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Friday, April 20, 2007


Survivor, in a way

This weeks tragic events at Virginia Tech brought back some, quite frankly, disturbing memories for me.

I consider myself a survivor of sorts of the Cal State Fullerton massacre in 1976. I was there, but totally unaware.

It was a odd day. I didn't have any classes, but a group of us decided to meet at the library (where the shootings took place) and study for an upcoming exam. Our CommLaw professor was just awful (we called him Ed Sullivan, he talked just like him)and his tests were some of the most unclear any of us had ever encountered. With only passing the latest travesty of college life in mind, we decided to meet right out front of the building.

The day began rather early. Your stereotypical Southern California day-sunny and warm. When we were through congregating, we decided that since we wouldn't be able to discus anything in the library, that we'd head over to the courtyard in the student union. We could "catch some rays", drink, eat and most important, study.

That choice may have very well saved our lives! We had no idea what was going on at our first destination!

Remember, this was 31 year ago, no cell phone, no texting. No TV's in the student union. My parents were at work and heard the news on the radio. They were panicking-to say the least.
They knew I was there.

Meanwhile, my merry band and I were studying away, blissful in our ignorance. Hours (almost a whole days worth) later, we gathered up our stuff and walked out. We decided that since it was getting late, we'd walk to our cars by way of the gym. Again, bypassing all that was/had been going on in the main quad of the campus.

When I arrived home, I was greeted by a very livid set of parents. "Didn't you have a dime, why didn't you call us collect for God sakes? Didn't we raise you to be more thoughtful and considerate????"

I just stared at them as if they had completely cracked. "What are you going on about? I said I'd be home at 6, and it is. I'm in college and almost 18 now!"

They now realized I had no idea what had happened. They turned on the television. Then I just stared. Wow! The hair on my arms raised (as it is actually doing right now) and I began to listen to the latest update. My parents began to settle down. We were horrified and relieved.

The phone rang. One of my study group called-had I seen or heard what had been going on all day literally a few yards from us? The rest of the evening was spent either calling other members of our clan or getting them.

Classes were cancelled the next day. Our CommLaw professor would up in the hospital. One of the victims had been a close friend and the shock had almost caused a stroke.

As with most bad events, I put this one into the very back of my mind. Until Virginia Tech. I do hope that this memory goes back to that cubbyhole of its very soon.


Wow, you are so very lucky. That must've been a horrifying experience. I pray for the families of those students in is just such a waste...such a waste of life. I often wonder why, if these people are going to shoot themselves anyway, they feel that they have to take everyone else along with them. It's just so pointless.
Compelling story, Carine. It's too bad this country is so infected with these psychos. I'm not comfortable with the fact, being a former journalist, that it's the media that so often provides these people with the glory and fame they seek.
Now I'll have to go check what you were writing about??
It was very obvious that this 'Cho' character was very sick. All the signs were there but nobody paid attention. What a travesty.
I think he was begging for help and nobody listened. Too little too late.
Lisa, the day was truly a case of "ignorance is bliss". We could have gone into the library, just decided if we had to study, at least make it fun.
Dave, I know what you mean. I remember covering John Lennon's death and all the play they gave Chapman. Sometimes our colleagues forget what our job is...
Matty, it was quite the story here in CA in 1976-a janitor w/ a history of paranoid mental problems went on a shooting spree in the library.
Very touching post! i am glad you survived it. in a way i think it was a blessing for you not knowing what was going on in 1976...glad you are here to tell us about it!!
I hope and pray that nothing like this ever happens again...more attention should be paid to our children. Signs of disturbance should not be ignored. Good read as usual Carine!
thank you summer!
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