Tag Archives: Birmingham

Lockerbie and Me!

21 Oct

On 21 December, 1988, Pan Am Flight 103 blew up over Lockerbie, Scotland due to a bomb placed onboard which turned out to be of Libyan origin.  The bomb had been placed in Frankfort, Germany, where the flight originated, but did not blow up until the plane had landed in London and then had departed for New York City.  Everyone on the plane and eleven additional people on the ground died.  

On 22 December, 1988, I flew from Stuttgart, Germany to Birmingham, England, to visit my (then) fiance and his parents for Christmas.  

As I departed that morning, investigators were still combing through wreckage in Lockerbie, trying to determine what had happened to that flight.  They suspected terrorism, but were not sure.   

I was pretty scared.  I self-talked into a state of relative calmness by saying that terrorists probably would not hit two Germany to England flights two days in a row.  Or would they?  It was all very confusing and frightening.

As I was in the air on my flight, a change came over me.  The more I heard about the carnage on the ground in Scotland, the sicker I felt.  There were no cell phones back then, so I had to await television and the newspapers on the ground, but it soon became apparent that body parts from people on that flight were spread over about a 20-mile square area in Scotland.  I think some parts were never found.

I got a huge lump in my throat that lasted six months.  I could not even think of eating meat without feeling a gag reflex start to happen.  And so . . . I gave up meat for almost a year (Noel and I got married the following May and I may have eaten a small bit of meat at our rehearsal dinner–I think I never got food at the wedding reception at all as we were too busy talking to friends I had not seen in years).  

That was my sole venture into vegetarianism and I would say I did not choose it, it chose me.

It worked pretty well, especially as I had hired a friend’s mom to cook for me in Germany those last few months that I was single.  She did some tremendous vegetarian dishes. 

Now, in my 50’s, I am toying with the idea of intentionally going vegetarian.  It will be interesting to see how different it is now.  I predict it will be much easier now to find fruits, veggies, and grains that work together well without meat.

Actually, it is kind of an exciting adventure now.

That was never the case when contemplating the immensity of the loss at Lockerbie.  God help us!  

Fifty years ago today!

15 Sep

Fifty years ago today:  Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson and Denise McNair died in a domestic terrorism bombing at 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, in between Sunday school and the morning service. May we never forget!

I have been reading the memories this week of those who were there, those who had been at the church and had just left, those who were at sister congregations across town, etc.  By all descriptions, it was a beautiful September morning like today, only remarkable for its normalcy.  

Dr. Martin Luther King had just given his “I Have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. about three weeks earlier.  Alabama’s schools had been open a week, with desegregation an issue.  Governor George Wallace was a major player in this scenario.

Apparently, there had been talk among those opposed to desegregation about creating an incident that would get the attention of the black community, and those who backed them in the cause of racial integration in the schools.  

This bombing of a black church by white racial supremacists and Ku Klux Klan members was apparently meant to be that incident.

There is no way that even fifty years can erase the pain of that morning.  

Those four pre-teen girls were in a church basement bathroom, primping for the service.  Primping just like the pre-teen girls (and those of us who are older) do in our church bathroom every week in between services.

A fifth girl, Addie Mae’s sister, survived the collapse of the bathroom walls on them when the bomb detonated.  She lost an eye but is still alive.

She recalls that Addie Mae had just bent over to tie the back of one of the other girl’s dresses when it happened!

How do parents ever find peace and wholeness again after having their precious children ripped from them in an act of such hatred?

I can’t answer that.  I know that somehow Jesus can comfort even parents in that situation, but having not been there, I cannot explain how.  

Let us never forget!


My Vegetarian Year!

3 Jun

My Vegetarian Year!

We all have things in our lives that are basically irrational. There may, on the surface, appear to be a reason for them or a relationship with something but, if we probe that a bit, it vanishes.

Mine was when I spent 1989, the year of my marriage, mostly as a vegetarian.

My year began early, in December of 1988, when I flew to the home of my fiance’s parents for Christmas. I happened to catch a flight out of Stuttgart, Germany to Birmingham, England the day after Pan Am flight 103 went down over Lockerbie, Scotland.

Pan Am 103 had originated in Frankfurt, Germany, transferred to another aircraft in London, England, and had blown up on its way to JFK Airport in New York City, due, it was concluded, to an unaccompanied bag on board that had originated in Frankfurt.

Watching the carnage over Scotland caused something in me to break.

First of all, I had to board an aircraft less than 24 hours after that happened. Like Pan Am 103, my flight originated in Germany and was Britain-bound. I figured that it might actually be safer to fly right after a terrorist incident and indeed, back in those pre-9/11 days, it was.

But when I got to Birmingham, and especially upon my return to Stuttgart, I found myself mostly revulsed by the idea of meat. I knew it was related to the Lockerbie incident and all the stress it generated. Yet I couldn’t explain why I choked at the idea of meat. I still can’t.

It was a good year anyway. Until I married, I employed a maid/cook several days a week. She made me some excellent vegetarian dishes. Win!

And it taught me that I can live as a vegetarian. Every once in a while I still try that for a week or so.

It’s all good.


Cadbury’s is Great Chocolate!!!

11 Jan

Cadbury’s is Great–My Husband Grew Up Near their Headquarters

My husband grew up in Birmingham, England, where Cadbury’s has its headquarters.  This story of how they started out with fairness to all employees is heartwarming.

%d bloggers like this: