Kathleen Dyer's Report
From: email@example.com (Kathleen Dyer)
Subject: Kathy's IMQ trip report (long)
Date: 26 Sep 1995 18:26:47 -0700
Warning--extremely long, wordy, overly detailed report follows...
One of the local airport transportation services showed up at my house on
schedule at about noon PDT on Monday. I was ready early, and so had spent
the previous hour pacing, lying on the couch, going to the bathroom, pacing,
lying on the couch, going to the bathroom, pacing...
We made the 50 mile trip to the San Jose airport in good time. I had no
luggage to check in--only one carry-on bag and a purse.
The plane left on time for its flight into the new Denver airport. There was
some turbulence. Nothing too dramatic, but I don't really like flying.
Somehow, I seem to end up flying 3 or 4 times a year. The seats were very
narrow, even for airplane seats. *My* seat isn't very narrow. :-) At
least the flight was only two and a half hours long. And wonder of wonders--
the gate we landed at was only 3 gates away from the one I needed to go to
for my connecting flight to OKC! The new airport is very nice looking, by
There was a bit of a tense moment when it was time to load the plane for OKC.
Something to do with temperature, type of plane, weight restrictions and FAA
regulations caused them to say that they couldn't fully load the plane and
that some people would have to wait for a later flight which would get to its
destination sometime late that night. Since I knew I would have to get up in
the morning at about 6 am Oklahoma time, which is 4 am California time, the
thought of getting to Oklahoma very late didn't rate highly with me. But my
row got to board before they stopped seating people, and so I made it into
Oklahoma City on my scheduled, albeit somewhat delayed, flight by about 9 pm.
[Hah! Don't have to wait for the luggage!] I quickly found the Airport
Express service recommended by the hotel when I made my room reservation.
Walking out of the terminal to reach the van, the humidity felt very high.
Going from 100+ degrees and 28% humidity to 75 degrees and 75% humidity in
the space of a few hours...
The city reminded me so much of Bismarck, ND, the capital of my home state.
OKC is much larger, but there was just something about it...
There was only one other passenger in the van, and he was dropped off much
earlier than I. So I had a nice conversation with the van driver. He was
from Louisiana originally. He could tell I was from somewhere North. My
midwestern accent (Montana with an overlay of North Dakota) was a clue. I
liked the driver as soon as I stepped into the van. He had patchwork
pillows against the armrests of all the seats. Good sign.
He dropped me off at the Oklahoma City Medallion, which is only a few blocks
from City Hall. As I was checking in, the clerk handed a message to me. It
said Laura Griner had called, just 20 minutes before. [Cool! Message from
Laura--wait a minute. How did she know where to find me? Even cooler!]
Up I went to the room, put the electronic key into the door, and waited for
the green light to go on. The red and the yellow lights went on. Not good.
[OK. Check the room number. Yes, that's right. Is the key pointing the
right way? Yes. Try several more times.] Now, while I have nothing against
red and yellow as *colors*, they were starting to annoy me. The end of a
long day, no supper yet, nice room and soft bed *just* on the other side of
Back down I went to the registration desk. The clerk knew what a yellow
light meant, but he didn't have any idea what yellow/red meant. He swiped my
key through the magic key coder, and called for maintenance to meet me at the
room. Back up I went, and tried the key again. It worked!
I entered the room with great relief, dragging my carry on bag behind me.
Funny how that bag had gained at least 20 pounds during the trip. I called
the number from Laura's phone message, and she answered immediately. We
talked like we known each other for years. The mystery of how she knew my
location was explained--Patty Anderson and Cindy Davies were in her room
at that very moment, and I'd told Cindy where I was staying. The three were
eating fast food, after having attended the EGA meeting. Patty had tried to
call me before the meeting, just in case I was there in time to attend.
(Conversation interrupted by maintenance man knocking on the door, and
checking out the lock.) Apparently the meeting had been a good event--a warm
welcome from the EGA chapter, a chance to meet some of the other Internet
folks, and a first look at the quilt. They offered to pick me up at the
hotel in the morning, on the way to City Hall. This was an offer I jumped
at. [People to talk to, and I don't have to figure out how to get to the
right place? Sure!] Laura told me to go to bed. I said it was only 8 pm
California time. She said to go to bed anyway. I said OK. I lied.
Unpacking didn't take long. I ironed my dress for the next day, and got
everything as ready as possible. I didn't get anything to eat, because even
having missed a meal, I wasn't hungry. I think I know how the mother of the
bride feels the night before the wedding. I had packed two alarm clocks, and
the room had a clock radio. I set the clock radio alarm for 6 am, one of my
clocks for 6:05 am, and put the other one away. [After all, there's no need
to be compulsive about this.] ;-)
The bed was nice, but it took me a couple of hours to fall asleep. [What if
something goes wrong? We're here! We're bleeping actually here! The city
really put us on the schedule--they have been through so much and have so
much yet to do, and they're going to take time out to talk to us and accept
this gift--it's humbling. Take good mental notes, you have to report back to
the newsgroups. Did I forget anything? Well, it's too late now if you did.]
Finally I fell asleep at about 2 am.
I woke up at 5:50 and took a nice long shower. Between the the lack of
sleep making me feel tired and sluggish, and the adrenalin pumping through
my system making me want to bounce off the walls, my brain wasn't operating
at whatever its usual level is. So I made a decision that for the rest of
the day I'd just sit back and let events flow around me.
I started to get ready, and for the second time in one calendar year started
to put make-up on. At 7:10, Laura called as planned and said they were on
their way in a 2-car caravan. There was no time for breakfast, but I snagged
a cup of coffee from the coffee urn the hotel had sitting out for its guests.
A few minutes later, a sporty red car and a dark blue Volvo drove up. Patty
and Cindy, both of whom I'd met before, were in the red car. Laura was in
the other. "Laura?" "Kathy?" "Hi."
Patty led the way in her red rental car. She had learned her way around
quite well in the two days she and Cindy had been in town. We reached
City Hall in plenty of time, I think before 7:30. The parking meters were
fed some quarters, and we walked over to City Hall. It's the type of
building that's found by the thousands in the US, serving as city halls or
county courthouses--1920's or 1930's, 4 stories with the lower story actually
a half basement, stone steps, small footprint by today's standards, set in
a large parklike area.
Even though we were supposed to meet in the lobby, we chose to stand outside,
between the east steps and a fountain. It just felt like the right place to
be. The weather was still humid. People started to arrive and identify
themselves. We never moved the meeting place indoors, because everyone was
finding us where we were, and the building was small enough that anyone
standing inside the lobby could easily see us--a group of people dressed up,
talking as fast as they could, cameras out and in use, one man
(Richard, Di's husband) holding a large royal blue bundle on his shoulder.
I saw that Laura was writing down everyone's name. She listed the people in
Someone decided that it was time for us to go in and find the Mayor's office.
Part of the group opted for the stairs, while the rest chose to stick with
the quilt and take the elevator. The office was found without too much
difficulty. We trooped into the large, orange carpeted waiting area. A
couple of people went over to talk to the secretary, and came back with the
news that there would be a wait of a few minutes, and that since the Mayor
was not in the office due to surgery last week, we would be meeting the
Vice-Mayor. We sat, stood, wandered, and/or talked according to the whim of
the moment. According to reports from folks who talked to the secretary, she
had only placed a subset of the names from the big list onto the list to go
meet the Vice-Mayor. But she was willing to add names. And a couple of the
people on the original list of 17 weren't there. And a couple of folks not
on the list *were* there. And some folks didn't care whether or not they
went in. And some folks only wanted to get in to take pictures, but not be
in the pictures. So I have absolutely no idea how it all sorted out, but
when the time came to go into the inner office, some people stood up and went
in, some didn't, some who went in stayed on the far side of the room and took
pictures, and some who went in were in the pictures.
The Vice-Mayor, Willa Johnson, was very kind and gracious. The quilt was kept
in its bag for the pictures because of its size. Many, many pictures later,
when I was starting to feel blinded from flash bulbs, we left the office and
headed for the City Council chamber which was on the same floor as the
The chamber was a large room, entered from two sets of double doors leading
from the 3rd floor lobby. Facing the front of the room, the doors were on the
right hand wall. At the front was a raised platform, maybe 3 feet high,
stretching across most the width of the room. A large semicircular
desk/table was on the platform, with several chairs behind it. This way the
council members could see each other and still see most of the audience. The
spectator area had about 10 rows of benches of the type used as church pews or
in courtrooms. There was an aisle going down the center and on either side.
There was a podium at the front end of the center aisle, facing the council
Three people were seated on the front bench, holding a small quilt. There
were *three* TV cameras, one in each of the three aisles. [The news people
are here!] At about 8:30, the City Council members entered through a door
behind the large desk.
We discovered that there was a presentation before ours. The three people
with the small quilt were from Pike's Peak Community College in Colorado. Two
younger women, students at the college, stood in the open area of the semi-
circle on the platform and held up a lovely red, white and blue quilt while a
man (an administrator) gave the presentation speech. I was worried for a few
seconds that they would feel upstaged by our quilt, until I heard the man say
that their quilt contained the names of all the people who had died in the
bombing. Then it all just seemed so incredibly *right* that both quilts
should be presented on the same day.
Our plan was for Elaine Dowling to give her speech, and then for the IMQ to be
displayed and presented. During part of the first presentation, we were
debating how best to hold the quilt and where. Before we had come to any
conclusion, it was time for Elaine to speak. As she reached the podium,
someone official asked if she had people there to hold up the quilt. [Aaack!
They want it open *now*!] So a bunch of us jumped up, trying to hurry and
look sedate at the same time, and reached the quilt in its bag. It had been
placed on a table between the platform and the spectator area. Who all went
up to help? I have no idea. We were concentrating on the quilt at that time.
And we worked together as if we had rehearsed it. Some folks were untying the
bag. Some got up on the platform so they could pull the bag off as others
held onto the folded quilt. The quilt had been folded in thirds the long way,
and then folded over several times in the other direction. [The backing is so
soft!] And we started to unfold, and unfold, and unfold. I was at one end
and peaked into the still-folded-in-thirds part. I realized that when we
finished unfolding, the quilt would be upside down. So I took my end and
walked to the other side of the room, and everyone else adapted accordingly.
Some folks were still on the platform, and some of us were on the floor at the
ends. The quilt was still folded in thirds, long ways. Then, we opened it
up, the people on the platform holding it high, draping it down and across the
two tables that were between the platform and the spectators, the people on
the ends helping support the weight. My first sight of the quilt, as I held
onto one end. [It's huge! It's beautiful!!] The blue sashing looked rich,
and the colors of the blocks glowed. The quilt stretched across the room.
Throughout this, Elaine stood at the podium and gave her speech. It was *so*
well done--articulate and moving. And this in spite of the fact she couldn't
see the council once we had the quilt up. She mentioned the other quilt in
her speech, which I appreciated.
The quilt was facing the spectators and TV lights. Someone asked the council
if they wanted us to turn it around so they could see it, but they said it was
visible on the TV monitors. That's the first time I noticed the monitors in
We folded up the quilt and I was startled to see a woman emerge from
underneath. She was seated at one of the two tables, acting as some sort of
recorder or secretary, and had very patiently stayed silently in place during
Two of the council members thanked us for the gift. What they said made me
believe that they understand and appreciate the value of handmade things.
They, too, were gracious and kind.
The TV people started to gather their equipment, and the rest of us left
the room and collected in the 3rd floor lobby. The TV people asked Elaine to
wait, and went over to interview the people from Pike's Peak. I talked to the
Pike's Peak folks afterwards about their quilt. They had their own
difficulties, in making sure that all the names were on the quilt and
were spelled correctly. And they were sorry that they hadn't found out until
after the quilt was made that 4 of the women who had been killed had been
The 3 TV people descended upon Elaine. The picture--Elaine, three cameras
with bright lights inches away from her face, the rest of us in a group behind
and to the side of the TV cameras. Us taking pictures of the TV cameras
videotaping Elaine. She looked calm and answered the questions they asked.
But after, she did admit that it had been a little intimidating.
Someone realized that I hadn't had a chance to take any pictures of the quilt,
as I had arrived too late for the EGA meeting the night before, and had been
helping to hold it during the presentation. We still had custody of the
quilt because the museum representative had become sick with the flu the day
before, and so had made arrangements for Liz Herman to take the quilt and
deliver it to the museum. [Where to lay the quilt down for one final photo
op? Not out here in the lobby.] The open door to the Mayor's outer office
showed a large expanse of orange carpet. Off we trooped, back into the
outer office and took over their floor. Photos were taken as quickly as
possible, as we were blocking all traffic into and out of the office.
Downstairs and outside we went. Some folks had to leave right away, and the
good-byes were said. Some waited for the quilt to be put in Liz's car, while
Elaine led the rest of us down the street to a place that served wonderful
pastries and espresso drinks. The people who had waited for the quilt to be
stashed joined us, and we pulled a bunch of little round tables together so we
could sit and talk. And talk we did--about the bombing, about the quilt,
about the pastries, about the cost of living, about Oklahoma City, about dogs
and newsgroups and friends. Finally it was time to go. The group left the
building together, breaking into smaller and smaller groups as we went. It
was so strange--I felt like saying "Bye, see you later." But then would come
the realization that I probably wouldn't ever see most of these people again.
But it *seemed* as if I would, and to a certain extent that was true. Daily
or near-daily contact would still be happening.
My flight was scheduled to leave the OKC airport at about 1:30 that afternoon.
Patty, Cindy and Mica (Cindy's signal dog) were scheduled to fly out about 3
hours later, but they offered to give me a ride. So they dropped me off at
my hotel so I could pack and check out while they went to check out from
their hotel. They came back to pick me up.
Then we went to the former site of the Federal Building.
Damage was still evident to buildings two blocks away. I saw repair work
being done to two churches, but many of the surrounding buildings looked
empty. That may have been an illusion, as so many windows were still boarded
up. Some streets were open, but cross streets were closed.
We easily found a place to park by the water board building. Between the
lack of traffic due to the blocked streets and the boarded up buildings the
place had a deserted feel about it. A wire fence separated the sidewalk from
the former building site where a crane was moving debris. The fence was
covered with gifts and momentos--flowers, pictures, T-shirts, ribbons,
business cards, toys, key rings. A riot of color at odds with the messages
written on the items. The whole time we were there, a small but steady
stream of people arrived and left, one or two at a time. I suspect that most,
like us, were from out of town. Every person approached the area with
respect, most only staying for a minute or two.
The Federal Building was gone, of course. But the surrounding buildings were
still there. I was stunned at the amount of damage visible. Why this was
such as surprise to me, I don't know. The difference between vision and
words, I suspect. The other buildings were so close. I had imagined a much
larger street. As I looked at the buildings and the street and the gifts,
a wave of anger washed over me followed by a feeling of sorrow. So many
people, those in the Federal Building and in the surrounding buildings and
streets had been killed or hurt or put at risk.
We left the place.
There was still time for lunch, so we stopped at a place on the way to the
airport. As I sat in the booth, I said, "Wow."
What a rollercoaster of a day.
We went to the airport, and waited for Patty to check in the rental car.
Cindy and Patty checked in at the airline, even though their flight wasn't
leaving for 4 hours. They received a pleasant surprise. The OKC to Denver
plane I was going to take had several empty seats, so the agent rebooked them
on this earlier OKC-Denver flight, and then on an earlier Denver-Rapid City
flight. So by dropping me off at the airport, they got to go home early.
We didn't sit together on the plane, but it was nice to have company for the
long walk through the Denver airport. We said our good-byes at the gate
where my Denver-San Jose flight was to leave.
The flight home was uneventful. I made it home in time to post the IMQ
Report, to get onto IRC #stitch for a few minutes, and go to chorus rehearsal.
Emotional, tiring, and worth every minute.
I believe the goal of the IMQ has been reached. Hundreds of people working
together produced a thing of comfort and beauty for Oklahoma City, a city
which faced a horrifying ordeal with courage and dignity.