Friday and Memory

28 Jan

Today is the 25th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion. Of course somewhere inn the news coverage I saw online today, they had to describe it by saying “A quarter-century ago..” instead of 25 years.

Just in case you aren’t aware of what a chunk of time 25 years is. People who are 25 years old look damn young to me but in reality they are already a quarter-century old.

Wait. Some math just happened accidentally in my head… Two quarters makes a half then, oh yes….I must be half a century old!

This talk of chunks of centuries is depressing, so let’s stop.

I remember the day of the Challenger explosion well. I was in the hospital recovering from surgery. It was a terribly cold day in Jacksonville and, of course, a terribly cold day at Cape Canaveral. I was in St. Vincent’s hospital with staples in a delicate place. The phone rang and it was my significant other and he was crying. “What’s wrong?” “The space shuttle blew up!”

I then had to wait for the person who had the in room TV concession to come by so I could pay whatever they were charging for TV access before I could watch the coverage on television. Until they flipped a switch or something, when you turned on the TV, it would always go to the in house hospital channel. They were talking about health or nutrition or some such nonsense. If you used the remote to change the channel, the TV would rapidly go through each channel, changing itself, until it made its way back to the hospital channel. For a while, that is the way I got snippets of news–letting the TV flip through the channels quickly. A rapid slide show of somber news people and images of Christa McAuliffe, the first “Teacher in Space” and the other 6 astronautics, the curly cloud left behind when the shuttle exploded, looking like a question mark in the sky, the image of Christa McAuliffe’s mom and dad looking stricken and confused by the sight they had just witnessed…

Being a male, it was not that unusual for me to watch TV while clicking from channel to channel to channel–but this was a little ridiculous. Before long the TV person came along, collected the fee and I had full control of the television. And so I watched and mourned along with the rest of the nation.

The day before, January 27, was the anniversary of America’s first space race related tragedy when a fire took the lives of Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffe on the launch pad at Cape Kennedy during a pre-launch test of Apollo 1 in 1967.  I remember when that happened too. What with being a full half century (plus some) I was around for a lot of things. Since the Challenger disaster, we lost the Space Shuttle Columbia along with a crew of seven on February 1, 2003.

There is no single conclusion to be drawn here. Life is fascinating, scary, sad and often amazing. As time goes on and you live a few years, life isn’t just the here and now, life is also memory.

Happy Friday. Have a wonderful weekend.

4 Responses to “Friday and Memory”

  1. Pamela N Red January 28, 2011 at 10:03 am #

    That was a tragedy. I think that was the one with an Oklahoma school teacher aboard. Her class of elementary students were watching proudly. They were all traumatized.

    • catzenspace January 28, 2011 at 5:37 pm #

      It was terrible. The image of her parents at the Cape, watching and smiling, so proud. Then so stricken and confused as they witnessed the explosion, is one of the things I remember most. Those poor kids in her class! I can only imagine.

  2. Gay Groom January 28, 2011 at 6:40 pm #

    I remember it very well. It was just a couple of days before my 18th birthday. Strange that when the last shuttle exploded during landing in 2003… it didn’t shake the nation like 1986… hardly at all, actually.

  3. That Weather Girl February 2, 2011 at 1:10 pm #

    And today, February 1st, is the anniversary of the loss of Columbia.

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