Eyewitness to History

We have enough “life experience” represented on this board, so let’s see what develops. The basic question is: What historic events have you personally witnessed? On TV doesn’t count. A number of us saw the Challenger explode. Who was actually at the Cape when it happened? What have you seen unfold before your eyes?

I’ll start us off with a simple, mundane one: I was there the night Eric Gagne set the ML record for consecutive saves. I was there the night he tied the previous record, too.

C’mon. Somebody must have seen something! :smiley:

Funny thing about history. I’ve personally met four United States Senators (two of which were candidates for Vice-President) and seen three Presidential nominees. Nothing much happened any of those seven occassions.

On the other hand, I was sitting in the stands when Frank Robinson hit his 300th home run – back in the day when 300 was a BIG number.

I was in the 1977 Johnstown Flood. I barely made out of the valley where I worked for the post office. We lived in a suburb which was on higher ground, but we still got flooding from the creek which ran along our street. It was a few days before the National Guard would allow us back into to city to return for work. I remember mud all over the place and a hideous stench from the sewage. I remember volunteering to help clean up the mud too, which I did for a few days. We couldn’t drink the water for a couple of weeks. The local Coke and Pepsi bottlers donated filtered water for drinking and cooking. It wasn’t a disaster for myself personally. We didn’t lose our house, but had flooding in the basement. There was very little loss of life. It was a pretty big disruption for a while, but it was worse for people who lived in the valley and had water up to 15 feet above ground level. All in all, the town was fortunate, as the flood wasn’t as serious as the ones in 1936 and 1889, thanks to improvements in the flood plain made by the U.S. Corps of Engineers. Some people jokingly called it God’s revenge for the movie “Slap Shot,” which had been filmed in Johnstown earlier in the year. I do feel badly for those people who lost loved ones and lost possesions to the flood of course. But it was nearly thirty years ago, and Johnstown has made a remarkable recovery as they always have.

Aww, stupid me. Slap Shot was filmed in 1976 and released in 1977. I suppose I could have made anothe rpost about being around for the fiming. I never actually met Paul Newman or any of the other stars, though. But I was acquainted with the man who played Ecker, the referee in the film, Dick Roberge. He was the golf pro at my dad’s country club and also was the long-time player coach of the Johnstown Jets, the real-life hockey team the Charlestown Chiefs were modeled after.

I’ve been at two different amusement parks when ride mishaps resulted in fatal injuries. Don’t know if something like that would count though.

Since this is in Cafe Society, I suppose these could count:

I was at Winterland the night most of “Frampton Comes Alive” was recorded. A wonderful, magical evening.

I attended first Who concert without John Entwistle. They projected images of John on the video screens, and Pete stood out on the edge of the stage and waved good-bye to his friend. It brought tears to my eyes.

Oops, not in Cafe Society after all. Sorry about that.

I happened to be in Omaha, Nebraska at the Ball park on July 4th 2001, when the world record for the most people dancing to the YMCA was broken.

My claim to fame is lame

As long as we’re mentioning concerts, I was at Woodstock.
I was here in Panama during the first coup attempt against Noriega in March 1988.

That counts in my book. I was in the audience for several of the tracks on Bruce Springsteen Live 1975-85.

I was at one of the major anti-Vietnam war rallies in Washington, DC in the early 70’s.

I published one of Jonathan Franzen’s early short stories.

I’m pretty sure one of my roommates dated the person who later acquired Harry Potter for Scholastic.

I wasn’t at the WTC, but one of my friends died in it, so in that regard I was part of the historic event.

I was in one of 3022 same-sex couples who married in Multnomah County, Oregon (which were voided, but we still have the marriage certificate).

Two things-- neither is very important, but both are sort of interesting to me.

**1. ** The very first Major League Baseball game I ever attended was a **no-hitter ** tossed by Jack Morris of the Tigers at a chilly and windy Comiskey Park (the old one) in 1984.

[side notes: the second MLB game I attended was a few years later at Fenway with Roger Clemens pitching-- he struck out 14 guys, I think. We were hoping to see him beat the K’s per game record (19 at the time, I believe-- Clemens broke it with 20 later that season).

Then, if you skip over one uneventful Giants game at Candlestick around 1992, the very next game I saw (only my fourth one ever) had Russ Ortiz of the Giants throwing a no-hitter through 7 or 8 innings until he was yanked by Dusty Baker. DAMN! I was hoping to be able to tell folks that 50% of the MLB games I’d seen in person were no-hitters!

Yeah, and then after attending 2 or 3 more “normal” games I was at Pac-Bell when Barry Bonds hit his 600th home run. (But I was only working–shooting the game and the presser afterwards) So even though I’ve only attended maybe 10 MLB games in my life, I’ve been very lucky to see some exciting ones.]

2. I was in Bangkok last week during a Coup d’Etat. It was a “bloodless coup”, which history doesn’t remember quite as well as the violent ones, but I’m perfectly happy that no one got hurt.

And I got some nice pictures anyway.

Most recently, I was standing at 6th Ave / 52nd Street staring at the remaining of the two WTC towers when it collapsed (the first tower had gone while I was upstairs in the office).

Can’t think of anything else…hmmph…if I think of other stuff I’ll be back.


I was in Indonesia during their civil war. We moved to Sumatra in April of 1965, and the war began in October. President Suharto was installed in March of 1968, and we left right around the same time. I remember having to hide Time and National Geographic magazines when we were bringing our mail back to our mountain village from the “big” town, because the soldiers at the checkpoints would confiscate them. Our house was also surrounded by soldiers at one time, and no one’s been able to tell me whether they were friendly or not; my dad was one of the few doctors in the region, though, so either side would have had some interest in keeping him alive.

I was sitting in the gallery when the Supreme Court of Canada struck down Canada’s abortion law: R. v. Morgentaler.

I was in Winnipeg during the great Red River flood of '97. You may remember seeing pictures of Grand Forks, ND downtown with the buildings half-submerged and in flames. That flood. Winnipeg escaped by the skin of its teeth thanks to the floodway, but I spent two weeks filling sandbags. During the peak of the flood at the Forks the Assiniboine appeared to be flowing backwards as the current of the Red swirled into its mouth.

I witnessed part of the first independent Iraqi election in 50 years. Nashville has the largest Kurdish community in the nation – and it’s in my neighborhood! So Nashville was selected as one of the five voting sites within the United States when the women and men were chosen to draft Iraq’s Constitution in January of 2005.

I shook hands with Bobby Kennedy while he was in a car on the campaign trail in May of 1968. In less than a month he was dead.

My first memory was of fireworks on V-J Day.

I saw Halley’s Comet and a satellite on the same night in a country field on my honeymoon. Does that count?

I was on the way to Vienna airport, Schwechat, when terrorists shot it up.

I was in Eastern Europe when Sweden and Finland started noticing the odd readings that lead to the Soviet Union / Russia admitting there was a problem at Chernobyl.

In 2000, I worked on the first elections in Kosovo after the US intervention. At the time I was working for the OSCE’s Department of Election in Prishtina. On the day before the election, I had to drive to another town to deliver some supplies to a polling station. At 7am I was driving back to Prishtina when the radio announced the polls were open. My Kosovar driver and I shook hands and got back to work. Later, I was in the room when we announced the results after working at the counting center for a few days. Our count was going slowly, but there was some other election re-count somewhere else in the world in 2000 that seemed to detract attention.

I was in Kabul in early 2002 after the Taliban fled and saw the opening of the first bar in the country and its closing a month later.

I have been in Iraq for a lot of important events since the fall of the Hussein regime. In the summer of 2003 I arrived in Baghdad and witnessed the rampant looting and lawlessness. In April 2004 I was here when Sader’s militias staged their first major uprising and I had to flee the country. I was in Hillah when they killed Hussein’s sons and the entire Shiite city erupted in celebration.