Lebanon Reporter

State News

November 2, 2013

1963 coliseum blast still shapes survivor's life


But there was something else, something more fundamental that she needed to come to grips with. The fact that they never would have been at the coliseum if not for her.

"For a very, very, very long time," Janie said, "I thought it was my fault they died."

Janie finished her sessions after six or seven months. They were certainly a triumph. But the counselor warned that down the road she might find much she still needed to conquer.

Janie never had any trouble with Halloween itself. The sight of trick-or-treaters at her door never triggered any haunting memories.

Some birthdays were spent sad — when she turned 26, and realized she had lived half her life without them, or when she turned 47 and was older than her mother had been. She's not sure how she'll feel this Thursday, the 50th anniversary of the explosions.

But she could always handle — even enjoy — birthday dinners spent with family. What Janie couldn't ever tolerate was the sight of ice inside a building. As a teen, she had gone skating with friends, but only outdoors. When they wanted to go to an indoor arena, she declined without a second thought.

It wasn't an ice rink's cold air, or its smell. It wasn't that it would bring about flashbacks. It was just sort of an innate knot-in-the-stomach kind of a thing that she could never kick. The coliseum was a no-go, too. She had been back once, for the graduation of a dear friend. She drove there that day with the friend's boyfriend, and stood outside.

As the friend prepared to take the stage, the boyfriend came out and signaled to Janie. She rushed in, watched her accept her diploma, and hurried right back outside. That was about as much as she could take.

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