The Y In The Sky

The Post-Dispatch asks: Where were you when the Challenger exploded?

I was in a job interview with the editor of the Clayton/West Citizen Journals. (“Do you mind if I smoke?” the editor asked at the beginning of the interview. “It’s your office,” I replied somewhat awkwardly. Am I going to say “yes, I mind,” when I want her to hire me?) We were halfway into the interview when one of the paper’s ad salesmen came in and told us the space shuttle had blown up.

It was the flight with the “first teacher in space,” Christa McAuliffe. The editor said she knew McAuliffe, had met her at some point. More awkwardness: “I’m sorry,” I said. Of course I was sorry — the shuttle had exploded and our country had lost several astronauts — but the sorrow had to be turned into something personal for the editor, as she reached for another cigarette.

Anyway, I got the job, my first full-time job in journalism.

It’s interesting to think about the “Where were you when…” moments in our lives. There are probably only a handful of them that everybody can remember in any lifetime: JFK’s assassination, the Challenger explosion, 9/11 … what others am I missing?



4 thoughts on “The Y In The Sky

  1. Actually, I don’t remember JFK’s death, or even, really, Martin Luther King’s (though I do have a vague memory of learning about Bobby Kennedy’s assassination, which was only a few weeks after King’s).

  2. Yeah. Hmmmm. I don’t remember where I was when challenger went down. I do remember being in Post Hall with Streno when Reagan got shot. We were in the hall, I think coming back from Amy & Robertas room. Or else just heading out of his… but I know we weren’t on Strenos floor. I can still picture it.

  3. I THINK I remember Neil Armstrong’s first step on the moon. Watched it on our TV at home (still black and white, of course) on a Sunday night, as I recall.

  4. I was selling luggage at FB West County. The luggage department at that time was directly across from the electronics department. Hundreds of TVs, large and small, broadcast almost simultaneously, in technicolor, images from that tragedy. I did feel a personal connection to the shuttle too since my dad had worked in the space program at McDonnell Douglas since its inception. I remember calling him from the phone at the sales desk. The phone lines were jammed going into MDC but I was finally able to reach him. My dad didn’t talk much about his job, most of it was top secret, but I always sensed he knew in his gut something was wrong before the tragedy that day.

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