Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Trifecta Writing Challenge - Confidence

I remember sitting there at my desk. Second row halfway between the door and window. We had just come back from lunch. Mrs. Shepard gave us each two worksheets and we settled in to do them.

Then, the first mother came to the door. She gave Mrs. Shepard a little wave, and the two of them talked in the hallway. We could see them through the tall, narrow window in the door to our classroom. Of course, it was not a big deal. Mothers came and picked kids up early for doctor's appointments and things all the time.

Mrs. Shepard stuck her head in and called one of the kids from our class. He left with his mother.

A few minutes passed and another mother came. And, then another, and another. Each time Mrs. Shepard would go out and talk before that mother's child was called. You could tell that the mothers were telling Mrs. Shepard something in confidence and she would come back in tight-lipped, but cool and calm.

Then, Debbie Ballucci's mother came to the door. I can still see her! She had on a lavender sweatsuit and those really big, wide curlers on the top of her head that women used to wear. Mrs. Ballucci did not do that signaling thing that the other mothers did. She gave a cursory knock and then opened the classroom door as Mrs. Shepard rushed toward her.

"They're shooting the kids out there!" she cried, out of breath and red-faced.

Mrs. Shepard moved toward her quickly as she was talking and kind of forced her out the door. As they stood talking in the hallway, the other kids sitting among the empty desks and I looked at one another in confusion. But, we were not supposed to talk.

I started on my second worksheet. I wrote my name: Libby Myers. I wrote the date: May 4, 1970.







Go to my Facebook Page to sign the petition to re-open the case based on new evidence that has emerged. One of the victim's sisters is heading it up.






I am linking this story to up for the Trifecta Writing Challenge! You should give it a try! Today we had to use the word "confidence."

60 comments:

  1. I remember that day. I don't know whether your story is based on your own experience but you really brought me into the reality of that experience. Thank you for this glimpse into a sad and significant day in U.S. history.

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  2. wow! i am not familiar with the actual event, but it reminded me of other significant events when you can remember every single detail. how terrifying for a student to know something is going on and to be kept in the dark by administrators only to find out from a frazzled parent! great read.

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    1. Thanks. :). That's how it happened. There's more, but I could not go over 333 words so this is a little vignette.

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    2. Me again. If you get a sec google Kent State and see what happened. It was 40 some years ago and I was 7. I lived there and my mom was a professor at the University. I think your generation should know what happened.

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    3. I agree, everyone should know what happened. My first thought was Columbine but I realized the date was wrong for Columbine. Libby, you made me cry. I am older than you, I was 17 years old at the time and I remember watching that horrible, horrible violence on the tv and crying. It was a terrible time.
      Great writing.

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    4. OMG...yea, there is more to the story. My mom could not get home. My friend's house got tear gassed. My dad could not get home. We were under marshal law!

      Right after this happened, they dismissed school...with no buses, and we all walked out into the middle of everything.

      Thanks for saying the 'great writing' part, BTW :)

      I feel as though it is good to tell these younger writers about Kent State. Look it up everyone. See that photo I posted? - Pulitzer Prize.

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  3. I remember exactly what happened that day. Devastating!

    I can't believe your mom was a professor there. Truly a different prospective on the whole event.

    Electrifying story!

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    1. Thanks...it seems surreal now that that actually happened on the campus of a Midwest college in the US...

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  4. This happened just before my time, but I did Google the date. That would have been terrifying to go through, especially with your mom teaching there.

    For me, the childhood event that sticks in my mind is the Challenger explosion. I was in junior high and I can remember the classroom and teacher and other details when the news broke.

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    1. We watched Challenger in the atrium of the architecture building in Grad School.

      You know what the event is for my older kids - 9/11... They were in school pretty close to MacDill Air Force Base - Central Command - so, I was freaking a bit.

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  5. I googled the date and am sorry to learn of the event. This story brings out the event in a very realistic tone.

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    1. powerful Libby. I can only imagine how terrified you were. Intense. So sorry you went through that ordeal. Great writing

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    2. Thanks, Whirly :) At least we didn't get shot. Isn't it crazy that happened?

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    3. Hey Ruby - Thanks for commenting. It happened because of the draft and the war in Vietnam.

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    4. Ruby - I added a video, so you can see it.

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  6. That's a real flash memory, I don't know the story but I could place it at other points in history. The conflict and incomprehension of a child's view and the adults trying to make sense of it and choosing different ways to keep the children 'safe'. Thank you for sharing. :)

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    1. You're right. Its a little news reel stuck in my mind :)

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    2. I added a video to my post, so you can see what happened. Neil Young wrote a song about it - that's on there too.

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  7. I had to post again... I'm shocked and saddened that so many people didn't know about this. Wow! Is this not part of American high school history classes???
    Sorry to be so cranky but wtf!?

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    1. I know!!! I thought everyone would be like, "You were at KENT?!!?" And, nobody knows about it. Its not their fault. It really needs to be taught for God's sake! Nam, Watergate, the anti-war movement...Kent State was the official end of the sixties...

      May 4 is coming up. I may need to re-read the Michner 'Kent State' book and do a review and a big splashy something or other with the bloggers...

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    2. I added the Neil Young video, so they could see...

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    3. The bloggers ARE doing something - headed up by Allison Krauss's sister. Here is her blog. http://mendocoastcurrent.wordpress.com/

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  8. Wow, how terrifying. Although perhaps it was more terrifying in retrospect? So hard for a kid that age to actually process something like that. I remember the sort of confused incomprehension I felt when the Challenger blew up; I don't think I really "got" it until later.

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    1. Yea, you are exactly right. When you are that age, you feel that the adults have everything under control and you are kind of a spectator. We walked out into the city and saw a tank and army trucks and soldiers, and it was partly disturbing but also interesting. I was only 7.

      You know, NOW DAYS they would lock down the schools and everyone would have to come and sign their child out. But, back then they were like. "We are dismissing school early. There is no kindergarten bus. So, if your brothers and sisters or neighbors are in kindergarten, please go get them and take them home." Crazy - huh? Since I was big, I took home my little brother and a neighbor girl :)

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  9. Wow. What an intensely tragic story this is. It's one of those things that seems too horrible to be true. Too many of those things have happened.

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    1. Yea, it's kind is surreal when you think about it.

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  10. Say it again, Wow! You just captured the horror of this. I'm sorry this is true. But you wrote it well.

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    1. Thanks Leanne. I was just doing it for Trifecta, but now I am thinking that it is good to get the story out for the younger people.

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  11. Your story is very, very good. I can't imagine it was easy culling the experience down to 333 words.

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    1. You're exactly right! It was about twice this long and I had to edit three times to get the word count. :)

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  12. Before my time, too, but I almost feel like it wasn't. It's a memory that has been talked over so much, I feel like I was there. I'm shocked that so many people don't know about it. Maybe it's because they have been so busy with their own tragedies, which just seem to keep on coming. Thank you for writing on this. I cannot imagine having been there.

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    1. Yea, your right. Kent State was a national tragedy so it's kind of everyone's story...

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  13. My parents were hippies, and I grew up in Ohio. One of the best library schools in the nation is at Kent State. But every time I suggested going there, I got a chorus of "Ten soldiers and Nixon's coming". My Mom was not one to impose anything on me, not educationally, not emotionally, so that really had a huge impact. It was such a powerful and painful experience for her. My Dad hates hates HATES that he is now old enough and broke enough that he has to accept his social security payments. His mistrusts the government so much STILL that he can't accept that comfortably. I can't imagine hearing 'they're killing the kids out there' and then having to go on with my day.

    I love how this captures a moment of national consciousness. It's one of those moments when almost anyone alive at the time can tell you exactly where they were when they found out about it.

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    1. Wow! You were really impacted too... I was surprised that a lot of the younger Trifectans had not been taught about this in school. So, I started looking for info. to share. I found Allison Krauss's sister - she's a blogger! They have a petition for the justice dept. to re-open the case. Maybe your parents would enjoy getting involved(?)

      http://mendocoastcurrent.wordpress.com/2012/04/21/13-day-for-kent-state-peace/

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  14. Well done! Recalling the events up to and after something life-changing are just as powerful.

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    1. Thank you, Brain! Nice of you to come by with the kind words ;)

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  15. Holy cow, Libby - this was like a kick in the gut. The build-up was great, and the last paragraph was perfect. Amazing piece, really. Congrats on the well-deserved Trifecta win!

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    1. That is really nice of you to say! I appreciate it very much :)

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  16. This is a great piece, it really is more emotional hearing it from the view of a child-but what an awful memory to have to live with!
    I am ashamed to admit that I cannot recall ever hearing about Kent State. It happened 12 years before I was born but if it was ever discussed in any of my history classes I missed it.

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    1. Thanks for coming by... You know what? I don't think they are teaching about it. I don't know why not, it was a big deal.

      I guess I would say it was like the Occupy Movement. But, way more intense because it was about war and the draft and death - not economic stuff. But, imagine if the cops opened fire on a bunch of unarmed Occupiers!?!?

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  17. Wow, I had never heard about this before. What a scary and moving piece. Thank you for sharing!

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    1. Hey Lisa! Thanks for coming by and reading it! :)

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  18. Hi there - remarkable story.

    I friend of mine was on the roof of one of the buildings taking pictures on that day - he took me round the campus a few years ago. Strange to say the least.

    Stewart M - Australia

    PS: glad you like my wordy blog - I don’t do any 'writers' memes because I don’t know of any - all suggestions welcome
    .

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    1. That's really interesting about your friend!! This meme is fun. Trifectawritingchallenge.com

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  19. Congratulations on your worthy win with this poignant story. I was six years old and thoroughly...... Canadian at the time of these events, only learning of them as an adult -- and even then [I think] only after hearing the Neil Young song and sort of wondering what it was all about. I can't imagine how frightening being so close to the tragedy itself would have been. But your story helps me picture it, and not only this, but captures the innocence of little kids at the time -- even being so close in proximity to the events, yet not fully understanding the gravity of what was going on.
    This is a great piece. The Mrs. Balluci section was real neat -- so often when momentous things occur, we end up noticing details [in a heightened sort of way] that were insignificant at the time. In retrospect we recall them.

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  20. Hey! Glad you came by! I'm one year older than you :) I'm glad you liked this. I usually find myself writing funny stuff - I don't know why, but that is usually the direction I go. Anyway, I decided to try something different this time.

    Are you in the weekend Trifextra?

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  21. I was supposed to be in Kent that morning for a doctor's appointment. My mom cancelled the appointment after she put on the news.

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    1. Really!?! Wow! Good thing...there were road blocks everywhere... Did you guys live nearby then?

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    2. Yes, quite close. Things like that weren't supposed to happen in Kent, Ohio.

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  22. I was a teen at the time, so I get a big kick out of those who googled the date. Try "Kent State Massacre" because that's what it was. The Guardsmen totally lost control of themselves. The incident really made me want to be a hippie at the time. A great pic and great song came out of it, though, and more antiwar sentiment, which was good.
    I often don't agree at all with Trifecta's assessments, but this was a great story about a terrible event. Nicely done, Libby.

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    1. Hey TTD~! Really nice of you... Isn't it kind of a drag the younger people have not been taught this? Those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it :(

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  23. Sorry to get on here more than once, but, you know what else is freaky? Something in one of your comments didn't seem right to me, then I finally realized: You had mentioned the name of one of my favorite singers, Alison Krauss, and I thought, no, she must be mistaken, but yes, according to Wiki, one of the victims was an Allison Krause. That's too weird. My generation's big "at-school" moment was when JFK got shot, but of course that wasn't in my town. Must have been very scary.

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    1. Oh, that's a coincidence about Allison. Try to check out her sister's Facebook info if you can!

      I don't remember JFK, but I remember RFK even though I was really, really young. It was on every channel (all THREE of them!) and my mother was sitting crying at her desk by the front door in the Kent house...

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  24. I was 5 that year and in Vancouver, Canada. I don't remember hearing about it right then, but I've known about it since grade 8 history class. I'm shocked but not shocked that Americans aren't learning about this in their history classes, such an important shift in the story of the USA.

    I think your writing of this has really profited from the 333 edit: it is one tight tight tight piece of writing. Congrats!

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    1. Ok - that is officially crazy that Canadians are learning about this in history and Americans are not?!?!

      That is cool and astute that you could tell from reading this that I had to chop it down a couple times to hit the 333 word limit. I don't know that I could tell that by reading someone else's stuff(!)

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  25. Yes I remember it very clearly...I was 14 and I remember looking at the TV and realizing in horror that college kids were shot by the National Guard..it was too horrific to think about...Michelle

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    1. Hey Michelle - You're right...

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  26. I learned about what happened at Kent State while in College in Ohio--seems like each class I went through taught on some aspect of it. Of course, while in High School in Florida--I knew nothing of it. (I was born a couple of years after the event).

    Going to check out your FB page now. Cheers, Jenn.

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    1. Thanks for commenting! We are finding it interesting the are not teaching it in the high schools...

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    2. Thanks for commenting! We are finding it interesting the are not teaching it in the high schools...

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