan’s speech at home.

    “We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye and ‘slipped the surly bonds of Earth’ to ‘touch the face of God.”

  6. You’re post inspired me to blog about this but I was in sixth grade math class and our teacher stood in front of us looking very solemn and said:

    “There was an accident when the space shuttle launched. We don’t know the details yet but it looks very serious. “NASA has not said what happened to the seven astronauts on board but it looks like they might not have survived.”

    The room went completely silent and after a second I raised my hand to ask the teacher a question.

    – “Does this mean we get to go home?”

  7. I was also in 2nd grade, but we didn’t watch it during class. I mostly remember watching them show it explode over and over and over again when we got home from school that day. Every channel, all afternoon, that’s all that was on. I don’t know why my cousins and I didn’t change the channel, maybe we thought the cartoons and soap operas would come back at some point.

  8. I was in second grade and in Catholic School. Sister Mary Joseph was into science. She brought in the TV, which was normally something she railed again and it blew up, but everyone in the class was sort of pretending like they didn’t see it.

    I shouted out, I think it blew up. I got in trouble for speaking without raising my hand first and for being negative.

    I swear to jesus joseph mary that happened.


  9. I’m not the same age, alas. But I do remember very well.

    I was waiting for a job interview as a margin analyst at the erstwhile EF Hutton downtown office (it’s now, somewhat appropriately, Brooks Brothers). It was routine—somebody met me, shook my hand, said to wait—and then the Shuttle exploded.

    It was two hours before I next saw anybody. I was watching from kind of a fishbowl conference room, and it was just panedomium at the firm, because that kind of news affects stockbrokers like nothing else. Even receptionists were taking orders, trying to fill them (you have to remember, no computerized trades back then).

    What a mess. When someone finally came up for air, it wasn’t who I was supposed to meet with. We talked for two minutes and he said, “It showed guts for you to wait, but let’s do this tomorrow. Then as I was leaving, he said, “Are you sure you really want to do something like this?” Indeed, it was ten more years before I considered doing something like that.

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