Monday, January 21, 2013

An Ordinary Day in 1986

Could I ever live a day like January 21, 1986 again?

I remember so many details of that day because my father died suddenly that evening.  When bad things happen, small details stick in your mind, never to vanish.

It was an unusually warm day.  The high temperature where I lived in Arkansas for the month of January, 1986 was 75.  It may not have been on January 21 but it may have been.  It was sunny, and wonderfully warm.

At lunch, I sat outside, near the office where I worked, and - wrote a letter.

Such an ordinary thing.  This was before the age of the Internet.  People wrote letters to each other  As I recall, the letter was to an aunt, an aunt who never did buy a computer, and who wrote letters to the last day of her life in 2003.

That evening, I got a phone call from my aunt back in Brooklyn that my Dad had been brought to a hospital, he had died in the emergency room and "no one knew why".

That's how you got hold of someone in a hurry in those days. No cell phones, no texting.  You picked up a landline, wired to your home, and called.  In those days, long distance wasn't cheap, either, but it was cheaper than when I was growing up in the 50's and 60's.

I called the airline I knew served our area - on a landline, of course-and booked the next flight to New York City.  I got the number from something called The Yellow Pages.

There was no other way to book a flight, short of turning up at the ticket counter at the airport.

In those days, there was little security on airlines.  You packed your bag, not worried about the contents, got a paper ticket, maybe went through a metal detector after emptying your pockets, and boarded.  I packed, numbly, after calling my boss.  The next day, I flew from Arkansas to New York.

It was such an ordinary day, January 21, 1986.

Today, it would be extraordinary.


  1. I'm 72, will be 73 in 10 days...we remember days of our lives. I was on a bus on my way to work, the bus was an Van Ness Ave, in San Francisco, when the news came over that JFK had been shot. I was standing in a clothing store in Dallas, Texas purchasing a dress shirt the moment the first space shuttle exploded. And we're the ones that buy books. I see you are a bookworm. I have about 1500 hard copy and 350 on my tablet. Started reading about 66 or 67 years ago and haven't been able to stop.

    1. Yes, I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing for Kennedy's assassination (I was in 6th grade) and the Challenger explosion (back at work two days after returning from my father's funeral). For my son, his "moment" was 9/11. I have a room full of books and an iPhone Kindle app with more. And then I go to the library at lunch and take more books out..we are members of a "certain generation", aren't we.

  2. I really do admire your honesty and willingness to share your feelings with others. Many of us have lived similar experiences but few of us would be able to describe them in such an accurately and brutally stark manner. Yes, events like this just numb our souls...

    If there was a 'Blog Entry of the Year' award, this would be my pick. Many thanks.


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