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23 years ago today: Challenger

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by Killick, Jan 28, 2009.

  1. Killick

    Killick Well-Known Member

    Not exactly a "where were you when JFK was shot" moment, but pretty damned striking in its own right.

    I remember being in my high school freshman English class when the principal came over the PA and said he had a news announcement. I looked at my friend sitting next to me and said "the Challenger blew up." Of course, then the principal announced that it actually had.

    I remember going home that day and watching CNN for hours and hours. First time I can also remember the media being taken to task (for showing the families' reaction, and then sticking a mic in their faces). I know it had happened before, but that's the first time I was conscious of it. And for all Reagan's faults, that "slipped the surly bonds of Earth to touch the face of God" line was breathtaking.

    Where were y'all when you first heard? What do you remember?
  2. imjustagirl

    imjustagirl Active Member

    I was in fifth grade, and my science teacher walked into the room and told all of us. Each cluster (four classes with an open space in the middle) met in that middle area and watched the coverage on TV for a while. We did go back to class, but then when I got home I watched the coverage with my dad.
  3. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    That was a very bad day.
  4. forever_town

    forever_town Active Member

    I was in seventh grade, I think. I was in the hallway of my K-8 private Catholic school and one of the hall monitors told me, "the shuttle blew up." I didn't believe him.

    Then later, the substitute teacher in our class told us. I announced I didn't believe it.

    Then later, I walked to the library after school and saw Tom Brokaw talking about it and watched the images. Then I realized what an idiot I was.
  5. Oggiedoggie

    Oggiedoggie Well-Known Member

    I was on the road, from Texas to Kansas, to find an apartment before beginning a new job.

    Strange mix of shock over the Challenger and the joy of leaving the sucky job in Texas.
  6. Simon_Cowbell

    Simon_Cowbell Active Member

    It is a JFK day for me.

    I remember how brilliantly white the night's snowfall at my college campus was ... it blinded me, even through the tears as I trudged to class.
  7. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    Got a call from a co-worker who told me what was going on; went into work early, helped coordinate coverage and ran the news desk.
    Ran a huge headline; something unoriginal like SPACE SHUTTLE EXPLODES -- two decks, six columns. I remember the composing room manager snidely saying "We didn't runa headline that big when Kennedy was shot."
  8. Starman

    Starman Well-Known Member

    My mother, father, and I were drinking coffee and watched it live on CNN. I had just started my first full-time journalism job a month or so before, living tempoarily at home, and was commuting 50+ miles each way to work; my dad worked the night shift on the copy desk of HIS newspaper right there in town, so 12-12:30 was about the time our whole household got going for the day -- we both went in to work at about 4.

    During the Apollo program, I was a super space freak; I had all the reference books, schematic diagrams, etc etc. When Armstrong and Aldrin were coming down to the moon, even at the age of 10, I knew most of what they were talking about on the capcom link.

    By the time of the Shuttle program, I wasn't quite so hard-core about it -- like everyone, I didn't get up early every time to watch a launch. But if it happened to be on TV, I'd sit and watch it (as I still do now). While I wasn't a super-expert like I was for Apollo, but I still knew pretty much what was going on.

    So my parents and I were sitting there watching it, drinking morning coffee, no big deal. Until, "Challenger, you are go at throttle-up," and "uh-oh!!"

    When I saw the screen, I knew instantly what had happened.

    "Holy shit!!" I said, bringing double-takes from my parents. Even in my younger days I wasn't in the habit of blurting out obscenities at the breakfast table. I didn't drop the coffee cup out of my hand, but it was close.

    "What happened?" they said. "The shuttle blew up, that's what happened," I said.

    I knew, due to the shuttle's design, that if anything goes wrong during the first 2 1/2 minutes while the SRBs are firing, the crew is finished -- there is no mechanism for escape. The TV commentators were blathering something about parachutes, but I knew it wasn't possible.

    "You better get on the phone to the desk downtown," I said to my dad. "They're gonna want you, and everybody else, in quick. And as soon as you get off the phone with them, I better call my office too. It's gonna be a wild night at newspapers everywhere."

    He left for his office 20 minutes later. 15 minutes after that, I was on my way to mine.
  9. CentralIllinoisan

    CentralIllinoisan Active Member

    Fourth grade, sitting in class watching it live. We really didn't know anything was wrong until the teacher began to cry. Then all of us did.
  10. Killick

    Killick Well-Known Member

    Easy to forget what extraordinary people the crew were. Bio information: http://history.nasa.gov/Biographies/challenger.html
  11. KG

    KG Active Member

    I was in the first grade, in a tiny little country school. We didn't have TVs, so the first I heard of it was later that night at home. Even then, I was mostly sheltered from the coverage. My parents never let me watch anything that might scare me. For some reason though, I keep thinking back the episode they ran about it on Punky Brewster. I also remember a big part of the coverage being about the teacher.
  12. expendable

    expendable Well-Known Member

    I was in the sixth grade, and was standing in line in the cafeteria, waiting to put up my tray. For the first time, and probably the only time, the room went dead silent and stayed that way.
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