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Cleaning, overseas or home with the children: Columbians remember where they were when the wall came down

Monday, November 9, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CST; updated 11:22 a.m. CST, Monday, November 9, 2009

COLUMBIA — When the Berlin Wall began to come down, 85-year-old Ruth Atakerson was cleaning house. "I remember hearing it on the radio at home, and I was doing housework," she said.

Many made a mental note of where they were and what they were doing when the dismantling of the famous wall began on Nov. 9, 1989.

Here is where a few Columbians place themselves:

  • “I was living in Las Cruces, N.M. We were at home with our son Evan, who was 9 months old. We were watching it on TV. Somebody allowed people to go through to the wall and start tearing it down. We were just sitting in the front room watching it and playing with our son. It was a pretty awesome event, and we were all excited.” — Melvin Oliver, 58
  • "The biggest thing I remember is they kept playing (President Ronald) Reagan saying, 'Mr. Gorbachev tear down that wall.' ... He said that a long time before they did it, but they kept playing it, and everybody associated it as if he said it, and they did it the next day.” — David Timbrook, 44
  • “I do remember because when it fell I lived in Fulton, and I worked at the newspaper. My editor had gotten a job in St. Louis, and he asked me to contact the people in Fulton. ... I got a phone call from my colleague that said, 'Hey can you go do a story for us?' So I did. It was printed in the St. Louis Sun; that was a little start-up paper at the time.” — Jeff Barrow, 53
  • “I was stationed overseas at the time and remember it. I watched it on TV. I was in Berlin a few times, even when the wall was up. I’ve seen the wall from both sides — east and west — and been through Checkpoint Charlie three or four times.” — Bob Bayless, 62 
  • “I think I was getting ready in the morning for work when it came on the news. It said they were working on knocking it down. That was good. Reagan was good at it.” — Joe Molina, 65
  • “We were in Pennsylvania. He (her husband) was working, and I was at home with two little babies. I remember seeing it on the news and in Newsweek magazine with people up on the wall and all that. But I can’t say that it was as huge as the Challenger (space shuttle explosion) or anything.” —  Laura O’Keefe, mid-40s
  • “I was in college, but I don’t remember what I was doing so I don’t have a vivid memory of it. I remember when the Communist Party announced their drop in power; it was the biggest headline ever in the New York Times. I thought, 'I’m never going to see a font this big again in my life.'" — Jonathan Kvieckhaus, 42

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