My Favorite Olympics Memory

All of us can remember exactly where we were at the time of a catastrophic world event. In my parents’ generation, the attack on Pearl Harbor and the ensuing entry into World War II was the incident which created a permanent memory for them.

In my generation, two events stand out: The assassination of President Kennedy in 1963 and the 9/11 attack in 2001.

I can still remember sitting in 9th grade Spanish class in Verona High School (New Jersey) when our principal, Edwin Willard, came into each class to announce what had happened.  A hush followed and we all crowded around a small transistor radio which one of the students had brought to school.  I can still remember the facial expressions of my fellow students when we heard that he was pronounced dead.

When the attack on the World Trade Center occurred, I was driving to the hospital to see a patient. When the broadcast was interrupted to say that the first Tower was hit, I immediately returned home to be with my wife to watch the horrific events which occurred within the next few hours.

On a much more pleasant note, I also have very strong memories of what happened when I was in 10th grade in 1964.   I was sitting in Mrs. Alleine Graef’s Biology class when Mr. Willard entered the room.  The class froze because it was not even a year after he had delivered the news of the JFK assassination.

But this time, he had a wide smile on his face. He held up a telegram and read it aloud. Mrs. Graef’s son, Jed, had just won the Gold Medal in swimming (backstroke), setting a new world record.

Jed Graef from Verona, New Jersey

I can still remember the expression on Mrs. Graef’s face. She then told us proudly about his swimming achievements which many of us had never heard about.

In 1964, live coverage of the Olympics was very limited. There were a few broadcasts transmitted by satellites but nothing like today where we feel as if we are standing next to the Olympic athletes.

I can still remember celebrating Jed Graef Day

Jed graduated from Princeton University and he went on to receive a Ph.D. in psychology at the University of Michigan. At the age of 79, he lives in Vermont and is still working in software development.

One thought on “My Favorite Olympics Memory

  1. The 1984 LA Olympics were the first Olympics that I watched on TV in India and it made quite an impression on me. Prior to that, I had to follow the Olympics in the sports section of the local newspaper. I had compiled a scrapbook of sorts for the 1980 Moscow Olympics. At that time, I remembered all the greats from the yesteryears. Al Oerter, Jim Thorpe, Jesse Owens, Abebe Bikila, Wilma Rudolpha, Paavo Nurmi, Emil Zatopek, Mark Spitz and so on. Came in handy during the trivia competitions in school.

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