In this column I asked contributors to write 2-3 sentences about historic moments that stood out for them. I bow to their offerings.
Ottawa, Canada, 1974: On a beautiful Sunday in a park, being followed all day by 7 secret service agents watching my every move, I had the honor of catering a dinner for Princess Diana and Prince Charles. Karla Morrison
Alaskan cruise, poolside, June, 2003: I feel hope, love, beauty, life, possibility as I meet Someone. Lou Rassey.
Tuscon, Arizona, April 10, 2016: Scattered showers; colors Iāve never seen streak the sky. A christening. Mom passes three days later. Ann Buxie
Seattle, Washington: September 6, 1997: The vivid memory of my Mom and Dad watching the news as Princess Di passed away still frequently enters my mind. At age 9, I did not in fact have my eyes on the television, but on my parentsā faces. How interesting and wonderful that we as humans so deeply connect with a certain type of woman weāve never met. Lindsay Evans.
San Francisco, California, May 10,1994: On the election of Nelson Mandela. Like many others, I was dancing in the streets when this happened. After 52 years of apartheid, the majority of South Africans were free to be citizens in their own country. But what a loss of talented and courageous leaders, including the truly great Steve Biko. Sandra Hunter
Lincoln, Nebraska, March 8, 1965: History exploded for me in real time the day my high school history teacher announced, āThere is a war in Vietnam.ā As a college student, I volunteered writing draft deferment applications for young men hoping to avoid combat. Living history at my impressionable age shaped my political ideology. Peg Quinn
Suburbia, New Jersey, Sept.11, 2001: On that day, I had wanted to have breakfast at Windows on the World with a friend from work. The restaurant was booked for a conference, so we settled on lunch, and I decided to go in to the city late. After the first plane struck, I sat at my computer, TV and radio on, calling people, making a list of those I knew who worked in the Towers or nearby, and crossing off names when I learned they were safe; there were names I could not cross off.
January 6, 2021: My news feeds blipped images of rioters with MAGA hats attacking the Capitol. I glued myself to the videos, watching terrorists mob the building, watching the representatives and staff being herded to safety, the overwhelmed Capitol police facing criminals. For the first time I said aloud what I had thought for months: I am so glad my parents, lifelong Republicans, did not live to see this day.
Topanga, California, November 8, 2016. When Donald Trump won the Presidency I was pretty furious. I looked into moving to Australia, where my daughter lives, but found out that's nearly impossible, so I wrote a poem instead called "Historians of the Defeat." It begins with a quote from the Russian poet Vladimir Mayakovsky: "I'd rather be composing romances for you." Gail Wronsky
New Orleans, Louisiana, August 29, 2021: Hurricane Ida made landfall in Louisianaāon the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina's landfall. I spent the next 48 hours wondering if another storm would circumscribe another 5 years of life for my family, as was the case 16 years prior.
Long Beach, CA, October, 2021: I think about a moment in 1963, when the artist Carolee Schneemann decided to make herself a part of the painting/assemblages she was producing at the time. It was a radical act that today seems somewhat mundane, yet her fearless transgression questioned the supposed division between subject / object that usually governs our viewing relationship with art: I am here and the work is there. No, Carolee seems to say, we are both here and there, author and work, flesh and paint. Andy Campbell
Los Angeles, CA, April 26, 1992: From my window on Figueroa, I could see the crowned end of the courthouse roof, the Childrenās Museum and the Hall of Records burning, the city exploding at the seams with anger. Neighbors arrived with cheap bodega wine and a guitar, and we talked big about whether to go protest. The National Guard circled on foot, 12 stories below. Millicent Borges Accardi
Long Beach, CA, July 20, 1969: At Donny's house, I carefully positioned a camera in front of the black and white television, setting the shutter speed manually at 1/30th of a second to synch up with the changing image of the TV screen. We went outside with his brother David to look up at the moon, saying, "It's happening up there, right now." Charles Accardi
Santa Paula, CA. August 2, 2021: Today was the Blanchard Community Libraryās grand re-opening for live in the library use. After one and a half years of being shuttered because of the COVID 19 pandemic patrons wore masks, submitted to temperature checks and used hand sanitizer. They sat at computers, browsed books and checked their favorite books. Anita McLaughlin