My shift on The Daily Oklahoman copy desk had just ended when Roger Dale Stafford went on a murder spree at a south Oklahoma City steakhouse in 1978. A brother worked at the Norman affiliate of the same steakhouse. Sunning on a Mexican beach in 1982, we read the Spanish headlines about the fall of Penn Square Bank and wondered whether our round-trip airline tickets could be converted to one-way. Cancun was not a bad place to hide out until the credit card ran out. Oklahoma’s economy rode the oil boom like a rocket that would never land.
The student takeover of the American Embassy in Iran will be a part of my memory bank. A first cousin was the embassy’s political officer.
He and his wife ran out the back door and hid in the Canadian ambassador’s closet until fake passports could be arranged to get them out of the country.
When John Hinckley shot Ronald Reagan in Washington in 1981 my Oklahoma City Times city editor Kay Dyer sent me to church downtown. My assignment: Interview folks who went there to pray for the president. Same assignment and same church for the pope when a gunman fired at him.
The bomb in downtown Oklahoma City blew away the nation’s innocence and turned the world upside down. We checked on our loved ones, found the kids and hugged them, and then somehow tried to make sense of it all.