Lebanon Reporter

State News

November 2, 2013

1963 coliseum blast still shapes survivor's life


The grand jury's wrath would also fade. One gas company employee was convicted, and that was of the lesser crime of assault and battery.

A jury found another gas company employee not guilty. For the rest, including Fire Marshal Anderson and Fire Chief Phillips, charges were dropped before trial.

Janie, the pre-teen who had lived in the same city her whole life, became a teenager uprooted, bouncing back and forth between homes and schools.

Uncle Doug got a job transfer to the suburbs of Chicago. He and Aunt Frankie were good to her — Doug made a point of making her birthday feel as normal as possible — but Janie couldn't quite adjust.

Al and Violet White certainly had been strict — Janie describes Al as "authoritarian" — but you also knew precisely where you stood and what you were supposed to do.

Her new guardians were much more live-and-let-live, and Janie felt a little lost. The solution, they all decided, was Tudor Hall in Indianapolis. It offered boarding facilities.

She graduated in 1969, and shipped off to the University of North Carolina-Greensboro.

Growing up, her parents had pronounced that she would attend college. And when freshman year didn't go her way, she had only her memory of them to guide her.

That left no room to negotiate with them, no room to explain how all these mandatory classes had nothing to do with her interior design major and didn't make much sense.

Not that Al White was much for negotiating, anyway.

She dropped out, taking her guilt with her to Indianapolis. She enrolled at Indiana Business College, and paid for her apartment and living expenses with a charge card allowance from her parents' estate.

Then she met a man, and added Hensley to her name. Soon, she dropped out of school once more. This time it was to get married — surely Mommy and Daddy would have approved of that.

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