Sunday, May 24, 2009

Where were you when?

There are certain moments in life that cause you to pause, and reflect. Moving away from home, for instance. Saying goodbye to someone you love. Realizing you lost your iPod. again.

Today I’m having one of those moments. Today I turn 30.

30. 30? 30! 30…

The day I was born, I’m told, a crew from the local news arrived at the hospital to shoot a story. My mom and her sister, whose due dates were separated by 2 months, had given birth just hours apart, in the same hospital room, wearing the same department store pajamas. Some producer from Channel 12, I suppose, decided this would be of interest to the local folks. I’m sure he also decided that Phoenix was experiencing a slow news day.

And so, among the very first people I met when I came to earth were a reporter and a camera crew. I’ve often wondered if this explains why I love television news, and why my most poignant childhood memories revolve around the breaking of some great story.

January 28, 1986. Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster.

When I arrived at my first grade class that morning, something wasn’t right. Our teacher, Mrs. Sciatto, had taken the day off. Mrs. Sciatto was a sweet old lady, and we all figured she was home sick with some sweet old lady disease.

And then, a few hours into the day, I remember our principal’s voice over the loudspeaker. Something had gone wrong with a space shuttle. People had died. One of them was a teacher.

As our substitute turned on the television (it must have been in the curriculum somewhere that 6-year olds can benefit by gazing at images of fire, debris and expressions of horror), things began to add up in my mind. Mrs. Sicatto didn’t take the day off because she was sick. Mrs. Sciatto took the day off to travel into outer space.

I must have held it together until my mom arrived to pick me up, because she said that when she did and asked how my day was, the emotions finally erupted. “Not good. Mrs. Sciatto tried to be the first teacher in space, and she exploded.”

Footage. Wow.

October 16, 1987. Baby Jessica.

The next story I vividly remember watching was the 58 HOUR rescue of Jessica McClure, the toddler who fell down the well in Texas. I didn’t watch all 58 hours, but just enough to develop an overwhelming childhood fear of falling into a well. Would have been nice of someone to tell me there are no wells in suburban Glendale.

June 17, 1994. White Ford Bronco Chase.

I don’t just remember watching OJ evade police, I can actually recall what I was wearing.

It was the day I returned home from Girl’s Camp, where we were given white t-shirts emblazoned with pink sheep and the words “EWE are special!” The shirts were fine within the confines of the forest, but not when stopping at McDonalds on the way home. I was 15 and mortified.

OJ’s surrender and trial were of particular interest to me, as just one year earlier I had named him my hero in a graduation speech. It wasn’t just his life on the line. It was also my reputation.

August 31, 1997. Death of Princess Diana.

The People’s Princess died the night I arrived in Provo for my freshman year at BYU. I never felt any connection to Lady Di, except that Elton John said she lived her life like a candle in the wind, and that’s exactly how I felt walking to 8 am classes during my first real winter.

July 16, 1999. Death of JFK Jr.

When John John’s plane was first reported missing at about 3 am, I was awake. In fact, I was at work.

I worked at KBYU TV throughout college. Every semester, my boss recruited people to work the dreaded “overnight shift” (midnight to 6 am). Every semester I vowed I would never work it again, and every semester I found myself volunteering to work it anyway. (Some people never learn. I am one of those people.)

The rule was, that while at work you could only watch KBYU TV. That was the rule. But anyone who thinks it’s possible to stay awake all night watching a 6-hour Lawrence Welk marathon, can think again. That night I was tuned to CNN.

By about 4 am I needed to discuss, so I called Arizona and woke up my mom. A 4 am phone call, just to analyze Camelot’s latest chapter. That she was more than happy to, is another reason I love my mom.

September 11, 2001. 9/11.

In the fall of 2001 I graduated college and got my first real news job. Well, internship. At KUTV, Salt Lake’s CBS affiliate. Finally, my start at being on the disseminating end of breaking stories.

Cue irony.

When I first got the job, in August, I met with my boss and had a conversation that went something like this:

Boss: Welcome to KUTV (or something to that effect)
Me: Thank you (or something to that effect)
Boss: We brought you on board to perform menial tasks that no one else is willing to do. Also, you won’t be getting paid (I think he said it more nicely than that)
Me: Awesome.
Boss: Any questions?
Me: Yes, actually. Would it be okay if I took just one day off? Next month? My sister is coming into town…
Boss: What day?
Me: September 11th.
Boss: Should be fine. Hope for a slow news day. Ha Ha
Me: Ha Ha Ha
Boss: Ha Ha
Me: Ha
Boss: Ha.


I slept in that day. My sister woke me up when the first tower was hit, and I watched live as the second went down, in my pajamas, with my nephew in my lap.

The biggest story of my lifetime. The one day I requested off. Granted, my assignment probably would have been BYU student reaction to canceled classes. But still.

At the time I was struck by the irony. But looking back now, I actually see the experience as a nice foreshadowing of my life today. At 30. Minus the sleeping in part.

For those who read this far (and I will not presume there are many of you), Where were YOU when?? Pick one and share!
It's one of my favorite things to learn about people. In fact, you can consider it my 30th birthday present.

That, or I like cash.


Taylor and Jodi said...

that was fun. The only one I really remember the day in detail was September 11. I was in 9th grade, and I had no idea what the world trade center was. I was really tired and trying to get out the door for school, my dad runs in the room to tell my mom that the second tower had been hit- they were freaking out- I was like whatever. Once I got to school and everybody was talking about it I realized what a big deal it really was. I'll spare you every other detail of the day... and Happy Birthday!

Courtney Vance said...

Happy Birthday my dear. You tell the best stories. I remember all of those but 9/11 is the most vivid so I'll tell that. I had gone to Seattle to visit a friend when the towers were hit. Of course there was the panic of which city will they attack next but after airports were back up and running I was on one of the first flights. It was terrifying but I just wanted to get back home.

Svancara Family said...

Happy Birthday!! I can't believe your teacher got killed in space, crazy!! I need my journal to recall any memories that long ago on those days:) That was fun to ready! Hope you have a wonderful day!

Lorie said...

When Princess Di died I was in Christopher Creek with my family. We stayed up all night watching the news reports. And then Angela tripped off a step and sprained her ankle.

Lorie said...



Welcome to the 30s. It is pretty great.

Holbrook Girls said...

Joe and I were in Ensenada, Mexico and on our way to the dock to go deep sea fishing in the wee hours of the morning when the first plane hit on Sept 11th. I will never forget how much the news in Mexico had the facts all wrong! Anyways, trying to get back into the states later that week was almost impossible!

krissiecook said...

Normally I would avoid such self-revelatory commenting, but you've tagged me on a weak weekend.
Memorial Day 1993 - my mom comes out of the closet during our Memorial Day barbecue.
Memorial Day 1994 - my mom moves out of our house, making the divorce as final as any paperwork could.
Memorial Day 1997 - my uncle blows his brains out.
Memorial Day 1999 - one of my sisters (and I will never say which one - I have 4, so good luck guessing) is arrested and jailed for embezzlement.
Obviously, I have head this weekend in great fear ever since. Nothing quite that dramatic has happened since, but I always hold my proverbial breath for pretty much the whole weekend. I hope I haven't jinxed things by posting this before the weekend is over. Now I'm crossing 4 fingers and just as many toes...

krissiecook said...

P.S. Welcome to 30! It's just as bad/good as they say.

ahe said...

Challenger: I was in the 5th grade and we all excitedly watched the launch and then in horror the explosion. It was terrifying. 9/11: Paul and I had just returned from our honeymoon and it was my second day back to work. I heard the whole thing on the radio on the way in and then called Paul. I made it into work but everyone was leaving (people just wanted to be home with their families) so I left and Paul and I watched the news the entire day. Paul and I went to New York during the whole call to support New York campaign post 9/11 and walked around the eerie deserted streets of ground zero. It was unforgettable. I don't remember the OJ car chase as much as I remember the verdict. My political science class at Ricks watched it live. And Princess Di. I was in London on BYU study abroad. She died my second night there and the rest of my time there was spent developing an obsession with her. Her funeral procession went nearly in front of our housing and I spent a lot of time in Kensington Park taking pictures and observing the locals. So there you have it...Happy b-day. 30 is awesome (especially when you have a husband 8.5 years older than you like I do...I always feel super young).

Laura Stringham said...

I remember all those things. I also watched footage of the spaceship and I was even younger than you, what were people thinking? How could that have possibly been good for a child that small?

I was at a friend's house and in high school when I learned about Princess Di's death and on Spt. 11th, I vividly remember watching that second plane hit the tower on live TV in my aunt's kitchen.

As for OJ, I mostly remember all the black kids running through the halls of my high school in celebration the afternoon that the verdict was announced.

That was weird to think about.

And happy birthday, I hope you were treated extra special today.

michelle said...

September 11 I was working at Wal~Mart. I had just taken a UCSB ROTC class entitled "Terrorism" and the professor had declared on the final day of class that if he had to put his money on the next terrorist attack, it would involve biological warfare OR a guy named Osama bin Laden.
Wal~Mart played the news nonstop for the first day until someone in Bentonville decided death was bad for sales.
I almost got fired from Wal~Mart that day because I stood up to a man who came in and screamed at me that we had no flags (did you know that all the flagmakers actually rerouted ALL shipments to NYC) and that WM must somehow be un-American. I remember standing there with my little fists balled in that nasty smock and telling him, "I'm sorry, sir, but were you not an American yesterday?"

Andrew entered the MTC September 12 and never actually got to know what was going on. I think that may partially be the cause of the Middle Eastern studies and the cause of me going to dwell in Egypt for two months.

Bonus thought: did you know that all Wal~Mart employees have to do a special cheer everyday and that it involves a VERY suggestive squiggle? Yeah. I was so glad to go back to college that fall.

Happy Birthday!

Jeannie said...

I remember all of those events clearly.

The Challenger explosion was pretty devastating for me, too, as a 5th grader. Our classroom was glued to the TV for hours. I remember pouring over newspapers to find out more information, almost becoming obsessed with it. I remember doing a "current event report" about it later that week with clippings and comments I had stapled together. I just watched the link you posted and was still kinda choked up seeing it happen again. A country-wide tragedy leaves an impression, for sure.

Which is why I'll never forget 9/11. I didn't even know anything was happening until I showed up for work at my fairly new job and saw no one was there. I never listened to the radio or watched TV before work and I rode the bus there, so it was a complete shock when people started showing up and relaying what had happened. Then we watched the 2nd tower collapse together. Unforgettable, but not in the good way.

Happy Birthday, Katie! I've found the 30's to be a fine season of life...

Kristin said...

Todd thinks it's ridiculous that I wasn't alive during the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster. Apparently, explosions to six-year-olds are always traumatic. Needless to say, I won't be reminiscing about where I was on THAT day...

The first event that I actually remember was the death of Princess Di. I remember it well because it was probably the first time I had ever actually paid any attention to the news for more than 30 seconds (I was 10 years old). I was sleeping over at a friend's house, and we stayed up all night hypothesizing about whether or not it was a set-up, and who could possibly be awful enough to do that to a PRINCESS. We were heart broken.

I can't believe you almost helped cover Sept. 11. BUMMER!! :) Good story, though. Happy Birthday!!

Dawn said...

Space shuttle disaster - I was in the 7th grade Music class. They brought in a TV so we could watch the launch. And then it all went wrong. Very traumatic to me.

I'm so glad you've picked such enlightening stories for your 30th. It's okay Katie, it's not your 40th, or 80th!

Happy Birthday! I hope it was filled with fun things, and not too many poopy diapers. I'm sure you had a ball with your mom and sisters - sorry we missed out!

Leslie said...

I remember all these events well (not too surprising since our birthdays are only a few weeks apart).

I believe I was in second grade when the space shuttle Challenger launched. We'd had class discussions about the teacher going into space and we'd gone into a neighboring class room to watch the big event live.

We actually saw it explode and I remember being pretty confused--that wasn't supposed to happen, right? Teachers scrambled to turn off the t.v. and then (as you might imagine) there was some serious damage control.

Oh, and happy 30th!

Alison said...

I am going to recall the day you were born instead...

I was at your house... babysitting! And was also there when they brought you home! (if this is incorrect... tell your mom not to tell me... it's a happy memory for me!)

ahhh... I could not believe my good fortune! My favorite people in the world (aside from my parents) just had a perfect baby girl!!!! All I kept thinking was 1) this is the best day ever! 2) I love my life and I'm going to get to babysit this adorable baby!! 3) why the heck didn't they name her Katie Jo Alison? What is up with the Dana thing??? humph! 4) ok, seriously! How soon can I expect Jim to take Susan to the China Doll for dinner???

I was (probably) wearing pink Hang-Ten shorts (with the long pockets) and a rainbow t-shirt!

Yup! Great day!!

And happy 30th!! What was your mom thinking letting a 5 year old babysit???

Rileigh Anne said...

Happy Birthday Darling! I think you are fabulous!
Challenger- no memory I was 3
Baby Jessica- We sent her a Winnie the Poo Doll because it was her favorite toy. I remember watching the footage of her being lifted out of the well covered in dirty white straps.
OJ- We watched the chase a little bit, I wasn't to into it. I later learned from E True Hollywood Story that the David Hasseloff blames the OJ Simpson car chase for not making him the American Singing Superstar he was in Germany. His BIG Pay Per View concert aired that day, but nobody cared.
Lady Di- My mother and I were at a gas station in Santa Maria when we heard it on the radio. She started to cry. I was in current events in school, Bishop Haws (from Solvang) was my teacher, we watched footage constantly. He told how he had been in London during her wedding. Than Mother Teressa died just a few weeks later, I remember feeling like her death was jipped because everyone was still pinning for Diana.
JFK Jr.- meant nothing to me
9/11- I was driving to class in Santa Maria I was in total shock by the time I reached my first class, my teacher (it was film class) was completely beside himself. School was canceled. I called my mom from a pay phone (no cell back then)I came home and watched the news for 2 days straight.

Patrice said...

My OJ memory is pretty similar to your space shuttle memory. Apparently, Mrs. Lynn, my third grade teacher, thought it was a great learning experience for us to take our own vote on OJ's innocence/guilt and discuss why we voted the way we did. I remember this day clearly because I think it was the last day I ever willingly made a comment in class. My comment-"If he's innocent, why would he have run away from the police in the very beginning? Obviously he has something to hide." Very profound.

The majority voted guilty and I can still remember the gasp we all let out when they said not guilty (like we really cared-we were 9. All we really cared about was who we were going to sit next to at lunch that day).

Whether or not it's appropriate for 3rd graders to discuss a murder case in the classroom is beside the point- It created a pretty vivid memory of this event that I'll always remember.

Happy Birthday Katie!

Allison Hansen said...

Monday, May 25th: Realizing it was my friend's BIG birthday on the previous day but didn't have computer access to wish her a happy one. So here I am... Happy Birthday. May the next 30 years be full of youth and fun and true joy and a lot more of each other! Love, AL

Emmers said...

Aw cute! I love that you are 30 before I am! No worries, I'm 4 months and 2 kids behind you.

I was thinking about all this craziness and I was in Singapore when Princess Diana passed away and I was in Ecuador on 9/11. I remember the 9/11 as a missionary in a foreign country. I remember many people WANTING to actually talk to ME that day.
Ecuadorian: Eres americana?
Me: Si
Ecuadorian: Are you scared? (in Span of course)
Me: Of what?
Ecuadorian: Of what's going on in your country...
Me: Nah! (not knowing what was actually happening. I thought they were talking about our president or some other governmental issue that I wasn't keeping up on)

I got suspicious after more and more people kept wanting to talk to me about what was going on in my country. Finally, we broke some mission rules and watched the TV at some member's home. I thought it was a movie. I couldn't believe my eyes. It was real!!

me said...

Funny you should bring this up.
Just last night, Phil and I were watching a documentary on 9/11, and the whole time we kept saying how even though it happened years ago, it's still so shocking. And the last few days, I have felt like an old lady repeating myself about where I was when it all took place...I was actually doing something that I never do anymore...working out. Wow, it really was a shocking day!

Happy birthday Katie! Let me know how 30 is, cus I'm headed there in November! Now, THAT is shocking!

senategirl said...

Happy belated birthday Katie! You're a young spring chicken. :)

I could have sworn you were with with us at the Utah Capitol when we learned about the events of
9/11.I got a phone call from my sister waking me up with the first tower and I was at work by the time the second tower went down. I think Georgina or Tiffany from the First Ladies office told me. I was in disbelief.

I was a Junior in college watching TV on my bed when Princess Diana died.

Jenny Walker said...

Happy Birthday, Katie! (A little late!). I remember turning 30 and I remember having mixed emotions about it. But it's just a number, right?! I say that now as I'm nearing 33!

I vividly remember watching baby Jessica on tv with my grandmother (I lived with her at the time). I also remember that made for tv movie wherein they sang "Winnie the Pooh" to her and she sang back. I cried like a baby.

I also vividly remember 9/ll. I was a newlywed (5 months) and already hugely pregnant with Joshua (a little less than 5 months-my little honeymoon baby!). I just walked into work at a bank in Stockton and went to put my lunch away and found everyone gathered around the tv watching something going up in smoke. First thing I did was called Alex, who just so happened to turn the tv on before school, which he never did. I remember feeling panicked and afraid. That mixed with a pregnant woman's emotions and I had nightmares for weeks.

I watched Princess Diana's funeral on tv. My brother had me buy him the special recording of "Candle in the Wind" redone by Elton John just for her. Alex was on his mission in England at the time and I remember wondering what the general feeling was there at the time.

Wow, alot of memories!

Debbie said...

Happy Birthday!!!

I am so happy I was able to spend some time with you at Aunt Pats back in February. Danelli was so right and you do write beautiful.


Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday
That's quite strange that you remembered so many of these events Katie in such detail. Maybe it is to do with the reporter. Who Knows?

Sophie should remember these dates.

17th June 1994 - The day she was born, I didn't hear much about the O.J thing, I was tied up and everybody who came to visit kind of wasn't talking about Simpson

31st August 1997 - Sydney's 5th Birthday, we never knew why, may be she was sick of Syd having all the attention but Sophie swallowed a coin. It was when we were waiting for her x-ray to print when we heard the news. I was pretty distraught I was liked her she reminded me a bit of mother teresa.

11th September 2001 - Sophie had a sore chest all summer. On 17th August we found out she had a pretty bad chest infection and that she would miss her first day back at school. She took the week off and after a few extra days she was bored at home and feeling much better. She said she wanted to go back on 11th. I didn't want the kids to get the bus because I wanted to explain to the teacher about her medication, so I drove the kids to school. We were in the car listening to the radio when the started talking about the World Trade Center, I didn't think it was too bad but when the second one hit and they stopped playing a song a cut straight to a new alert that when I knew it wasn't just a small thing. I turned the car around and went home.

courtney said...

We must have been working that overnighter together, or maybe I relieved you in the morning, because I remember watching the JFK Jr coverage on the TOC monitor all morning. I also remember having a discussion with a co-worker about how if the sins of the parents are visited upon the heads of their children to the 3rd and 4th generations, then MAN what had the elder Kennedys gotten themselves into? That may have been an inappropriate/insensitive assumption at the time.

Happy (belated) Birthday Katie Jo!

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