Make the McKenzie Connection!

Ridin' the Rapids

When then meets now.

The morning of May 21, 1998, seemed like most others. Inside the Whitewater Cafe in Blue River, the regulars had ordered their regulars, and the small talk was flowing. Until someone said, “Turn that up.”

Those words came from someone pointing to the black and white TV screen in the cafe. On it was an image with the words, “Thurston, Oregon.”

At first, all of us were bemused to see a local place appearing on a national TV network. But our bemusement was quickly dashed - turning to horror and disbelief.

What we were watching was the beginning of what’s become a never-ending tragedy - the first widespread TV coverage of a mass killing of students at a school in the United States. Many Americans today think these ongoing tragedies began with the attempted bombing and the murders at Columbine, Colorado in April of 1999. But like Thurston, there had already been others.

Here’s how Louise Engelman put it in her Riverviews column that week:

“The McKenzie Valley discovered in a very shocking way that we are a whole community. Our neighbors drew us into the pain with a heartbreaking tragedy. Most of us know someone who was personally affected by this insane event. Consequently, all of us were drawn into it. It can happen here, it did happen here.

It’s time to pull off the blinders and begin thinking of the world as the community we all live in.”

When then meets now.


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