Lebanon Reporter

State News

November 2, 2013

1963 coliseum blast still shapes survivor's life


For a while Janie didn't go back to Indianapolis at all. Not for more than a decade, perhaps. But in 2009, she had some money saved up, and it was her 40th reunion at Tudor Hall.

By then, she had begun to feel a bit silly about her fear of the coliseum. And now that she was close to it in town, it was a fear she wanted to vanquish.

She did call ahead to see if there was ice, though. She was told no, but when she arrived she learned that the Indiana Ice hockey team had made the playoffs that year, lengthening their season. The ice was there.

"I walked in the door," Janie says now, "and I thought, 'OK, you can do this.' "

She started to take a few pictures. The feeling came back, and began to overwhelm her.

"Nope, can't do this."

Janie went back outside, having seen the plaque bearing her parents' names, but avoided the seating area completely. Less than 10 minutes after she went in, she was back in her car, crying.

She returned to Tennessee having confronted the beast, but not quite tamed it, and that's the way it would stay for another three years. Then, her sister Anne had a reunion of her own in Indianapolis. Janie started planning. She needed another shot.

Anne had her own pressure points — for years, she could never bring herself to call Janie on Oct. 31, usually waiting until the day after to wish her happy birthday.

But she wasn't one for reflection the way Janie was, and she certainly wasn't fazed by the idea of seeing where it all happened.

So as they drove toward the fairgrounds, Anne was much more aware of Janie's nerves than her own. "Janie was terrified."

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