Recollections: Alumni Reflect on Historical Moments
What was the biggest historical event to happen during your college years?
The 1948 presidential election when Truman beat Dewey — we stayed up all night listening to the results.
Richard Collier ’51
During the student body train trip in 1957 to Little Rock for the TCU-Arkansas football game, armed troops were visible all over Little Rock — scary! President Eisenhower had sent federal troops to enforce integration.
Jean Sauerberg Ware ’60
With several other staffers and journalism students, I huddled around the wire service teletype machine in The Skiff newsroom to read, letter by letter, the exciting news of astronaut John Glenn’s three orbits around Earth. Back then booze was banned on campus, otherwise we would have uncorked some champagne!
Don Buckman ’62
The Bay of Pigs fiasco occurred and many people in my dorm (Waits Hall) were very fearful that we were going to war.
President Kennedy was killed in Dallas after spending the night in Fort Worth.
Barbara McWilliams Medders Shaw ’66 (MA ’72)
The Apollo 8 mission over Christmas 1968 with the first humans to orbit the moon, and the Apollo 11 mission with Armstrong and Aldrin landing on the moon, July 1969
Valerie Neal ’71
Watergate, Agnew, Carter winning the election, 1975 events in Vietnam — especially since my suitemates in Foster Hall were from Vietnam
Denise Elaine Heap ’77
The death of John Lennon
Charlotte Clarke Lagrone ’80 (BA ’82)
Luke and Laura got married on General Hospital. Lol
Nika Carter ’82
Two come to mind: AIDS and President Reagan getting shot at.
John J. Petersen ’83
Challenger explosion — I was watching the launch on a big screen in a lecture hall and could not comprehend what actually happened.
Liz Little ’88
1986: Chernobyl disaster
1989: George H.W. Bush becomes president
Lisa Orbison Palazzetti ’90
The fall of the Berlin Wall began in November 1989, when I was a senior. One of my favorite professors was Dr. John Bohon, who taught Russian and World War II history. His excitement over the events in Berlin was as memorable to me as the history we saw unfolding in real time.
Joe Gagnon ’90
The 1986 TCU-SMU football game was the “probation bowl.” After the end of the season, SMU football got the death penalty.
“Baby Jessica” McClure fell down the well in Midland, Texas. She was rescued two days later.
Cheryl Hiddleson Fowler ’90
Fall of communism
Maria Ovalle Grmela ’90
Gulf War, Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska, fall of the Berlin Wall
Tricia Brugmann Strout ’91
Los Angeles riots/Rodney King
Jenelyn Russo ’92
The start of the first Gulf War — I was in modern grammar class right after George H.W. Bush announced it in a televised evening message from the Oval Office. Our professor gave us a bit of time in class to reflect on our fear and how small we felt diagramming sentences that night.
Kellie Lander ’93
Desert Storm, burning of David Koresh’s compound in Waco, Texas
Lori Radke ’93
O.J. Simpson chase around the Los Angeles freeway and the trial a year later
Amanda Taliercio ’98
In 1997 the U.S. spacecraft Pathfinder landed on Mars.
Juan M. Marquez III ’98
The premiere of Dawson’s Creek — it was huge.
Brian Wood ’02
The Columbine school shooting and 9/11 — two very scary events.
Megan Elrath ’02
My college time started with the Wedgwood Baptist Church shooting in Fort Worth and ended with the war in Iraq. In between there was the bonfire collapse at Texas A&M, the downtown Fort Worth tornado, the Bush/Gore election, 9/11 and the Columbia explosion.
TCU-related: There was LaDainian Tomlinson, Coach Fran leaving and Coach Patterson coming in, Chancellor Ferrari leaving and the search for Chancellor Boschini … so, a lot.
Jacque Petersell ’03
9/11 happened in my last semester. It was really difficult to find a job for months afterwards.
Kerrie Meister ’01
I didn’t think anything would top the Bush/Gore recount my junior year … until 9/11 my senior year.
Brian Estrada ’02
On 9/11 I had just left my 8 a.m. English class and walked through the old student center. I walked past FrogBytes and on the gigantic projection television was a fire, a tower, a plane and people. I honestly thought it was a movie playing. Everything was canceled, and everyone was in a daze. There was a candlelight prayer vigil. It seemed like every student gathered around Frog Fountain as we prayed, sang and leaned on one another. That day is still incredibly vivid in my mind and I can’t think of the fear without also thinking about going through it with my TCU family.
Kristin Harman ’04
2004: Ronald Reagan died
2005: Hurricane Katrina
2006: Human-to-human spread of bird flu, Pluto was downgraded to a dwarf planet and Saddam Hussein was assassinated
2007: Apple announced the iPhone
Mandy Turner ’07
SMU poisoned our field. Oh, and the complete meltdown of the global economy
Justin Floyd ’10
Death of Osama bin Laden
Christopher Dawson ’11
I ate Fuzzy’s four days in a row.
Brian Banks ’11
Federal takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and Obama elected president
Shelley Garland ’11
TCU winning the Rose Bowl
James Horton ’13
Editor’s Note: Answers have been edited for clarity and length.
Your comments are welcome
Curator Brings Discovery to Smithsonian as NASA Considers Mars
Space historian Valerie Neal shares stories from shuttle era.
Alumni, Web Extras
TCU Magazine Podcast: Valerie Neal
The alumna discusses her work for NASA and the Smithsonian, including insight into Sally Ride’s life.
Research + Discovery
Ideas of Terrorism Transfer to Latin American Immigrants
A sociologist finds the unease affects U.S. views and laws.