Rest in peace, STS-51-L crew. Your place in history is assured; your spot in my memory is eternal.
I was in Mr. Boyle's Calculus class when Eric Marquese came in with the news of the disaster. Eric was the class clown, a cut-up most famous for calling our hard-ass principal on the phone as "Trooper Marquese" and trying to get the school closed down during a snowstorm. Naturally we kept waiting for the punchline, thinking for certain this was a crude joke being played on us.
Until Mr. Boyle came into the room, ashen-faced, and confirmed Eric's story.
Since I was in the TV Production Club (yes, I was a geek, I freely admit it - I was also on the Chess Team and in the Sci-Fi Club, too), I had access to the TV studio where small TV monitors were kept. I remember walking out of class, even though it was clearly against the rules, and walking to the studio. Several others in the club had the same idea, and we hooked up a TV in the studio and watched the news.
I saw the Challenger break apart. Again and again and again.
And Mr. Boyle was standing over my shoulder, watching the news, trying stoicly to maintain his composure. Nothing was said about the breach of my leaving class; in fact, school was canceled after a short assembly on the tragedy. Our parents came to get us, all looking as ashen-faced as my teacher. Most of our parents remembered all too vividly the assassination of JFK, and were now re-living many of those same fears.
It was a black day in history, eclipsed later only by monumental human evil.
That is all.
(This trip down Amnesia Lane provided by this entry at Tam's...)