Lebanon Reporter

State News

November 2, 2013

1963 coliseum blast still shapes survivor's life

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Janie White Hensley summoned the courage to walk inside, despite her rising heart rate. And she managed not to cry in front of the janitors cleaning there.

Yet she could not advance from the concourse to the center of the State Fairgrounds Coliseum. On that day there was ice on the rink.

She was a grandmother now. She could manage a lot — she was here, wasn't she? That proved something — didn't it?

But she still wasn't ready for ice. Not even close.

Halloween, 1963. The family Ford Falcon turned onto 38th Street with Janie none the wiser. But when it pulled into the State Fairgrounds, she saw the sign out front.

Holiday On Ice.

Janie had been begging to go for years. And opening night was tonight, Janie's 13th birthday.

Whenever she had asked to go in the past, the answer had been no — money was too tight. With her parents paying for her sister's first year of college, Janie figured there was no chance this was the year. She hadn't even broached the subject.

Yet after dinner Daddy had said he had to make a delivery for work. Would Janie like to tag along? Janie said yes, and Mommy said she might as well come, too.

At the Fairgrounds, Daddy still wouldn't admit what he was up to. Alfred and Violet White had kept this a secret since payday on the first of the month, and Al was in the mood to milk it.

You're taking me to the ice show!

No I'm not. I have to deliver this motor.

Then where are we going?

The manufacturer's building.

But we've already passed the manufacturer's building!

The tickets finally came out when Daddy parked the car. And for the next couple of hours, Janie's birthday was about flashy lights and fancy costumes, an opera number and a fairy tale.

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