Tuesday, March 10, 2009

News flashbacks

My inspiration for this post, as for so many other things in life, is Ken Jennings. He wrote recently on his blog about the first five news events he could personally remember. I got to thinking about it and here's what I came up with for myself:

1. January 1986 (age 4): the space shuttle Challenger explodes. This one is iffy, because I don't know if I actually remember it, or just remember that I remember it, you know? I can recall where in our living room the TV was when the news was on, and also something about being at the church that day and seeing lots of those ubiquitous (if you're an 80s Mormon) stackable plastic orange chairs. Who knows if this is genuine or not.

2. August 1987 (age 5): Northwest Airlines Flight 255 crashes. About this news event, I remember not only that only one passenger survived, but that it was a four-year-old girl, and that her grandparents were able to identify her definitively by her purple nail polish.

3. October 1987 (age 6): Baby Jessica falls down a well. I also remember the Simpsons episode that is derivative of this event, but that was much later and thus is not relevant here (though it was extremely funny).

4. November 1988 (age 7): Bush vs. Dukakis presidential election. I remember discussing it in first grade, with help from our issues of the Weekly Reader.

5. August 1989 (age 7): Gorbachev OUT. That was the exact headline in the newspaper one morning when I woke up, which shows you how these memories get clearer as I get older.

I'm going to do one more since the first one might not count.

6. October 1989 (age 8): the San Francisco Earthquake. I was in the car on my way home from piano lessons when we heard about this on the radio. I also remember that a double-decker bridge collapsed and a guy was stuck in his car there for - hours? days? Time is different for kids. It was a long time, anyway, and they did get him out but I think he died later. I can't find any confirmation of this online, but my memory of this is so vivid.

What is interesting to me is what is missing from this list: Chernobyl, Tiananmen Square, a lot of boring stuff about Iran and miscellaneous Arab terrorists, etc.

When I was thinking about it, I realized that I have memories of other news events but they are most likely secondary, and gleaned from sources such as Saturday Night Live or The Simpsons a few years after they happened. The Tammi Faye Bakker scandal and the "We Are the World" song come to mind.

I am very interested to hear your first memories of news events. It was great to read Amanda's list and see how it compared to mine (she is a few years younger than me but we overlapped a little).

What will really scare me is if some of you young people write in and your first remembered news event is something like the OJ Simpson trial. That will make me feel old, considering I watched the verdict being delivered in my freshman science class. But please share your list anyway.


Jen said...

1. Also the Challenger Explosion
2. "we are the world," but I don't think it was at the EXACT right time, because it was on my nana's VHS tape directly after "The wizard of oz," and it was the only movie she had...so I watched "We are the world" a lot, too.
3. 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, Korea (also known as the first time in my memory I was allowed to stay up late and watch tv).
4.The crash of PanAm 103 in Scotland
5. The emergence of the AIDS epidemic.

Jen said...

p.s. I, too, was in freshman biology class during the OJ verdict. My teacher was irate.

Fromagette said...

I'm not going to this in any order, but here are some of the things I remember:
Berlin wall falling
War in Kuwait
OJ Simpson

I wasn't too into news as a child and we didn't watch TV. I also didn't include the '89 earthquake because I lived it, so I don't think it counts (How could I forget it?). By the way, the man trapped on the Bay Bridge did die. I believe it was from kidney failure brought on by the lack of water and food when he was trapped. At least that is what my memory tells me.

Liz Johnson said...

I think my first one was Baby Jessica, actually. I remember the SF Earthquake and a little of Tianenmen Square (maaaaybe). After that... OJ (1995)? The crash of TWA flight 800 (1996)? The election of Bill Clinton (1992)? The assassination of Mexican presidential candidate Luis Colosio (1994)? I think all of these were around 6th-8th grade which is when I started becoming aware of things besides myself.

Suzanne Bubnash said...

You are basically right on the Challenger explosion except that it happened on a weekday (Tuesday I think). The reason you remember the orange chairs and that it seemed like a Sunday is because there was a Primary activity day that we set up for that morning, thus you were at the ward building that day.

That guy who was stuck for 4 days after the SF quake was trapped in the collapse of a highway (it was a double-decker like the Marquam bridge in PDX); he was a diabetic so he died from the effects of too long w/out medication. The rescuer who was prowling for bodies that day nearly had a heart attack when the guy waved to him from a car, never expecting anyone to be alive.

Fromagette said...

Suzanna, you are right. The man was on the Cypress Street Viaduct in Oakland. I always thought that he was on the Bay Bridge, but perhaps that is because the image of the bridge is so much more memorable than the other freeway. In any case, he survived the collapse, but died shortly afterwards. (All information from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1989_Loma_Prieta_earthquake)

Crys said...

I remember the Challenger Explosion. We were watching it at school, there was fire in the sky, and then my teacher jumped up and switched the TV off. Seriously though we hardly ever got to watch any TV but there are events I remember being glued to the TV over...some very recent.

1. Challenger Explosion
2. LA Riots
3. OJ Simpson Chase
4. 9/11
5. King Hussins Funeral
6. The Tsunami that killed all those people. Something about numbers like, 80,000 people reported dead in this country, 60,000 in this. It was just mind boggling.

I didn't see the earthquake but we drove over that bridge a year or so later when they had fixed it. Our friends dad said, "Hey this piece of concrete right here that looks a little different (the part above our heads), this is the piece that collapsed during the earthquake." LOVELY!

Britney said...

I was born just a few months after you, and am amazed by your memory. The first presidential election I can recall with any detail was in '92.

I'm also a little embarrassed that I cannot recall historic events such as the coming down of the Berlin wall, but vividly remember the TMNT craze of the late '80s. Where was I?? :)

sarah said...

I, like britney, don't remember many news events from when i was young. i do however remember the oj simpson, 9/11, and elizabeth smarts kidnapping and return. oh! and the oklahoma city bombing because we planted a tree in front of our elementary school in memory of it.

Suzanne Bubnash said...

I remember very little from my early years (they were too too long ago :) Also, TV wasn't so pervasive then. I do recall very well the presidential election 1960 (Kennedy-Nixon) because kids at school argued about who was best (which was whoever their parents liked). Alaska & Hawaii came in as states when I was about 6--that made an impression on me because our flag added 2 stars & there was a song written about the event. John Glenn orbiting the earth was a very big deal, also very inspiring even to young kids. You would have had to live under a rock to not know about that event. When I was 7 the US had the face-off w/ the Soviet Union about Cuba & that was extremely frightening. We were an inch away from nuclear war & at school we learned what to do if 'the bomb' was dropped (drop under your desk & hold on--I can laugh about that now but never wanted to be away from the 'protection' of my desk then).

Shannan said...

this is a good challenge - I may do this on my blog - of course I find I don't make a lot of time for my blgo these days. I have some good memories.

sarah said...

Another one is Columbine. jared reminded me of that last night. that made a big impression on me in my early junior high days. we practiced a lot of drills and lockdowns after that

sarah said...

that looks like a louis vuitton handbag next to gorbachev

Bridget said...

You are very perceptive, Sarah.


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