Flashback Friday: The Westside Middle School Massacre in Jonesboro

Today’s Flashback Friday in History, was a very sad moment indeed.

It was March 24th, 1998. 13 year old Mitchell Johnson and 11 year old Andrew Golden had, the night before, loaded Johnson’s mothers Dodge Caravan with camping supplies, snacks, two semi-automatic rifles, one bolt-action rifle and four handguns which they’d stolen from Golden’s grandfathers house. On the morning of March 24th, they drive the Caravan to Westside Middle School located in unincorporated Craighead County, Arkansas, United States, near Jonesboro. When they got to the school, Golden pulled the fire alarm while Johnson took the weapons to the woods outside of the school; Golden joined him after pulling the alarm. The two boys opened fire as teachers and students began filing out of the school. The boys killed four female students and one teacher, while wounding ten others. They then attempted to run back to the van and escape, but police captured them. Their plan was to run away, evidenced by the survival gear, food and camping supplies.

These two boys were amongst the youngest ever to be charged with murder in American history and were it not for their ages, the prosecutor stated he would have sought the death penalty. The maximum sentence under Arkansas law at the time was confinement until the age of 14! They actually served longer than that due to the additional weapons charges; Golden was released on May 25, 2007 and Johnson was released on August 11, 2005. If they’d commited their crimes years later, even at the ages they were at the time of the crime, they could have possibly been sentenced to life. Obviously, for Johnson at least, the confinement did nothing for his character as on January 1, 2007 he was arrested for drug posession and carrying a prohibited weapon; he’d been riding in a van with his roommate, who ironically had been sentenced in 1999 for killing his father with a crossbow. They claimed that their original motivation for the shootings was due to bullying and they only wanted to scare, not kill people.

This brings up a major Catch-22 for me, as it did at the time of the shootings. On one hand, bullying is a major issue and has been for a long time. It is horrific the things that kids do and say to each other and as adults, it’s our responsibility to set an example and show why bullying is wrong. On the other hand, obviously it’s not the right thing to kill people who have bullied you. So where is the balance? What do you all think?

Flashback Friday! The Day The Popsicle Was Split and a Jackass Was Born

It was March 11th, 1986 and I was in the midst of my pre-adolescent Michael Jackson obsession which included but was not limited to a replica of that infamous glove, a 45″ record player with a picture of him on it that I carried everywhere and of course the cherished Thriller album. I grew up with three older siblings, all boys, so I had to grab every luxury I could as fast as I could or it would inevitably end up shredded. I would like to send a belated apology to every Barbie doll I had that my brothers told me were in a car wreck (in that Barbie car of course) and had to have her legs amputated or risk gangrene.

Our household, I’d say, was a typical Midwestern middle class home. We had the Atari (and still do, it works save for one paddle that is broken). We had the Commodore. We had cable television and HBO that we watched Fraggle Rock on. Every week my parents would buy an 8 pack of soda, back when they came in the glass bottles and each one of my siblings and I would get to drink two for the week. Our choice as to when. I’d save mine for Friday and Saturday nights when dad would pop popcorn and we’d sit down together to watch Love Boat, Fantasy Island, Dallas and Falcon Crest. But the coup de gras for me was the popsicles. God I loved popsicles, but not just any popsicle…..it had to be the twinsicle. I’m sure y’all remember those lovely gems, they were two popsicles in one, complete with double sticks. I think the main reason I loved them was because I felt like I was cheating the nutrition gods by getting a double treat. It was golden, a masterpiece of childhood sugar frenzy. But sadly, on this day in history, March 11th, 1968, Popsicle announced it’s plan to end the traditional twin-stick popsicle for a single one. Greedy buzzards, the lot of them! Gone were the days of indulgence and gluttony over this frozen delight. Sad, truly sad.

But never fear, my dear Popsicle lovers, because another great moment occurred on this day in history. It was March 11th, 1971 and a genius made his way into this world…..a genius by the name of Philip John Clapp. Who? Philip John Clapp! Aw, come on, he’s a jackass! Okay, I’ll give you a clue. His friends have done things such as getting their buttcheeks pierced together, stapled notes to their body, made snow cones out of actual snow, peed on them and then ate them……still stumped? Okay, FINE. He co-starred with The Rock in “Walking Tall”. Ding, ding ding, we have a winner! Yes, yes, yes my friends, rejoice for on this day in history the premiere jackass, Johnny Knoxville himself, was born to bless this world with his crazy hijinks.

Born to a Sunday school teacher mom and a tire selling father said to encourage his son’s practical jokes from early on, Johnny Knoxville was known then as “P.J.”. Raised in Knoxville, TN (get it?), one of his earliest pranks was to fake a report card to show all F’s when he actually had earned all A’s, and spread false rumors of his own venereal disease. Lasting less than a month at the Pasadena Academy of Dramatic Arts, he’d moved to Hollywood with dreams of being an actor. He soon began to write for skateboarding magazines like Blunt, Bikini, and Big Brother, where the staff enjoyed a pasttime of creating dangerously stupid stunts- such as Knoxville displaying his willingness to test the dependability of a bulletproof vest by shooting himself with a .38. The editor of this magazine soon convinced Knoxville to videotape these stunts, and released under the name of Big Brother Video Triology it soon became an underground cult hit. Word soon spread and soon Comedy Central and MTV were in an all out bidding war. MTV won out, and Jackass was born.

So, even with the popsicle split, I’m sure “P.J.” and his boys would find a creative way to remedy that travesty…..maybe I should give them a call!

Flashback Friday: Space Shuttle Challenger Explodes

I was 10 years old and in the fifth grade. We were in our classroom, waiting for the teacher to come in. She did eventually come in, crying; and that’s when a TV was brought into each classroom where we saw the aftermath of the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion. It was January 28th, 1986 and sadly, is our topic for today’s Flashback Friday.

The actual explosion occurred 73 seconds after liftoff, killing all seven crew members aboard. The shuttle virtually disintegrated into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of central Florida at approximately 11:39 a.m. EST. It was later found that an O-ring seal in the right solid rocket booster failed at liftoff. This failure breached the joint it sealed, which allowed pressurized hot gas from the motor of the solid rocket to get to the outside and infringed on the functioning of other parts. Then there was a structural failure of that external tank which led to the explosion itself. It was later discovered that several crew members actually survived the initial breakup of the shuttle, but did not survive the impact of the crew compartment slamming into the ocean.

This disaster halted the space program for 32 months, and also prompted President Reagan to form what was called the Rogers Commission to investigate the tragedy. This commission later found that key elements of  the decision making process and organizational “culture” that led to the explosion. Apparently NASA managers knew that the solid rocket booster designs had a potentially fatal flaw in the O-rings for at least 9 years prior to the explosion but didn’t address it properly. Another shocking discovery was that crew escape wasn’t possible either, at least during a powered flight. NASA had considered launch escape systems but decided that the shuttle’s expected high reliability didn’t necessitate one.

Many people actually saw the lift-off and tragedy itself due to the inclusion of teacher Christa McAuliffe in the crew, who would’ve been the first teacher in space. The other crew members who lost their lives that day were: Commander Francis (Dick) Scobee, 46,  who was married with two children. Pilot Michael J. Smith, 40, was on what would have been his first space flight. Mission Specialist Judith A. Resnik, 35, had previously become the second American woman in orbit during the maiden Discovery flight. Mission specialist Ronald A. McNair was 35 at the time of his death, and was married with two children. He became the second Black American in space back in 1984 during a previous Challenger mission. Ellison S. Onizuka was the third mission specialist, he was 39 years old, married with two children. Payload specialist Gregory B. Jarvis was not an official federal employee, but rather employed by Aircraft Corp.’s Space and Communications Group in Los Angeles, California, who made it possible for him to be on the Challenger flight.

The final crew member on the flight was Sharon Crista McAuliffe, the first teacher to fly in space. She was selected from an applicant pool of around 11,000 education specialists. McAuliffe was 37 at the time of her death, married to her longtime boyfriend Steven. NASA’s intent of having her on board was to have a gifted teaching professional who could communicate with students from space.

Do you remember this event? Tell us about it in our forums here .

Flashback Friday – On This Day In History – January 21st!!!

Welcome back to “On This Day In History”!!! For today’s treasure trove of notable events, and man, did a lot of things happen on this date in history, we have presidential inaugurations, papal elections and endings and much more! Hey, why not come into our forums here to discuss?!?!

2010 A week after the 2010 Haiti earthquake, a 6.1 magnitude aftershock strikes Haiti
2009 Barack Obama is inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States
2001 George W. Bush is inaugurated as the 43rd president of the United States
1998 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducts Mama and Papas and Eagles
1998 Warner Brothers TV Network begins Tueday night programming
1997 Comet Hale-Bopp crosses Mars’ orbit
1997 Howard Stern Radio Show premieres in New Orleans, Louisiana on KKND 106.7 FM
1997 Pakistan defeat West Indies 2-0 to win Australia one-day Series
1996 46th NHL All-Star Game: East beat West 5-4 at Fleet Center Boston
1996 Australia defeat Sri Lanka 2-0 to win World Series Cup
1996 U.S. Female Figure Skating championship won by Michelle Kwan
1996 WPAT FM New York City radio station switches to English-Spanish format
1995 “Love! Valor! Compassion!” opens at Walter Kerr New York City for 276 performances
1995 1994-95 NHL Season begin after a lengthy strike
1995 Russian ruble drops to 3,947 per dollar (record)
1993 Admiral Studeman, serves as acting director of CIA
1993 William J. Clinton inaugurated as 42nd president
1992 Australia beat India 2-0 to win the World Series Cup
1992 Score begins selling international soccer cards
1991 “Black and Blue” closes at Minskoff Theater New York City after 829 performances
1991 “Les Miserables,” opens at Pantages Theatre, LA
1991 “Peter Pan” closes at Lunt-Fontanne Theater New York City or 45 performances
1991 “Shogun – The Musical” closes at Marquis Theater New York City after 72 performances
1991 13th UCP Telethon
1991 Buffalo Bills beat Los Angeles Raiders 51-3 for AFC title
1991 Jane Geddes wins LPGA Jamaica Golf Classic
1991 U.S. Patriot missiles begins shooting down Iraqi missiles
1991 Matt Barr’s field goal with no time left gives New York Giant 15-13 Victory over defending champs San Francisco 49ers, for NFC title
1990 47th Golden Globes: Born on 4th of July, Driving Miss Daisy win
1990 U.S. 64th manned space mission STS-32 (Columbia 10) returns from space
1989 Bush inaugurated as 41st president and Quayle becomes 44th vice pres
1989 Wayne Holdsworth takes a wicket 1st ball in 1st-class cricket
1989 Reagan becomes 1st President elected in a “0” year, since 1840, to leave office alive
1988 Andre Hoffman skates world record 1500m (1:52.06)
1988 Arizona committee opens hearing on impeachment of Governor Evan Mecham
1987 Anglican Church envoy Terry Waite taken hostage in Beirut, Lebanon
1987 Rhino Records 1st #1-Billy Vera and Beaters’ “At This Moment”
1986 1st federal holiday honoring Martin Luther King, Jr.
1986 Chunnel announced (railroad tunnel under Canal)
1986 Military coup in Lesotho under general-major Lekhanya and premier Leabua Jonathan
1985 Cold front strikes U.S., at least 40 die (-27 degrees F (-33 degrees C) in Chicago)
1985 Superbowl XIX: San Francisco 49ers beat Miami Dolphins, 38-16 in Stanford Superbowl MVP: Joe Montana, San Francisco, quarterback
1984 U.S. Female Figure Skating championship won by Rosalynn Sumners
1982 7 miners killed in an explosion in Craynor, Kentucky
1982 Honduras constitution goes into effect
1982 Piet Dankert elected chairman of European Parliament
1981 52 Americans held hostage in Iran for 444 days are freed
1981 Admiral Stansfield Turner, USN (Ret), ends term as 12th director of CIA
1981 Frank C Carlucci, ends term as deputy director of CIA
1981 Islander Glenn Resch’s 25th and last shut-out opponent-Flames 5-0
1981 Ronald Reagan inaugurated as president
1980 President Jimmy Carter announces U.S. boycott of Olympics in Moscow
1980 U.S. Female Figure Skating championship won by Linda Fratianne
1980 U.S. Male Figure Skating championship won by Charles Tickner
1980 Superbowl MVP: Terry Bradshaw, Pittsburgh, quarterback
1980 Superbowl XIV: Pittsburgh Steelers beat Los Angeles Rams, 31-19 in Pasadena
1978 Columbia Pictures pays $9.5 million for movie rights to “Annie”
1977 George Bush, ends term as 11th director of CIA
1977 Mr. Knoche, serves as acting director of CIA
1976 29th NHL All-Star Game: Wales beat Campbell 7-5 at Philadelphia
1975 5th NFL Pro Bowl: NFC beats AFC 17-10
1975 Terrence McNally’s “Ritz,” premieres in New York City
1974 4th NFL Pro Bowl: AFC beats NFC 15-13
1974 7th ABA All-Star Game: East 128 beats West 112 at Virginia
1974 A college basketball game ends 210-67
1974 Essex Comm College beats Englewood Cliffs 210-67 in basketball
1971 Ard Schenk skates world record 1000m (1:18.8)
1971 John Lennon meets Yoko Ono’s parents in Japan
1970 20th NBA All-Star Game: East beats West 142-135 at Philadelphia
1970 23rd NHL All-Star Game: East beat West 4-1 at St. Louis
1970 Super Fight, computer mock championship between Ali and Marciano
1969 Richard M. Nixon inaugurated as president
1969 University of Arizona reports 1st optical id of pulsar (in Crab Nebula)
1968 Houston ends UCLA’s 47-game basketball winning streak, 71-69
1968 U.S. Female Figure Skating championship won by Peggy Fleming
1968 U.S. Male Figure Skating championship won by Tim Wood
1965 Beatles appear on Shindig (ABC-TV)
1965 Byrds record “Mr Tambourine Man”
1965 JPL proposes modified Apollo flight to fly around Mars and return
1965 Generalissimo Francisco Franco meets with Jewish representatives to discuss legitimizing Jewish communities in Spain
1964 “Meet The Beatles” album released in US
1962 “Kean” closes at Broadway Theater New York City after 92 performances
1961 Arthur M Ramsay becomes archbishop of Canterbury
1961 Francis Poulenc’s “Gloria,” premieres in Boston
1961 Robert Frost recites “Gift Outright” at John F. Kennedy’s inauguration
1961 Yugoslav ex-vice-president Milovan Djilas flees
1960 Patrice Lumumba sentenced to 6 months in Belgian Congo
1959 Dmitri Sjostakovitsj’ Moscow-Tsjerjomoesjki, premieres in Moscow
1958 Betsy Rawls wins LPGA Tampa Golf Open
1958 KUED TV channel 7 in Salt Lake City, UT (PBS) begins broadcasting
1957 Betsy Rawls wins LPGA Tampa Golf Open
1957 Gomulka wins Poland’s parliamentary election
1957 Morton Gould’s “Declaration,” premieres in Washington, D.C.
1956 Buddy Holly records “Blue Days Black Night” in Nashville
1955 1st atomic sub, USS Nautilus, launched at Groton Conn
1954 -70 degrees F (-57 degrees C), Rogers Pass, Montana (U.S. 48 state record)
1954 Dmitri Sjostakovitsj’ “Concertino opus 94,” premieres
1953 1st U.S. telecast transmitted to Canada-from Buffalo NY
1953 1st live coast-to-coast inauguration address (Eisenhower)
1952 British army occupies Ismailiya, Suez Canal Zone
1952 Louise Suggs wins LPGA Tampa Golf Open
1950 “Dance Me a Song” opens at Royale Theater New York City for 35 performances
1950 Suriname becomes independent part in Realm of Netherlands
1949 J Edgar Hoover gives Shirley Temple a tear gas fountain pen
1949 President Truman announces his point 4 program
1947 Brigadier General Edwin K Wright, USA, becomes deputy director of CIA
1946 F Gouin follows De Gaulle as temporary leader of French government
1945 Franklin D. Roosevelt sworn-in for an unprecedented 4th term as president
1944 RAF drops 2300 ton bombs on Berlin
1943 Lead, South Dakota, temp is 52 degrees F, while 1.5 miles away Deadwood SD records -16 degrees F
1943 Operation-Weiss: Assault of German, Italian, Bulgarian and Croatian
1942 Japanese air raid on Rabaul New Britain
1942 Japanese invade Burma
1942 Nazi officials hold notorious Wannsee conference in Berlin deciding on “final solution” calling for extermination of Europe’s Jews
1941 Bela Bartok’s 6th string quartet, premieres in New York City
1939 Charles Ives’ 1st Sonate “Concord,” premieres
1939 Hitler proclaims to German parliament to exterminate all European Jews
1937 -45 degrees F (-43 degrees C), Boca, California (state record)
1937 1st Inauguration day on Jan 20th, (held every 4th years there-after)
1936 Edward VIII succeeds British king George V
1934 Japan sends Henry Pu Yi as regent to emperor of Manchuria
1930 1st radio broadcast of “Lone Ranger” (WXYZ-Detroit)
1929 1st feature talking motion picture taken outdoors, “In Old Arizona”
1926 2nd German government of Luther begins
1925 U.S.S.R. and Japan sign treaty of Peking, Seychelles back to U.S.S.R.
1922 Arthur Honegger’s ballet “Skating Rink” premieres, Paris
1921 British submarine K5 leaves with man and mouse
1921 Dagestan ASSR forms in RSFSR
1921 Mountain Autonomous Republic established in RSFSR
1921 Turkey declared in remnants of Ottoman Empire
1920 Dutch 2nd Chamber passes school laws
1910 Ottawa Senators sweep Edmonton in 2 for Stanley Cup (2nd of 1910)
1892 1st basketball game played (Mass)
1887 U.S. Senate approves naval base lease of Pearl Harbor
1883 Billy Barnes takes a hat-trick, England vs. Australia MCG
1879 British troops under Lord Chelmsford set camp at Isandlwana
1872 California Stock Exchange Board organized
1870 “City of Boston” vanishes at sea with all 177 aboard
1870 Hiram R. Revels elected to fill unexpired term of Jefferson Davis
1869 Elizabeth Cady Stanton becomes 1st woman to testify before Congress
1868 Florida constitutional convention meets in Tallahassee
1866 Prim’s Insurrection in Spain ends
1860 Dutch troops conquer Watampone in Celebes
1850 Investigator, 1st ship to effect northwest passage, leaves England
1841 China cedes Hong Kong to British
1840 Dumont D’Urville discovers Adelie Land, Antarctica
1840 Dutch King Willem II crowned
1809 1st U.S. geology book published by William Maclure
1807 Napoleon convenes great Sanhedrin, Paris
1801 John Marshall appointed U.S. chief justice
1800 Napoleon I’s sister Carolina marries King Joachim Murat of Naples
1788 Pioneer African Baptist church organizes in Savannah, Ga
1785 Samuel Ellis advertises to sell Oyster Island (Ellis Island), no takers
1783 Hostilities cease in Revolutionary War
1781 1st edition of Pieter It Hoens “Post of Neder-Rhijn” published
1778 1st American military court martial trial begins, Cambridge, Mass
1667 Treaty of Andrussovo-ends 13 year war between Poland and Russia
1648 Cornerstone of Amsterdam townhall laid
1613 Peace of Knarod ends War of Kalmar between Denmark and Sweden
1513 Christian II succeeds Johan I as Danish/Norwegian king
1503 Casa Contratacion (Board of Trade) found (Spain) to deal with American affairs
1356 Scottish king Edward Baliol resigns
1320 Duke Wladyslaw Lokietek becomes king of Poland
1265 1st English Parliament called into session by Earl of Leicester
1045 Giovanni di Sabina elected Pope Sylvester III
250 Saint Fabian ends his reign as Catholic Pope (236-50)