Cleolinda Jones (cleolinda) wrote,
Cleolinda Jones
cleolinda

DISCLAIMER: This is an Americanized version of a meme you may have seen focusing more on British events. I stole it from snowking. I kept some, and went through a list of events in the '80s and '90s to add events I either had distinct memories of or thought other people would have. Pass it around and add your own events if you like. Thank you, and don't forget to tip your waitress.


When Reagan was shot (30 March, 1981)

When the Challenger exploded (28 January, 1986)

When the Berlin Wall fell (9 November, 1989)

When the Gulf War began (16 January, 1991)

When the riots hit L.A. (29 April, 1992)

When Kurt Cobain was found dead (8 April, 1994 [actual death: three days prior])

When OJ Simpson made his low-speed "getaway" (17 June, 1994)

When Simpson was acquitted (3 October, 1995)

When Selena was killed (31 March, 1995)

When Princess Di was killed (31 August, 1997)

At midnight, 31 January, 1999?

At midnight, 31 January, 2000?

When terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center (11 September, 2001)

When Columbia disintegrated during re-entry over Texas. (1 February, 2003)

When Saddam Hussein was captured (13 December, 2003)





When Reagan was shot (30 March, 1981)

I'm only just now 25, and would have been about 2 then. No memory.

When the Challenger exploded (28 January, 1986)

I was in first grade. I know that we watched a lot of the shuttle launchings in class. It was fun, because we'd have the TV on in the corner while we colored, because they'd take so long to get around to it, and when it was about to happen, the teacher would gather us to sit around the TV. Mrs. Ramsey. She had short curly orange-red hair. Sort of like Ronald McDonald. I remember this. I want to say that this time we were sitting around the TV, and we watched it go up into the sky in a streak of white, and then it exploded, and we all sat there staring. Mrs. Ramsey stared at the TV for a little while. I can't remember if she turned it off or left it on. I want to say that she left it on and ran across the hall to tell the other teachers. We never watched another launch--mostly because, for many years, there weren't any to see. I want to say this is what happened, but it seems too awful to be real. I can't prove that it did.

When the Berlin Wall fell (9 November, 1989)

It's so weird that I have no memory of this at all. I remember it being on TV all that week, but my awareness of the outside world didn't really kick in until I was 12 or 13--the next couple of years.

When the Gulf War began (16 January, 1991)

I don't know if this was the first day, but I remember sitting in our den, eating as usual (sitting on the carpet around the coffee table), but the room was unusually dim, the lights were off, and only the TV and the light from the kitchen kept the room from total darkness. They had the war on TV, and it was the strangest thing I'd ever seen--I'd never been alive for a war before, and it was really, really scary. War was the sort of thing we read about in textbooks, that they made movies about, that was terrible. And there was an added element of surreality in the fact that we were watching neon streaks and explosions through night vision cameras--the war was a video game. When they embedded journalists in the second war last year and had them riding around for endless hours in the hot bright dust with nothing happening, I wasn't impressed. It's not war, I thought, until they bring out the night vision cameras.

When the riots hit L.A. (29 April, 1992)

I don't have specific "where were you when" memories of this, but I suspect people even a little older than me will, or people who lived closer to L.A. at the time. I do remember seeing footage of the riots at the time, the Rodney King beating, and so on. I remember lots of rioting jokes in monologues for months afterwards. It was how people dealt with it. We hadn't had riots like that in decades, not since the '60s and '70s when it seemed sort of common, to those of us in the present, and it was scary to think that they might become common again.

When Kurt Cobain was found dead (8 April, 1994 [actual death: three days prior])

I hate having to be so fangirl-specific about this, because I didn't even like Nirvana; I just knew that people would start arguing if I put only the 5th or only the 8th. Anyway. I was a Pearl Jam girl all the way. I added this to the list, though, because I remember my best friend at the time, The Other Emily (Not the Lovely Emily) calling me up when I got home from high school--I don't think she went that day--and telling me, in tears, to turn on MTV, and that "Kurt" had just killed himself. Beautiful day, it was--I remember standing in my bedroom downstairs, the one in the old house with the ruffly white curtains and the tacky old stenciled birds-and-flowers wallpaper, and staring through the windows at the sunny street, listening to her go on and on about Kurrrrrt. Half the school went into mourning. I was sort of befuddled by the whole thing.

When OJ Simpson made his low-speed "getaway" (17 June, 1994)

I was taping something that night on the downstairs VCR. I don't remember what, but I had been waiting months to tape it, and I didn't yet have my own VCR, so I'd staked out the one in the den for hours to tape this incredibly important thing that I can't even remember now. When it was finished, I turned off the VCR, and the TV was already on channel 3--ABC, and I believe 20/20 was on at that point, and they had totally ditched their program plans and just gone straight to live coverage. My mother had been watching the little TV in her room and she came in and sat down and watched with me. It was the strangest thing--it just went on and on and on, so slowly, this white car that kept almost stopping and then going again, and once in a while we'd be able to see an arm or something. When I looked this up on Wikipedia, it said that something like 100 million people ended up watching.

When Simpson was acquitted (3 October, 1995)

I hate to have two Simpson things on here, but it was definitely the quintessential American experience that year. I was in Spanish class at the time--about to go to lunch. Celsie convinced Mrs. Allison to turn on the TV a little before class ended, since we knew the verdict might come out soon. Mrs. Allison had short curly orange-red hair. Sort of like Ronald McDonald. I had extreme déjà-vu. I can't remember what we thought was going to happen--I seem to remember being sort of shocked-but-not-surprised. They read the verdict and Celsie muttered "Fuck!" under her breath and Mrs. Allison heard her, and I kinda think Celsie had intended it to be heard, because Celsie was dramatic like that, and Mrs. Allison was known to be cool. I just remember Mrs. Allison sort of narrowing her eyes and watching Celsie all the way out the door, and the rest of us running down the stairs and into the halls to tell everyone what we now knew.

When Selena was killed (31 March, 1995)

I put this here because I'm curious to see how many people distinctly remember this. I remember the day it happened if only because I had never heard of her before, had no idea there was a significant tejano scene operating unto itself, and was shocked by the outpouring of grief and candles and flowers and vigils that night on the news. Keep in mind, I had been taking Spanish for four or five years already, and would end up majoring in it, and Mrs. Allison (who I had for four years straight) liked to make us transcribe Latino pop songs, and I still hadn't heard of her. I was astonished that someone could have had such an effect on people, and yet be completely unknown to mainstream America. I mean, now that we have the internet, I suspect we'll see this happen a lot more--compartmentalized celebrity, I mean. But at the time, it was amazing to only find out about this woman and her music, which I ended up liking, because she had died.

When Princess Di was killed (31 August, 1997)

This was a really strange one--did she actually die on Saturday or Sunday? It may have been Sunday in England by then. On Saturday, my parents had just helped me move into my freshman dorm with my new roommate Valerie, whom some of you may recognize from previous entries, as she and The Lovely Emily and I are still close friends. But at the time, it was just this big strange room I had to share with someone else, which I'd never had to do. We'd gone out to see Conspiracy Theory the night before, just to have something to do, Valerie and her high school friends who were all at BSC together, and they basically adopted me, and most of us are still friends. We had to dress up for some bizarro code-of-conduct assembly or something, something about a honor code, I don't know, and then our group cut out of there and wandered around Wal-Mart for about an hour until the movie started, only we had made the mistake of parking on the ass end of Wildwood and having to trek forty miles back to the theater. And the movie was dumb but it was so cool to have been a loner for most of high school and then to just suddenly, magically find friends the first day at college.

I turned on the TV the next morning, and Princess Diana was dead. I called my mother because I didn't believe it, although why the news would lie to me, I don't know. I felt like I was officially no longer living my own life--like I was reading someone else's life, like Elizabeth Wakefield goes to college or something. I had friends, and Princess Diana was dead. Wonders would never cease.

At midnight, 31 January, 1999?

I think this is the New Year's I spent at home with my mother and sister, and my mom had a nasty violent flu that I ended up getting the next week, and Sister Girl made us play Monopoly and watch MTV the whole time, and I remember thinking, Dear God, please don't let the world end. I can't die like this.

At midnight, 31 January, 2000?

I think this is the New Year's I spent out at a bar called Mind Games with the aforementioned college friends. It was the first time I'd actually spent New Year's out of the house. The Lovely Emily was Captain Drunk, and I was the Skipper, because we were the only two who lasted the night without getting righteously, righteously sick. I'm talking throwing-up-in-party-hats sick. We called a cab right before the bar closed that never came, so the bartender (who I think wanted to get with The Lovely Em) drove us back to school. I am serious. It had started to snow while we were waiting, and this is Alabama, so this never happens, and I remember walking up to street level and seeing downtown gone all wonderland white, flakes as big as feathers drifting in the wind. It was eerie driving back to school--only an inch or so as of yet, but the streets had been blanked out by snow, like fresh canvas, and we were all sardine-squeezed into the back seat of this bartender's car. There was no one out and about around for miles.

At the main intersection before you got to BSC, we stopped, opened one of the doors, and let one of our fallen comrades throw up on the empty road. Then we sneaked back into the dorm, which had actually been closed for the holidays, to recover before we all sneaked home again.


When terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center (11 September, 2001)

It was a sunny morning, and I had taken a year off following graduation, so I was home. I forget why my stepfather was home, but he was--this may have been during the brief period between retiring from one job and starting another. I slept late that morning, hadn't meant to, and walked into the den sometime after ten to find him sitting on the couch, elbows on his knees, staring at the TV. I can't remember if he said "The World Trade Center just got hit," or "The World Trade Center just went down."

"Holy shit," I said.

"Holy shit is right," he said.


When Columbia disintegrated during re-entry over Texas (1 February, 2003)

I don't remember this so well--I seem to remember it being a Saturday, and watching the news all day to see if they'd recover anyone. They didn't.


When Saddam Hussein was captured (13 December, 2003)

We didn't actually find out over here until the next morning, December 14, which was my birthday. I have extremely mixed feelings about our involvement over there in general, but Hussein? Best. Birthday present. Ever. Still, I wish my family had pried itself away from the TV once that day--we were having the family birthday lunch that day, a Saturday, and it would have been nice to have had a five minutes' break from the endless loop of doctors checking Saddam's scalp.
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