Back to previous post: Elevator pitches

Go to Making Light's front page.

Forward to next post: Major Success in the GWOT

Subscribe (via RSS) to this post's comment thread. (What does this mean? Here's a quick introduction.)

December 12, 2007

Pope Rat, Professor X, red-state politician sex
Posted by Avram Grumer at 08:42 PM * 453 comments

Kieran Healy wrote back in April about how he always asks his undergrad students what the earliest major news event is that they can personally remember:

When I started teaching at Arizona, most students could remember the Challenger disaster. Then it was the fall of the Berlin Wall. Then the first Gulf War. Then Bill Clinton’s first-term election. At the moment it is the Oklahoma City bombing. Soon it will be the death of Princess Diana.

The Oklahoma City bombing was in 1995, twelve years ago. Healy doesn’t say what year the undergrads are, so let’s assume that they’re freshman, about 18 years old. In 1995, they were about six.

The earliest news I can remember is the 1972 presidential election, when I was six. (I thought McGovern should win, since Nixon’d already had a turn.) I can also remember news about Watergate, and Skylab; those would have been ’73 and ’74. (As a young SF nerd, I was interested in the latter, and bored by the former.) I have memories going back farther than this, but they’re all of personal things in my life, not of news events. I can date them to age three or earlier only because my family moved around then, so any memory set in our old apartment, or my first nursery school, dates from that period.

Looking back over Wikpedia’s listing of events for 1971, and found one I thought I remembered: the Soyuz-Salyut docking. But I may be confusing it with the Apollo-Soyuz docking, which wasn’t till ’75.

I remember the World Trade Center being built, but I’m not sure exactly what stage of the process I remember. Tower One was finished in 1970, Tower Two in ’71, and the official ribbon-cutting was in ’73. This might be a memory from as early as age four (it goes with the new apartment), or as late as age seven (though it’s also entangled with a children’s show that I’d probably stopped watching by then).

I think I might remember the first flight of the Concorde SST, which was in 1970, when I was four.

Chris says she thinks she can remember Nixon’s resignation, right around the time of her sixth birthday. (How’s that for a present?) Is this common, that adults’ memories for current events start around age six? What’s the first news event that you can remember hearing about as it was happening, and how old were you at the time? Does anyone born after 1957 remember the JFK assassination happening?

Anyone have any twelve-year-old kids? Do they remember any news events earlier than 9/11?

Comments on Pope Rat, Professor X, red-state politician sex:
#1 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 08:52 PM:

I remember Kennedy's inauguration, because my Dad had just built a TV.

#2 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 08:55 PM:

My earliest news memory is the Falklands War, when I was, um, six. What I mostly remember is Harriers. I thought Harriers were the best thing ever, even better than monkeys (apparently when I was five my ambition was to be a monkey).

As it happens my uncle was in the RAF at the time and when we went and visited him there was always an airshow* and I got lots of RAF posters and hats and badges and rubbish like that, and I was definitely going to be in the RAF.

(Later I grew to be 6'5 with bad eyesight, the cold war ended leading to defence cuts and I grew through a variety of other ambitions, but that's another story).

* Or so it seemed at the time.

#3 ::: Michael Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 08:59 PM:

I was born in late 1952, and I remember the election of '56 because my mother took me with her when she voted for Adlai. I also remember people talking about the rare 1955 double-die penny and watching them sorting through their change. And I remember panic over Sputnik.

#4 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 08:59 PM:

I remember Kennedy's assassination because I had never seen a teacher cry. I was in 2nd grade.

Until then I was pretty unaware of news in general.

#5 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 09:04 PM:

Dag Hammarskjold (U.N. Secretary-General) went down in a plane crash in 1961; that was one of the first non-American news event I remember. I was eleven. I'm pretty sure I remember Sputnik.

I remember Kennedy's inauguration. I have vivid memories of his assassination and that entire weekend, including the graveside services, which I attended along with 25,000 other people.

#6 ::: kirabug ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 09:04 PM:

Does sports news count? Because the earliest "news" memory I have is the Phillies winning the world series, when I was four. After that it's quite likely Regan's second election when I was eight. There might be stuff in between that I'd remember if you asked me about them, but those are the two that stand out.

#7 ::: Dave MB ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 09:04 PM:

I was born in 1959, and I remember the time when I couldn't watch Bozo the Clown because there was news on the TV all the time. I also remember watching the 1964 election. An interesting question about this sort of thing is the difference between a memory and a memory of a memory. I think I still remember the 1964 election, but it's possible that I'm remembering that I used to remember the non-Bozo period of November 1963.

I definitely don't remember the Glenn flight or the Cuban Missile Crisis.

#8 ::: Mike Booth ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 09:06 PM:

Weirdly, my early memories of famous events are all about sports. I vaguely remember seeing Bruce Jenner on cereal boxes... I was five in 1976. Though I didn't know who they were at the time, I distinctly remember watching TV when "Minnesota Fats" played pool against the legendary Willie Mosconi in 1978 (and was crushed, of course). This may explain my latent desire to own a pool table.

I remember Reagan getting elected, and a bunch of brouhaha about hostages, but I wasn't really paying attention. I guess I remember seeing footage when Reagan was shot.

The Challenger disaster is crystal clear.

#9 ::: Pamela Dean Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 09:06 PM:

I remember Sputnik, but that's because my father took me outside, after dark, to stand in the middle of the street (a combination of things that was strictly forbidden as a rule) and showed it to me as it passed over, and told me all about it. I was four. The first outside event that I picked up on my own was the campaign leading up to the 1960 election. I was, in fact, six in 1959.


#10 ::: Will Entrekin ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 09:06 PM:

What a neat post. First, to contribute: I remember the Challenger. I think I was a little older than six, though (I'm 29, born in 1978). I don't know when it actually occurred, but I remember its being when I was in a private, religious grade school.

I've been thinking about mutability lately, though. Especially today, as I read in some magazine or other (Wired?) about Chernobyl. The piece mentioned an explosion in '86. I would've been 8, then, and I remember hearing about Chernobyl when I was a child, but I don't remember actually knowing what had occurred.

I actually don't remember many major news stories. The Berlin Wall, vaguely, but not much besides those three stories (and very little of their actual events).

What I remember is Darth Vader. And the Muppets, and their monsters.

#11 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 09:06 PM:

I remember the first Gulf War, but not as a big news thing. It was just there, the same way Thanksgiving and Christmas are just there in first grade (or so; I don't actually know *when* I remember it) and you react to them. I was aware, I think, of Bush I being President and this being a change, but I didn't know what from.

#12 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 09:09 PM:

I vaguely remember the Bicentennial (July 4th, 1976) when I was just shy of three years old (born late summer, '73) but that's more a sense of red, white and blue bunting EVERYWHERE and lots of Yankee Doodle music.

The first news event I'm conscious of seeing on television was the assassination attempt against then-president Ronald Reagan (1981? 82?) and I remember being distinctly annoyed that he didn't die, because that broke the year-ending-in-zero curse (which was very pleasing to a third grader.)

To this day I'm not entirely convinced it wasn't an animatronic puppet or a zombie in the White House all those years. It would have explained a lot.

#13 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 09:12 PM:

I was in kindergarten in the fall of 1963, and I recall Kennedy's assassination.
Of course, 1958 is only one year after 1957, so that's not much of a stretch.
It was one of the first times there was wall-to-wall, minute to minute television coverage of a major news event that went on for days and days that I can remember, and that sort of thing always helps to imprint an event on the consciousness,

#14 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 09:12 PM:

I remember Montreal Olympics and wanting to be a tiny Russian gymnast. I was 5.

#15 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 09:14 PM:

I was going to say that I remembered Alan Shepherd's launch back in 1961, but then I remembered that Superman shot himself in the head.

#16 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 09:14 PM:

To which I thought, shouldn't it just have bounced off?

#17 ::: Mags ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 09:17 PM:

I was born in 1962. I have a very clear memory of being in a playpen while my mother was sitting on the sofa crying and watching a state funeral on television. For a long time I thought it must have been Bobby Kennedy's funeral, but then I realized I wouldn't have been in a playpen at six years old, and it must have been JFK's funeral. I was only sixteen months old when he was assassinated. It must have made quite an impression on me, and I'm sure it was a big deal in my Irish Catholic household.

#18 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 09:21 PM:

For me it's the Challenger, when I was four. I'm pretty sure that the specifics of my memory are false (I would swear up and down that I heard about it from my first grade teacher, but since I was in preschool when it happened...), but there's definitely a kernel of something remembered in there.

I remember at some point when I was very little asking my father if Republicans were evil. He said, "Well, the president's a Republican..." This blew my mind, and made me think perhaps they weren't evil, because surely the president wasn't evil. I don't think this is what my father meant.

I have a very powerful memory from when I was nine (this being 1991): the principal of my school came into the lunchroom while the whole school was in it, had us all be quiet, and tried her very very best to impress upon us how momentous the time we were living through was, how our hypothetical children would ask us what it was like to live through this time. I was too young to really understand what was going on in the world, but she impressed me in that moment.

(And since we're talking about memories of historical events, I would like to plug my very most favoritest book in the whole world, Tangled Memories: The Vietnam War, the AIDS Epidemic, and the Politics of Remembering by Marita Sturken. I highly, highly recommend this book, for everyone.)

Dave MB #7: I definitely don't remember...or the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Sounds like you and Dana Perino have something in common!

#19 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 09:24 PM:

It was the '72 election for me, too, but I was in the Nixon camp, because he had a really cool name, with an "x" in it.

#20 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 09:25 PM:

Oooops bad math I keep getting 72 and 76 games mixed up. Most of my early memories are of stuff on the CBC: hockey, Trudeau, Friendly Giant...

#21 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 09:25 PM:

My first memories of that kind are of the UN presence in the Congo in 1962. For some reason, that item of news stuck.

#22 ::: steve burnap ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 09:30 PM:

I was born in 1965. My first news memory is of the moon landings, probably in part because my grandfather worked for Rockwell and we all gathered at his house to watch.

I have distinct memories of thinking that the bicentennial was so far in the future that I could hardly believe it.

#23 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 09:30 PM:

I remember seeing coverage of the Vietnam war, but no specific events. Also Gemini flights, but just vaguely. I was mainly interested in the cartoony segments of how stages separated.

The first YEAR I was aware of was 1967; the Romper Room lady had a little board on which she assembled the current day and date. My mom explained what a year was.

Which set me up for the next year, with its election and all the horrible crap that happened. I remember the anguished coverage of Robert Kennedy's assassination, and MLK's assassination. The only SPECIFIC thing I recall of those events -- which? -- was a slide of the word SHAME left on the screen. And the bit of light at the end of that year . . . Apollo 8.

#24 ::: retterson ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 09:30 PM:

I was born in '58.

I remember the Kennedy assasination -- remember John John saluting because he was near to my age (and lo! we end up at the same college years later).

I remember the Beattles on Ed Sullivan. I remember Robert Kennedy's assasination because the nuns had us praying all day.

My daughter, age 11, remembers 9/11.

#25 ::: Jonathan Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 09:32 PM:

I was born in 1947, and would have said my earliest was the Suez Crisis in 1956, but when I looked up 1953 on Wikipedia I found a number of things I do actually remember: Christine Jorgensen and the first successful gender reassignment surgery; Hilary and Tensing Norgay climbing Everest (though I don't remember Tensing Norgay being mentioned so much). Trawling back to 1952, I find the coronation of Elizabeth II, of which I have very clear memories -- at least of the special coronation mugs and paper cut-out coronation coaches on display in shop windows. But nothing else from that year.

#26 ::: Anna N. ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 09:38 PM:

My earliest major news memory is the Challenger explosion and, looking it up now, I was 4 1/2. I'm not sure if I was in preschool or kindergarten at that point.

As someone else said, I too apparently have the specifics of the situation wrong - I remember eating lunch in front of the tv and seeing it live, but my mom says I must be remembering seeing it on the news, because I didn't see it live.

#27 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 09:38 PM:

I remember toddling into the kitchen where my mother was making hamburgers; after tugging on her leg to get her attention, I said, "Mommy, President Nixon just got fired." I must've been watching the impeachment proceedings on tv, or at least a news program that was pre-empting "Sesame Street" or "Electric Company" (I was 4).

#28 ::: Darice Moore ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 09:39 PM:

I was born at the very end of 1970. I remember the Bicentennial (I was five) because I was in a parade and dressed up in colonial clothes with the rest of my kindergarten. The first news event I remember was probably the gas shortages (at least, I remember waiting in line for gas -- wow, I just looked that up and I would have been between three and five years old).

I was six in 1977, and I remember Carter being elected President. Oh, and Star Wars coming out -- we went to see it at the drive-in!

#29 ::: Doctor Science ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 09:39 PM:

I just asked my 11-and-a-half y.o., and she *doesn't* remember 9/11 -- we turned the TV off that morning and didn't turn it on again except for PBS kids' shows for *months*. She was in kindergarden, and I think she remembers a little -- because she remembers that she had a substitute teacher (her teacher had a family member killed, so she left school first thing in the morning).

She does remember the anthrax attacks, because we were in the "zone".

I was born in '56, and I remember the Cuban Missile Crisis -- or rather, I remember events that years later I put together and realized what they were: me coming home from school, all excited to tell my mother about the bomb drill we'd had that day, and her telling me to "shut up" (I can't convey how unlike her that was) so she could watch the boring man talking on TV.

#30 ::: paul ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 09:40 PM:

I was not quite five, and (as I remember it) my mother and I were getting off the basement escalator at the local Sears when a friend called out to her, "The president's been shot!" Of course, the memory has been brought out for polishing innumerable times since then, and I might have been primed for caring about the incident by having been presented to JFK when I was 3 (which I definitely don't remember). But I can also call up vague pictures from a newsmagazine -- we didn't have TV -- of LBJ taking the oath of office on Air Force One and suchlike.

(Either oddly or tellingly, I don't remember what my mother always said was her response to the friend's cry: "The president of what?")

#31 ::: cmk ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 09:40 PM:

I remember the Army-McCarthy hearings, the spring/summer before I turned six.

My earliest memory is of my baby brother's coming home from the hospital; I was not yet three (doing the math, I was two and a half, in fact), but I have a distinct visual memory (my aunt and uncle brought my mother and the baby home, I see them walking into the family room at my grandparents' house).

#32 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 09:40 PM:

We got a TV sometime after I started primary school, I seem to remember. Without checking yearly events, the earliest news memory I have now is Apollo 11 landing on the moon when I was eight. But I was a big fan of space leading up to that (I did a project on it at school, I remember), so I must have been aware of the news in general well before 1969, even if I can't recall any event in particular.

#33 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 09:41 PM:

Born in 1956. The first world-news thing I have a really clear memory of is JFK's assassination; I would have been 7 at that point.

I have some fugitive memories of other things: the concern about JFK's Catholicism in the 1960 election, Sputnik, and the change from a 49-star to a 50-star flag when Hawai'i became a state. But none of those are very clear, and the 1960 ones are probably attached to the assassination, since they're not associated with the house in St. Clair Shores.

#34 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 09:43 PM:

John Kennedy's assassination, and the Mercury space flights.

#35 ::: Natalie ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 09:46 PM:

I remember Reagan beating Carter in the election and being really, really, really mad about it. I was 5-on-the-cusp-of-6.

#36 ::: Elisabeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 09:47 PM:

I was born in '78, and the first thing I remember is the '84 election because my mom and I had a conversation about Geraldine Ferrarro and the possibility of the first woman president. If that doesn't count, I have to say Challenger, a year and a half later.

#37 ::: VictorS ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 09:47 PM:

Whew. The earliest event I remember is my dad waking me up to see a Saturn V launch. The most likely event would be Apollo 17 -- but that would mean I was just under 3 at the time. Another candidate would be the launch of Skylab six months later.

Political events are harder -- I have no 'political' memories until the Carter-Ford election of 1976, when we held a mock election in kindergarten. I do have very clear memories of the Bicentennial -- all the fireplugs were painted as Revolutionary War figures, and they were all just my height at the time.

#38 ::: Nathan ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 09:51 PM:

Born in 1960 in Jacksonville, Fl. First event I remember experiencing as it happened was MLK assassination. I distinctly recall them breaking in to "Bewitched" to announce it.

I have delayed memories of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Jacksonville with 2-3 military bases, was considered a first strike target. When I was six or seven, I asked my mom why I had to wear the "stupid dogtags"; name, father's name, address, D.O.B., phone #, race, religion. She made some evasive answer about "they wouldn't want me to get lost". I didn't think about it again until I was about 16 and found them in a drawer. Looking at them, my first thought was, "this was in case I got F'ing incinerated!"

I still have them.

#39 ::: alice ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 09:52 PM:

Like Michael Cohen (#3), I remember the 1956 election. My mother was working for Adlai, and took me and my sister with her to election HQ. Of course, what I remember was worrying tremendously about how she would be able to see to drive home after dark, until one of her friends explained headlights to me. What can I say? I was 4. I don't have any particular memory of Sputnik, but my mother remembers my coming home from kindergarten talking about it. The satellite I remember going outside to see at night was a few years later, an American satellite (Telstar?).

In terms of "where were you when?" memories, I remember the Kennedy inauguration (age 9), the first Russian man in space, the Cuban missile crisis, and, of course, the Kennedy assassination.

#40 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 09:53 PM:

Without prompting, the earliest thing I can think of that I remember is the Challenger disaster as well. I was 10 at the time.

I don't have a very good memory of my childhood in general, though, sadly.

#41 ::: Doc Hatter ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 09:56 PM:

Born in 1975. I remember Terry Fox's run, a little. First foreign news event would have been the Reagan assassination attempt.

#42 ::: Andrhia ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 09:56 PM:

My earliest news memory is also Reagan being shot in 1981. I was born in 1974, so I was six and a half at the time.

I do also remember Jimmy Carter being president; I was a little frightened of him because his teeth were so disturbingly large. But I can't connect him with any specific event so much as I remember seeing him on TV.

#43 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 09:57 PM:

Oddly enough, on another site people were talking about how young guys (it's a gay men's site) don't remember Chernobyl except as a name where something bad happened. I wrote this:

I remember where I was when Kennedy was shot (bouncing on the bed).

I remember being the only kid in my grade school lunchroom who didn't cheer when it was announced that Nixon had won (1968).

I remember learning to type...on a typewriter. In a typing class. I remember what a luxury an electric typewriter was.

I remember when "solid state" was an advertising plus instead of an automatic assumption. (It means "no tubes," whippersnappers.)

I remember when most TV programs were in black and white, and TV stations were required by law to periodically announce "Some of the programs seen on this station were mechanically reproduced for presentation at a more convenient time."

I remember when calling someone on the phone and asking "where are you?" was a patently ridiculous thing to do. If they answered the phone, you knew where they were, unless you meant upstairs or downstairs or something.

I remember programming computers by sitting in front of a cardpunch machine. Then you'd go and feed your deck of punched cards into the reader, and come back the next day to see if your program worked, because it took that long to compile and run on the mainframe.

I remember using DOS 1.1 on the earliest IBM PCs. No hard disk, only floppies; you had to have a boot floppy, and then you could put in your data floppies.

I remember having to type commands at a command prompt to get a computer to do anything. I know what "rm -r *" does when you type it from the root. I know what a root is. I can write a bubble sort without thinking about it. I programmed in FORTRAN IV, PASCAL, and Old C.

I remember that I watched the first human being set foot on the moon, live on (black & white) TV. I watched the very first broadcast episode of Star Trek on September 8, 1966. I remember when Ron Howard was a little boy on The Andy Griffith Show.

I remember that I was sitting at the kitchen table eating my cereal when I heard that "the High Priestess of Acid Rock," Janis Joplin, had died. I hadn't heard of her before that. I was a child.

I remember when we thought Saturn was probably the only planet with a ring in the entire galaxy. Since then we've discovered that pretty much all gas giants have rings, including (arguably) the Sun (the asteroid belt is a ring on a grand scale).

I remember being the only person in my school (including TEACHERS) who knew what a laser was. Except it was written LASER back then, because anyone who'd heard the word knew it was an acronym (Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation).

I remember when the Post Office came up with the Zone Improvement Plan (ZIP) code system. Hardly anyone writes that one all in caps any more.

I remember when you had to get to the bank before 5 to stand in line with a withdrawal slip to have cash for the weekend, because ATMs weren't invented (or hadn't made it to where I lived, at any rate).

#44 ::: S. E. Ward ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 09:58 PM:

I was born in 1977, and I remember when Reagan was shot and understanding that it was a bad thing and made a lot of people upset. I also recall a plane being shot down over Moscow, and the promise of lunar colonies by 1985, which had me in tears about five or six years later when I wasn't living on the moon. Mind, at 18 months of age, I either impressed or terrified my mother by stating, whilst on the way to buy my first set of Underroos, that the president owned Carter's Children's Wear. (I have a very vague recollection of freaking out a saleslady a short while later--she didn't think a toddler should be having full conversations, much less discussing the apparent state of Washingtonian business interests. ;) )

#45 ::: Piscusfiche ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 09:59 PM:

First things I recall: the 1980 decade turnover, although I wasn't quite 3. Also the Reagan-Mondale debates and Barbara Bush not-quite calling Geraldine Ferraro a bitch. The Challenger. Oliver North. The Berlin Wall. Imelda and Ferdinand Marcos getting ousted.

Also I recall watching a news report about what I think was the Pan Am flight that blew up over Lockerbie. I'm pretty certain it was terrorist-related anyway, because of one interview of the mother of a teenaged girl who had died on the flight. And the mom kept saying how her daughter never feared flying, just terrorists. (Which was something weird that always stuck with me, and whenever terrorists attacked the US, I always associated it with that interview. And whenever Bush invokes terrorism as a new threat, I keep thinking of how long it had been around and to my child's point of view, we weren't running around like chickens with our heads cut off.)

I also will probably always recall that in eighth grade sometime, Portugal outlawed dwarf tossing. (This is because EVERY week, we had to write down ten current events garnered from the local paper. And one week, I was really scrabbling for items. Anyways, who wants to write about interest rates when Portugal is outlawing dwarf tossing.)

#46 ::: Evelyn Browne ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 10:00 PM:

I have some vague memories of the 1980 elections, when I was not-quite-five, but they're very vague-- I don't remember the Iranian hostage crisis at all, for example, despite one of the hostages being a local. But then I wasn't in school yet.

After that, there's kind of a lacuna-- I don't remember Reagan's shooting at all. The next things in the wikipedia rundown that I remember having any awareness of at the time, instead of reading/hearing about well after the fact, are Princess Diana's wedding and Sandra Day O'Connor's appointment, in summer to fall of 1981.

#47 ::: stlpunster ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 10:00 PM:

Hmm. I have vivid memories of the Army-McCarthy hearings. Much vaguer ones of the Kefauver hearing on organized crime in '51. What stuck with me was the name: I thought Kefauver sounded neat. Somewhere in there is the memory of my dad getting all heated up about Adlai Stevenson losing to Eisenhower. Twice.

#48 ::: Jonathan Lennox ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 10:01 PM:

Born 1973, I remember Skylab crashing back to earth (July '79, when I would have been just over 6), but only because my day camp did used it as the theme for a treasure hunt they were running ("find the pieces of Skylab!").

I definitely remember the Iranian hostage crisis, and Reagan's election -- I remember asking my mother the morning after the election who was President now, not having grasped the whole "Inauguration Day" part yet.

#49 ::: Maya ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 10:05 PM:

Born 2/1958. I clearly remember JFK's assassination, including details. To my embarrassment, one thing that irked me greatly at the time was that the cartoons were preempted for days. I also remember my grandfather pointing up at the night sky and saying that there was a man orbiting the earth and his name was John Glenn. That was when I was not quite four. Oh, and I remember the Beatles on Ed Sullivan.

#50 ::: gramina ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 10:07 PM:

Born in 04/62, and my first datable memory is from when I was about one and a half -- but it's a weird, isolated memory-picture of seeing a horse following a coffin down the aisle of a church, on television(1); it's associated with an emotive framework of profound grief extending out to either side of the actual memory. I suspect the reason I can remember it is that -- well, as mother described it when I asked her what the heck she thought that might be a memory of, she started crying, I started crying, the dog started crying --- that kind of thing apparently sort of cements memory.

((1) not the assassination, of course: the funeral.)

Other than that, I have dim memories of the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1968 (when I would have been roughly 6), clearer ones of mother going to a sit-in at the University of Wisconsin despite having walking pneumonia (did you know pepper gas is not good for walking pneumonia??) and of the Eugene McCarthy and George McGovern campaigns, and of course *quite* clear memories of Watergate.

(I also remember shocking my parents because, when I saw a flag at half-staff sometime in the late '60s, my question was "Who got shot?")

*wry grin* Do you get the impression I come by my politics honestly?

#51 ::: kmf ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 10:11 PM:

I saw the first few lines on my reader, and thought about it before clicking over. It's Rosa Parks. I was six. I knew who the president was when I was four, but that was because my mother was very involved in politics at the time, and she'd hated Truman.

Rosa Parks intrigued me--I used to sit on my dad's lap while he read the paper and listened to the news on the radio in the living room, and I remember being confused about why anyone would have to give up a seat on a bus, so I asked about it. I wanted to know where this happened, and ended up getting maps and asking more questions. I remember my dad reading the complicated bits of the newspaper article to me, but I know that I first noticed it as news on the radio.

#52 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 10:13 PM:

I was born in May, 1958, so I wasn't quite four for John Glenn's flight, which I remember. I had a lot of context for imprinting it on my memory, though -- my parents bought their first tv set specifically so we could watch the events, and they also bought a toy space helmet and spring-powered rocket launcher for my brother and I to play with. Lots of reinforcement. I think the next newsworthy event I remember was JFK's assassination (when I was five).

#53 ::: Another Damned Medievalist ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 10:16 PM:

'62. I don't think I remember JFK's assassination, but I also don't remember a time without the Zapruder film. I do remember going to hear Bobby Kennedy speak, and watching NASA mission coverage from the time I was about 5 -- my parents would get me out of bed if the landings or takeoffs were at night. I remember Vietnam and the troop withdrawal, the Yom Kippur war, Kent State and riots in Berkeley and Santa Barbara, Nixon in China, Brezhnev's eyebrows and Detente, Mrs Thatcher and the Falklands, the Munich Olympics (pretty much all the Olympics between 1968 and 1984), Watergate, Bobby Sands' hunger strike, the Freedom Train and the Bicentennial, voting for Carter in my first election ...obviously not in that exact order.

#54 ::: K.C. Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 10:17 PM:

I think my first political memory was the local kerfuffle of the snail darter fish being endangered by Tellico Dam, but that dragged on for so long (mid to late 70s) that I'm not sure how old I was when I became aware of it.

I remember when Anwar Sadat was assassinated. I was in sixth grade, and remember walking down the hall of my school muttering, "Sadat got shot" and feeling pleased with myself for making up such a clever rhyme. God knows where I'd heard about it; maybe my class sometimes talked about current events, but if so I don't remember it.

I remember the Bicentennial--I was born in late 1969 so I would have been 6--but I didn't know it was the Bicentennial then. I just remember the Fourth of July being an unusually huge event, with a parade with horses in our very tiny town. There were palominos!

My personal memories go back to the age of 2 or 3, but apparently I wasn't very aware of things that happened outside of my little sphere until I was 10 or so.

Daria @28--I saw Star Wars at a drive-in too! My best friend Laura and I lay on the car roof to watch it, and I remember seeing the Milky Way and knowing what it was for the first time. It was hot and humid and a beautiful clear night. I remember the weather, but I don't remember what I thought of the movie at all.

#55 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 10:22 PM:

Born at the end of '56, but I don't remember JFK's assassination happening; only having happened. I was aware enough of the '64 election, though.

"Nine Eleven" is prehistory for my five-year-old daughter. In her lifetime, there hasn't been a World Trade Center. If something big happens in the next couple of years, she might remember it when she's in college.

#56 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 10:23 PM:

Born 1972, I start to have memories sometime in 1976; I remember some Bicentennial events, such as seeing a copy of the Declaration of Independence that was on tour, and the 1976 election. Like Xopher, I had a firm opinion on who should win based on fundamental fairness doctrines, but I came up the other way -- Ford should, since he hadn't yet had a full turn.

I don't start feeling like I have anything close to continuous memories even of important things until maybe mid-1978 or so.

Xopher @ 43 I remember learning to type...on a typewriter. In a typing class. I remember what a luxury an electric typewriter was
Sadly, so do I. In high school, in 1988, after having typed on computer keyboards for 8 years. There were two Selectrics in the classroom; the rest were manuals. The next year, they were all replaced with Macintoshes and the class was renamed "keyboarding".

#57 ::: John League ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 10:30 PM:

'83 Kentucky gubernatorial election. Martha Layne Collins won, which was personally significant in our house because she had been a teacher in Woodford County when my parents were growing up, and my grandfather gave the invocation at her inauguration. I well remember all the hubbub surrounding her (first woman to be governor of Kentucky) but until I looked it up online just now I didn't remember that she had beaten Jim Bunning. Obviously, that was the not the important part to remember then.

I was six.

#58 ::: Anarkey ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 10:30 PM:

When I was not quite 5, in early July of 1974, my normal kid's television show was apparently interrupted by the state funeral of Juan D. Perón. I am pretty sure I didn't understand what I was seeing, but I remember every detail about the room I was sitting in and can even pull back a still picture of what was on the television, down to the granaderos accompanying the flag-swathed coffin and the endless crowds.

The maid was watching from the kitchen.

I don't remember if she was crying (or her name, or what she looked like), but she must have filled the space with her emotions, whatever they were, because of the way the memory stuck with me.

For years I disbelieved that I truly remembered Perón's funeral, but there's not anything else it could have been. I'd love to re-watch footage of that now, but I don't believe it's made youtube

#59 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 10:33 PM:

I can remember my parents making sure I watched a Viking landing on TV* (1976, I was 4) and earlier that year I remember lots of Bicentennial excitement**. Oh, and because of my name people made Patty Hearst comments, so I had to figure out who she was.

*I don't know which one, maybe 2 because it was in color?

**My father worked for the Air Force, I remember a huge party on base, lots of planes and kids and stuff.

#60 ::: Joyce Reynolds-Ward ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 10:37 PM:

Born late 1957, and my first political memory is of the Kennedy funeral. I do remember something about walking by the school office while the assassination announcement was being made.

I was also equally fascinated by the Kentucky Derby *and* the Presidential election the following year--Lucky Debonair's year, if I remember correctly, and I was the only kid in my classroom for Johnson.

#61 ::: Nathan ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 10:38 PM:

Am I the only one who's a little depressed that the majority of people cc:'ing people on emails have never seen a sheet of carbon paper...and probably don't even know what cc: stands for?

And get off my lawn!

(xopher: you win)

#62 ::: Adrian Bedford ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 10:39 PM:

I was six in 1969, here in Australia, when I saw, on live TV, the whole Apollo 11 saga, from launch through the agonising three-day wait (various local experts sitting at a panel talking and talking us through the slow patches, explaining what all the bits of hardware were about) to the landing, the first steps, the first words. It was spellbinding.

The odd thing was that at that age I had not fully grasped the concept of *other countries*. So while I was fully prepared to believe there were men walking around on the moon, I also believed that the Apollo launches, at Cape Kennedy, were so close by that I wondered why we couldn't just hop in the car and go and see the next one. I vividly remember drawing a picture in (must have been grade 1 or 2) of my family and me doing just that, driving off to see the big rocket launch. When, later, I learned that there was a humongous great ocean in the way, I was very disappointed.

Around that time I also remember seeing the Vietnam war on TV most nights; having some awareness of Australian national politics; hearing stories about "hippies"; antiwar marches; etc.

#63 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 10:41 PM:

Tania... I watched a Viking landing on TV

I hope it was a sturdy TV set.

#64 ::: Jen Roth ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 10:41 PM:

I was born in 1972, and the earliest news event that comes to mind is the Tutankhamun exhibit coming to Chicago in 1977. (I remembered the event, but not when it happened; I just looked up the date.) I have a much clearer memory of the Iran hostage crisis, the U.S. boycott of the Moscow Olympics, and the 1980 election.

#65 ::: Jonah ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 10:42 PM:

The first news I remember being aware of was the Challenger disaster, when I was 8. Since most people here seem to remember news stories from when they were 5 or 6, I wonder if my comparatively late awareness of the news is due to some aspect of my own personality, or if there were no sufficiently gripping news stories in the two years before Challenger. I doesn't seem like anyone else here has come up with a major national news story between late '82 (when I turned 5) and the Challenger disaster.

#66 ::: David D. Levine ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 10:43 PM:

Well, I definitely remember watching JFK's funeral, and I was less than 3 (born 2/61). My parents say they saw how I stared at the screen and said "he'll remember this."

I barely remember anything else that far back.

#67 ::: karen ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 10:43 PM:

I remember family things from about 15 months old but only in brief flashes: being frustrated that I couldn't go swimming, being happy that mom was going to to teach me something, being sad that the color TV broke during the thanksgiving parade.

But I do remember, at age 3, my family making me watch the moon landing on TV because they said I would want to remember that for the rest of my life. Which was clearly ridiculous, I tried to explain, because the image was so grainy and noisy - you could see it so much better on Star Trek. But they didn't get it, so I watched. I don't really remember the watching, but the "they don't understand me" part - that's vivid.

#68 ::: Jen Roth ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 10:45 PM:

Oh, and if we're doing first Kentucky Derby (Joyce @60): Genuine Risk in 1980. Back when I thought that the horse who was 99-1 must be the best, because that was the biggest number.

#69 ::: Aquila ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 10:46 PM:

I'm another who remembers Charles and Diana's wedding (because I was allowed to stay up to watch). I was born in 1975.

Presumably some 12 year olds would remember the millennium.

#70 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 10:47 PM:

Up until a year ago, my mom taught third grade. September 11 was always hard for her, as she had to explain what happened to a bunch of 9 year olds. Each year, it got worse. By the fifth anniversary, she was explaining it to kids who were toddlers at the time.

Also, it was the day before her birthday.

My earliest news memory was Reagan's second inaugural. We watched it on TV in the cafeteria. I was 7 and could tell he was up to no good.

#71 ::: harmonyfb ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 10:47 PM:

The earliest news item I can remember is the moon landing. My parents woke me up so that I could watch it on our teeny-tiny black and white tv. I also have vivid memories of watching coverage of the Watts riots on television.

My husband remembers MLK getting shot.

My nearly-14 year old says 9/11 is the first big thing she remembers.

#72 ::: Don Fitch ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 10:49 PM:

My earliest national/world affairs memory is of listening on the funny-smelling radio (it had big, open, glass-tank batteries in the cabinet underneath) as the election returns reported that Alf Landon had been defeated by FDR, to my father's Intense Displeasure. We were also getting the first snow of the season, that day in 1936 in Trilby, Ohio, and (aged 8) I was much more interested in the possibility of using my birthday-present sled.

#73 ::: Stephanie G ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 10:49 PM:

I am an American, but my family lived in Germany from 1974-1980. My first political memory is Helmut Schmidt's election, which Wikipedia says was in 1974, when I was 6. I remember that his party, the SPD, did not have enough votes by themselves, but that they made a coalition with the FPD and together beat the CDU. I seem to remember that the coalition was big news.

My first American political memory was my parents voting for Jimmy Carter in 1976 by absentee ballot. Overall though, I was pretty oblivious to what was happening in the U.S. until we moved back when I was twelve.

#74 ::: Anarkey ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 10:57 PM:

Oh, scratch that. Juan Domingo Perón's funeral has made youtube. Holy cow, do I love living in the future.

Relevant footage begins around 2:15.
And it's now even weirder how much of that I remember.

Except I saw it in black and white, Argentine televisions didn't broadcast in color until later.

#75 ::: Nell ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 10:58 PM:

Sputnik. I was five.

#76 ::: Nadai ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 11:00 PM:

I was born in Oct. 1959, and the first news event I remember was the moon landing in 1969. It was the summer before my fifth grade and my elementary school showed free movies for kids every Saturday afternoon. That Saturday they showed us the footage of Armstrong jumping down onto the moon. I remember going outside afterwards and looking up at the sky and feeling disappointed because I couldn't even locate the moon, let alone see the astronauts.

#77 ::: Julie ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 11:00 PM:

Probably Tiananmen Square, when I was 6 1/2 years old. I remember expressing frustration to my mother about my Saturday morning cartoons being interrupted, and she kept telling me to pay attention to the news broadcast because I was witnessing history.

I also have memories of living through a huge hurricane that hit the NY area, which may have been Hurricane Gloria; I would have been just short of 3 years old at the time.

#78 ::: arthur ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 11:01 PM:

Born 1963. My first news event was the Red Sox winning the pennant in 1967. Then the funerals of RFK and MLK the following year. Happily, in the 40 years since, the Red Sox have repeated-- and high level assassinations have not (at least in the U.S.).

#79 ::: Nell ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 11:04 PM:

Oh wait. Now that I've read comments, I have to include the 1956 election, though I don't really count it because it wasn't the result but the process I was aware of. We were living in Germany; my parents had to make repeated visits to the consulate in Munich, thirty miles away. When they got back from doing the actual voting, and were having drinks on the porch, my father asked my mother who she'd voted for. It was in the nature of a leetle joke, as he assumed she'd joined him in voting for Adlai Stevenson.

When he found out she'd voted for Ike, canceling his vote after all the trouble and expense they'd gone to to vote, he didn't speak to her for days.

To this day I don't know if she really did vote for Eisenhower or just wanted to see what kind of a rise she could get out of my father.

#80 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 11:05 PM:

My earliest political memory is of Dwight Eisenhower beating Adlai Stevenson for the Presidency in 1952. My parents were Stevenson supporters, so it was a big deal. I recall their disappointment.

I remember when Stalin died in 1953. I was with my mother at the library: she took me outside to the park, even though we were wearing coats, so it must have been chilly, and danced with me beneath the trees, telling me to remember always that we were celebrating the death of a bad man.

#81 ::: Peter Hentges ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 11:06 PM:

I was born in 1967 and have a memory of the moon landing and Neil Armstrong stepping on to the surface. I don't know if this is, as my memory goes, that I was sat in front of the TV by my parents so that I could see it or if this is a manufactured memory from having seen later landings and lots of footage of the first.

#82 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 11:12 PM:

7/1953. I don't think I remember Sputnik directly (i.e., rather than through all the noise about it since then); I do remember the Nixon-Kennedy election, but that may have been helped by the electioneering reaching as far as my then-exurban village.

Xopher -- I remember all of those except COBOL; I knew of it, but wasn't involved enough in computers to work with it. Do you remember whistling at acoustic couplers to make the computer N miles away acknowledge your existence?

I don't think I'd previously realized quite how wide an age range this blog spans; the in-person groups I connect to seem narrow by comparison.

#83 ::: efnord ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 11:13 PM:

Born December 1977; first thing I remember is watching my parents see the vote totals in the 1984 elections. It left a strong impression on me-my first real memory of circumstances clearly beyond my parents' control, that whole "Damn! They're not omnipotent!" moment.

Thinking about it, I really got how they felt when I watched the results in 2004.

#84 ::: Dance ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 11:15 PM:

Huh. 7-8 years old is the best I can do for current events, with Mondale/Ferraro running in 1984. Nothing on Wikipedia's 1983 list is ringing a bell except maybe Flashdance. Likewise, I *might* remember Thriller in 1982. But I'm known in my family for having few early memories, so it doesn't mess up the "six" theory. [de-lurking]

#85 ::: HenryR ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 11:17 PM:

Born in 1956. I remember spreading the newspaper out on the floor to examine the aerial photos of the missile sites in Cuba. As we lived in Tampa, only a few miles from Macdill Air Force base, the news dominated the papers and local television for days. I could only read a few words, such as "Cuba", but I was able to match them up with what I was hearing on TV, and the pictures in the paper were clearer.

#86 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 11:18 PM:

Nathan, #61: Actually, I find it cause for rejoicing. I've had to decollate carbon-duplicated computer reports, and that stuff was NASTY. I think the current expansion of "cc:" is "courtesy copy", and I don't have a problem with that.

#87 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 11:20 PM:

Moon landing. I hadn't turned four yet. Yes, I'm sure I know which landing, but you don't really need me to spell it out, right?

#88 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 11:22 PM:

I remember the first television broadcast in Australia. 1956, I think, but no doubt I can look it up. I'd have been five, if so.

#89 ::: John League ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 11:23 PM:

Joyce@60 and Jen@68: My first Derby-related memory is not of the actual Derby, but when Swale died in '84. The first actual Derby for me is the next year: I thought Spend A Buck was a stupid name for a horse.

#90 ::: Harriet ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 11:23 PM:

Hmm...recent discussions in another online community reminded me that I was very absorbed by the sinking of the Andrea Doria in 1956, when I was four and a half. I must have watched TV news coverage with my parents or something like that - I know I kept our copy of the NY Times with the front page picture and headline for a while.

Also, I recall, rather later, sitting with my father and sounding out some of the words in the NY Times story about Sputnik, or maybe one of the later Soviet satellite shots wth the dog...IIRC I was in kindergarten or first grade at that point.

#91 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 11:30 PM:

I hesitate* to mention, but it is relevant in a meta way, a classic article on memory: "The Ecological Study of Memory." I've summarized it here.

In short, with "flashbulb memories"- memories made at moments of "great stress and surprise"- the stronger the memory feels, the weaker the accuracy of the memory, down to the point where people are very confident of memories where they have none of the key details correct.

That disclaimer made, I've got a memory of a volcano eruption which quite possibly was Iceland 1973. I remember it well because I didn't believe my parents when they told me lava was red. We had a B&W TV then.

My first meta-news memory was when Elvis died. I remember going to school and telling people "the king is dead." I had no idea of who he was, and i had to ask my parents later.
*well, not really. It's one of my favorite studies.

#92 ::: Charity ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 11:56 PM:

I have a hazy memory of the US Bicentennial celebrations. I don't remember the actual event, but I remember quite firmly deciding that I was going to live to be 104 so I could see the next one. (I can't imagine why, though I love fireworks to this day.)

My first clear and detailed memory is of Reagan getting shot in '81 (I was 9). News coverage pre-empted afternoon cartoons, so I watched the news because darned if I'd give up my allowed hour of tv-watching. =P

#93 ::: Dan B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2007, 11:58 PM:

Born in 1971. Not so much as a news event, but I could remember fireworks and celebrations of July 4, 1976. I suppose my first news memory was the death of Elvis. I was riding in a car with my mom when one of his songs came on, and she said "He's dead now... died today."

I don't remember the song that was played, though. Odd.

#94 ::: Daniel Klein ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 12:05 AM:

8/1980. The first thing I remember is the Chernobyl incident. I have a very vivid memory of one of my friends' parents driving us to the in-doors swimming pool when it started to rain and the slightly overprotective mother got very worried and told us to hurry through the rain. Being six years old, of course I tried to catch rain drops in my mouth until she all but dragged me inside.

Since I live in that part of Germany that is really farthest from Chernobyl (the Saarland, right next to Luxembourg), I think she was really being a little paranoid.

Incidentally: Thank you, Making Light, for making me feel young.

#95 ::: Evan ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 12:08 AM:

My first specific news memory was Nixon's resignation and Ford's inauguration, and the only reason I noticed it was that the local paper ran a photograph in color, which I'd never seen before. I was, guess what, six.

I was aware of the war for a few years before that, and I'd heard of Watergate (but didn't really know what it was). But those weren't news stories to me; they were just background noise. The Nixon resignation was the first discrete event I noticed.

It's interesting to think about how I saw things then. The war was like the seasons of the year: winter, summer, winter; war, peace, war. Just a kind of interesting thing that happens in the world; not something anyone's responsible for.

I wonder if there are people who grow up and still feel that way.

#96 ::: psionic_fig ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 12:10 AM:

My first news memory? The Berlin Wall going down. I was a little less than 4 at the time. I also distantly remember the senior Bush being in office.

#97 ::: EClaire ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 12:11 AM:

Born in October of '78, and my earliest memory is also of the Challenger explosion. Or, I always thought it was, although looking at the date, I can't figure out why I was at day care when I found out, if it was a Tuesday. But I could swear that I was in all day day care at the place where I normally went after school, and we were watching movies during the day, and then when we went between the room with the TV and the usual activity room, someone mentioned the shuttle breaking up.
I have memories of things like the 84 presidential election, and Mt. St. Helens erupting, but I think those are because I was given some educational magazines that were out of date by a teacher when I was in 2nd or 3rd grade, and I just read those over and over, as it was new news to me.

#98 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 12:14 AM:

Kennedy's election; I was 6. My mother explained that Kennedy would be president starting on Inauguration Day. Nixon wouldn't be anything; or rather, he was vice president but only until Inauguration Day. I didn't know he was already vice president, so I thought that was his consolation prize for losing the election.

14 was a good age for watching the first moon landing.

I envy those who remember seeing the Beatles on Ed Sullivan, because the closest thing to that I can dredge up is the Osmond Brothers on Andy Williams.

#99 ::: Alan Hamilton ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 12:15 AM:

My earliest memories of public events from around 1972. I can remember a straw poll in my classroom for the presidential election -- Nixon by a landslide. I also remember being annoyed by the Watergate hearings.

I have a memory of seeing a moon landing on TV and being disappointed I couldn't see the astronauts through binoculars. I don't know which mission this was, though (last landing was in Dec. 1972).

#100 ::: Mimi ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 12:15 AM:

Aquila @ 69: Add me to the born in '75/Charles & Di wedding contingent.

Oddly, I have two memories of the Challenger explosion: the true one (I've confirmed it with my mother), in which I was actually home from school that day and watching tv, and saw it happen live. In the other, I am in the school library media room and see it live there. The second one is clearly false--for one thing, I don't think the elementary school allowed kids to hang out watching tv during school hours, and for another, by 1986 we had moved and I wasn't at that school anymore. I must have seen something there important enough to conflate it with the Challenger, though--I wish I knew what it was.

But I do remember the launch of MTV--not sure what that says about my priorities...

#101 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 12:16 AM:

Xopher @ 43 ... I remember having to type commands at a command prompt to get a computer to do anything. I know what "rm -r *" does when you type it from the root. I know what a root is. I can write a bubble sort without thinking about it. I programmed in FORTRAN IV, PASCAL, and Old C.

I'm amused that my first thought was "Don't you mean 'rm -rf *'. Trawling the Unix History timeline is always interesting to me - I caught up somewhere around SYSVR3, iirc - but might have touched earlier versions - and have used/maintained a distressing number of the listed variants.

I don't actually recall any news events in particular, but do very clearly remember returning from a long trip overseas somewhere around 8-or-9 years old, and realizing that what I was hearing on the radio was -real-, and the world wasn't a nice place at all.

Since we didn't have a television growing up, and news was only listened to at 6pm, it's not much of a surprise to me that I don't have many specific memories of 'noted' events - spoken word, especially the calmness of the radio announcer doesn't seem to have the same impact as visuals for me.

OTOH, I do recall 9/11 very clearly - like many others, I didn't end up going to work that day.

#102 ::: Jon Sobel ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 12:16 AM:

Prenatally, I might have some cellular recollection of the JFK assassination, given the way my mom has described her shock at the news. My earliest actual news memory is of the 1968 Presidential election, when I learned that the world contained "bad" (Nixon) and "good" (Humphrey). Interestingly, it's Nixon that figures strongly in my memory of that time - I had to think for a second before I remembered that it was Humphrey he beat that year.

My first memory of any kind is of the 1964 World's Fair, and it involved pizza. Specifically, waiting in line to get pizza. I was one and a half. Boy, I must have loved pizza.

#103 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 12:17 AM:

I remember the Nixon-McGovern election in 1972. I was four-and-a-half. I wanted McGovern to win because he had a normal name, and Nixon had a weird name. I also remember thinking Watergate was a funny word, and not understanding how a gate could be made of water. Not sure what year that was.

I'm much younger than most of my sibs, so it may be that current events were topics of conversation at playtime more than they would be in a smaller family.

#104 ::: AHT ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 12:25 AM:

Challenger explosion, 5 and a half.

My uncle was minding my sister and I. He switched off my cartoons to watch the launch, because my grandparents were wintering in Kissemmee and hoping to see the launch in person. (As timing had it, they witnessed the whole thing from the parking lot of a grocery store. I have some of the pictures they took.)

I remember my uncle growing very quiet, and thinking that the fireworks were very pretty. It wasn't until several years later that I finally understood what it was I'd seen.

#105 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 12:27 AM:

#102: I have sketchy toddler memories of the World's Fair with my mother and sister. Mostly wandering around the pavilions, seeing "It's a small world after all," feeling deprived of not getting to go up to the revolving restaurant, and seeing a "robot" stumping around a plaza. (A conical thing with a speaker grille up front and two legs; it just kind of rocked back and forth.)

The fair was heavily hyped, but I can't recall WHERE. Wonderama, maybe, or local news shows.

#106 ::: Bill Humphries ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 12:31 AM:

Apollo 8 and the Christmas Eve broadcast from the Moon.

#107 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 12:31 AM:

I was in college when the Challenger blew. Witnessed two persons' reactions -- one cloddish laughter, the other a sort of ignorant triumphalism -- that soured forever my opinion of humanity.

#108 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 12:34 AM:

CHip 82: Do you remember whistling at acoustic couplers to make the computer N miles away acknowledge your existence?

I remember people doing it; I could never whistle that well.

Jon 102: I remember my parents telling me that Humphrey was "the lesser of two evils."

#109 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 12:36 AM:

Born July 1981.

I remember learning about the Challenger explosion, but that could have been up to a couple years after the fact - my parents stuck me in a bunch of "girls can be scientists too" programs as a kid, and one involved Sally Ride, so I'm sure it would have come up there.

I definitely remember hearing the Freude>>Freiheit "Ode to Joy" concert celebrating the fall of the Berlin Wall on the radio in December 1989, though.

#110 ::: Dena Shunra ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 12:40 AM:

I was born in August '66.

If you count the weather report as news, I remember the news on TV in St. Louis, which I watched regularly - meaning it was sometime before 1970, which was when my parents moved to Israel. I remember looking at the map of the U.S. and thinking how it looked like a chicken with no head, and I remember really loving that image. I guess the picture of the lower 48 still makes me smile.

But that wasn't actually news; the first news item I remember was already in Israel - at the end of the October War, when news announcer Haim Yavin told us we could turn the lights on again at night. I sure hated having to close the windows and draw thick curtains over them after dark! I was seven, and I remember thinking that *that* war had been worse than the previous one (the 1970 war, not the '67 war. I don't remember that one.)

In retrospect, I think that both wars were just battles in a larger one. Depending on my reading for the day, I sometimes think that the larger war is actually a continuation of the Medes and the Persians... ...but when I was seven, I was just relieved about being allowed to have the windows open at night.

#111 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 12:46 AM:

Born 1954.

Hmmm, let's see. Kennedy assassination, being told in school, yes. The funeral, yes. I'm another one that was annoyed at it preempting all TV channels. It was quite clear to me that they were all showing the *same thing*, and that was stupid. They could draw straws and the loser would have to show the boring funeral, the rest could run real programs.

I didn't associate Kennedy with "The President's Council on Physical Fitness" until later, or I would have been *glad* they shot him.

Several early rocket launches, including going to a neighbors house to watch it on TV (before we had one). Not sure this was Glenn, might have been the second one, or even a Gemini flight. Stuff before Kennedy, anyway.

Also Echo 2. That was made by a company from the town we lived in (though Wikipedia can't verify that; they don't seem to have anything on where it was made). The G.T. Schjeldahl Co. in Northfield MN. That was in 1960.

Not only do I remember COBOL, and carbon paper, and punch cards -- I've got some punch cards I punched within three feet of me right now (I had them out for scanning some time ago, and haven't thrown them away yet).

Some earlier family memories, not many.

#112 ::: Debbie Notkin ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 12:47 AM:

Born in 1951. I have very vague memories of my parents doing political work for Adlai Stevenson, which would have been 1956.

I remember the Sputnik launch and the sense of how terrible it was that we were being beaten by the Russians, but my first clear political memory is watching the Kennedy/Nixon debates with my mother in 1959, and her being dispirited because I liked Nixon better than Kennedy. In retrospect, I have to wonder why I liked the funny-looking older guy rather than the charming younger one.

#113 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 12:54 AM:

Mimi #100: Well, a lot of kids did see the Challenger explosion on TV as it happened, at school. There was a lot of educational tie-in programming with that one, what with the whole "First teacher in space" thing.

#114 ::: Meg Thornton ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 12:55 AM:

I was born in 1971. I was too young to remember the Whitlam dismissal. But I do remember the tail end of Cyclone Alby heading through the south-west of WA in 1977. Admittedly this is because it was after this had happened that I startled my teacher by being able to read the "news" lines she put up on the board about it, and then had my reading age tested, to discover I had a reading age of nine at age six. I put it down to having started reading at age two.

The next one which stuck with me was the state sesquicentennial (150 years) in 1979, when I was in year three. Oh, and Skylab landing, because it struck ground near the town where my mother's parents were living.

#115 ::: Sylvia Li ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 01:00 AM:

The first news event I can recall hearing about was when Newfoundland became a province of Canada. That was March 31, 1949; I was four and a quarter years old. I remember it because my father seemed to think it was very important, and he told me, "Now Canada really is a dominion from sea to sea!"

Odd. Even now, my sense of patriotism is curiously entwined with that childhood image of a vast barely grasped expanse...

#116 ::: Max Kaehn ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 01:01 AM:

Born 2/1971. Without any reminders, I remember the Iranian hostage crisis, the 1980 election, Rhodesia becoming Zimbabwe, and the first Space Shuttle launch (got up waaay early Pacific Time to watch it live). Also some vague recollections about Jimmy Carter getting attacked by a rabbit. Looking over Wikipedia's list of events, I also remember Three Mile Island, Skylab coming down, and only being able to buy gasoline on even and odd days. For non-political events, I remember seeing Star Wars in 1977 and coming down with strep throat shortly thereafter.

#117 ::: Darth Paradox ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 01:04 AM:

I remember the existence of the Bush-Dukakis debates (which would have been 1988), but only because my parents went to a Halloween party as a pair of televisions showing the candidates.

As far as remembering actual news goes? Probably the fall of the Berlin Wall. This was of particular significance to the German side of the family. That was 1989; I had just turned six the previous month.

The theory's sounding pretty good.

#118 ::: RJ Anderson ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 01:17 AM:

Born Jan. 1973, first news-related memory was the Iran hostage crisis; although I thought of it after first thinking of John Lennon's murder, which visibly upset my mom.

#119 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 01:22 AM:

Mrs. Baptiste, the nice lady who ran my preschool, let us sit in her office and watch Dr. King's funeral. I wasn't sure what was happening, but it made a great impression.

I was five.

#120 ::: Adrian ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 01:40 AM:

It's interesting what different kinds of things people classify as "major news events" when thinking about this question. I read the post and thought I was a child who paid so little attention to the larger world that I wasn't aware of any major news events until the 1978 revolution in Iran, when I was 10. I was aware of the bicentennial celebration in 1976, and have marched in the local parade. I was even aware of the 1976 Olympics, summer and winter. I hadn't been thinking of that as being really news, but it's the sort of thing I couldn't have seen myself, but only seen or heard about because it was so prominent in the media. I'm not sure how that connects to something being news, or newsworthy.

#121 ::: Kevin Standlee ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 01:44 AM:

Born 27 August 1965 -- the president (LBJ)'s birthday, my parents noted in my baby book. They say that they kept me up to watch the first moon landing, but I have no memory of it. I remember trying to stay up late to watch the last Apollo launch, but falling asleep and missing it. First political memory: Nixon's resignation.

Princess Diana's death? Good grief, that was during a Worldcon. I remember hearing about it during LoneStarCon 2 in San Antonio.

#122 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 01:45 AM:

I remember seeing Thor IRBMs on the launch pads, about three miles from home, but I'm sure I didn't know why.

And I recall the Kennedy Funeral and the Daleks.

So I was about 5 1/2 years old. Do I remember Telstar, or just know it was in that general frame? The first trans-atlantic TV was apparently in the middle of the night.

#123 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 01:49 AM:

Dave #122: And I recall the Kennedy Funeral and the Daleks.

You are talking about two different things there, aren't you?

#124 ::: LMB MacAlister ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 01:56 AM:

I remember a speech by Eisenhower, before he was president, while I was supposed to be lying down for a nap at my uncle's. I'm pretty sure it was on television, and I know my uncle had television really early. I was born in December 1950, so I was not quite 2 at the time. I know this was the 1952 election, because I remember wondering what my grandmother had fixed for a snack, and she died in 1954. I also vaguely remember the McCarthy-Army hearings, but only of hearing my father talk about them at the time, and that my dad called McCarthy a crazy son of a bitch.

Oddly enough, maybe a year after the election I saw Nixon on television. I was walking around by then, and this was at my uncle's again, so it was probably Thanksgiving of 1953. I remember telling my mother that he was a bad man, and that she was aghast.

#125 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 01:57 AM:

Kevin @121,

I remember hearing it from Connie Willis at a party there at the WorldCon.

#126 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 01:59 AM:

I remember the Mets winning the World Series in 1969, when I was 4 1/2. Not so much because of the baseball, but because of the commotion.

It's also interesting what memories place me exactly where I was when I heard about them - the Challenger disaster for instance. I was at my part-time job, bursting forms. (Something no one does anymore, and the forms were three-part carbon. And I also programmed in COBOL and Wang VS Assembler.)

And I remember the morning *after* Nixon resigned - I was daydreaming and managed to miss the bus to day camp - but I don't remember the speech itself, although I know I watched it. Memory's a funny thing.

#127 ::: Russell Letson ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 02:05 AM:

First definite news memory is of TV coverage of Korean War actions. I must have watched something of the coronation of Elizabeth II, but I've seen footage of that so often since that I can't be sure of the memory's time-stamp. Earliest news had to be from the telly--even though I could read by 1949, I'm sure that my examination of newspapers began and ended with the funnies. I remember "Smokey Stover" ("nov schmoz ka pop"; "notary sojac") from the Sunday Syracuse Post-Standard my grandparents took, but that was later, the mid-fifties.

#128 ::: John D. Berry ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 02:05 AM:

Nixon actually resigned on my birthday, which I thought was a great birthday present, though it didn't come into effect until the day after. I was in San Francisco at the time, watching on local TV, and I remember seeing actual footage of people in Berkeley dancing in the streets.

Earliest political stuff I remember was the 1960 presidential election, which took place after I'd turned ten. I must have been pretty oblivious to anything before then; no recollection of the Suez crisis or the '56 presidential election, and I don't even remember Nelson Rockefeller being elected governor of New York (he'd just *always* been governor, in my childhood memory – governor was Rockefeller, mayor of NYC was Wagner, president was Eisenhower, by definition). I remember the effect of Sputnik on our schools, but I don't really remember the actual launch of Sputnik, or not in any detail.

Personal memories, of course, are a different thing altogether.

#129 ::: Salom! ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 02:06 AM:

I was born in April of 1989. I thought the earliest news-related event I remembered was Diana's death, but looking at the Wikipedia entry for 1995 reminds me that my 6-year-old self was totally annoyed at hearing about this O.J. Simpson person *all the time*. I suppose theoretically, being from Portland, I should remember the Tonya Harding incident, but I only remember it after the fact (1996 or thereabouts).

I remember non-news-related events from 1994, though they're very hazy, and the memories are mostly of me obsessing over The Lion King with my friends.

#130 ::: Liz D. ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 02:08 AM:

Born in late 1951. Very earliest memory is June, 1954, when my parents brought my sister back from the hospital (what did they do that for? It is boring and cries).

My earliest political/national memory is the Kennedy-Nixon debate...or is it? Am I "remembering" seeing film clips later? I don't know. The same is true of the Sputnik launch -- I don't trust my memory, because of so much exposure later.

Vivid, trustworthy memories of the 1962 Cuban Missile crisis--mom stocking dad's closet with food & water, the stupid and frightening "duck and cover" drills, etc.

It occurs to me that my very early memories are strongly visual. As television wasn't wide-spread in the late 1950s, that might skew my memory.

#131 ::: jmnlman ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 02:09 AM:

I haven't thought about these memories for years a very neat experiment. I was born in September 81. I remember Reagan's surgery [January 87 they cut into cartoons]. Oliver North testifying in public [in July 87] but I'm pretty sure I didn't understand what it was about. After that probably medical waste coming ashore [I was nowhere near the ocean so not sure why].

The next major event was Pan Am 103. I remember they were doing cleanup. There was a shot of a stuffed animal with its head sticking out of a garbage bag. I can recall thinking at the time that the child was dead but wouldn't the family want to keep the toy? Hmmm maybe I can blame Gadhafi for my interest in military history and terrorism.

#132 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 02:19 AM:

The earliest public event I can remember is the gas shortages - 1974 most likely, I remember even-odd days and waiting in line. I would have been 5 (born late 1968). Interestingly, I don't remember a lot of the major news stories of the early 1970's - Vietnam, Nixon, etc. I suspect my parents took care that I didn't see the news.

The mall in my hometown opened when I was 6 (early-mid 1975), and I definitely remember going to the grand opening and getting balloons. Not quite a major news event, but definitely a public one. I have significant memories of the various 1976 festivities and happenings - the Olympics, the Bicentennial, the presidential election ("my peanut has a first name, it's J-I-M-M-Y"). I also remember my mother commenting on Howard Hughes' death (April 1976, I just checked). We also made a family trip to Florida that summer - for my grandparent's 50th wedding anniversary, but we also went to Disney World. I was 7 most of that year.

My earliest dateable personal memory is when my father drove home a new car in the summer of 1973, several months before my brother was born - I would have been 4 and a half.

#133 ::: Terry (still in Germany) ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 02:22 AM:

I recall (at about age five?) Nixon's trip to China, I clearly recall his resigning. The photo on the cover of the paper when the helicopter was leaving Saigon.

I vaguely recall watching the moon landing, but that's one of those oddities which I know I have filled in with some details from later (mostly about my sense of wonder), because I was just two at the time.

The only reason I don't discount it altogether is that I made a comment to my mother about something I remembered, and she startd asking me details. Turns out I was describing (and well, so it seems) the house we lived in from when I was 1 to 1 1/2.

#134 ::: hk-reader ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 02:23 AM:

I was born in late '65 and remember the moon landings of '69 (almost 4 years old).

I remember thinking Neil Armstrong was called that because his arms were strong.

#135 ::: elizabeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 02:39 AM:

Interesting question.

I was born in 1977. The first movie I ever saw was Star Wars, from a car-seat in a drive-in theater. I am convinced this has colored my world view since.

My earliest personal memory is sitting at the counter while my mom canned fruit, eating pears.

I think I remember when John Lennon died (age 3). My mom was crying and the radio was on. Though, I seem to have the memory in the wrong kitchen, so it's entirely possible I'm mistaken.

I remember the Challenger explosion (age 9) but not the context where I learned of it. I would have been in 4th grade - still at my first school, and I don't have any specific memory of watching it there.

I do vividly remember Chernobyl - the first truly notable news story I recall. It fueled my neurotic fears about radiation, nuclear winter, and post-apocalyptic scenarios - things I dove into both encyclopedias and science fiction to satisfy my morbid curiosity of.

I was in New Jersey in the hot, humid August summer when the first Gulf War started (age 14). I was waiting for funeral preparations for my grandfather when I saw it on the tiny television in my Grandmother's kitchen. War was a foreign thing I associated with my Grandparents' generation, and I was hurt and confused about it.

Still am, really.

#136 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 02:44 AM:

JFK was assassinated on my fifth birthday--while I do not specifically recall being told that the President had been killed, I do know I was fairly irked at the fact none of the shows I wanted to watch were on. And I have this picture in my mind of a down-angled camera view of a black coach being pulled by a pair of black horses with black plumes on their bridles, which I've always assumed was part of the funeral cortege.

Prior to that, my major memories center on recurrent strep throat, having my tonsils yanked as a result of same, and being disappointed that I couldn't have Frosted Flakes for breakfast the morning after the operation. And that the nurses had to keep shushing me because I wanted to read to them. (I have, for years, thought the title of that book was The Horse Who Couldn't Neigh; a little research seems to indicate it was actually called The Pony Who Couldn't Say Neigh, and the cover art in no wise matches my memory...)

#137 ::: Neil ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 02:56 AM:

I worked out it was the Challenger explosion in 86. I was six and a big space geek.

#138 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 03:30 AM:

I was born in July of 1952. I can remember Sputnik -- I would have been 5. I do have earlier memories--back to about 2 1/2--but that's my first news memory.

Other important early memories were the 1960 election, all the Mercury launches, and Hawaii and Alaska joining the union. And of course, November 22, 1963. (I was in school of course. They didn't send us home early.)


#139 ::: Mikael Vejdemo Johansson ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 03:46 AM:

The earliest I remember is sitting in front of the TV, reading the TV-Text updates about Chernobyl and about the shooting of Olof Palme.

Both occurred in 1986.

I'm born 1980.

#140 ::: Lindra ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 03:48 AM:

Born in 1990.

First memories are pretty hazy. There's some verifiable stuff about the family cats (now deceased) and tales of my cuteness as a child which don't line up at all with what I remember. First memory could be when I was four and Fifi, one of our cats, was hiding under the sofa and I was annoying her. She hit me, accidentally leaving a claw sheath in the back of my hand -- I thought it very fascinating, and took it to show and tell at school the next day -- and I went to show it to my father and told him 'it hit me'. He asked 'with what?' and I said, 'with its foot'. The second, also from when I was about four, is sitting on my mother's lap reading aloud Goodnight, Baby Bear. My first book, and I loved it to bits. I still do.

As for my first political memory, I vaguely remember something about Papua new Guinea and/or East Timor in 1995, though that could be a construct based on the messiness in 1999, which is the year I remember watching Prince Edward and Sophie's wedding on television.

I read a lot about Princess Diana's love life before it but her death is especially vivid: I was sitting in one of the tall chairs at the kitchen table, battling the broadsheet since it was larger than my armspan could manage and the top flopped over onto my head (I destroyed a lot of newspapers before I was big enough to manage them.) I remember the six-page spread, the blue banner across the pages reading PRINCESS DIANA DEAD IN COLLISION and the layout of the first internal page about it, an oval portrait picture of Diana, I think one from her wedding or a party somewhere. She had this large, glittery necklace on, wrapped all around her throat, and she was smiling. Next to the portrait were these grainy pictures of the car crash and the tunnel. I solemnly informed my mother that Princess Diana was dead and turned the page to read about Dodi Al-Fayed.

#141 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 03:48 AM:

My checklist is pretty close to Xopher's #43, including the FORTRAN part....

#142 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 03:52 AM:

I was born in November, 1950.

The first memory I can date at all is climbing up on a chair to watch my grandmother work the sewing machine, making dresses for me and my sister. This seems to have been in the spring of 1953, when I was about 2 and a half, but I only know the date because there's a picture of us wearing the dresses with a sign behind it that says 1953. This was taken at Kennywood (the amusement park near Pittsburgh) so it would have been at the annual school picnic which would have been in May. No, I wasn't in school yet, but my older brother and sister were. I think this is one of my few clear memories from before I could read, which seems to have happened when I was 3.

As for "hard news", I vaguely remember President Eisenhower's heart attack, which appears to have been in September 1955 (I was not quite 5), but as I had to look the date up (it's at the White House's bio page on him, but not Wikipedia's), I'm not sure I count it for the purpose of this thread. I also remember a newspaper headline about an H-bomb test that apparently made a big impression on me, and I think this was also when I was four.

My first big and really datable memories, in that I remember how old I was when it was happening without looking anything up, all stem from the fall of 1956, when I was almost-but-not-quite six. I started school that September, the Monday after Labor Day (first grade; we didn't have kindergarten in our school district yet). News items of that fall that I definitely recall were the Russian invasion of Hungary, the Suez Crisis, Elvis Presley on Ed Sullivan (and the controversy about his wiggly hips; my older sister, who was then just about to turn 13, had a big crush on him), and the World Series between the Yankees and the Dodgers. (I remember when they announced the lineups because there were funny names: Peewee? Yogi? Whitey? These are names of grown men? I don't remember details of games, such as Don Larsen's perfect game; that seems to have made no impression on me at the time. But I think I also sort of remembered the same bunch of funny-named people playing the year before.) I was vaguely aware of there being an election, too, which as far as I could make out was a repeat, and everyone I knew seemed to be for Ike -- my parents both were -- so it was boring. I don't even remember if we had a "mock election" in first grade, as we did in school every election after.

#143 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 04:08 AM:

I thought I'd post this part separately since it would have been a very long post otherwise.

These are some of my memories of notable news events that happened after the early ones I mentioned in #142:

Sputnik was launched when I was in second grade (not quite seven years old). The plane crash that killed Buddy Holly et al. was when I was in third grade, and my brother was a senior in high school. JFK was elected when I was in fifth grade; that was the second major news story that fall, at least in my neighborhood, number one being the Pirates beating the Yankees in the World Series. (This is when I started paying attention to both baseball and politics.) The first Mercury astronauts launched when I was in sixth grade; one of the teachers brought a portable TV to school so everyone -- over 200 students and teachers -- could watch.

The Cuban Missile Crisis was when I was in seventh grade; my brother was in the Navy then and I was worried for his sake, in case there was a war, as much as anything else. President Kennedy was shot four days after my 13th birthday, when I was in eighth grade (we were in science class when we heard); the Beatles arrived a couple of months later, same school year, different calendar year. And I don't think anyone can overestimate the importance of those two events, especially back-to-back as they were, on us Baby Boomers. Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy were both shot when I was in the second semester of my senior year of high school, the former the day of our Senior Class Pool Party, and the latter the day of our graduation. I woke up the next morning, my first day as a high-school graduate, and thus by at least some definition an adult, to learn that he had died. "Welcome to the grown-up world," I thought.

The rioting at the Democratic Convention at the end of that summer happened while I was at Freshman Orientation, starting college. I watched the election returns in the TV lounge on our dorm floor -- a few of us stayed up until 4 a.m. when they finally declared it for Nixon. The Apollo 11 moon landing was the night after my cousin Beryl's wedding -- it's how I remember her anniversary: we came home from the reception and watched Neil Armstrong's "one small step" in my aunt's living room. The 1972 election was the first one I could vote in for real, and yes, I voted for McGovern, not that it did much good. Nixon announced his resignation the day I took my last graduate school exam -- my sister, my best friend, and I went to a baseball game that night to celebrate, and we listened to the speech on my transistor radio. (I'd been telling them the whole night, "He'll never quit." And, oh yeah, the Pirates beat the Reds.)

John Lennon was shot when I'd just turned 30; NBC broke into Johnny Carson's monologue for a news bulletin and I thought, "This better be important." It was. Challenger exploded as I was eating breakfast -- oatmeal, it was -- and almost exactly five weeks before my mom died. I remember *very* little else of 1986, though it was partly to distract myself from my grief that year that I learned to use VisiCalc. The first Persian Gulf war started when I was moving from my apartment to my house; I watched it on CNN as I was packing.

#144 ::: Luthe ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 04:11 AM:

1984 baby. I remember the Berlin Wall coming down, because my parents were watching it on TV. I don't remember much, but I do remember being confused because I saw the Brandenburg Gate and thought it was the Parthenon (not that I knew the names of either place at the time) and couldn't figure out what Greece had to do with Germany.

I also remember the changeover from 89 to 90 because I was scared of the decade changing.

#145 ::: Nic ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 04:27 AM:

Fascinating post! I'm sure pondering this will give me many fun hours of procrastination today.

I was born in September 1980; I'm a Brit. The earliest 'news' memory I've so far been able to dredge up is of the wedding of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson, in (according to wikipedia) July 1986 - I remember because (at the behest of our teachers) we held a little event/enactment of it in my infant school.

Most of the other early news events that have stuck in my mind were several years later. I remember the Berlin Wall coming down, partly because my grandmother is German; I also remember her comments providing a bit of a counterpoint to the euphoric news coverage playing on her TV (she was afraid that west Germany would suffer badly because everyone from the east would want to live there). And then the 1990 World Cup (I was torn over whether to support England or Cameroon, because the latter team had a great celebration every time they scored a goal), the first Gulf War (which I watched quite a bit of on TV), the August 1991 Soviet coup (heard on the radio while on holiday in the Lake District; I think this one stayed with me because my parents were quite clearly anxious about it), and the Tory leadership contest that eventually saw the end of Margaret Thatcher.

1986 was also the first time I remember being aware of the date, and how it related to me; my Dad was reading the newspaper as he had his breakfast one morning, and I read the date off the top of the page as I walked past him. I think that was January or February.

#146 ::: Francis D ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 04:43 AM:

Born in 1981, and add me to the Challenger pile.

#147 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 05:14 AM:

I remember Soyuz-Apollo, and the Bicentennial clearly (well, as clearly as I remember anything back that far). I think I remember the fall of Saigon, but I'm not sure why I would - my parents were pretty strict with the TV time, and especially the news hour, when my brother and I were younger.

I remember Challenger all too clearly - I was home (playing hooky) and watched it live. But I also remember watching the fall of the Berlin Wall, so, maybe that evens it out, a little.

#148 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 05:20 AM:

Luthe #144: I also remember the changeover from 89 to 90 because I was scared of the decade changing.

I have an odd little New Years Eve tradition that I've held since childhood: I hold my breath as the clock strikes twelve midnight, in order to prevent the Apocalypse from happening. I don't remember how I figured out it would have to happen midnight New Years Eve in whatever timezone I was in at the time, but it's worked pretty well so far.

I was pretty relieved when the Southern Baptists didn't sacrifice me on an altar on my thirteenth birthday, too. heh.

#149 ::: Adam Ek ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 05:41 AM:

Nixon's resignation. We were in the car and my Dad turned up the radio and told me to listen closely because this was probably the only time in my life I would hear a president resign.

#150 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 05:50 AM:

I remember the Apollo 11 moon landing -- watched it in real time on a shiny new black and white TV. I remember the Beatles splitting up. I also remember news coverage of Watergate, although it didn't mean anything much to me (I was 7 or 8) -- the first political stuff to mean anything was probably the EEC membership referendum in 1975; I remember the campaigning (age 10 or 11).

#151 ::: Rebecca ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 06:07 AM:

I was born in 1977. I vaguely recall my parents being upset about the president being shot in 81, but I was much more interested in the new baby who'd be joining us in a few months. I remember Sally Ride going up on the Shuttle for the first time, because by then we were living on the Space Coast of Florida, and I watched the launch from the school playground, and we talked about it in class. Even more clearly I remember the Challenger disaster, which I also watched from the playground. We knew, all of us kids, that something was wrong. We'd seen every launch, and that smoke plume didn't look right. Some of the teachers had radios, and when the announcement came, I think everyone on that field, adult and child, cried. It was the first time I realized that being an astronaut was dangerous, and it really meant something to me. I had a cousin in the program, Kathryn Thornton, although she had yet to take her first flight then.

#152 ::: Bernard Yeh ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 06:12 AM:

Born in 1972, the first major news event I remember is the New York City blackout in 1977, because my family was living in NYC at the time and I happened to live through it.

The first major media news event I remember is the Iran Hostage Crisis, though I just have vague impressions of the TV news of the time.

#153 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 06:17 AM:

Born in 1958. I definitely remember my mother crying when JFK was assassinated -- it puzzled me greatly. But I also remember being 4 and watching the launch of one of the Mercury flights, probably Friendship 7 in February 1962. The countdown was pretty exciting. It was just my mom and I at home during the day, but she made a big deal of it. (It was very sad to have to face up to the fact, years later, that I did not indeed have The Right Stuff to become an astronaut. Ah, well.)

#154 ::: Andrew Gray ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 06:42 AM:

The earliest datable event I can definitely remember is Bush winning in 1988. This fits well with six years old (born late '82), but it seems a bit weird for my first memory to be of foreign news! (I was in Edinburgh)

1987... I don't recall the election (at least, not in a way I can be sure wasn't 1992), I don't recall the Great Storm (it missed us) and I don't recall the Remembrance Day Bombing or the Kings Cross Fire. 1988 is pretty blank too; I have a recollection of Some Form Of Long-Drawn-Out Disaster on television, floodlights and darkness and rain and lots of bustle - it might well have been Lockerbie, but it could have been any number of things around that time (Hillsborough in '89, say). I certainly "knew" about Lockerbie having happened so clearly that it's hard to figure out when I first heard of it...

I just asked my housemate, who's about the same age and was living in western Scotland - he definitely gave Lockerbie as the first external event. So another two votes for "about six", here.

The first big event I can remember understanding was the '92 election, when I was 9.

I am really tempted to start asking my pupils this - the youngest are about 13, and "about six" would put them just before Sept.11...

#155 ::: A Reader ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 06:58 AM:

'67, Indo-Pakistan war of 1971. Which I probably wouldn't have taken too much notice of if I'd been born in, say, NYC. In Karachi, it was difficult not to notice the war even though I was about three, difficult not to notice being carried off to an air-raid shelter every evening.

My point is that circumstance matters. First memories of outside events may happen at age six in normal circumstances, but may occur earlier in shaken-up ones.

#156 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 07:01 AM:

Wow, a lot of people younger than me here.

Born in 1960. Remember Kennedy's funeral and how the horses hauling his coffin balked at the tomb. Remember the race riots in the late 60's and MLK's asassination. Remember LBJ's escalation into Vietnam, and the B-52's flying over Hanoi and Haiphong. Remember the Gemini flights and the Apollo 5 tragedy, and the moon landings. We got out of class in elementary school to watch them!

Watergate, Nixon's impeachment, Nixon going to China, the loss of the 1972 Olympic men's basketball team to the Soviet Union, Mark Spitz winning six gold medals in that Olympics as well, and the Munich terrorist attack on the Israelis. Had a terrible crush on Olga Korbut that summer too.

#157 ::: Sian Hogan ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 07:02 AM:

My immediate response to the question was "I remember the Gulf War". I've just checked, and that started a month before I was six. Interestingly, though, I'm pretty sure all of my memories of it are from AFTER I was six, in the September, because what I remember is DISCUSSING it with the other kids who sat round my table in school. I have a very clear memory of what we all felt about it- a very wierd mix of extremely grown-up ethical concerns and a very childish grasp of practicalities. (IIRC, we decided wars were bad because good people could be hurt, and that just assasinating Saddam Hussein would be better. But we also thought that might be... rude, I suppose, so we decided that capturing him would be better. So far, so moral. But then we thought the best way forward would be to fly out to Iraq, and snot him solid. Yeah, um. We were very young.)

But having spent some time thinking, I also seem to have a phantom memory of the Berlin Wall coming down, which was earlier. But I didn't really understand the context of that, and I don't think I was especially interested. So the memory is very hazy, and might even be a memory of a memory, or based on things family have told me. But the Gulf War, and Thatcher stepping down later are CLEAR memories.

#158 ::: Tim Hall ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 07:10 AM:

Born in 1961, and my earliest detailed memory is the Apollo moon landings.

I have vaguer memories of earlier events, such as the 1967 Hither Green rail disaster, or the 1968 student riots in France.

#159 ::: Paul ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 07:11 AM:

1971...and I clearly remember Carter being elected President.

Didn't get to see Star Wars in the theater, though. SF was not my parents thing. In fact, the first SW movie I saw in the theater was Return of the Jedi (and that's because my older brother took me).

#160 ::: timprov ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 07:11 AM:

I remember going to a Mondale rally with my mother.

I remember the '85 baseball playoffs, and going to a game, although my main memory from it is riding the bus and sitting way up under the arches at Busch Stadium. And the Vince Coleman Tarp Incident.

But the first obviously newsworthy thing was Challenger, three weeks before my seventh birthday. I don't remember the circumstances around me watching it, but the images are seared into my brain. And following the aftermath, and cursing Thiokol forever. Later, Chernobyl. 1986 sucked.

#161 ::: chris y ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 07:20 AM:

God, I'm old. The Soviet invasion of Hungary. I had no idea what was going on but everybody was listening to the radio very seriously all the time. The Suez war must have been weeks before, but I didn't notice.

Off topic, Terry Pratchett diagnosed with early onset Alzheimers. Bugger bugger bugger. Why do these things always happen to the good guys?

#162 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 07:32 AM:

I don't know if that's the oldest memory that my wife's maternal grandmother has, but she once told us of having gone to a concert given by John Philip Sousa.

#163 ::: Renatus ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 07:32 AM:

Challenger. I was in first grade (born 1/1979) and the entire school was watching the launch on the tvs put into each classroom. I remember not being entirely sure what happened other than it was very, very bad. It took me some years to connect what I'd seen to the name of the event.

#164 ::: Emily H. ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 07:33 AM:

Born '82.

I don't remember the Berlin wall; I was living in France and allowed to watch very little television.

I do remember the first Gulf War--I remember my teacher writing on the third-grade classroom blackboard that it was over-- and Clarence Thomas's confirmation hearings.

I remember hearing about AIDS on TV and wondering why there was such a fuss about it because wasn't aid a good thing?

Nothing at all before I was eight. That seems late, but when I was older I found books like "Talking to your children about nuclear war" on the parental bookshelf-- I find it easy to believe that my parents insulated me from some of the scary stuff.

(It wasn't until I was rummaging through my parents' bookshelves and found that book that I even considered the possibility that I might personally be affected by nuclear war, though of course I knew about nuclear weapons before that. There's something ironic about being so startled by a book that's supposed to be reassuring.)

#165 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 07:38 AM:

"Does anyone born after 1957 remember the JFK assassination happening?"

Born in January 1959, and I certainly do. I even remember what I now understand to have been the Cuban Missile Crisis, over a year before the assassination, because I have distinct memories of my parents being worried, the radio playing all day, and repeated references to what my three-year-old ears kept parsing as "present candy." By the time of the assassination I knew perfectly well who President Kennedy was and why it was big, shocking news for a President to be shot dead.

I'm always amazed by people who evidently don't remember anything from before age five. My earliest fragmentary memories are from not quite two, and I have pretty much continuous memories from three on. I can draw a rough map of the apartment on Fullerton Street in Chicago that my family lived in from 1962 to 1963, and I remember multiple and distinct instances of going to the library, to Lincoln Park down on the lakefront, and of riding around Chicago both in the car and in the child's seat behind my father on his bicycle. In the fall of 1963 we moved to Iowa City, where my father took a job teaching at the university, and for our first few months there we rented a house on a farm outside of town. That's where I was on November 22; I remember that the news came over the radio as my mother and I were in the kitchen, I remember her being horrified and phoning my father; I remember him coming home early from work.

From that point on, I remember plenty of individual current events. I remember poring over the front page of the Des Moines Register when Herbert Hoover died in late 1964--an event not widely remembered (most people with a nodding grasp of American history are surprised to find that Hoover lived so long), but big news in Iowa. I remember when Churchill died because by then we were subscribing to the Register and I'd never seen such big headlines on its front page, not even for Hoover or the 1964 election. But I didn't really follow the news as a continuous storyline until early 1968, by which time we were living in Arizona; I started following the election news with the coverage of Eugene McCarthy's primary challenge to LBJ, and I've pretty much never stopped.

#166 ::: Tim Hall ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 07:44 AM:

I can remember things (family holidays) going back to 18 months old. Trouble with very early memories is it's difficult to separate actual memories from things the family have talked about subsequently.

I know my parents made me watch Winston Churchill's funeral on television, although (to their disappointment) I don't remember a thing about it.

#167 ::: Tom Womack ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 07:55 AM:

Born in 1977; first news event I can remember is the nuclear cruise missiles arriving at Greenham Common, which would be November 1983.

I hid under my parents' bed.

Then, for some reason, the unexpected lack of civil war in the Phillippines after the election in 1986, then Chernobyl.

#168 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 08:00 AM:

I was 13 by the year 1968, when, for the first time, I saw a truly violent photo on a newspaper's front page. Bobby Kennedy had been killed.

#169 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 08:02 AM:

Oldest memory in this thread so far: Don Fitch, who remembers listening to the returns from the 1936 election. Following that, Sylvia Li remembers Newfoundland joining Canada in 1949, and then we move to the 1950s, with various people recalling the 1952 and 1956 elections, the Army-McCarthy hearings, the death of Stalin, etc. Odd that in over 160 messages, no one has posted whose earliest news memories involved World War II.

#170 ::: Anja Caesar ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 08:07 AM:

Born in 1976, the first major news events I can remember are the attack on the Pope and the marriage of Prince Charles and Diana, both in 1981 when I was still 4 years old.
The next ones would be Tschernobyl, and the Space Shuttle exploding ...was it the Challenger accident?
in 1986, and afterwards the Berlin Wall, and the first Gulf War...

#171 ::: John Hawkes-Reed ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 08:16 AM:

I think I remember watching one of the Apollo landings while at nursery school. Since I was born in 1965, it must have been one of the early ones. After that, it's a bit of a jumble: the three-day week, Princess Anne & Mark Phillips, decimalisation and going metric (more of a hassle for farmers than the general public), Jeremy Thorpe.

Being a junior space-geek (seems to be a generational thing) I was glued to the telly whenever James Burke and Reg Turnbull would jabber over footage of Skylab, Apollo-Soyuz and the first Shuttle launch.

We were on holiday in Wales when a (the? There was the sense that there was only one) Concorde went supersonic as it flew over. I like to think that the sonic boom knocked me to the sand, but I probably just tripped because I was watching the amazing aeroplane rather than where I was going.

I also have a vivid memory of coming back home from the pub and turning on Newsnight to find Jon Snow waving a lump of Berlin Wall.

#172 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 08:20 AM:

The first movie I recall seeing was "The Blue Max", and we all went to see it at a drive-in. My dad kept making comments that with all those clothes on to keep warm, blood wouldn't spurt out like that when they got shot.

Even though I remember JFK's funeral, for some odd reason I don't remember my mom being pregnant with my younger brother or bringing him home from the hospital (he's 4 years younger than me).

#173 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 08:20 AM:

Born November 1954. The earliest event I can put a specific date to is 16 May 1959. I was four-and-a half and that's the day my brother was born. I have fragmentary memories from before then, but nothing datable. The earliest news event I have any memory of is John Glenn's orbital flight. The earliest I have *very* clear memories of is JFK's assassination when I was nine. I guess I just didn't pay much attention to the news back then. This is why Patrick, who's three years younger, recalls the Cuban Missile Crisis and I don't.

#174 ::: Kristen ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 08:23 AM:

I was born in 1965 and I have very vague memories of the lunar landing, but the first news event I really remember was the 1972 Summer Olympics. Not the games, of course, but the Israeli hostages. I remember the news footage of a balcony, and men with machine guns and black masks.

#175 ::: Janet ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 08:31 AM:

xopher @ 43. Your long list of "remembers" made me smile in recognition (except for the computer-related ones). I was born in late 1945. My ealiest memory of a news event is the 1948-1949 Berlin Airlift . I was also vaguely aware of the Korean War and the 1952 presidential election. I can't retrieve much else related to news events from active memory until we get to the mid-50s: Suez Crisis, Hungarian uprising, and Sputnik. (Though I was also amused to notice after reading a previous response that I also recall the 1952 news coverage about Christine Jorgensen.)

#176 ::: Saundra ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 08:32 AM:

I was born in 1973. I remember really, really disliking Ronald Reagan, because I thought he had physically beaten up poor Jimmy Carter to become president. However, the first event I remember in earnest is Ronald Reagan being shot, mostly because my mother called me home to tell me about it.

#177 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 08:36 AM:

I remember newspaper and TV coverage of the 1960 U.S. presidential election campaign. Plus family discussion. My parents were Democrats and Catholics, so I was rooting for Kennedy. Also, my mom never trusted Nixon. I was six.

I remember the first episode of Rocky and His Friends. Bullwinkle's cake recipe explodes. It turns out to be a great rocket fuel. Spies are after it. In the cliffhanger, R&B are trapped in a plummeting airplane, and their seat belts have been rigged so they won't unfasten. This still disturbs me. I was five.

Walt Disney flogged his movies tirelessly in ads on TV's The Mickey Mouse Club. One caught my attention, because it had rockets and test tubes and other science stuff in it (before I knew what "science" was): The Shaggy Dog. IMDB says it was released in 1959. I was five.

I remember puzzling over movie ads in the newspaper. One movie had a title that was a bunch of short words that were easy to sound out: CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF. IMDB says it was released in 1958. I was four that year.

#178 ::: Darice Moore ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 08:37 AM:

Kip W @55

"Nine Eleven" is prehistory for my five-year-old daughter.

My daughter will turn five in February, and it's the same for her. I remember watching the news while in the hospital to deliver her, because it was pretty clear we'd be invading Iraq. (Which happened a month to the day after her birth.)

I don't know if she's forming any lasting memories around it, but she is nominally aware that we're at war. This year, hearing "Happy Xmas (War is Over)" on the radio, she asked if the war really was over.

#179 ::: Jen B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 08:46 AM:

The first world event I remember is the Challenger at age 5. I remember the newspaper clipping about it being on the refrigerator, dominated by a picture of all the astronauts. The first political event I remember is the '88 election when I was 8. We had a mock election in class and a lot of us wrote in for Reagan, including myself. My reasoning was that he'd been president for my whole life and it would just be too weird to have some other person be the president.

Way back at #43 and #56: Typing. I learned at home on a computer in '91 (age 11). When I took typing in school they still had typewriters. (They didn't switch to computers until I was a senior, '98, and the room was always locked because they couldn't let the students use the computers unsupervised and there were never any teachers available to monitor. And the computers were only used to teach typing). My teacher didn't like me because I already knew how to type ("Slow down!"). And because I was used to being able to erase whenever I wanted on a computer I'd get in trouble with her for using the erase ribbon: didn't I know how expensive those things are? Heck, I remember getting extra credit points all through school just for handing things in typed instead of handwritten. Would a teacher even accept a handwritten report anymore?

#180 ::: Calton Bolick ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 09:02 AM:

I was born in 1961, and the earliest historical event I'm crystal-clear on was the 1968 US election; especially election night, since I was at the Bay County Fair in Panama City, Florida, that night, where they had set up big TVs showing the TV news coverage of the election. This being the South, George Wallace figured big in the coverage as a third-party candidate seemingly equal to McGovern and Nixon. I have a vague idea that I remember Johnson announcing that he wouldn't be running for re-election (March 1968), but that's not a reliable memory.

(I also clearly remember Nixon's resignation, since I watched it on TV during my birthday party on August 8th.)

#181 ::: Jon Sobel ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 09:17 AM:

PNH @169, my understanding is that there were no small children during WWII - they all came in a big batch right afterwards known as the Baby Boom. ;-)

#182 ::: PixelFish ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 09:28 AM:

Paul@159: I was born the year Star Wars came out. And my parents took me to the theatre, where apparently I was the quietest baby ever. (In fact, so quiet that they challenged fate and took me six more times.) So apparently I saw Star Wars SEVEN times in the first year of my life. :)

(And They say media doesn't affect children.)

#183 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 09:28 AM:

Bill Higgins @ 177... "Mom, I wanna make some cake to go to the Moon."

#184 ::: Chris Gerrib ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 09:32 AM:

Born in 1966, and the earliest news event I remember was watching a moon landing with my grandfather on TV. It was daylight outside (Illinois, USA) and I'm not sure what mission that was. I would have been five.

My parents and I were standing outside the White House when Nixon resigned. We were supposed to be taking a tour, but it was cancelled. We didn't know he resigned until we got back to the hotel that evening.

#185 ::: Larry Lennhoff ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 09:34 AM:

I remember JFK's funeral- we got off from school to watch it. I also remember seeing Oswald getting shot, but I don't believe that memory - it wasn't shown live, was it?

#186 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 09:42 AM:

My mother can recall neighbors returning home from World War I, although she was about 2 and a half at the time and otherwise entirely unclear on the concept of the war; after that, she says, it was discussions over the passage of the 19th Amendment and if any of the women in the neighborhood were going to go and vote; and then Harding's administration--Teapot Dome and all the other scandals generated a greaat deal of discussion (the furor over embezzlement at the VA was immense in a part of Missouri where members of the GAR still had get-togethers), and his death in office was espescially memorable--people were taken with the idea of Coolidge's father swearing him in as presidentat 2 in the morning. (Was it legal? Did he really need to be sworn in again by a Supreme Court Justice? No, the Constitution said a jedge* has to administer the oath, and if a JP isn't a jedge--and so on. Consensus was the elder Coolidge had done the Right Thing, and any local justice of the peace worth his salt would have done the same--we can't go around without a president, after all.)

They lived in Miller County, Missouri, in the country, and did not have a daily newspaper on a regular basis, just a small weekly one, unless someone had had cause to go into town and had picked up the newspaper from Jefferson City. Radio was very new, and she doesn't think they had one until after Harding died, as they didn't have electricity then.

She asks that I pass her thanks on to Avram for bringing this up--she thinks they'll have fun talking about this at dinner in the retirement center where she lives.

*Phonetic spelling representing local dialect.

#187 ::: Janet ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 09:47 AM:

Larry at 185: I remember JFK's funeral- we got off from school to watch it. I also remember seeing Oswald getting shot, but I don't believe that memory - it wasn't shown live, was it?

Yes it was shown live and I saw it too. I was glued to the TV that weekend.

#188 ::: Tesla ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 09:49 AM:

I was born in 1973.

I have a vague memory of President Carter on television urging us to conserve energy in our holiday decorating.

My first very solid memory is of the 1980 elections; I remember some of the debate of the time, the fact that my parents split their vote (Mum liked Anderson), and that I got to go into the voting booth and flip the little levers.

#189 ::: John Dallman ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 09:51 AM:

I have a datable memory of my third birthday, and one from maybe a week later. Most of my earliest memories aren't of news, but there's a source of bias. My family didn't have a TV until I was six or seven; the earliest news event I can remember is the death of Robert Kennedy. What I remember is a black screen with "Senator Robert Kennedy Dead", which I think must have been used when there weren't programmes being broadcast, which was quite a bit of the day on the BBC in 1968.

#190 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 09:52 AM:

Born 1968. The earliest news memory that comes to mind is Nixon's resignation. I have some visual memories of space program stuff on TV but can't associate it with any particular event.

I have earlier memories from maybe age 3, just not of current events.

#191 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 09:53 AM:

I was born in 1964. I remember almost going to Woodstock, the Apollo flights, and I have a very clear memory of the Stonewall Riots.

#192 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 09:54 AM:

(First memory for me of taking sides in a political campaign: 1976, for Ford. Singing anti-Carter jingles on the playground at school.)

#193 ::: Lauren ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 09:56 AM:

I was born in 1978, and at first I was going to say the Challenger was my first newsworthy memory. Then someone upthread mentioned Sally Ride, and I recall seeing the newspaper the day she went up on her first mission. It was The Boston Herald, I'm pretty certain (my parents used to get the Globe and the Herald every day), with a huge picture of her on the front page. The caption read, "Ride, Sally Ride!"

I don't know what caught me about it. Chances are, I had initially snatched the paper so I could read the comics - being five, I couldn't fathom why anyone would want to read all that boring stuff when Garfield was doing more interesting things.

But something about the picture and the caption made me ask my mother what it meant, and she told me how important it was that a woman was going into space, and read the article to me. I remember adding "astronaut" to my growing list of career choices (dolphin trainer, teacher, and veterinarian at the time.)

#194 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 09:57 AM:

Born the end of 1949, so Sputnik, Eisenhower's heart attack, and the murderous spree of Charles Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate. I grew up in Nebraska.

My earliest memory is my dad pointing out from shipboard the Statue of Liberty magically appearing through patches of fog. We would have been coming home from his Air Force service in Puerto Rico, so I would have been three, three and a half.

#195 ::: Writerious ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 09:59 AM:

I was in this world when JFK was shot, but too little to have any memory of it. The first big news event that I was aware of and watched the TV eagerly to see what the moon landings. I remember the Weekly Reader when I was in kindergarten had a cartoon picture of astronauts on the moon and little moon men peeking out from behind rocks to look at them. I was sorely disappointed that there weren't any little creatures on the moon, but watching the astronauts bounce around in low gravity was pretty cool.

#196 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 10:03 AM:

Born 1961. I remember being woken up or having class interrupted every time there was a rocket launch, but I don't remember any specific ones till we get to Neil Armstrong on the moon. My first very specific TV news memory was watching Eisenhower's state funeral in March 1969 -- must have been Easter weekend, because we were at my grandmother's house. I was born on the day Alan Shephard went up, but I guess I was busy because I don't remember it...

#197 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 10:13 AM:

Actually, one of my oldest memories is from before JFK and Mercury. I was staying at my grandparents because my mother had just given birth to my brother, which means I was 3. I remember it because my granddad had taken me on his horse buggy and at some point gave me the reins, but I did such a lousy job of it that he took them back from me. I also remember finding a flattened toad under a rock in their cold room, but that may be a slightly later memory.

#198 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 10:21 AM:

I was born in 1963. My first major news memory is the first Moon landing in 1969. We borrowed a TV from the neighbors down the street to watch it. At the time, I was most excited by being allowed to stay up late.

The first election that made an impression was 1972. My parents supported Shirley Chisholm in the Democratic primary. That fall, I was for Nixon, on the grounds that he'd been President already and knew what he was doing.

I'm a little surprised that I don't remember anything from 1968; MLK's assassination would have been big news in Atlanta.

#199 ::: Nathan ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 10:23 AM:

Timprov @160 said: 1986 sucked

Yet you leave out the suckiest event of that year; the Red Sox blowing game 6 of the World Series. Get your priorities straight.

#200 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 10:28 AM:

I was born quite early in 1976 (Groundhog Day), so I was a few months short of five during the 1980 presidential election, which I very, very vaugely remember. I have one brief flash of a memory of Charles and Diana's wedding, and I recall wondering what the big deal was.

My memory of the Challenger disaster is odd, because I distinctly remember watching the explosion on TV, standing in the living room next to the couch. But I would have been in school that day, and my mother verified that I wasn't home sick or anything. Perhaps what I'm remembering is a replay on the news, later?

How long's it been since "The sky was the color of a TV turned to a dead channel" ceased to mean what Gibson meant it to mean?

#201 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 10:34 AM:

Is it me or is there an automatic assumption that we all know roughly what each other is talking about? Seeing the posts of the more experinced/ elderly/ mature/ gaga posters, I see many references that I would have gotten even at 18 or 19, but only because I read a lot. (I am now 30, and born, brought up in and live in Scotland)

For example, we have mention of various programming languages, presidents, sporting events, satellites. I wonder how many of the historical events are known of by younger people?
But then, such knowledge is not so directly useful in everyday life, so there is no reason to learn it.

#202 ::: ctate ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 10:39 AM:

Born at the very end of 1969 (happy birthday to me, a few days ago!) -- my earliest political/current-events memory is the Carter vs Ford election in 1976. I knew there was a presidential election going on, and it was important enough for my schoolteacher to be taking a fake vote in class, but I didn't know anything at all about the politics involved. This seems to have been at a point when I was a bit older than many people were in their earliest political memories. Maybe I was just sheltered: I certainly had no interest in non-cartoon TV at that age, and my parents tended to watch the 11:00 news, after I'd gone to bed.

Oh! Here's one that pushes the date back a few months: I distinctly remember going to the bicentennial fireworks display in my home city. I was also aware enough both to know that it was the bicentennial (and what that meant!) and to be able to compare it in memory with previous July 4th fireworks. I was six and a half years old for this one.

#203 ::: elizabeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 10:59 AM:

I'm really enjoying this thread and everyone's accounts. There is about the personal lens on history that touches me deeply. My daughter is 7, and really we try not to watch the more disturbing bits of the news while she's watching. I now wonder if she'll feel she missed something. I don't even think they do current events in grade school any more. Though, the news all seems bad, so I'm not sure she's missing anything.

#204 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 10:59 AM:

Going further back than my recollections of #195... I was less than 3 years old. Someone had improvised a sort-of drive-in and I was with my mom & dad in a pickup truck. Watching giant cars appear out of nowhere at night and diappear who knew where scared the bleep out of me.

#205 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 11:03 AM:

My earliest memory, as opposed to memory of a public event, was of being on a train in either the south of France or the north of Spain in the autumn of 1959, when I was three. I have fragmentary memories of other events in my life in that year, and more or less continuous memories since 1960.

#206 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 11:15 AM:

My earliest personal memory is of a really nasty case of poison ivy that my mother had when I was less than a year and a half. Made a big impression on me. Next clear memory is from age three, when my brother hit me on the head with a half-brick.

#207 ::: The New York City High School Math Teacher ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 11:18 AM:

Camp David Accords. Then the Shah falling.

And then everything from the summer of '80 onwards is uber mein kopf gebrennt.

#208 ::: Eddie Cochrane ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 11:24 AM:

Despite not being much of a sports fan, many of my earliest and clearest memories are sports events. The earliest of which, and quite distinct is watching the coverage of the Tokyo Olympics in 1964 when I would have been 4 (born August 1960). I can also remember Jim Clark winning the F1 World Championship in '65 (I asked for a Scalextric set for Christmas) and of course England winning the World Cup in 1966. My earliest non-sports news event memory is Harold Wilson being re-elected in 1966.
I can remember watching Doctor Who from season 1 (1963-4), but only because I can recall the location I watched it from (we moved in '64), not individual stories. Earliest behind the sofa moment would have been the Zarbi (giant ants, season 2).

#209 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 11:29 AM:

Oh, I've just remembered another memory (heh).

Born in 1958, I can remember sitting on my mother's lap in a cinema -- watching "Psycho." Yep. I was about 2, my parents couldn't get a babysitter, and they figured a kid that age wouldn't notice anything. Um, no. (This is probably why I knit during horror movies, if I can't avoid them otherwise.) I only actually remember one scene, having to do with Norman stowing things in the trunk of the car.

This is a genuine memory -- I brought it up to my mom as a teenager or young adult, not having seen the movie in the interim, and she verified the scene, adding a horrified, "You remember that?!"

On a happier note, listening to the radio on Christmas Eve at ages 4 and 5 was totally cool. My dad was in the Air Force, and we lived on base. The military radio station had a spiel whereby the jets (SAC?) were 'tracking Santa'. He'd already started from the North Pole, they had radar signals...great stuff. Hey, reliable witnesses, right?

#210 ::: TChem ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 11:30 AM:

Born in late '79, I remember the World Series, the Challenger explosion, and Halley's comet from 1986. Can't remember anything earlier that doesn't have that "pasted over later" memory-feeling (I remember Mary Lou Retton, but can't guarantee I saw her in the Olympics and understood what was going on with it right at the time, for example).

The earliest event that I remember seeing on the news myself and making my own conclusions about was the US invasion of Panama ('89). I thought it'd be the start of WWIII.

I somehow missed the fall of the Berlin Wall completely; I missed a question about it in a school-wide trivia contest in 5th grade and my teacher got mad at me for losing on something so easy after answering things mentioned once in a textbook. "But it wasn't IN the textbook," I answered. I was that kid.

#211 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 11:35 AM:

guthrie #201 But then, such knowledge is not so directly useful in everyday life, so there is no reason to learn it.


#212 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 11:44 AM:

Larry @185: Yes, Oswald's shooting was televised live, as it happened (cite, William Manchester's "Death of a President").

Born 1955 -- First news related memory, the coverage of the Mercury launches/recoveries -- my school brought everyone to the cafeteria to watch. (My Dad was stationed at Langley AFB, my school was in the Hampton Roads/Newport News area.) NASA now has a museum on the base.

I also remember Kennedy's assassination, somewhere up-thread someone mentioned the horses pulling the caisson -- they were a team of matched grays, the riderless horse was black.

The Cuban Missile Crisis -- I knew something was going on from the tension between the adults, but it wasn't until many years later that I realized THAT was why my parents were so worried that October -- Dad brought home all sorts of nuclear preparedness pamphlets.

My how the years unreel: Apollo One, RFK, MLK, the riots, Apollo 8, the Moon landing, Nixon's resignation, the Bicentennial, Lady Liberty's 100th birthday, too many Olympic memories to recount--one bitter and many sweet, "Do you believe in miracles?!"

Challenger, Columbia... (Blurry monitor syndrome...Please stand by...)

#213 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 11:44 AM:

I have a vague memory of watching the 1980 Olympic hokey match and it begin a big deal but I was only three, so the details are pretty sketchy. It's all sort of jumbled up with a lot of Sesame Street, now on DVD, which apparently comes with warnings about it being inappropriate for some young viewers. This needs explaining to me.

#214 ::: Fred Kiesche ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 11:46 AM:

Born in 1959. I can remember the Kennedy assassination. Also various early space shots. Vietnam on TV. Moon walk. Nixon, Nixon, Ford, blah, blah, blah...

#215 ::: Michelle ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 11:51 AM:

I remember Empires Strikes back...does that count? I remember being envious of the kids who got to see it...I wasn't's still my fav...but I got to see Jedi in the theater. We didn't have tv till the late 80's cause we lived in BFE with a 5" bw television and no cable. We got the local Denver channel (2), and the local Break Channel (3).

After...that I remember We are the World and Band Aid.

I vividly remember the Challenger disaster

#216 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 11:56 AM:

Oh, and when the words "Special Bulletin" appear on a TV screen (first time I remember being able to read them was JFK's death) they still elicit a shudder.

For many years, seeing the Stars and Stripes floating down to half-staff* induced the question, "Who's been killed now?"

*It's only "half-mast" if the flag in question is on a ship.

#217 ::: pb ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 12:00 PM:

Born 1/61. We lived in Mexico at the time. I have a vague memory of the election of Diaz Ordaz in 1964 (I was 3).

The first memory of a major event was the Six Day War. I was in Jewish school in Mexico, and our parents and teachers were terribly worried.

After that we moved to the states, and it was the Nixon-Humphrey-Wallace campaign. My father said that if Wallace won, we'd be moving back to Mexico.

#218 ::: Mary Lou Klecha ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 12:01 PM:

Born in October 1981, but I missed having Challenger as my first news memory due to not being in preschool for the second half of the year. My family had just moved, and my mom kept me at home until I started kindergarten in the fall of '86. I wasn't aware of Challenger having happened at all until I saw a display about it when the fifth anniversary rolled around, and by then I was in fourth grade.

My first memory of current events is the 1988 Presidential election, a few weeks after I turned seven, and it's a whole cluster of memories: lying on the family room floor watching TV during the campaign and declaring a preference for Dukakis because he was younger and better-looking (my father immediately corrected me, telling me Dukakis wanted to let criminals out of prison and Bush was better). When my second grade class held a mock election, we went 11-1 for Bush, and we all knew the 1 was Holly, who voted Dem because her parents were Democrats (her father was a union man) and we all felt a little bad for her. I remember sitting and watching election results come in with my parents, and a general feeling of being on the winning side (and knowing right away which was the winning side).

#219 ::: robert west ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 12:13 PM:

The very first news event I can remember was the death of John Lennon. I was six, and we were in the car going somewhere, and since we lived in New Jersey the radio station was out of New York, so this was *the* big news of the night.

I distinctly remember them referring to him as a former Beatle and, not not having heard of the Beatles, wondering how a beetle could turn into a person.

#220 ::: Russell Letson ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 12:13 PM:

John @181: We're the War Babies--the few, the proud, the accidental. If it weren't for shore leave, I'd be my sister.

#221 ::: Russ ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 12:18 PM:

I was born in 1973, and the first memory I can reliably date is being taken to see Star Wars by my grandad. I'm pretty sure it was the first time I'd ever been to the cinema, and I liked it :D

I'm still impressed it was Grandad who took me though - I don't remember Mum and Dad there, so presumably they weren't interested.

The first news item I really remember is the British war with Argentina in 1982 - I remember John Craven telling me all about it on Newsround.

Obviously I wasn't a very politically conscious fact I remember the first proper book I voluntarily read for myself much better; "Amazon Adventure" in 1980.

I _think_ I remember Margaret Thatcher taking away free milk from schools, which was also 1980, but I don't trust actually understanding the news so much as being told we wouldn't get milk any more because of "that woman".

#222 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 12:29 PM:

Russ 221: That's one reason she's on my list of "dance with joy when they die" people.

#223 ::: Toni ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 12:38 PM:

July, 1939
An early memory is WWII as background noise, but I clearly remember my mother telling me the war was over. I remember the Vanport flood here in PDX in March, 1947. And President Truman being elected in 1948.

#224 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 12:38 PM:

This is all most interesting. I too am struck by the age range of folks who post here.

Upthread someone mentioned "duck and cover" drills. I vividly remember those from grade school, that would have been early 1950s. I was born in 1946, the first year of the Boom. One thing which people born say, twenty years later may not appreciate is the degree to which "The Bomb" dominated the consciousness of my generation's first fifteen years. I was pretty sure, as were most of my friends, that there would be either an "atomic" war or some kind of major nuclear event that would destroy human civilization before I graduated from high school. The two world wars were very present in our minds, and Einstein, after all, had told us that World War IV would be fought with rocks. My friends and I expected World War III to be fought between America and the Soviet Union, and we thought it would happen soon.

By the way, I never spoke of this to my parents, nor they to me; I have no idea if they shared my fear. It is possible they did not. It is, alas, too late for me to ask them. I have, however, checked this with my brother, who is five years younger than I: he remembers clearly having been told that the Russians were our enemy. We both recall the air raid drills -- and we both thought they were silly, because it was obvious to both of us that covering our heads and crouching under our desks would not protect any of us against a nuclear blast.

The Cuban Missile crisis changed this, a bit, because we won; the Soviet Union backed down.

Having lived through this, I find I have some sympathy for those folks who genuinely believe that the "Islamofascists" are out to destroy us and would do so immediately if they had the military capability. They are in the grip of something very powerful.

#225 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 12:41 PM:

I was four when Sputnik went up; I remember people talking about it in very worried tones at an after-church social that Sunday.

I remember all sorts of politics-meets-pop culture from second grade in a way that hadn't really happened for earlier years: the 1960 presidential race, with everyone chanting rhymes: "Nixon, Nixon, he's our man, Kennedy goes in the garbage can!" countered by its reverse. (The family was fairly strongly Democratic at that point, but my grandmother was rather perturbed about whether Kennedy would pay too much attention to the Pope.)

We had a snow day on Inauguration Day, so I got to watch that, in between forays out. And that spring was the beginning of the Civil War centennial, and all the boys (none of the girls) chose North or South. (It was possible to do this in Kentucky, which had been a border state.)

That same spring, they broadcast Alan Shephard's suborbital trip over the PA system. The next year, different school, the TV was rolled in and we watched John Glenn.

The Cuban Missile Crisis was, for me, an odd interval in which everyone got, again, very worried and kept the TV on to watch the news, something that did not ordinarily happen.

I missed the school's official announcement of the JFK assassination because the chorus was doing a special rehearsal for an upcoming concert, and the principal had decided not to interrupt the rehearsal. When some kid told me on the school bus, I didn't believe it (one did get told the most amazing amount of pure nonsense on the bus, after all) but then got home to discover my grandmother crying. The next few days were a confused jumble of TV coverage, while I read _Methuselah's Children_ in a corner, all spiced by familial worry that the impending Black Watch appearance, for which we had tickets, would be canceled (it was not).

Of course I watched the moon landing in glorious black-and-white; I would turn sixteen a week or so later.

The first shuttle launch came about a week after my wedding; we watched avidly. When the shuttle returned to space over two years after Challenger, it was moving day; we left the TV plugged in until we were sure that the launch was successful.

Disasters in recent years--Challenger, Columbia, 9/11--all seem to have come to me mediated by my husband, with morning phone calls and/or the suggestion that I get out of the bath and in front of the TV, pronto.

My earliest non-news memories are of my second birthday and shortly thereafter; the one that sticks in my mind most is shortly after a move, and my grandmother came back from a trip downtown (all of five blocks away) announcing that she had gotten lost.

#226 ::: Dena Shunra ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 12:45 PM:

I asked my daughter (9 and very politically involved) what her first memory of a "news event" is.

She didn't understand the question.

We don't watch TV, and we consume "news" via our computers - as part of what we do in our home offices. She feels involved in global and local events as they occur, not as some separate "news" that happens outside of her. Things are important and meaningful because they're important and meaningful - not because they are selected for the retelling by some news editor.

I wasn't expecting that...

#227 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 12:45 PM:

I don't have many political early memories (except for the Kennedy inaugural when I was in third grade, because we watched it in school) -- but I do remember seeing the Ringling Brothers & Barnum and Bailey circus the last year that they toured under canvas, in 1956.

#228 ::: Steve L. ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 12:46 PM:

Maya @49: I was born 1958 also, and remember the Kennedy funeral and my mom crying. My Saturday morning cartoons were preempted, which was a jolt. On some level I was aware that something important was going on.

"The Beany and Cecil Show" created by Bob Clampett was my favorite at the time. I even had my own Cecil the Sea-Sick Sea Serpent hand puppet.

#229 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 12:50 PM:

Lori Coulson (216): Re: 'half-mast' vs. 'half-staff'

Ah! Nice to have that cleared up. I thought it was a dialect difference.

#230 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 12:58 PM:

Lois @ #143, we're both Nov. 1950 babies, and your memories and mine track very well together.

#231 ::: Seth Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 01:02 PM:

Born September 1969. I have some fragmentary memories going back to age three, but my earliest current-events-related memory is seeing a picture of Nixon on the cover of Newsweek with the headline "Will He Resign?"

I remember the Bicentennial. I remember very firmly believing that 1976 could not really be America's 200th birthday, no matter how many people were telling me it was, because the fireworks display I had seen the previous year was so spectacular, that must have been the 200th.

I also remember visiting a relative with an honest-to-goodness Teletype in his kitchen, and looking at the key labelled BREAK, and being afraid that I might give in to the temptation to push it and then the whole machine would fall apart.

#232 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 01:13 PM:

Lizzy 224: As recently as the 1980s I heard about a survey that said that half of all GRADE SCHOOL students believed they would probably die in a nuclear war. (Mod the usual mods about how they asked the question etc.)

#233 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 01:19 PM:

Debbie writes in #209:

On a happier note, listening to the radio on Christmas Eve at ages 4 and 5 was totally cool. My dad was in the Air Force, and we lived on base. The military radio station had a spiel whereby the jets (SAC?) were 'tracking Santa'. He'd already started from the North Pole, they had radar signals...great stuff. Hey, reliable witnesses, right?

They're still doing that.

#234 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 01:21 PM:

Xopher @232: That doesn't surprise me -- for years I was convinced I wouldn't reach age 21. I was certain that someone would have pushed the button before that date!

#235 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 01:31 PM:

Lizzy @224: The Cuban Missile crisis changed this, a bit, because we won; the Soviet Union backed down.

Of course, now we know that we didn't win; there was a certain matter of a whole pile of Thor IRBMs in Turkey that got shipped back to the USA on the quiet in early 1963.

But neither did anybody lose. Kruschev got to point to the Thor IRBM withdrawl, Kennedy got to claim victory over the Cuban threat, Admiral Gorshkov got to build his blue-water navy, SAC got a bucketload of new ICBMs to play with, and everyone important went home happy. It was just us poor suckers[*] in the peanut gallery who thought we were all going to die.

(The important folks got their come-uppance in the 1990s at the historical symposia where everyone laid their cards on the table and realized just how close to the edge of the cliff they'd been tap-dancing.)

[*] Well, not me: I wasn't born for another 23 months.

#236 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 01:40 PM:

Like Thena (#12), the Bicentennial is one of my first memories, especially since my grandparents lived not too far from Valley Forge. (I was a week from turning 6.)

#237 ::: aphrael ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 01:45 PM:

Xopher, at 232: I was a grade school student for most of the 1980s, and I definitely thought I would die in a nuclear war. At least, until Gorbachev and perestroika.

#238 ::: Nicole TWN ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 01:48 PM:

I just turned 30 a few days ago, and I *know* I remember Princess Diana's wedding: horse-drawn carriage! Big ol' dress! Fairy-tale wedding, with a princess and a prince and everything! I would have been 3 1/2 in July 1981, though, which seems a little young.

I definitely remember the 1984 Olympics; specifically, Mary Lou Retton's gymnastics win and the Closing Ceremonies. I was 6 that year.

The Challenger disaster is crystal clear. I had just turned 8.

#239 ::: Larry Lennhoff ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 01:54 PM:

Lizzy @ 224 - I remember when I was 10 or so (1967) hearing the fire siren go off and for no particular reason being sure that it was the attack warning rather than a fire somewhere in town. I just lay down on my bed and waited to be turned into vapor. About 1/2 an hour later I got up and I've never told anyone this story until today.

In the alternate history of the book War Day a nuke that 'missed' Manhattan landed in the town where I grew up. I remember reading that and realizing that the impact point was so close to where my parents still lived that even their shadows would be vaporized.

#240 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 01:58 PM:

Born in 1970.

Earliest political memory was knowing that Gerald Ford was president, because I thought Gerald was a very strange name.

Earliest datable memory was snow in San Francisco, which was in 1976. I also remember going to see the fireworks on the Fourth of July that year.

I don't remember the fireworks, but I remember (Jim, look away now) standing on the floor of the motor scooter between my dad's knees as we drove there. Mom was behind Dad, and my 8 year old brother was perched on the back.

#241 ::: punkrockhockeymom ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 02:08 PM:

I was born in 1970.

I have very clear memories related to the Bicentenniel celebrations and the 1976 presidential election, which I watched on television with my grandmother in the basement. She babysat while my parents went to vote. I also remember the Iran hostage crisis, the skipped Olympics (that's precisely how I remember them, as "skipped"), and the 1980 election (we had a mock election at school, and I carried a sign that said "Reagan will BLOW US UP!!").

I remember, also, more or less clearly but without a ton of context: seeing Star Wars at the drive-in on a double bill with Orca. Seeing Jaws at the mall movie theater. Charles and Diana. Challenger. Chernobyl. Luke and Laura. Reagan and the Pope being shot (I went to Catholic elementary school). John Lennon and Elvis Presley dying (my mom was so upset!). The first Battlestar Gallactica was my favorite television show the entire time it aired. The last episode of M.A.S.H. The first video on MTV. The cyanide in the Tylenol.

And if that all seems very jumbled together and in no particular order, that's because that's how I remember them. Pictures in my head that I can call up, but I'd have to spend more time than I have to order them precisely.

Xopher, I absolutely believed as an elementary school student in the 1980s that I would die as a result of nuclear war.

I'll put the things Puppy remembers in a separate comment, because this got all longish...

#242 ::: calculusdude16 ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 02:08 PM:

I was born in early '84. I was aware of the '92 Presidential campaign; I knew Ross Perot was the third-party candidate, and understood that meant he had a snowball's chance in a supernova of winning.

I remember the release of the Super NES in 1991. I *think* I remember the release of the Intel 486 processor in '89, but I'm less confident about that; I was definitely using one fairly soon after its release, though.

I also remember playing Space Invaders on an Atari 2600 with my grandma, no later than 1988.

#243 ::: Nicole TWN ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 02:12 PM:

Ooh--remembered a couple more "of course!"es
Chernobyl. I was 8. The notion of a Giant Invisible Floating Cloud of Death makes a hell of an impression on a kid, to say nothing of the gruesome stories that were circulating around the schoolyard. My dad made my sister and me take iodine-spiked orange juice and told us it would protect us from the bad iodine. (Iodine-spiked orange juice, if you must know, is gross.) We lived, then as ever, in California, so it's not like we were in immediate danger; I think it was borne out of feeling helpless and wanting to do SOMETHING to protect your kids, even if it's kinda pointless.

I don't remember Mt. St. Helens erupting, but I do remember it being an event in the fairly recent past.

Everyone born in December 1977--happy 30th!

#244 ::: Juliet E McKenna ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 02:14 PM:

Another one born 1965 in the UK, so my first outside-the-family-circle memories are Neil Armstrong on the moon (woken up by parents in the middle of the night to see it) and decimalisation. Thereafter, it's Munich and the terrorists and Watergate.

My sons are 12 and 14, so for them it's 9/11. My younger son has no recollection of going upstairs to his bedroom that evening and building two towers out of wooden blocks and surrounding them with his comparatively huge toy dinosaurs 'so the planes can't hit them'. I remember that vividly. It made me cry.

#245 ::: Leva Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 02:20 PM:

I was born in 1975. Earliest dateable memories -- first launch of a space shuttle, watched on a black and white TV. I also distinctly remember Reagan being shot, around the same time. I'm not sure which was actually first.

First dateable memory -- first day of preschool. I was three. It was very traumatic.

I also have clear memories of climbing out of a crib and taking a fall, and of a certain section of the West Fork of Oak Creek near Sedona when I was itty bitty.

#246 ::: punkrockhockeymom ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 02:22 PM:

Puppy (nickname of my now 13 year old son) remembers 9/11 very clearly. He also remembers the lead-up to the 2000 election, because he got in a very big fight with his best friend Ethan, who told him that "Al Gore is a liar and did not invent the web." My son's precocious response: "Well, George Bush is stupid and probably can't get on the web. I'd rather be a liar than stupid."

Then he ran home crying and said, "Is Al Gore a liar?"

He claims to remember all the hubbub over Y2K.

He ALSO claims to remember when the Detroit Red Wings won the Stanley Cup in 1997 and 1998 (very, very newsworthy in Detroit). I remember watching a game in the Colorado series in 1997 with him, that Colorado won like 6-0 or somesuch, and every time the red light went on, Puppy flung his arms over his head and yelled "He shoots, he SCOOORES!!!!"

#247 ::: punkrockhockeymom ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 02:24 PM:

Oh! And I remember Mt. St. Helens exploding. It really, really freaked me out.

#248 ::: BSD ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 02:31 PM:

Let's see:

I don't have any recollection whatsoever of Reagan/Mondale, when I was 4, close to 5, and if it were possible for an impression to be left, that would have left a significant impression. I do remember, quite clearly, Challenger, when I was just short of six. That gives a 15 month window for "first impersonal memory". Looking at those fifteen months on Wiki, I see only three events that I even sort of remember: New Coke (I probably remember the backlash and the return to Classic, really); the NES launch (about two months previous to Challenger, and it was a sustained media blitz in NYC, a target market, so these memories are probably not from launch day); and We Are the World (which I probably also remember from getting the record at some point, probably later in that year).

#249 ::: Jen Roth ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 02:44 PM:

Speaking of flags at half-staff, did I miss an event that would be causing people to fly flags that way for the last few days? About half the flags around here seem to be at half-staff.

#250 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 02:46 PM:

I'm another one who's not really big into sports yet has a very clear memory of a sports-related event -- I can recall exactly what I was doing (sitting in bed and working a design on my new Indian bead loom early new Year's day, before anyone else was awake) when it was announced on KDKA radio that Roberto Clemente of the Pittsburgh Pirates had died in a plane crash in Managua, Nicaragua. I would have been 11. After that I didn't have the heart to follow baseball anymore. Something about being the only person in the house who knew about it was very spooky.

#251 ::: Leigh Butler ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 02:50 PM:

I was born in 1976, and the first news event I remember vividly was Challenger in 1986, which made me 10, so I seem to skew the curve a bit.

I don't really remember any news events before that, unless you count going to the World's Fair in New Orleans in 1984. (I remember the gondola ride scared the crap out of my mother, and the Inca exhibit scared the crap out of me.) I'm surprised I don't remember Reagan getting shot in 1981, but I have no memory of it whatsoever.

I was not a very news-conscious child. What I mostly remember is entertainment-related. This will likely not shock those who know me well.

I remember seeing both E.T. and the re-release of Fantasia in the theater, which would have been in 1982 (which would make me six years old). Also possibly the re-release of Bambi that year (though I could be remembering the later release in 1988).

I also remember watching The Muppet Show, which went off the air in 1981, and Wonder Woman with Lynda Carter, which Wikipedia tells me ended in 1979, which, wow, I remember that? I would have been only three!

This explains a great deal about a certain Underoo-fueled obsession I had as a child...

#252 ::: Mary Lou Klecha ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 02:54 PM:

punkrockhockeymom @ 246: Ah, but does he remember March 26, 1997?

And re: the childhood fear of dying in a nuclear war, I remember very distinctly being not really fearful but irritated that the year 2000 was going to come and end the world when I was only 19 and had not yet had a chance to do much that was really cool, when I was 10 or 11 years old.

#253 ::: debraji ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 02:56 PM:

Born in November 1956.

My earliest memories predate my sister's birth in October 1959. I remember being snatched back from the edge of the canal that was across the street from our house, and fiercely scolded. And to this day the smell of drywall brings me back to a visit to our new house under construction.

I remember my father taking me to the beach to see the unusually strong surf crashing, because of the hurricane that was on its way. This was Long Island, and my best guess is it was Hurricane Donna in 1960.

I also remember seeing Dr. No at the drive-in (I slept through most of it on the back seat); that would be summer 1963.

And of course the Kennedy assassination. I was in second grade. It was lunch recess, and the rumor spread on the playground that the president had been shot. I thought it was a lie until we were sent home early from school and I found my mother at home in tears.

#254 ::: Joe McMahon ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 02:58 PM:

I was born in 1957, and I definitely remember the Friendship 7 launch (1962); I was intensely frustrated because I was at my grandparents' house, where they had really bad TV reception, so I could hear it but not see it. And I very much remember the Kennedy assassination coverage, with the continuous drum figure underneath.

#255 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 02:59 PM:

Darice @178: A week before we went to China to get Sarah, I was sick with the worst flu I can remember. 24 trips to the bathroom in 24 hours. It was during one of these trips that Cathy told me they'd discovered a new disease in China, called SARS. The day before we went over, Bush invaded Iraq. It was an exciting time to be an American in China.

#256 ::: Gabriele Campbell ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 02:59 PM:

For me, it was the first landing on the moon. We didn't have a TV back then, but I was allowed to watch it at a friend's. We played Landing on the Moon for weeks afterwards. :)

The first major affair I remember seeing on our own TV was the sex and spy scandal surrounding Willy Brandt.

#257 ::: Robin Grantham ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 03:02 PM:

I have a twelve-year-old. I asked her if she remembered any big news events before 9-11 and she said, "Um, World War II? World War I?"

Yeah, she looks at me funny a lot these days.

After some clarification, she reported that she does not remember anything before 9-11. I'm not sure she really racked her brains out over the question at that point, though.

My earliest big news memory is of the Israeli hostage situation, though for the longest time I thought it must have been the Kennedy assassination I'd made myself watch in order to be a responsible citizen. (I was six at the time.) It was pretty eye-opening when I figured out Kennedy was assassinated before I was born.

I have much stronger memories of my father repairing televisions by cannibalizing old ones. Soldering guns, transistor tubes, a healthy respect for electricity . . . He used to make me hold a mirror in front of the screen so he could see how it was going.

I was also a big Bozo fan. Every morning there was Bozo, right before Captain Kangaroo. Then HR Pufnstuf. Maybe it was The Electric Company. Or Sesame Street. Then I had school or some such before I could get back and watch the three o'clock movie. Good times.

#258 ::: Kayjayoh ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 03:03 PM:

I was born in February of 1976. My first dateable personal memory is from Thanksgiving of 1978, when due to a great deal of crying on my part after having bit my tongue and misunderstanding on my parents part, we ended up going to the emergency room. (I believe I started crying because it hurt, but then kept on crying because the reaction of the grown-ups frightened me.)

My next dateable memory is also personal: May of 1979 when my little sister was born and brought home from the hospital.

I do remember going to see Star Wars at the drive-in, but I'm not exactly sure when. It was a double feature with another sci-fi movie, but I can't recall what. (I want to say Flash Gordon, but that would put it in 1980, three years after Star Wars came out.)

The first glimpses of world events start in 1980. I remember walking around the house chanting "Yay Reagan! Boo Carter!" because in my child's logic, Reagan was friends with Bonzo and liked Jelly Bellies, which made him an ok guy. All Carter had were peanuts, which were not nearly as tasty and Jelly Bellies. My parents were very amused by this, and fortunately I grew out of that method of choosing politicians. (Though at around age 10 I thought Tommy Thompson had a cool name and therefore liked him. Grew out of that, too.)

I remember hearing about Richard Pryor setting himself on fire.

I also very distinctly remember the wedding of Charles and Diana in 1981.

#259 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 03:20 PM:

Charlie at 235: I should have put quotes around "we won;" you will have to assume the ironic tone. But at the time, to a high school student with friends who had brothers old enough to be drafted, the fact that we did not go to war in 1962 was wonderful, even hopeful. As you say in your post, we (in the peanut gallery) thought we were going to die, and when the war we all feared didn't happen, I can assure you it felt like someone, perhaps even us, had won something.

And the next year Kennedy was shot, and the Zapruder film burned itself into our heads as the 9/11 videos were to do only 38 years later, and it all changed again...

#260 ::: Nathan ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 03:32 PM:

Jen Roth,

Where are you. I recently did some work in Connecticut and they've apparently decided to fly flags at half-staff until all soldiers are back from Iraq/Afghanistan or some such date.

Side note: When I watched different people raise the flags, they all did it wrong. You're supposed to raise it to full staff momentarily and then lower it to half-staff. These guys just raised it half way and stopped.

Also, when I asked some of these guys why the flag was flying at half-staff, none of them knew. (I got the answer from police chief in Bridgeport.)

#261 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 03:41 PM:

I remember being less than 10 years old and watching The Day The Earth Stood Still on TV. To say that Gort terrified me would be an understatement.

#262 ::: Robin ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 03:57 PM:

I was five when the École Polytechnique Massacre occurred, and I vividly remember watching the news with my parents and listening to my family discussing it all that winter. The Berlin Wall had fallen just a few months before, but I don't recall learning about that until I read about it a year later in an Archie comic of all things.

#263 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 03:57 PM:

I was born in 1972. My earliest news memory is the Carter/Ford presidential election (1976). I remember my dad supported Ford, but I supported Carter because I thought the Democrats and Republicans ought to "take turns." I was three or four at the time - I'm not sure how close to the election it was when we talked about this. It is also my earliest memory, period.

My most vivid news memory is the fall of the Berlin wall. Clearer than 9/11 and the Challenger explosion, which come in second and third in terms of vividness.

#264 ::: Joe McMahon ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 04:01 PM:

David @ 111: Right! I remember that one now. And Telstar I. So that gets me back to 1960, when I was three. I had just taught myself to read; LIFE Magazine was all over the place, and I was devouring every issue I could find.

#265 ::: Jon Baker ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 04:02 PM:

I'm 42, and my first big news event was the Moon landing. My parents woke me up to see it. Wiki says Armstrong stepped on the lunar surface at 2:56 UTC, which would have been about 11 PM New York time. So if that was July 1969, I was 3-3/4.

I have some distinct memories of the pictures they sent back (dark people against white background) which didn't make sense to me for years (isn't space black? aren't spacesuits white?) until I saw the films again, and realized it was the shadow side of spacesuited figures (dark) against the lunar surface (white).

Being a proto-SF-nerd, I watched the rest of the missions as well.

Watergate was "the dumb hearings" which preempted all the children's TV on Channel 13. I remember the end of military operations in Vietnam; heard it on the radio in 2nd grade while driving home from my grandparents. January '73? My parents also made sure we saw Nixon leave office and Ford's inauguration speech.

Then there was all the stuff on the radio about "indoor China" and "youth in Asia" throughout elementary school.

#266 ::: Kate ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 04:08 PM:

I was born in 8/80, and I find that I'm missing the one thing that *everyone* my age in the States seems to remember (Challenger), because I wasn't here at the time.

Instead, I have a bunch of IRA bombings (most notably, the Christmas/Harrod's one, because we were almost there), bomb/kidnapping drills (because I went to diplomatic school), and the Berlin Wall. The next thing I remember is Gulf One, and I think that was probably the first or second big political thing I was allowed to watch on TV, because it's the one I have the clearest visual memory of (although I do remember crying and being very upset at the IRA blowing up cars with dogs in, as evidenced by the grills they had across the back seats).

Almost everyone I know who's my age (or within two years) and from the US remembers Challenger (because a lot of them were watching the launch live in class) and Gulf One (because it was our first war), but very few of them know anything about European politics from that era.

#267 ::: EClaire ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 04:15 PM:

I also remember the World Fair in New Orleans, but only my dad picking me up from school to go - I have no actual memory of anything I saw there...

My earliest memory is of sitting underneath my great aunt's Christmas tree, playing with the tinsel, because we weren't allowed tinsel on our tree for fear the cat would eat it. I had to move when my grandfather, his three sisters, and their spouses came in to take photos. Many, many years later I found the pictures and realized that I would have just turned 3. Yes, I still like shiny things.

#268 ::: Cassandra ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 04:38 PM:

Born in spring of '82.

I have a few memories of my family when I was four, and it would have been around that time that I remember seeing Reagan on TV. I knew he was President but wasn't really sure what that meant. I thought he was cool because he'd been in grammar school classes with my grandfather.

I remember being a little older, maybe 5 or so, and my parents had asked me to read a newspaper article out loud to some of my grandparent's friends, who didn't believe I could read. I remember asking what a bomb was and being told to go and play. I read much better than I understood at that point. Not sure what incident that was from, though.

The first year I was aware of as a year was 1987.

I remember the giant earthquake in California in 1989 because I remember understanding that earthquakes sometimes happened in New York, but not understanding that when they did they weren't going to swallow up freeways. Apparently it was the first earthquake to be broadcast live on national TV. I was scared of earthquakes for years.

I also remember the fall of the Berlin Wall; my mother made my sister and I sit down and watch it. I was a bit antsy at first, as I'd been torn away from my book, but I remember thinking that all of those people were very happy about something, and then I started to see the wall and understand what it had meant. By the end I daresay I was interested.

#269 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 05:01 PM:

Alan H., #99: I can remember a straw poll in my classroom for the presidential election -- Nixon by a landslide.

Going off on a tangent here. During the run-up to the 1996 election, I was taking a night course in Business Law. One night the instructor -- who was at least my age, and I think somewhat older -- did a straw poll, and only a couple of hands (including mine) went up for Clinton. Whereupon the instructor said that he'd been doing these polls with every class he had, and the results were always the same. How, he wondered, did the news polls conclude that Clinton had any chance at all?

*pause while everyone here winces the way I did*

My response began with something to the effect of, "I can see why you're teaching Business Law and not Statistics!" and went on from there, for several appalled paragraphs. I don't know if I managed to convince him, or anyone else, that his self-selected, economic-class-homogenous group didn't represent anything remotely resembling a cross sample, but at least I tried.

#270 ::: Anna ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 05:10 PM:

I'm 18. My first significant political memory is the Clinton/Dole election in 1996 - I was 7. I didn't have any exposure to television, though, and I pretty much only read the comics in the paper, so that could certainly skew the results in my case.

#271 ::: Richard Brandt ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 05:11 PM:

By a curious coincidence, I was six when JFK was assassinated. I was in class when our principal made the announcement over the intercom and sent us all home.

Before that? My folks had the "First Family" LP and parody photo-caption books all about the Camelot administration. We all knew who Caroline and John-John were. I knew Kruschev visited the U.S. because Bob Newhart had a routine about it. But specific events before that? My mom says when we were in Tampa during the Cuban missile crisis we were stockpiling canned goods in the basement (as if), but I don't have the foggiest recollection.

I should have some vague recollection of all those astronauts whirling around up there, but all I can remember specifically is Mom telling us that John Glenn had fallen in his bathtub, and me and my sister laughing over what a drop he must have taken, but I can't place the year this was.

I recall that as a child of that age, what was happening on a movie screen made only a vague impression on me; Dr. Strangelove the year after JFK went right over my head, and I could only remember fleeting fragments of To Kill A Mockingbird. The same with the news of the world, perhaps.

#272 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 05:12 PM:

To contribute on topic:
I was born in 1977. I couldn't recall anything big until the first gulf war, until I read other peoples entries and was reminded. I definitely remember crouching beside my radio hearing about the Lockerbie bombing, so I would have been 9 or so. Before that, I have no idea.

#273 ::: Richard Brandt ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 05:16 PM:

Debbie @ 209: Born in 1958, I can remember sitting on my mother's lap in a cinema -- watching "Psycho." Yep. I was about 2, my parents couldn't get a babysitter, and they figured a kid that age wouldn't notice anything. Um, no. (This is probably why I knit during horror movies, if I can't avoid them otherwise.) I only actually remember one scene, having to do with Norman stowing things in the trunk of the car.

This is a genuine memory -- I brought it up to my mom as a teenager or young adult, not having seen the movie in the interim, and she verified the scene, adding a horrified, "You remember that?!"

Actually the most memorable part of the movie (wondering if that darned car is ever going to sink), because at that point in the story you're really still rooting for Norman.

Our parents forbade us to watch The Haunting* when it came on television. Naturally, as soon as they were out of the room, we flipped the dial and watched the opening few minutes. That was enough to keep me from sleeping peacefully for nights.

*(There is only one movie of The Haunting.)

#274 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 05:41 PM:

I was born in the spring of 1956. My earliest memories that aren't national political events date to around 1958 or early 1959.

I definitely remember the December 1960 New York air disaster, because the photos were so strange.

I remember being told that Eisenhower was president, and later resenting it when I was told that Kennedy was now president, since I had learned it was Eisenhower.

I'm not sure when I heard that Hawaii had become a state, and Alaska the year before that, but I jumped to the conclusion that we were going to have a new state every year, so that can't have been much past 1960.

I remember what I believe was the Cuban Missile Crisis. That would have been in the fall of 1962. My parents stayed up watching the news late at night, sitting quietly in a darkened room in front of the TV. I'm not sure what woke me up, or kept me from sleeping, but I crept quietly to the threshhold of the room. My parents spotted me. Instead of giving me a spanking for being up past bedtime, my mother held me in her lap. My father took a striking high-contrast B&W photo of the two of us lit only by the glow from the TV screen. I think my memory that it was the Cuban Missile Crisis comes from my parents talking about it years later, when they were sorting through old photos and came across that one.

I don't remember what was happening on the TV. I couldn't resolve television images when I was young.

Of course I remember the day Kennedy was shot. I was sitting in my second-grade classroom. My teacher told us the news. A few minutes later my sister (she's a year older than I am) came to the door of my classroom, and I got up to talk to her. She had been crying, and opined that the Russians had done it.

I remember quite a lot about Goldwater's presidential campaign, because my father worked on it.

#275 ::: Jacob Davies ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 05:53 PM:

Born '77, British: I can remember the Falklands War which was 1982, although I can't remember anything much about it. I remember the re-elections of Thatcher & Reagan as part of a general "we are so doomed" political awareness & malaise (repeated with Bush 1 and John Major).

I remember Challenger & Chernobyl of course.

In terms of feeling really involved with news and having a very strong reaction, the fall of the Berlin Wall and Tiananmen Square were the zenith and nadir of hope for freedom, democracy, and all that good stuff. On the one hand, the wall falling was obviously the end of the utterly terrifying but ridiculous farce that was the Cold War. Tiananmen on the other hand can still make me as angry or upset as I ever get.

Those two events have really formed my views on political protest & power: which is to say that enough people on the streets can overturn even the most entrenched authoritarianism - as long as the government (or army) is not willing to kill masses of people in the streets.

#276 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 05:58 PM:

Richard Brandt @ 273... The one directed by Robert Wise? Starring Claire Bloom and Julie Harris?

#277 ::: Jen Roth ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 05:59 PM:

Nathan @260: I'm in Illinois. It's not very consistent: some institutions have the flag at half-staff and others don't. I think the ones that do are more often public institutions than private ones, but I'm not sure. I'll have to pay more attention and figure out who the right person to ask would be.

#278 ::: David S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 06:07 PM:

I was born in Feb 1956. I can remember being outside in the evening with my father, looking up to see one of the Mercury capsules pass overhead, I remember it as John Glenn but it may have been one of the later flights. Not sure if we actually saw it or not! I also recall my cousin rushing around the house one morning having just heard on the radio that JFK had been killed (which makes sense as I just checked and it was 23rd Nov, a Saturday, in Australia).

#279 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 06:09 PM:

Berry@128: Nixon died the day I got married; I knew it was mean to take it as a wonderful present considering the way he'd managed to get everyone to forget that he'd left half a step ahead of the posse, but I did anyway.

I remember most of the Mercury launches; Carpenter went up after school started, but the music teacher let us listen on somebody's transistor radio until the ]capsule[ was reported in orbit.

PNH@165: I certainly have \individual/ memories from age 4 or less (views of nursery school, a tent circus at the village crossing, losing an icecream at Silver Springs), as do many here; the Kennedy election is the first \public/ event that I'm sure I'm remembering from realtime rather than retrospect. Children can be appallingly self-oriented if not nudged outward.
@169: do you have any guesses how many people who read this are in the right age range (~70) to have first recollections being WWII? I know there are people much older than I am who get around the net (starting with my oldest aunt, b.1918 -- but she was working with computers by the time I was born), but I get the impression there aren't many.

Lizzy@224, Charlie@235: it's a measure of how different politics was then that no Republicans portrayed it as backing down; maybe everyone had gotten a little tired of that hysteria after 15 years? Or were the missiles in Turkey unknown outside a tight circle?

#280 ::: Carl ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 06:13 PM:

I was born in the summer of '57. I don't remember Sputnik, but I do remember the JFK assassination, though not clearly, as I really didn't understand what was going on - just that almost everyone was upset, and school was out.

Most of my other memories in the 60's were related to the space program (my dad was a rocket scientist) and USA'n politics.

My earliest verifiable memories (that are not just fragments from stories told too often by other family members) date back to about age 4.

#281 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 06:19 PM:

I read somewhere that we first start to form clear memories when we become able to construct a narrative of some sort. We apparently need some kind of context to fix memories. I don't know if this is true, but if it is, it indicates that storytelling is a fundamental part of human development.

#282 ::: VCarlson ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 06:25 PM:

Born 6/58. My first news memory is JFK's assassination. I was living with my Dad that year, so heard about it in daycare. I had to have a number of things explained to me - why people (adults!) were crying, what death was (Dad took me to someone's open casket viewing to help me understand - OK - no one's *there* any more), and live vs Memorex (No, look! There he is, on TV!). I identified with Caroline, 7 months older than I, and was horrified at the thought that *my* Daddy might not come back (well, the previous 2 years he'd been in Sao Paolo and I was in Mexico or Hawaii - I had reason). For years afterward, any time I heard "Hail to the Chief," I got a flash of the B&W TV screen showing a long shot of the riderless horse and the caisson with the casket. I was with Mom after that, and we had no TV in the house - she could hear TV tubes and dog whistles.

#283 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 06:27 PM:

Steve C. (281), my earliest memory is of constructing a story.

#284 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 06:29 PM:

Born November '67. I remember the awful, hushed feeling in synagogue on Yom Kippur when the Yom Kippur War started - 1973, so I was nearly 6.

My mother tells me that she called my older brother (born '63) to watch a moon landing and he said "Why? I've seen that already."

Other "highlights" and mostly from age ten onwards: Pope John Paul II becoming Pope (cartoon "I will miss these yearly trips to the Vatican" in the daily papers about the fact he was likely to live longer than his predecessors). Sadat and Begin getting the Nobel Peace Prize. Mount St Helens blowing up. John Lennon being shot. The Iranian Embassy siege. Watching the Wall (Berlin!) come down ... Tiananmen Square... the first shuttle launch. I remember watching Challenger blowing up on the news and watching again and again hoping that somehow, this time it would just keep rising.

Early TV/Cinema memories: "My" Doctor Who was Jon Pertwee (he started in 1970).

Sports: Olga Korbut at the Olympics. I remember Nadia Comaneci at the 1976 Olympics, getting 10.0 - I remember thinking it unfair Olga was never given that 'cos she was a better gymnast - so maybe I have vague memories of the 1972 Olympics.

#285 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 06:31 PM:

American, born May of 1952. I have two memories of televised historic events in late 1956: news coverage of Russian tanks rolling into Hungary, and ski racing in the 1956 winter Olympics, which I watched sitting on my dad's lap and eating saltines.

I have vivid personal memories of a time much earlier than that: sitting in a playpen under blooming lilac bushes in the back yard of the house on the Mountain Highway (where we lived from early 1953 until the spring of 1956) and systematically taking all the bars out of the sides, climbing to the first landing of the strictly forbidden stairs and sitting on the window sill looking out into the branches of the blue spruce tree. Most vividly, watching our bull fight with the neighbor's bull when they'd pulled down the fences between them and slaughtered each other in the eery glow of the barnyard light and a cold full moon.

#286 ::: Kayjayoh ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 06:44 PM:

Oh! I had forgotten when Mt. St. Helen's was. I do remember that. It was the day after my baby sister's 1st birthday, so I would have been 4. I distinctly remember reading my dad's National Geographic about the eruption over and over and being both fascinated and horrified. I think we we also had a Time or Life magazine from it.

There was a photo of an ash-covered in the bed of a pick-up truck, everything covered in grey ash. It haunted me. There was also an article on a old man who lied on Spirit Lake and who refused to leave.

My memories of the Challenger disaster are odd. I was in 4th grade at a small parochial school, and they decided not to let us watch the launch. I had been mad about that. Then our teacher came into the room and told us the news. I did see the footage of the explosion, over and over on the news, but the images didn't have the same shock power they must have had to the people who saw it as it happened.

#287 ::: Trevin Matlock ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 06:50 PM:

I remember the first moon landing live on TV. I was annoyed that my cartoons weren't on. I was 6. I have memories of earlier (going back to at least age 4 and maybe 3) but they are not of news stories. Age 4 is my grandfather's funeral. Kissing him in the casket. He was so cold. The earlier memory is playing tinker toys with the same grandfather. So, an younger 4 or maybe a 3.)

#288 ::: Roz Kaveney ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 06:59 PM:

I remember the Coronation of Elizabeth II, mostly because I saw it on television along with a bunch of neighbours and it was the first time I ever saw television - my family didn't actually own one until the Sixties.

I think I remember my father trying on his old army uniform because he thought he might get called up for Korea, but I am not absolutely sure of that.

I definitely remember Suez and Sputnik.

Someone mentioned Christine Jorgenson - actually she wasn't the first successful GRS, just the first one to be publicised. Michael Dillon and Roberta Cowell preceded her by a couple of years. Pagan Kennedy has a really interesting book about Dillon.

#289 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 07:19 PM:

I'm 1984, as you might have guessed by the fact that my first big news memory is Gulf 1, and I've only now realized that our textbooks weren't as outdated as we thought. In first or second grade, one of the things that was 'news' to everyone-- not actual news, because we'd heard it before, but 'news' because we just kept telling people-- was that the USSR didn't exist any more. And it was still in the maps at the back of our social studies book, so something was clearly being stupid.
Then again, another piece of 'news' was "Elvis is dead," so we were clearly not the most up-to-the-minute kids.

My first memory, or the memory I have chosen to put as first, is my mother talking to another woman. I wanted something and did the, "Mom? Mom!" thing. She turned and said, "In a minute!" I either thought, said, or repeated constantly that a minute is a very long time (or something to that effect). It's dateable because I remember the arch trellis behind my mother, which means we were in Harvard then. We left there when I was two and a half, tops. I might remember moving.

#290 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 07:20 PM:

About nuclear war and the Cuban Missile crisis:

I was ten, and going to Yelm Grade School, which was just a bit less than five miles from the western boundary of Fort Lewis. A military public information officer was sent to give a presentation on emergency evacuation, in case the Russians aimed missiles at military targets on the west coast; it was pretty boring until he said that those of us who lived a mile or less from the school should just run home, and then casually mentioned that if Ft. Lewis was bombed, we probably wouldn't live long enough to get there.

If there's anyone on this planet I hope died a bloody and painful death, he's it.

#291 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 07:33 PM:

Diatryma @ 289... I'm 1984

...and not looking a day older.

#292 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 07:38 PM:

I asked Sue what her oldest memory was. She thinks she was 2 or 3 years old, at someone's house in Sacramento, and being fascinated by maggots crawling in some garbage can. I think she then graduated to zanti misfits.

#293 ::: Bill Blum ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 07:46 PM:

Just turned 35 on Sunday...

The earliest news events I can recall.... hmmmmmm.

I remember watching Reagan's inauguration, and then the news about the embassy hostages....
( One of the USAF personnel injured in the abortive rescue attempt had ties to my hometown, if I recall correctly. )

#294 ::: Scott Oden ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 07:51 PM:

Born in June of 1967. The first memory I have, though it's a bit hazy, is of the Moon Landing in '69. I recall being on the floor -- on a funky green shag carpet -- playing with my plastic dinosaurs and hearing Walter Cronkite's voice. I also remember watching the Skylab launch in '73 . . . and I faintly recall being worried about Dad not being able to get to work because of a gas crunch (I just checked Wikipedia and there *was* an oil embargo in '73, though I might be confusing this memory with one from a later date).

#295 ::: Piscusfiche ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 07:58 PM:

Cassandra@268: I remember the day of the Loma Prieta earthquake. I wasn't in California, but Utah, but I heard the news after coming out of a showing of Lawrence of Arabia that I had insisted my father take me to.

Challenger I remember very clearly, because our third grade teacher was VERY gung-ho on the whole Teachers in Space program. We were seated on the risers in the library, watching the launch. The shuttle went up, they lost sound, it split and made the two Y-shaped contrails. And then there was that horrible deadly silence. And then the news people started rerunning the footage over and over and over and we'd probably watch the Challenger explode half a dozen times before the principal sent us home. I remember even though he'd called parents to let them know we were being let out, a lot of us still walked home, and we were crying. We went in and turned the TVs on and watched the replay over and over. (And because a lot of us had relatives who were associated with Morton Thiokol, the manufacturers of the faulty O-ring, a lot of us had been really hyped for the Space Shuttle launch already.)

I remember that for about three years afterwards, my friend Becky and I, we'd write stories where the astronauts didn't really die--they kinda landed in the water, and we rescued them and they lived secretly on an island performing science experiments. I used to be able to draw the Space Shuttle from three different views, but I kinda lost the compulsion when the Challenger broke apart.

#296 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 08:03 PM:

Scott @ #294: Yep, that was the first embargo, during the Arab-Israeli war. Gas lines, buying gas on even-number days if your license plate ended in a even number, gas prices shooting up to (gasp) 45 cents per gallon.

#297 ::: Shannon ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 08:21 PM:

I was born in 1983. It's bizarre, because I thought at first that the earliest news event was the first Iraq War. My cousin was in it and I have a visual memory of praying for him to come home safe. I don't know if I would have remembered it otherwise. Then, when I looked through the Wiki articles, I think I might have known about the Exxon Valdez spill. Even at 6, I was interested in environmental stuff - I was a full-blown activist by 3rd grade. I don't have a visual memory of finding out about it, but I feel like I did know somehow.

Other people's comments then reminded me of other events I recall. I didn't think I remembered Bush I being elected, but I vaguely remember Ross Perot running. I thought he looked funny and was kind of crazy. I remember the LA earthquake, because my uncle lived in LA and we were worried about him. I recall him telling us that his fridge almost fell on him.

Personally, my earliest memory is of visiting Disney's Magic Kingdom when I was 3. Despite begging to go on the ride, the elevator on the Haunted Mansion scared the hell out of me and I refused to open my eyes for the entire ride.

#129, Salom!, and later others - I was vaguely relieved to read your posts, because I was afraid I was the youngest person on here. I felt so young reading most other people's! I forget that most people on Making Light are significantly older than I am.

One thing which people born say, twenty years later may not appreciate is the degree to which "The Bomb" dominated the consciousness of my generation's first fifteen years.

Listening to my parents talk about that era always made me feel extremely grateful not to be growing up then. I never felt that unsafe growing up. And despite all of the terrorist hoopla now, the Cold War still seems to me a far more terrifying time.

#298 ::: Kayjayoh ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 08:35 PM:

Another memory has bubbled to the surface: helping my mother tying yellow ribbons on the trees outside our house for the hostages in Iran. It seems my major memory stuff really does kick in heavily at age 4.

#299 ::: Liz B ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 08:43 PM:

Irish, 1986. I have what's possibly a false memory of watching television footage of the Berlin Wall coming down in '89 (but I could have seen that footage later), and I remember seeing news coverage of the end of the first Gulf war. (I also vaguely remember some national politics from '90-94 or so, but politicians never really interested me.)

My earliest memories are slippery things. I'm not sure how much I recall, vs. invented. But I have very definite memories from age three or thereabouts, involving playschool (and from age four, Montessori preschool).

The first political event I remember understanding enough to have an opinion on, otoh, is from 1997.

#300 ::: Brenda Kalt ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 08:55 PM:

I was born in 1951, and my earliest news memory is the desegregation of Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. This was in the fall of 1956, so I would have just turned five. My actual memories are: television, hearing the phrases "Little Rock" and "National Guard," and my mother getting upset. This is an odd first item, but (a) my family lived in Arkansas*; (b) both my parents were schoolteachers in the white schools; (c) the National Guard units were from Arkansas. There was a lot of disruption of everyday life as Guardsmen were pulled away.

Frankly, as the child of small-town white schoolteachers in the South, my entire childhood was colored (no pun intended) by "what's going to happen with desegregation?"

*In Hope, like two former governors of the state.

#301 ::: LizT ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 09:01 PM:

My almost-13-year-old thought hard and said, "when the twin towers fell."

I was born in 74, and my first news memory isn't really news, but my dad picking me up, sitting me on the kitchen counter, and having a bitch-fest about what a moron Jimmy Carter was. My dad is a die-hard teamster democrat, and wow, was he mad. He can't remember it when I ask him about it, but I've always wondered what just happened to set him off. It was summer, I had on a pink dress.

#302 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 09:11 PM:

From age 5 I remember some public events that I saw rather than heard about from the media.

* From an upper floor window on the Iowa State University campus I remember looking out on an important procession. My parents have confirmed that this must have been when Nikita Khruschev visited Iowa in 1959. (And that reminds me, I forgot to mention in the Six Degrees of Separation thread that I have a 2 with Khruschev.)

* My mother and a strange woman were sitting on chairs in our living room. The other woman asked my mother questions and wrote in a very large workbook. This was probably the 1960 census.

#303 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 09:18 PM:

I now regret that as a teenager I didn't quiz my paternal grandparents about their earliest memories. They were both born in 1894 and would have remembered childhood in the 19th century! Their earliest news memories might have been the sinking of the Maine. Alas, the earliest tales they viounteered were from World War I.

#304 ::: Anne ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 09:27 PM:

1980 US presidential election; I was 4. I remember just a single visual image of watching the black and white TV in the corner where it sat until I was 5 -- an image of some men in suits walking to microphones. I knew it was the third party guy [Anderson], I remember my parents saying that was unusual to have a third-party guy. (The visual image I remember is of a fat guy with black hair, who doesn't look like Anderson. Might have just been another guy in the frame, or I might be mixing it up with some visual from Hinckley's attempt on Reagan's life in 1981.)

I remember I favored Reagan because I liked his hair. We lived in DC and my parents were news junkies, so I have a lot of early news consciousness.

1982 (when I was 6):
Air Florida crash into the Potomac. Vividly remember this.

Schoolyard jokes like "go to the edge of a cliff, Yuri, and-drop-ov!"

#305 ::: Matt McIrvin ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 09:32 PM:

I remember a few things from around 1972, when I was about four years old. One or two of the later Apollo Moon missions (probably Apollo 16 and/or 17), and maybe seeing part of the Munich Olympics, though I don't remember the terrorist situation there.

But the first news event I really clearly remember seeing a lot about was Watergate. Not that I understood much about it--people were picking on President Nixon for some unfathomable reason and there were tapes involved.

#306 ::: Josh Storey ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 09:50 PM:

First news memory I have is the 1988 presidential elections. I was in first grade, and our class got these news print scholastic handouts every so often. I remember Bush's face on the cover, and thinking that he looked much nicer than the other guy. More like a grandfather.

Ah, youth.

I of course have memories before this one: driving the class's ride-on toy car into the kindergarten teacher's ankle, running around with a handkerchief tied to my neck as I pretended to be Superman, other bits of whimsy and magic. But the presidential election is my first memory of world events.

Yes, I was 6.

#307 ::: Kevin Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 09:52 PM:

The earliest major non-personal thing I remember was seeing Star Wars on opening day (I was 5, born in January 1972).

For news, it would probably be the Iranian Hostage Crisis (I have a dim recollection of the death of John Paul I).

#308 ::: Glenn Hauman ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 09:53 PM:

My earliest public event memories are the Fischer/Spassky matches and the '72 Winter Olympics at the age of three.

My earliest political memory was Nixon's resignation, at the age of 5 and 5 months.

And my earliest comic book was Batman #251, "The Joker's Five Way Revenge" by Dennis O'Neil, Neal Adams, and edited by Julie Schwartz. Also at the age of three.

Jim-- your dad BUILT a TV?

#309 ::: Andrew Gray ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 10:08 PM:

It somehow seems appropriate for this discussion that I can remember my father calling me to come downstairs so I could watch the TV programme on the 20th anniversary of the moon landing! He took me outside afterwards and lifted me up so I could see the moon - I remember being carried as much as anything else. (It's a weird sensation to recall)

I remember explaining the Gulf War to my younger brother just before the ground fighting started, and being quite disappointed that he didn't seem to be interested in the news. I wonder if he remembers that - it'd be about the six-year mark for him.

#310 ::: Elisabeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 10:27 PM:

Tchem@#210 - I would say the same thing about Mary Lou Retton. I'm fairly sure I knew she was famous; whether I knew what an Olympics was is an open question.

Mimi@#100 and a few others - I have contradictory memories of Challenger too, in my case of my teacher not letting us watch the launch live and of seeing it at school. My guess is that the footage aired so often that young brains, a little sketchy on sequences of events in general, made a muddle of it.

#311 ::: meredith ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 10:54 PM:

I was born in the autumn of 1971. My earliest news-related memories are all from the summer/fall of 1976 ... the Bicentennial, the election, and most of all, the Summer Olympics (in particular I remember being fascinated by watching Nadia Comenici).

I would presume someone has studied the age at which people retain their first memories of things occurring in the larger world outside of their own life and family, and how that correlates to general mental development ... my first personal/family memories are from much earlier (we've determined that my earliest memory is from when I was only 9 months old).

#312 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 11:02 PM:

I think the Watergate hearings are the first public event I can remember. My grandmother watched the hearings instead of soap operas. I knew there was something big going on, but didn't understand any of the significance.

Many personal memories before then, but I don't recall anything that was a public event before that.

#313 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 11:34 PM:

Meredith at 311, how?? I know I was under two and a half for one because I remember the trellis, and we left that house before I got much older. All the rest of my early memories are either definitely in Indiana or so generic I can't place them. Sitting in front of the fridge eating birthday candles could be any time from kindergarten down.

#314 ::: Amy ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 11:58 PM:

I was born the end of 1972. I remember the bicentennial, sort of. My sister was born that year and she had a bunch of red, white, and blue toys.

The first thing I remember actually seeing on the news and paying attention is the hostage crisis in Iran, so I would have been nearly seven when it started and eight when the rescue attempt was made. I remember being very worried about their families.

#315 ::: broundy ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2007, 11:58 PM:

Ginger @ 191: I was born in 1964 ... and I have a very clear memory of the Stonewall Riots.

Can you expand on that? I'd love to hear about the press coverage it got at the time.

#316 ::: Anarch ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 12:15 AM:

Born 1976. I dimly remember the Mt St Helens eruption (1980) -- more accurately, I remember being fascinated with footage of the explosion during the aftermath, so this was possibly early 1981 -- and vividly remember the assassination of Ninoy Aquino (late 1983) since I was living in the Philippines at the time.

#317 ::: Adrian Bedford ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 12:57 AM:

re growing up during the Cold War:

Living here in Perth, Western Australia, a town sometimes referred to as the most isolated capital city in the world, I grew up in the 70s and 80s deeply worried indeed about nuclear war. I don't recall the Cuban Missile Crisis as live news, but I do recall watching the annual May Day parades from Moscow each year, all those enormous rockets on trucks, endless phalanxes of troops all marching very strangely (but very determinedly), etc. While nobody at any school I was at ever had to do any duck and cover drills, etc, nuclear war was an issue at least very strongly in the background, like a strong smell you can't quite identify or locate. I was pretty sure there would be a nuclear war before the year 2000 (a date given apocalyptic significance by loads of cheesy genre TV). The question was: what would happen to us here in Western Australia? Was Perth enough of an international presence that the Soviets would send a MIRV or two our way?

When I got older and read up (encyclopedias, arms-reduction discussions in the likes of Time magazine, etc), and learned that there were many tens of thousands of warheads out there, and that we did have a US communications base way up north in Exmouth (to say nothing of the other, even more secret one at Pine Gap in the Northern Territory), it then seemed more a question of *how many* warheads they might send our way, since clearly they would have plenty to go round in an all-out strike.

By the 80s I was Very Worried Indeed about all this, something like a character in Douglas Coupland's Generation X, imagining where I'd be when the bombs fell. In 1985 I was a university student, doing theatre. One night I had to go up to the uni theatre to work the box office. It was a cold, dark and rainy night. Out of nowhere came the single most terrifying lightning/thunder strike I've ever encountered; it must have been just about directly overhead. As the sky lit up with the flash, and the boom of the thunder blasted down at me, I thought, oh God, here it is!

When, in November 89, one afternoon while I worked at the Australian Tax Office, listening to news radio on a walkman, and heard live coverage of the Berlin Wall coming down, I damn near wept with joy and excitement. I told everybody in the office within earshot. Nobody else was as crazy/pleased as I was. At last all that madness was over!

It was good for a few years, anyway. :(

#318 ::: Margaret Organ-Kean ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 01:15 AM:

Birthdate - the 12th day of Christmas, 1960

First things I remember are from about 3 years old. I remember the 1962 World's Fair in Seattle (I would've just short of three) and the house we lived in with a forest in the backyard (actually about half a dozen fir trees). I remember sitting in my father's lap while he drew clowns for me, and going to the Strawberry Festival and being a flower girl at my babysitter's wedding (turquoise satin with pink roses).

Outside of family, I remember listening to Vietnam War reports on the radio with my mother - from the house we lived in, I would've been about six and talking to her about it. I also remember some first run Star Trek, but not too much - my brother got nightmares from it.

In some ways the fir trees are what really gets me. To this day, when I read the word 'forest', it's fir trees. Mirkwood was fir trees and so was Sherwood. I have to make a conscious effort to think of a decidious forest.

#319 ::: Vassilissa ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 03:46 AM:

I remember a teacher telling us about the Challenger, and that there'd been a teacher on board. I can't remember if that was at the time, or later, though. (No, wait, it couldn't have been at the time - Wikipedia says the launch was in January, and school wasn't in session.)

In 1990 my grade four teacher taught us about glasnost and perestroika and global warming, and I drew horses all over the margins of my integrated studies notebook and paid no attention at all.

I remember the Gulf War from around that time too: I can remember a younger kid at the after-school programme asking the teacher if there'd be bombs here (Australia) and if it was going to be world war three.

I was going through a big Agatha Christie kick at the time, and I remember someone at the dinner table asking me what I was reading (probably immediatly prior to confiscating it: no reading at the table!) and I said "They Came To Baghdad", and my older brother burst into ironic laughter and said "They sure did." I didn't get it: I didn't connect Baghdad in the book with the place where the war was happening.

#320 ::: swartzer ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 04:30 AM:


Born in early 1971. The first event I remember outside my family is the Bicentennial, I think partly because that was the longest word I'd ever seen. I remember seeing Bruce Jenner on Wheaties boxes, and not knowing who he was. I have no memory of Carter's election, though it was the same year. I was jealous of a kid at school who said he saw Star Wars five times, because my parents wouldn't let me go.

Next I remember hearing stuff about inflation, Camp David, and the Iran hostage crisis. Then in no particular order: Reagan vs. Carter, a total solar eclipse (we all had to stay inside the classroom when we were supposed to be out on morning break, and it got dark outside,) the first Space Shuttle flight, and Mt. St. Helens (I remember ash on our car, though oddly not on anything else.)

And I was totally convinced I was never going to grow up because there would be a nuclear war first. I remember seeing in the local paper that our town was a target because there was a nuclear research program at the University. They printed a map of town showing the various zones of destruction, like a bullseye. I remember deciding if I had any warning, I was going to hop on my bike and ride as close as I could get to ground zero, because I would rather die in an instant than after a week of radiation sickness.

I was a grim little kid, I guess, but I got better. Still, one of the things that most enrages me about all this OMG TERRORISTS!!! nonsense these days is the effects on children. We don't need another generation growing up in fear.

#321 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 04:43 AM:

April, 1968. I have a distinct memory of seeing a news reporter on TV standing on the surface of the Moon. Now, of course, I know it was a set; I wasn't so clear on the distinction at the time. I don't remember Nixon's resignation, I do remember the Bicentennial and the 1976 election, so I must have started paying some attention somewhere in there.

#322 ::: Hector Owen ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 04:48 AM:

I remember John Cameron Swayze, and the Camel News Caravan. Much talk about the Korean war, and the Iron Curtain, which I visualized as a half-mile-high construction of iron plates and rivets. So then, it was a major accomplishment for the SabreJets and MiGs to fly over that so that they could fight. Estes Kefauver and his coonskin cap. We were marched into the school gymnasium/auditorium to watch the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, on a tiny black-and-white (of course there was no other kind) TV set up on the stage.

#323 ::: terrintokyo ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 06:08 AM:

I remember, I think: being in the basement, watching JFK's funeral on TV and my Momma crying. And, I vaguely think I remember sitting on Eleanor Roosevelt's lap, sometime when I was even younger (I'm a '58 baby). this is a great post...lots of food for thought as we try to usher in a far, far better year...

#324 ::: arwel ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 07:29 AM:

British, September 1958. I'm not sure if I remember JFK "live" or just just from retrospectives. I do remember the winter of 1962-3 as it was one of the worst ones of the last 50 years in the UK and we were snowed in for a while.

Most of my earliest memories of public events come from 1964 - the Tokyo Olympics, reading an article in the TV Times about "Churchill at 90"; I remember going out into the farmyard the next January to tell my Dad and a neighbour that "Mr Churchill's died". Then there was the 1964 General Election - we had the day off school because it was being used as a polling station, but the thing that really stuck in my mind was coming down to breakfast the next morning to find the TV on with the results programme - the BBC never had anything on in the morning except the test card in those days!

#325 ::: Sus ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 07:40 AM:

I love this place.

Born in East Germany, 1975. My first 'news' memory is Chernobyl - I was 11 years old. The next thing I remember is the Wall coming down.

Political awareness = zero. This sometimes embarrasses me and I have asked my parents why I can't rememeber ever watching the news when I was younger and they said they didn't want me to. Politics weren't discussed in front of the children in our house. The parents wanted to protect us, they say... A mixed blessing.


#326 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 07:48 AM:

arwel #324:

I remember the test card... Also Bill & Ben (and Little Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeed), and, for some reason, the BBCs Welsh language broadcasts.

#327 ::: Sus ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 07:58 AM:

I love this place.

Born in East Germany, 1975. My first 'news' memory is Chernobyl - I was 11 years old. The next thing I remember is the Wall coming down.

Political awareness = zero. This sometimes embarrasses me and I have asked my parents why I can't rememeber ever watching the news when I was younger and they said they didn't want me to. Politics weren't discussed in front of the children in our house. The parents wanted to protect us, they say... A mixed blessing.


#328 ::: Sus ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 07:59 AM:

That wasn't my fault! The dreaded double-post... Apologies!

I hope this one only appears once.

#329 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 08:49 AM:

Sus, I think my parents did the same thing. I've never asked for their motivations on some things; any question sounds like criticism, and the worst things that happened weren't their fault anyway. Instead, I'm facing adulthood and trying to figure it out pretty much on my own.

#330 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 10:06 AM:

broundy @ 315: Sure. I grew up in/near NYC, so as soon as I learned to read (around the age of 4), I was reading the daily newspapers. I have a very clear memory of reading the paper on the floor -- and I read the articles as well as the comics. The coverage of the riots was inside the paper, in a column along the vertical fold; the headline was something like "Queens Fight Cops" and I immediately had a very strong impression of people dressed as bees fighting the cops. I knew these folks weren't actually dressed like that, but the language used made me think of bees. The rest of the article was probably your typical 1960s homophobic slant, and it died out quickly from the paper -- probably the New York Post, long before it became a tabloid. I don't think the New York Times even mentioned it.

I found that article pictured in a history of Gay Rights a few years ago, and it was exactly as I'd remembered.

Meredith @311 -- I also have a single memory from before I was a year old -- my parents have never believed me, but it's a tactile-based memory. I was in a crib; I got up to chew on the bed post (which had a rounded top), decided to try a different post, didn't like the taste, went back to "my" post. There's even a picture of me doing this, and that's what my folks think I'm remembering.

Nobody else went (or almost went) to Woodstock?

I also had duck and cover drills in elementary school during the late 1960s-early 1970s, although I'm sure it was just a leftover requirement of the school system.

#331 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 10:34 AM:

Richard Brandt @293:

Agreed! There is only one...

The Haunting I remember watching it on the black and white tv in my bedroom. I think I must have been in high school.

"...whatever walked at Hill House, walked alone..."

Still raises shivers.

(And don't read Who Goes There? when you're the only one home.)

#332 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 10:40 AM:

The earliest news event I can remember unprompted is Lenon's assassination. I mostly remember being very confused about why someone would shoot a musician if they were a fan. I was nine.

On the list of definitely inaccurate memories I can contribute my memory of the Challenger explosion. I would have sworn it happened on a Saturday, because I remember being home and cartoons being pre-empted. (I watched toons on Saturday mornings until I was almost seventeen.) I have no idea why I remember it that way. Perhaps they pre-empted them for rehashes?

I also remember seeing Star Wars, when I would have been six. (I hid my face as soon as the opening credits began, because I was positive it would be scary.) I recall playfully arguing with my mother about what we hoped my little sister would turn out to be when she was born. I would have been three and a half. Before that, there was a record-setting snowfall in Georgia in 1973. I'd have been two years and three months old.

#43, Xopher - I don't quite remember when solid state was a selling point, but I do distinctly remember my father talking about it and saying "solid state is very durable" (meaning "by comparison with vacuum tubes.") I say that every time I drop an expensive tech toy now, as a personal "please be not-broken" mantra.

I seem to have picked up a fair number of idioms and ideas from my father that fly by people of my generation, much less people of the current one. I know about Burma Shave signs, and know "s*** from Shinola" (you gotta know what Shinola is to claim that one). I get a lot of the jokes in Bugs Bunny, and sometimes I respond to a suggestion of work with a Maynard G. Krebs yelp of "Work?" even though I've never seen an episode of Dobie Gillis.

On the other hand, a lot of pop culture from the 80s on up has passed me by.

#209, Debbie - The weather guy on of one of the channels in my hometown used to track Santa with the weather radar. They didn't start until I was too old to believe it, though. Dammit.

#224, Lizzie - I don't think I stopped being afraid of nuclear war until after the Berlin Wall came down. I know that in the late 70s/early80s I more than once sat in my backyard and gazed at the stars and cried because I was sure we were going to destroy our planet. My biggest consolation was that I lived near a strategic target and might see it coming but wouldn't survive to deal with fallout.

#333 ::: Gabriele Campbell ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 11:01 AM:

Sus #325

A mixed blessing, I agree, but I can understand your parents esp. in case they watched west TV.

My father, born 1930, grew up in an anti-Hitler family and promptly declared that Hitler sucked in front of some teachers. My grandfather was lucky that one of the leading Nazi guys in town put his personal sympathies before his conviction and managed to sort the problem out.

Maybe your parents wanted to avoid that sort of trouble.

My parents fled the place in 1953, so I had the luck to grow up in West Germany. But we watched the Schwarzer Kanal for fun. :)

#334 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 11:27 AM:

Born in the South Bay Area, 09/50. My first retained personal memory *used* to be of a party (third birthday, I think) just before we moved to our second house, but now that's faded. Even the later stuff has lost most of its detail, but I can recall: Mom being disappointed when Ike beat Stevenson (must have been the '56 election); "duck and cover" at school, and general feelings of doom; sustained interest in space exploration, from Sputnik on (even though I wanted to be an archaeologist); Hawaii and Alaska becoming states; the Kennedy assassination; etc. etc. In my late teens or early 20s, it was tear gas at Berkeley (while I was on my way to class), and a whole summer spent watching the Watergate hearings.

As for cultural stuff: I visited Disneyland before they put up the castle, still young enough that what I really loved was the teacup ride (Mom and I both got sunburns that day); was bored by my one and only Barbie doll and drew on extra makeup with a crayon; got a pre-adolescent crush on Michael Rennie in The Day the Earth Stood Still and -- when a bit older -- loved The Haunting. Also read my dad's Ian Fleming books, not getting *any* of the double entendres.

Of course, the highlight of my Boomer youth was music, first the British Invasion and then much more close experience of the Sixties rock scene in San Francisco from nearly the beginning, thanks to 40-something parents who liked the music themselves. Incidentally, I'm late getting to this thread because yesterday the San Francisco Chronicle (SFGate) had its own "first memory" discussion thread, about rock concerts, and I spent a looong time reading that before offering my own contribution.

And to Debbie, Russell, Lizzie, Trevin, and the other folks I know on this thread, it's good to hear from you!

#335 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 11:41 AM:

Faren @ 334... You won't be around the Bay Area on Dec 18, will you? Drat!

#336 ::: Scott C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 11:47 AM:

Apollo moon landing, for sure. Teachers gathered all us elementary school students in the hall to watch it live on a big b&w television.

And, yep, I was six.

#337 ::: Koneko ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 12:07 PM:

English born and bred, born 1988, I have vague recollections of Pinatubo's eruption. Of course, between then and about nine-ish I have no strong news or television-y memories; when I was nine I watched Volcano. I still can't watch it, but I love volcanoes. Won't go within four kilometres of one, though.

I asked my mother, also english, if she remembered any major news story from when she was seven, and she responded that the first one to make a real impression on her was the fall of the Berlin wall. (I was one. It still throws me off that I was born in the Cold War.)

#338 ::: Leigh Butler ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 12:39 PM:

I was one of the ones who watched Challenger live in the classroom. I remember no one really understood what had happened at first, and then my teacher started crying and freaked us all the hell out, and she explained and I felt very cold and dazed, because I had just watched real people die, for real. Will never forget that feeling.

After Challenger, I only remember two other news events before high school: the Berlin Wall falling, and the Gulf War. (I really didn't pay much attention to the news as a kid.)

The Berlin wall, I remember we watched it on TV too, and my mother was explaining that it was the end of the Cold War, and I was having trouble understanding at first how taking down one wall in one city was ending a entire global... thingy.

My main memories of the first Gulf War consist of all the yellow ribbons tied around trees, and how American flag-themed clothes were suddenly all the rage. I had a pair of flag earrings.

Political savvy, that was me!

#339 ::: Gabriele Campbell ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 12:57 PM:

What I remember about the Berlin Wall is the Trabis. :) I'd been in Sweden when the wall fell and returned to Germany a few days later, to find those little cars all over the place. My parents lived near the frontier, and all the 'Ossis' came over for shopping trips. It was a fun time, still full of hope and with few ideas how difficult the reunion would prove to be.

#340 ::: Suz ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 01:34 PM:

I was born in 1984 and my first memory of a major news event was the Exxon valdez oil spill. I don't know if it stuck in my memory because it was on the news, animals were involved, or because I personally participated in a part of it - my school held a "towel drive" for people cleaning up seabirds.

#341 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 01:41 PM:

Serge @292: I think she then graduated to zanti misfits.

Having never heard of zanti misfits, I went a-Googling and pulled up this toy review as the first result.

Considering my vague recollection of the 1974 Watergate hearings, I ought to've seen something on the news about the fall of Saigon in 1975 or at least some of its preliminary context. But I distinctly remember thinking, "Oh... *that* makes more sense now" ~1980 when I found out about the Vietnam War (although I don't remember how) and that the other side had been commonly referred to as "gooks", which until then had merely been a weird nonsense syllable that other kids yelled at me walking to/from school.

I also remember the expeditions my family made to Chinatown in Washington DC every few weeks to buy "weird" groceries like bean sprouts, Chinese cabbage, tofu, charsiu, and steamed bao; in the 1990s, a huge chunk of DC's Chinatown had the MCI/Verizon Sports Center plonked down over it, but even before then, Asian food had started to percolate out into the suburbs-- these days, it's fairly easy to find the first three items in mainstream grocery stores.

Oh, and the first appearance of microwave ovens-- huge monoliths with a time dial, a countdown display, and no other controls (only one power setting)-- as well as attempts at comprehensive cookbooks for them with instructions (and special cookware) for baking nice brown-crusted bread, rather than mainly relegating them to heat leftovers and defrost frozen food.

And the "laptop" computers of the mid-80s, which were the size of modern CPU towers; one side would flip down to reveal a full-sized keyboard inside the panel, a teeny (~4"x6"?) screen, and two slots for 5-1/4" floppy disks. When 3-1/2" disks came out, they were totally amazing because they were hard-cased and more durable yet smaller, and they could hold up to (gasp) ONE MEG!!1!uno!!.

#342 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 02:06 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @ 326

I remember the test card... Also Bill & Ben (and Little Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeed)

Me too!

And Open University programmes on BBC 2 - I've just checked and they started in 1971 and, amazingly, only stopped a year ago tomorrow.

#343 ::: Scott Marley ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 02:08 PM:

I was born in 1958 and the assassination of JFK is the first news event I remember being aware of.

#344 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 03:36 PM:

dcb @342: And the week I apply for an Open degree, comes the announcement that the government is cutting funding to the OU. Tsk.

#345 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 03:45 PM:

Julie @ 341... Thank YOU! A Zanti Misfit will be the perfect present for our 22nd wedding anniversary in late January. It'll look good next to the Ebonite Grand Inquisitor.

#346 ::: Kayjayoh ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 04:07 PM:

know "s*** from Shinola"

Me too! I also got that from my dad. You only want *one* of those on your shoes. :)

#347 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 04:23 PM:

I think six is the magic number. I remember the Bush vs. Dukakis election in 1988, and everything after that is quite clear.

Although I do remember Prince Andrew and Fergie getting married in 1986, because while it was on TV I harassed my brother into playing "royal wedding" with me. We walked down my grandmother's family-room stairs in lieu of an aisle. I was not quite four.

I remember Reagan being president -- specifically, falling down while playing in the front yard, and my father(?) jokingly saying "What's your name? How old are you? Who is president?" (teasing me because I was obviously unhurt), and I knew that the answer to the last one was "Ronald Reagan."

I do not remember Challenger at all. My mother later told me that she tried to keep me away from the news, so it wouldn't upset me. She clearly did a good job.

I remember the Berlin Wall falling (and I remember East and West Germany -- my uncle moved his family to West Germany for a year while he worked for BMW). I also remember the East German Olympic doping scandal.

I remember Pan Am Flight 103, but I don't know if at the time I could have told you what happened to it. I just remember that everyone was saying "Pan Am" over and over again.

My earliest memory of any kind is my second birthday party, when my uncle gave me a tricycle horn with a blue rubber bulb and I ran through the house honking it. We were living in a rental house at the time, waiting for our house to be built. Inherent in that memory is knowledge of the house's layout. I have checked with my mother and I remember the layout correctly, even the rooms that aren't visually part of the tricycle-horn memory.

How I realized that I was getting inexorably older: An undergraduate wrote a column in the student paper of the university where I'm in grad school. The column contained some reminiscing about how her social studies class had a mock debate about the 2000 election. When she was thirteeen.

I started shouting at the paper that I VOTED in that election and people who weren't even in high school then could not possibly be old enough to be in college. But they are. Time just keeps on passing, and I don't know how I feel about it.

I know I'm still young, and I don't mean to say otherwise. But in my head, at some subconscious level, it's still 2000 and I'm still 18 years old. Sometimes it's disorienting when I realize that's not true -- when I realize, for example, that the 1980s were twenty years ago instead of ten. I told my parents this. They laughed, but gently, and said that they both felt the same way -- in their heads it's 1972 and they're 18.

#348 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 04:24 PM:

Suz @ 340: I happened to be working on a contract at Exxon and left just before the Valdez disaster. I was modifying some of their downstream accounting software, but when people asked me what I did at Exxon, the snarky part of me couldn't resist saying, "Oh, something for the Tanker Navigation System - nothing important."

#349 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 04:52 PM:

re #48 -- I remember a conversation that in retrospect was probably about Skylab - my mother was worrying something would fall on us, and my father said, "well what do you want them to do, outfit everyone in crash helmets?" A boy in my kindergarten had an uncle in Australia he said was going to send him a piece of Skylab.

In 1982 we were living in Toronto - there was of course a great deal of fuss over Charles and Diana's wedding, but I also recall some neighbours setting off fireworks on an occasion that wasn't Canada Day, and I think they may have been celebrating the Repatriation of the Constitution.

I remember various elections (including one where I wanted John Crosby to win because he had the same name as our neighbours' cat - from some of the other comments this sems to by typical kid political logic). I think the next international news I remember was Chernobyl - apart from the horror of the event itself, there was some concern about dust traveling around the world, and we were told to wash everything in the garden before eating eat (which we always did anyway).

I recall Challenger of course -- and Tiennamen Square *very* vividly: I was twelve by then, and had been watching the protests on tv - they'd seemed so hopeful at the time. I heard the shootings on the radio - the CBC had an on-the-spot correspondent, and afterwards I walked around our back yard, replaying in my head his horrified voice, and the phone abruptly cutting out.

#350 ::: Richard Brandt ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 04:55 PM:

Serge @ 276: The one directed by Robert Wise? Starring Claire Bloom and Julie Harris?

This is a question?

If I have to name a favorite movie that's always going to be pretty high on my list, and not just because we have a history together. (Getting to meet Robert Wise and let him know this was a treat.)

#351 ::: Richard Brandt ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 04:59 PM:

Lori @ 331: The Haunting I remember watching it on the black and white tv in my bedroom. I think I must have been in high school.

That's one of the rare wide-screen movies that wasn't intolerable watching on the small screen; it actually intensified the claustrophobia and the way the film clamps down on Eleanor's head. (Julie Harris thinks she suffered something of a mild nervous breakdown from playing that role.)

Guaranteed you won't look at your house in the same way again.

#352 ::: Annie G. ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 05:05 PM:

I was born in spring of 76. My first memory of external events is of discussing Reggie Jackson going to play for the California Angels with my cousin Liz, and avowing that because he was my favorite player I would now root for the Angels. Looking at Wikipedia, that would have been in 1981-1982, so I would have been five or six; I remember it being warm weather, so it was probably around the time of his first game against NY as an Angel (which WP says was around what would have been my sixth birthday).

My first political memory is of the Reagan-Mondale election, because I was all excited about potentially having a woman VP; I would have been eight. I remember learning about the Challenger disaster when I was not-quite-ten; it was mostly memorable because my third-grade teacher had been in the running to go up in the shuttle, and I had adored her and was glad she hadn't died. I remember watching it on TV at school, but that may be a false memory.

I remember the Berlin Wall but was at camp for the August coup that let to the end of Soviet Russia in '91, so I'm (still) unclear on what exactly happened that put Yeltsin in charge there.

#353 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 05:07 PM:

Caroline (#347): I remember the Bush vs. Dukakis election in 1988. [about the 2000 election] I started shouting at the paper that I VOTED in that election and people who weren't even in high school then could not possibly be old enough to be in college. But they are.

I voted in the 1988 election. Imagine how old I feel reading your comment.

#354 ::: Garrett Fitzgerald ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 05:09 PM:

Born in 1968, I don't remember news events earlier than going out to a field near our house to see Apollo-Soyuz going overhead. I watched the moon landing, but have no memories of it, or of Apollo 13. I definitely remember Reagan getting shot, and I remember Carter pulling us out of the Moscow Olympics. I remember when "mini-series" meant Roots and Shogun, not a two-night movie that needed commercials to pad it to four hours. (I knew The Thorn Birds was on, but didn't care about watching it.) The first movie I remember going to see was a drive-in show that had a Beetle Bailey cartoon as the first show -- I was asleep by the second one. I read all the Danny Dunn books in the library, and Donald Keith's Time Machine series too. (Anybody else remember how Kai Beezey Tentroi got his name? :-) )

#355 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 05:24 PM:

Caroline #347: Time just keeps on passing, and I don't know how I feel about it.

I got freaked out in a similar way when I realized that people born in the 90s are starting to get their driver's licenses.

#356 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 05:27 PM:

Richard Brandt @ 350... No, it was not a question. Just making sure, since I didn't see the remake.

#357 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 05:29 PM:

Garrett Fitzgerald... Ah, the days when mini-series were of the length required by the story and not by the advertisers...

#358 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 05:31 PM:

ethan @ 355... Welcome to the old-fart club.

#359 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 05:36 PM:

NelC @ 344

And the week I apply for an Open degree, comes the announcement that the government is cutting funding to the OU. Tsk.

Cutting funding to the OU!!! That's so shortsighted. Sympathies.

#360 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 05:50 PM:

Richard Brandt @351: Damn straight -- what intensifies the effect of the film is that some buildings have "presence" for lack of a better term. They are something you interact with, not just inhabit.

You know, I wonder if I could watch it again, this time looking at the director's technique -- or would it pull me under the way it did the only time I've seen it?

I cannot think of it without cold chills and the sensation of the hair rising on the back of my neck, and it's been about 30 years since I saw it.

#361 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 06:28 PM:

Christopher @ 353

I voted in 1972, back when we still believed it really mattered.

You kids really ought to get off the lawn now.

#362 ::: amberglow ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 06:49 PM:

I just turned 43--I guess Vietnam every single night on TV for years and years throughout my childhood, and definitely the '72 Olympic hostages thing--and Nixon on TV resigning and walking to that helicopter.

#363 ::: amberglow ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 06:51 PM:

Oh, the Saigon helicopter evacuation too--that was enormous.

#364 ::: David S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 06:59 PM:

Oh dear. I just asked one of my relatives, who was in kindergarten/first grade in the early forties in Sydney. She said she can recall the kids in class asking their teacher what the Japanese were like, and getting the reply "Oh, they're about as tall as Margaret".

Cousin Margaret was always tall for her age, and felt like an outsider at school from day one apparently...

#365 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 07:03 PM:

If I keep reading this thread, I'm gonna start looking for a cane.

#366 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 07:20 PM:

Steve C @ 365... I feel that way when I realize how much younger than me some of the MLites are.

#367 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 07:37 PM:

ethan, the oldest kids of people I went to high school with are in college. These are the kids of the girls who got pregnant while we were in high school.

I look at these whippersnappers and think "you were conceived while your parents were listening to The Cure/Modern English/Depeche Mode/Enigma/The Smiths/Morissey"* and then I want to tell them to stay the heck off my lawn.**

*Or as we called it in my day "Dorm Room F*ck Music"
**If I had a lawn. I have an acre of natural cover aka weeds. And they better stay off of it.

#368 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 07:38 PM:

Serge @ 366: No kidding. I don't know what the median age of the ML crowd is, but I'm fairly confident I'm north of it...

#369 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 09:24 PM:

Caroline@347: You can feel old or young at any age; >20 years ago I was grumbling because the local paper said the basketball team was too old, its average age being less than mine at the time. The offspring of people I knew at summer camp have been counselors there and gone on to other things. And a year ago I actually said (around my foot) "I dated your mother!" (to a college student managing a G&S reunion). But there's still a member of the previous generation of my family alive and kicking, so I have a way to go yet.

Tania@367: Why those groups? Were they seductive, or easy-listening, or loud enough to cover the squeaks? (I stopped listening to ]popular[ music in 1971 (not so much taste as personal-specific reasons) and recognize most of the names but I can't pin any of them to what I hear on the oldies stations played in the exercise room.)

All us old farts can rejoice that at least we aren't up on a pedestal saying "Je veux que les enfants ne me regarde pas", as in the Brel song.

#370 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 09:47 PM:

Caroline #347 (& assorted others), if you're worried about that tempus fugit feeling, imagine me when I read here "the Berlin Wall" being peoples' first memory when they mean "the Berlin Wall falling"! Australia didn't get television until 1956, in time for the Melbourne Olympics, and I was born before that (in the year that Einstein, James Dean & Emmett Till died). My parents didn't hire a coin-in-the-slot TV until I was well into school (possibly in time to see JFK's assassination coverage, another early memory), but my grandmother had one earlier, and I have visual memories of seeing news coverage of the disruption in Berlin in 1961 while sitting on the floor in her living room at the age of 5 or 6. The only datable memories I have before that are very vague ones of trams, which were gradually eliminated in Sydney, finally finishing also in 1961.

I can remember the feeling of the Cold War around 1960 and later, because for many years I lay in bed scheming what I'd need to survive in the old underground artillery storage tunnels we were near. 1968 was a traumatic year in the outside world with riots all over the place, and assassinations, and also my first year of high school. Quite some year. Things felt a bit better in 1969, seeing 2001: A Space Odyssey and the moon landing (sitting on a hard wooden floor in school assembly hall watching a TV on the stage). Then I talk to a friend born that year who doesn't seem all that young.

The Whitlam government lowered voting age from 21 to 18 in 1973, but I'm not sure if I first voted in the 1973 NSW State election or the 1974 Federal election. I think it'd be nice if people had a First Vote celebration, sort of like a First Communion.

It was rather confronting during the year-long (unofficial) election campaign we just had to find that the two expected future Prime Ministers (Kevin Rudd, now PM, and Peter Costello, former Treasurer) both had their 50th birthday. Which meant they were younger than me!! (*kids these days* *mutter, grumble*)

#371 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 10:17 PM:

Tania, I bet some of my friends' kids were conceived listening to the very same music, if that makes you feel any better. They're all babies right now, but still...

#372 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 10:48 PM:

Steve C @ 368... The important thing is to remember that growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional. That makes my metphorical heart even younger than ethan's physical ticker.

#373 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 10:58 PM:

Serge, at first I read that as a comment about my physical tickler, and I don't think I've ever been more confused.

#374 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 11:15 PM:

ethan @ 373... Tsk, tsk... I won't stoop to making jokes about French ticklers. That'd be way too crude.

#375 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 11:22 PM:

Serge @ 374 ...
Indeed - I presume you'd rather send ethan @ 373 an old irish french letter ...

#376 ::: Aimee ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 11:27 PM:

Born in June 1954, my earliest personal memory is of just before age 3. For 'world events', sometime in 1st grade in Florida, for the first 'duck & cover' drill, I was in the school library.

Thanks for this quite-enjoyable subject thread!

#377 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 11:28 PM:

xeger @ 375... Speaking of which, a bit to the south of Mount Hood, in northern California, one can take a looooong uphill hike to a waterfall called Burst Arse Fall. (Is the conversation going downhill yet?)

#378 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2007, 11:35 PM:

My first newsworthy memory is of the first Moon landing. I was not quite five years old at the time.

#379 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 12:03 AM:

Oooh... bad me. Having now gone back and read Xopher's post at #43, I saw several other things I remember as well. None particularly newsworthy, but I will add a few to my own list:

I don't remember watching the first Star Trek episode, but I probably did, since I watched TV with my parents a lot, even as a toddler, and my Dad, being a huge SF fan since at least his teens, would almost certainly have watched that episode. I do know that he watched the show all the time, and I remember watching it with him. This would have been prior to April of 1968, which was when we moved from the house I remember watching it in. I was born in August of '64, so this means I remember watching Trek at the age of three, if not younger - and I absolutely LOVED it. Yes, I've been a science fiction fan pretty much all my life. (Thanks, Dad.)

I remember manual typewriters, and that we had one. I remember using it as a kid, trying to type school papers and even a story or two. The keys always got stuck. We got an electric typewriter when I was in high school, and that was so much easier.

I remember B&W television, and my own fertile imagination filling in the colors on my favorite cartoons. I remember getting our first color TV, and finding out that I'd been mostly right, too.

I remember watching Laugh In with my parents, and my aunt beng scandalized that they would allow me to watch such a show, since it was clearly aimed at adults. I remember my mother simply chuckling and shrugging, and pointing out that most things on the show probably flew right over my head, so that I wasn't really in any danger. I remember looking up a few times the next time I watched it, just in case anything had floated unnoticed out of the screen and taken up station above me. Since nothing had, I dismissed the whole thing as one of those indecipherable things that adults liked to say to one another.

#380 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 12:07 AM:

Serge @ 377 ...
xeger @ 375... Speaking of which, a bit to the south of Mount Hood, in northern California, one can take a looooong uphill hike to a waterfall called Burst Arse Fall. (Is the conversation going downhill yet?)

Nope... that was clearly an up-hill suggestion. Of course, if we were to get into the hobbit of having underhill conversations, things might be different...

#381 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 12:08 AM:

I remember watching Ed Sullivan. I don't remember much about the contents of the show, but I recall being fascinated by the adverts that appeared during it . . . for Geritol, which cured tired pink blood syndrome.

I have vague memories of a Muppet Christmas special which starred Sullivan. Honest.

#382 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 12:23 AM:

xeger #375: Made of elkskin and half a yard long...

#383 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 12:32 AM:

Wow, "french letter" is a phrase I'd never heard before. Thanks, xeger. Learning is fun!

#384 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 12:36 AM:

A character in "The Difference Engine" buys and eventually uses a 'French Letter.' Science Fiction is educational!

#385 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 01:12 AM:

Tania, #367, the oldest kids of the oldest kids of the kids I went to high school with are going to college.

I was born in 1955 and JFK's assassination is my earliest big news memory.

#386 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 01:40 AM:

I'm not going to bother yelling at you all to get off the lawn until they plant me under it, which, I'm hoping won't be for a while yet. But I was born in 1946, and I remember reading about the '52 election in the paper, and talking about it with my parents. I also remember reading about battles in Korea, probably before the election, but the war started in '51, and I don't remember any details that would date the memory; so I'll claim '51 as my earliest news memory.

Xopher # 43

By a strange quirk of fate, three of my grandparents came from north of Kiev, not far from a little town called Chernobyl. It's possible I have distant relatives (probably 6th or 7th cousins) who were in the area when the disaster occurred.

Oh, and I first saw a computer "in the flesh" in 1957, a Univac 1101, I think it was, though I didn't actually start programming them until the late 1970s.

And my younger son is getting married tomorrow, which is why I've been mostly silent the last few days. We're putting a large part of the wedding party up at our house, and we needed to get it put back together after the remodeling and painting.

#387 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 03:57 AM:

CHip @ 369: That's the music that people played when I was in HS and college when they were making out/having sex/getting it on. Usually pretty mellow, some synthesizer, lots of angst and themes of "why can't I make this love thing work" in the lyrics. It's good background music, but I don't think it'd hide any squeaks. Moans and gasps, maybe.

Nothing as fun as Barry White or Clarence Carter. But you know, I think some Prince would legitimately go into that mix.

#388 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 06:08 AM:

R.M. Koske@332: I'm quite sure that Challenger wasn't a Saturday, because I remember being in high school taking final exams for the semester that day. I overheard something about the explosion, and hoped at first that it wasn't too serious. After school I went to The Other Change of Hobbit and found out more about it from the person who was there -- I can't remember for sure who it was. I actually never saw video of it until much later.

#389 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 08:14 AM:

Running my calendar back gives 28th January, 1986, the day of the Challenger disaster, as a Tuesday in the USA (the time it happened may have been on a different day here).

#390 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 08:18 AM:

Columbia was a Saturday. Challenger was during the week sometime, because I saw the cloud as I came out of a class.* Hmm, cool cloud, I thought. Then I drove to the mall, and started seeing all these shocked faces. Eventually I landed in front of a TV display and found out what had happened.

*In Tampa we could even see the launches once they got up to an adequate height; I had rocket fire in my rear view mirror more than once.

#391 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 08:32 AM:

Tania @367 -- Or as we called it in my day "Dorm Room F*ck Music"

Anyone remember Rod Stewart's "Tonight's the Night" blasting through the dorms? Funny, that was only in the guys' dorms ;)

#392 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 09:16 AM:

ethan @ 383... Thanks, xeger. Learning is fun!

It is indeed. Speaking of learning, I accidentally imparted false knowledge upon you. The Burst Arse is south of Mount Rainier. Mount Hood is in Oregon.

#393 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 10:26 AM:

dcb @359: Beg pardon, I meant reducing, rather than cutting altogether. It's the government hydra showing its multiple personality disorder: on the one head it wants a more flexible workforce, for which strategy you'd imagine the OU would be a vital component, but on the other it wants to indulge in degree inflation by ensuring that more people get a degree before they enter the workforce. The second head is ascendent at the moment, so it's taking money from the first head.

How it effects me, is that I imagine that starting next year the course fees will start to rise. Maybe I should have gone for a couple of 60-point courses right off the bat.

#394 ::: Brenda Kalt ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 11:00 AM:

Serge @372: ... growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional

May I paint this on a tile, credited to "Serge"? I'm serious.

Non-news technology memory: In 1982 I went to work for a software company. My office supplies included Post-It Notes. I was awestruck.

#395 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 11:14 AM:

Tania #387: I dunno, I'd say The Cure and The Smiths are a hell of a lot more fun than Barry White. Now, if you had said Isaac Hayes, maybe I could agree with you (maybe).

Serge #392: Oh, thank goodness you made that correction. I could have embarrassed myself!

#396 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 11:29 AM:

Born in 1971.

Hm, I can remember the newpaper write-up of the failed kidnapping of Anna-Greta Leijon (Operation Leo, probably in 1977. I do not remember a US president before Jimmy Carter. I remember the Challenger launch and I remember keeping track of publicly available data for warhead ranges, so I knew how dead I'd be when the Russians or the Americans bombed Stockholm. I also kept rough tabs on the distance between me and the Royal Castle in Stockholm, believing that to be the primary target (it's only a stone-throw from the Parliament building), so I knew how fast I needed to run to get to cover from the flash until the pressure wave came.

I remember that I had seen Olympic games before it was time for the Moscow Olympics (1980) and thinking that it was petty not to go there to compete. I cannot, however, recall watching any previous Olympic games on the telly.

My earliest non-news memory is gluing stickers from cereal boxes onto the freezer in the first flat I lived in. That was somewhere between the age of 0 and 2.5 years old (no, I cannot date it closer than that).

#397 ::: Sus ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 12:04 PM:

Gabriele #333 Maybe your parents wanted to avoid that sort of trouble.

Oh, I'm sure they did. Had I declared in class that the Stasi was nasty because they wouldn't allow us to visit our relatives in the West, my parents would have been in serious trouble. Dissent was kinda frowned upon.

Yourself again @ 339 Nothing wrong with Trabbis! ;) Except where they were made of cardboard and about as big as a shoebox. Heh. Ossie. I've not been called that in a long time.

#398 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 12:49 PM:

I'm 54, grew up in Kentucky, and here is one thing I *don't* remember: duck-and-cover. Nobody ever bothered. Hearing other people growing up in different parts of the US remember that, not just now, but over the years, has been deeply disturbing.

Seemingly the large Army munitions depot outside of town was deemed much less of a target than Fort Knox roughly 100 miles away. I did end up taking a Civil Defense "first aid in case of a nuclear attack" thing as part of my 10th-grade health course, but the materials were rather dated.

#399 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 12:53 PM:

We did those Civil Defense drills in my grade school, but they were called "Tornado Drills."

Useless against nukes, but quite helpful in a tornado. And quite relevant in Michigan.

#400 ::: Gabriele Campbell ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 01:18 PM:

Sus #397

Oh, the Trabbis were cute. I was always amazed how many people you could get inside; they kept spilling out families including grandma and auntie. And you could repair them with a bit of bandaid and an old stocking. :)

It was the most visible change for me. Imagine, I came back after living two years in Sweden, and there were all those cars I only knew from East-TV. We'd never been there because my father was on the Stasi black lists after he'd spirited not only his betrothed, but also his parents, her sister and a few neighbours into the West until someone betrayed him and he had to flee himself.

#401 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 01:26 PM:

Brenda Kalt @ 394... Actually, I stole that one from the late Herb Caen, columnist at the San Francisco Chronicle. I don't know if he's the one who first came up with it, but he's the one I credit with that line.

#402 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 03:12 PM:

ethan @ 395... thank goodness you made that correction. I could have embarrassed myself!

Argh. Hood and Rainier are both in the very south of Washington, not in Oregon or in California. The extinct volcano I was thinking of is Mount Shasta. I'm sure of it. It's the one with the ancient Lemurians that Kathryn from Sunnyvale mentionned in thread #97.

#403 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 03:33 PM:

Serge @ 402 ....
Argh. Hood and Rainier are both in the very south of Washington, not in Oregon or in California. The extinct volcano I was thinking of is Mount Shasta. I'm sure of it. It's the one with the ancient Lemurians that Kathryn from Sunnyvale mentionned in thread #97.

Does that make you a misplaced person?

#404 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 03:38 PM:

xeger @ 403... That, and a brain that needs more sleep.

#405 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 03:54 PM:

Dave Luckett #382: If it's only half the length of the yard, then it might fall off elkskin or no.

#406 ::: Renatus ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 06:09 PM:

Serge @ 402: Hood is in Oregon. When I lived in Oregon City, when I walked to college/work I could see it easily when I'd turn more-or-less southward.

#407 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 06:14 PM:

Renatus @ 406... Darn my memory of those early 1990s trips. But Hood is very close to the Washington border, right? At least I didn't put any of those volcanoes on the wrong Coast. Still, it is quite embarassing.

#408 ::: Carl ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2007, 09:32 PM:

#303 Allan - When I was a kid on the farm (in what is now suburban sprawl) our next-door neighbor was an old man we all called "Grandpa Mac." He was born in 1883, and raised on the reservation. He was an Indian scout in the war (Spanish-American?) and could tell stories that would curl your hair. I wish now I'd been wise enough to write some of them down. He never specifically said what his earliest memories were, but some of them were quite ... unique. Growing up an Indian at the turn of the 19th/20th centuries, he experienced some serious stuff.

#409 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2007, 12:45 AM:

Born early 1970. My first news memories are Watergate (always a drawing of the White House, never a photo), Vietnam (vague jungle visuals -- had they stopped scheduling the firefights for network TV by then?) and school busing (I grew up in the suburbs of Boston, and could not understand the fuss, because what was wrong with riding a bus to school? I was looking forward to that when I started kindergarten).

My personal memories begin somewhat earlier -- I remember going shopping for my first Big Girl Bed, which would have been prior to my second birthday, because my brother was born on my second birthday and I was getting the bed because the new baby was going to need the crib. I don't remember that reason at the time; I remember wanting a water bed, and my mother lying down on the unstabilized model available then and saying it made her seasick.

#410 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2007, 01:10 AM:

Question for Avram: What's "Professor X" doing up there? The other two I can understand, sort of.

#411 ::: Giacomo ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2007, 05:42 AM:

Born in Italy in 1981. I remember the Chernobyl incident, I was 5 years old, I remember discussions on TV, maps with the radioactive cloud drifting through Europe and my mother explaining me that there was something in the air, so we must leave our shoes and jackets on the first floor entrance (our house had two floors, we lived in second floor), that for a while I couldn't play outside and that in the summer we will not eat the tomatoes and the other produce of our garden.

#412 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2007, 09:02 AM:

In the 1956 cohort. More evidence for the premise that clear notions of distinct events start around six years old. I do recall the Kennedy assassination, and all sorts of events around me at the time (one odd memory: a pair of sixth grade boys, arms linked, skipping down the sidewalk chanting "The president is deh-ed, the president is deh-ed...").

I recall events related to the October missile crisis, but I did not have context for these memories until later. The president on afternoon television. Noticing on the school bus ride to kindergarten on a fall day that the sky was filled with a remarkable number of jet contrails. I mentioned this to my mom, who shrugged it off. This was in upstate NY, and years later it occurred to me that military jets might have been flying in high alert.

I recall seeing television coverage of what I think had been Alan Sheppard's flight. Later, I think someone primed me for an interest in space (and eventually science fiction), by saying "So, you want to be an astronaut when you grow up?". I don't think I had considered it previously, but that sounded cool, so I said yes.

A lot of personal memories when I was living in Winnipeg, Manitoba; but a less firm grip on how old I was at the time. I can sort some of them earlier vs later because we lived in a couple of different places. I think most of these are from when I was 3; I don't think I recall anything earlier.

One favorite (with context added): seeing a bit of Beginning of the End on television, where the giant grasshoppers were attacking Chicago. I was impressed by the giant grasshoppers climbing buildings, and being 3, this didn't strike me as unreasonable either. Years later, I realized this effect was created by throwing grasshoppers on photographs of buildings.

I remember bits of a hospital stay: my sister and I were both in the hospital for pneumonia. I've often thought this might have weighed in my parents decision to follow a job to a warmer climate (upstate NY). We entered the US one day before my 4th birthday.

I can recall some things back to the crib, as do a couple of my sisters; this amazes our mother.

On another topic: I have never yelled at kids to get off the lawn, but not so long ago I was yelling at some to get off the roof.

#413 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2007, 09:58 AM:

David Goldfarb @ 410... I thought the reference to Professor X was to Charles Xavier, leader of the X-men, but the latter aren't mentionned either. Is puzzlement, as Yul Brynner (another famous bald man) would have said.

#414 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2007, 10:08 AM:

The thread title is echoing a line from Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire": "Pope Paul, Malcolm X, British politician sex." I assumed that 'Professor X' was there because it rhymed and scanned. Serge is probably right about the reference.

#415 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2007, 10:28 AM:

Mary Aileen @ 414
The thread title is echoing a line from Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire": "Pope Paul, Malcolm X, British politician sex." I assumed that 'Professor X' was there because it rhymed and scanned. Serge is probably right about the reference.

That was my assumption as well - not all of the references in "...Start the Fire" were to political or news events - notable (if sometimes controversial) entertainment events are mentioned in the song as well.

#416 ::: LMB MacAlister ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2007, 12:33 PM:

Lois @ 142 & 143: Your post moved me, as I'm only days younger than you (and Linkmeister), and we share many of the same early memories. I started first grade at 5 as well, although Texas law made that impossible within a couple of years. I remember Ike's heart attack, but only in the context of my grandfather's fatal one that December, and a remembered question in my mind of what could be wrong with these people's hearts. As Texas oilfield kid, I was very aware of the Suez crisis, because we were directly affected by it. We had a brand new RCA television by early '56, and I remember crying for the people in Hungary when I saw news pictures of the tanks in Budapest. Elvis on Milton Berle was a big issue in my house, too, as my sister was in high school, but she had already left for college when he was on Ed Sullivan. I was already in love with music, and talked my sister into taking me with her to see local boys Roy Orbison and Buddy Holly, who was my hero. As such, hearing the news of Buddy Holly's fatal plane crash is one of those things for which I can still remember exactly where I was and what I was doing. (I was in Algebra class on 22 November 1963.)

Several people have mentioned ducking and covering. I can remember having a 2-3 drills in second and third grades. By that time, we were living in southeastern New Mexico, and not much importance was placed on it. I'm not sure if that's because there was so little television coverage, and thus not much publicity, or if, being only 300 miles from Los Alamos and Lois @ 142 & 143: Your post moved me, as I'm only days younger than you (and Linkmeister), and we share many of the same early memories. I started first grade at 5 as well, although Texas law made that impossible within a couple of years. I remember Ike's heart attack, but only in the context of my grandfather's fatal one that December, and a remembered question in my mind of what could be wrong with these people's hearts. As Texas oilfield kid, I was very aware of the Suez crisis, because we were directly affected by it. We had a brand new RCA television by early '56, and I remember crying for the people in Hungary when I saw news pictures of the tanks in Budapest. Elvis on Milton Berle was a big issue in my house, too, as my sister was in high school, but she had already left for college when he was on Ed Sullivan. I was already in love with music, and talked my sister into taking me with her to see local boys Roy Orbison and Buddy Holly, who was my hero. As such, hearing the news of Buddy Holly's fatal plane crash is one of those things for which I can still remember exactly where I was and what I was doing. (I was in Algebra class on 22 November 1963.)

Several people have mentioned ducking and covering. I can remember having a 2-3 drills in second and third grades. By that time, we were living in southeastern New Mexico, and not much importance was placed on it. I'm not sure if that's because there was so little television coverage, and thus not much publicity, or if, being only 300 miles from Los Alamos and

Having lived through 1968 as a high school senior only meant that I entered college as a completely disillusioned and cynical young man.

A couple of other important events--I was at a jobsite on 28 January 1986. The customers were moving into their new house (a mansion, it is), as we (the landscape contractor) and a few carpenters were finishing up. The lady of the house invited us all in to watch the launch, and of course we were all shaken up. On 01 February 2003, I was in my driveway in North Texas, loading equipment into my truck. I heard a loud boom, and although I figured it was a sonic boom (they had fighter pilots practicing valley flying in the Red River valley nearby), I looked up to see a white light in the sky. After I finished my chore, I jumped into the truck to head to Dallas, and heard the terrible news of what I had seen on NPR. Just one more--I watched the news of the invasion of Afghanistan intently, from my hospital bed as I recovered from heart bypass surgery.

Now you kids get off my lawn.

As a side note, I wonder if so many of us born in the late 40's-early 50's have much earlier memories of news events because our parents placed a higher importance on media news.

#417 ::: LMB MacAlister ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2007, 12:35 PM:

Stefan @ 384: No, that would be science friction.

#418 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2007, 01:13 PM:

LMB MacAlister @416: I would suspect that those born in the late 40s, early 50s had fewer avenues of media competing for attention. The fact that there were three TV networks and mostly AM radio meant that the news was more, well, concentrated, on Radio and TV. I remember when special bulletins were regularly broadcast on TV, and the political conventions were broadcast gavel-to-gavel (irritating us kids who wanted to watch Lost in Space, Batman, and Star Trek). That doesn't happen anymore. If you want news now, you go to CNN or Fox or the Net.

Anyone else remember the newsreels at the theater?

Where'd I put my cane?

#419 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2007, 02:21 PM:

There hasn't been much mention of sports. I know that can be *really* boring, except to other obsessives, but it was certainly the Bay Area's luck (and NYC's loss) when the Giants moved to San Francisco, and my family could be glued to the radio or the b&w tv during games with Mays, McCovey, the Alou brothers, etc.

(No harrumphing over the present state of the game, or Bay Area teams, here. That kind of thing would lead way further off-topic!)

#420 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2007, 02:59 PM:

Faren @ #419, we lived in LA County (first San Pedro and then Westwood) in 1959-1962. I became a lifelong Dodgers fan while there. I blame Vin Scully, Jerry Doggett, and the Dodgers winning the 1959 World Series, which caused the LA Times sports pages to go bonkers. Larry Sherry winning two games and saving the other two! Ted Kluszewski's arms being too big for standard uniform sleeves and having to cut them off!

I have a memory of my Dad taking me to a Dodgers game at the LA Coliseum (with that huge screen in left field about 260 feet down the line -- the Coliseum wasn't designed for baseball). It may not be accurate, though. It's like my memory of the moon landing; we didn't have a television on Guam in July 1969, but I've seen that clip so many times I feel like I saw it live.

I think my own news memories start a little later than six because we were moving every 18 months and our own lives were so full.

#421 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2007, 03:19 PM:

Born May 1959, in the UK.

I have a few memories of the house we moved out of in 1963, and the chemical plant my father managed.

My first pop culture memories appear to be from 1963 or 64, Goldfinger, because I asked "what does radioactive mean", and I remember the plane flying through the hangar, and Bond handcuffed to the freezer-sized atomic bomb.

My first real world TV memory seems to be the funeral of Churchill, January 30, 1965.

#209 - those NORAD announcements are still made - in 1969, just moved to Canada, the announcement that NORAD was tracking activity over the North Pole scared me spitless, as I thought it was the start of WWIII.

#422 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2007, 04:30 PM:

Hey, kids, I remember when the phone company would ask us if we wanted a touchtone phone or the standard rotary.

#423 ::: LMB MacAlister ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2007, 05:38 PM:

Serge, I'm sure you remember when Touch Tone (tm) technology was new. It was introduced in the mid-60's in the big cities in Texas. However, when I moved to Prosper, Texas (small farming town north of Dallas) in 1990, my touch-tone phones wouldn't work. I had to buy an adapter from Ma Bell (SBC).

#424 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2007, 05:39 PM:

Serge @ 422 ...
Hey, kids, I remember when the phone company would ask us if we wanted a touchtone phone or the standard rotary.

... and I'm chuffed to discover that my VOIP line works Just Fine(tm) with a rotary dial phone. If I didn't need my Internet hit^H^H^Hfeed[0], I'd be very tempted to try and get the phone company to give me a pulse only line, instead of continuing to charge me $2-mumble per month for the privilege of tone dialing.

[0] I fully expect that this process would result in the phone company doing fascinating and unhelpful things to my phone line, and having been on the receiving end of "We don't care / We don't have to / We're the phone company" far too many times, I'd rather avoid such joys.

#425 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2007, 05:53 PM:

#418 - I think I saw a few newsreels. By the later 60's they were rare but not extinct in the UK.

#423, #424 - I just remembered the TV commercial circa 1970 telling you not to mess with the "#" and "*" buttons. It was years before any features using them actually rolled out, too.

#426 ::: Roy G. Ovrebo ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2007, 06:30 PM:

I was born in 1974, and the first big news event I can remember is the Alexander Kielland platform disaster of 27 March 1980. 123 dead, many of them local people.

#427 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2007, 07:21 PM:

LMB @ 423... Actually, I won't pretend. I didn't realize that Touch Tone technology was already coming out in the 1960s. When I moved into my own place in 1982, that kind of phone wasn't that common, I think. Or it may not have been common where I was living.

It amuses me, to think of that same year, when I was one of the first people among my acquaintances to buy a VCR. Its idea of portable is rather ridiculous. And its remote was not cordless.

When I was your age, kids...

#428 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2007, 08:21 PM:

Hey, kids, I remember when the phone company would ask us if we wanted a touchtone phone or the standard rotary.

I remember telephone "exchanges," with human operators, asking "Number, please...?" In New York City.

#429 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2007, 09:00 PM:

Lizzy L... I remember our having to share a phone line with our neighbors, whose children a busy social life.

#430 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2007, 09:22 PM:

'Davey Crockett' on Disneyland. 'Mayor Art', a kid's show - I think it was local, for some definition of local. 'San Francisco Beat' (whatever it was called at the time) as the local equivalent of 'Dragnet': no high-speed car chases, but TV didn't really do high-speed car chases then.
I remember when mobile camera vans were the latest thing in TV news.

#431 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2007, 10:34 PM:

P J... "Disney's Wonderful World of Color" was high on my list, especially the Ludwig von Drake documentaries.

#432 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 12:24 AM:

Henry Troup writes in #421:

#209 - those NORAD announcements are still made - in 1969, just moved to Canada, the announcement that NORAD was tracking activity over the North Pole scared me spitless, as I thought it was the start of WWIII.

See my comment in #233.

#433 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 01:27 AM:

Serge #429: I remember our having to share a phone line with our neighbors

All I do is talk to my pillow...

#434 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 02:12 AM:

Serge@413: I take it you weren't paying attention when I -- to take an example -- was complaining about people getting Spider-Man's name wrong? :-) Of course I know who Professor X is. I just didn't know why he was up there. I accept Mary Aileen's explanation with thanks as the correct one.

#435 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 03:06 AM:

ethan @ 433 ...
All I do is talk to my pillow...

... as long as you don't hug it, and kiss it, and call it George...

#436 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 05:54 AM:

David Goldfarb @ 434...I blame the same brain fatigue that, over the last 2 days, had me remember Mount Hood being in Washington instead of Oregon.

#437 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 05:55 AM:

ethan @ 433... All I do is talk to my pillow...

Wasn't that a Rock Hudson movie?

#438 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 10:04 AM:

Yes, Serge, Rock Hudson, who, as Pillow Talk would put it, liked to gossip, loved recipes, and was very fond of his mother. And who, in the movie, shared a party line with uptight career woman Doris Day. Ahh, 1960.

#439 ::: OtherMichael ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 01:00 PM:

I don't know if I really remember TV news stories on the fall of Saigon, or it was something later in the 70s.

First story I remember reading the paper was the Jonestown Massacre in Guyana, which I placed somewhere south of Indiana (my geography has improved slightly since then). A Jungle full of horrors a number of states away (okay, I was in SD but I knew we drove to IN on the way out to Dad's family in Massachusetts) was terrifying.

#440 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 01:27 PM:

Serge @ 431
It was actually originally called 'Disneyland'.

#441 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 02:36 PM:

NelC @ 393

I thought you probably meant reducing rather than cutting entirely, but it's still shortsighted - as you say, OU is perfect for flexibility, and for reaching people who didn't get the chance for higher education straight out of school (straight out of high school, for any of our North American friends reading this).

Sympathies again for the likely increase in fees (now, will they explain how increasing fees is going to lead to more choice and better education??? I've never understood how that works, myself; I'm just glad I managed to get my nearly ten years of higher education finished before they started on the fee increases.)

My nieces and nephews, brought up in Scotland, are effectively being limited to choosing Scottish universites, since their parents certainly cannot afford the fees for them to come south of the border - which is a shame for one of them whose ideal course would probably be at Loughborough.

#442 ::: Michael R. Bernstein ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 03:35 PM:

I was born in 1970. I vaguely remember the Bicentennial, but given the personal turmoil in my family (that resulted in our relocation to Israel) at the time, the first clear news event I recall is Sadat's address of the Israeli Knesset in 1977, and later on, Camp David.

#443 ::: R.M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 06:36 PM:

Returning to the thread rather late...

#388, David Goldfarb - I'm quite sure that Challenger wasn't a Saturday, because I remember being in high school taking final exams for the semester that day.

Debbie put her finger on why I thought it was a Saturday-

#390, Debbie -
Columbia was a Saturday.

I'm apparently conflating the two. Challenger had the terrible footage that actually showed something and got played over and over, while Columbia was just (as I recall) talking heads telling us what little they knew. I took the Challenger footage (which I didn't see as it unfolded, because I was in school*) and projected it onto the shock of the Columbia disaster.

That also explains why I remember it as being rather warm for a January day.

*I apparently don't remember when I heard about it.

#444 ::: Joy ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 10:35 PM:

I remember the Carter/Ford election in 1976 and all the bicentennial hoopla.

I remember, also, and more vaguely, something about an "energy crisis." It might have been in 1973.

I was born in 1970.

#445 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 12:45 AM:

I remember duck-&-cover drills, complete with air-raid sirens, through sixth grade (1969-1970). And I think the air-raid siren must have been local to that city (Cudahy, CA) because I don't recall hearing it at that same day/time when I was at home 10-12 miles away.

The Haunting is, in my opinion, one of the best horror films ever made, if for no other reason than that it fit almost perfectly with the mental images I formed while reading the book (at a relatively young age, as I recall). The remake can best be described as utter dreck. Not that I have an opinion. :)

A more recent film that had a similar impact is The Changeling (a 1980 Showtime production)--a few more special effects than in The Haunting, but not to the point that they overwhelmed the very well-plotted ghost story.

#446 ::: Andr ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 01:44 AM:

#412, Rob Rusick
I hear you about Winnipeg, cold climate indeed!

Being from Canada, and being slightly younger than many of the more colourful memories here, my first remembered bit of The News is someone talking about Meech Lake. At the time I wondered whether Meech Lake was anything like the lakes I visited on vacation.

What a boring First News Event. No bombs, jets, hiding under desks, deaths, terrorists or anything. heh.

#447 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 06:53 AM:

Andr @446: Russick Lake, in Manitoba. Despite the double 's', said to be named after a relative who had been a fur-trapper. Looks to be at least a few hundred miles away from the nearest road.

#448 ::: Garrett Fitzgerald ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 01:43 PM:

Oh, phones. Anybody else remember those high-tech autodialing phones that stored the numbers on punched cards?

I saw them at an expo at the Providence Civic Center once, but never in actual use...

#449 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 02:53 PM:

Garrett 448: They used them at my junior high school. I'm not sure what for at this point (I left there in 1972).

#450 ::: Renatus ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 07:33 PM:

Serge @ #407 : Gah! Didn't mean to forget this thread for so long! Er, Mt. Hood is closeish to the Washington-Oregon border... I suppose it depends on what you mean be close. Oregon City is just south of Portland--15 minute drive by freeway when the traffic is good (and I just remembered Hood is likely visible east of Oregon City, not south). Portland is right on the border, but Hood is some ways of driving away. 45 miles east-southeast, says various websites.

#451 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2007, 05:42 PM:

abi @ 240: I, too, saw snow in San Francisco, in December of 1984, the end of a miserable year.

As to my earliest memories of public events, the Kennedy assassination when I was five I remember in that blurry way that makes me sure it's a real memory. I also remember relatives not too much later talking in a motel room and their being quite certain Johnson was behind the killing. I remember the Gemini flights, though not in any detail, and have a very vivid memory of the Apollo 1 disaster. I doubt that I have any real memory of Mercury.

One other memory is addressed in particular to Brenda Kalt @ 300: I remember reading anti-"Old Guard" flyers at my grandparents' house, which would be the 1966 election. I think those were from the primary, but I wouldn't swear to it.

#452 ::: Nathanael Nerode ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2007, 10:20 AM:

First major news event I can remember: Iran-Contra.

And the crooks responsible for that one are still at large.

#453 ::: Dave Luckett sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2010, 09:50 AM:


Welcome to Making Light's comment section. The moderators are Avram Grumer, Teresa & Patrick Nielsen Hayden, and Abi Sutherland. Abi is the moderator most frequently onsite. She's also the kindest. Teresa is the theoretician. Are you feeling lucky?

Comments containing more than seven URLs will be held for approval. If you want to comment on a thread that's been closed, please post to the most recent "Open Thread" discussion.

You can subscribe (via RSS) to this particular comment thread. (If this option is baffling, here's a quick introduction.)

Post a comment.
(Real e-mail addresses and URLs only, please.)

HTML Tags:
<strong>Strong</strong> = Strong
<em>Emphasized</em> = Emphasized
<a href="">Linked text</a> = Linked text

Spelling reference:
Tolkien. Minuscule. Gandhi. Millennium. Delany. Embarrassment. Publishers Weekly. Occurrence. Asimov. Weird. Connoisseur. Accommodate. Hierarchy. Deity. Etiquette. Pharaoh. Teresa. Its. Macdonald. Nielsen Hayden. It's. Fluorosphere. Barack. More here.

(You must preview before posting.)

Dire legal notice
Making Light copyright 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 by Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden. All rights reserved.