A reflective and personal account of the 1970 Marshall plane crash and its aftermath as told by those who were there. Provocative memoir sheds light on major aspects of this story that have never been mentioned. That is, until now. Author's E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Quarterback Ted Shoebridge was a prized recruit coming out of high school.
Every year on November 14th I make it habit to scan the
internet for articles about the Marshall
plane crash. I didn't go to Marshall,
but my connection comes from being a teammate of quarterback Ted Shoebridge and
kicker Marcelo Lajterman at Lyndhurst
High School in New
Jersey. We played against running back
Harris who played at Passaic High
Art was the best player I had ever played against. He was
also a great baseball player, as was Ted. One of the reasons Teddy chose Marshall
was so that he could play baseball as well as football. Lyndhurst
was – and still is – a big baseball town. Art was the last of four straight
All-State backs from Passaic ...
one of the four was Jack Tatum (yes, the same Jack Tatum who was a menacing fixture in
the secondary of those intimidating Oakland Raiders teams of the 1970s).
I remember that Saturday night (of the crash) like it was
yesterday. It was pouring rain, part of the same weather system that
contributed to the crash. I was at my fraternity house in Newark,
New Jersey when one of my frat brothers
told me that my parents had called and that I needed to come home immediately.
When I walked in, both my parents were sitting there crying
and could barely tell me about the crash. Teddy was one of my best
friends and he was a hero to all of us. He was simply the best athlete
the town had ever produced.
The shock and grief in our town was beyond anything any of
us (of our age) had ever experienced.
I read on your blog about the racial confrontation at Marshall
which occurred the day before the crash. At that time in northern New
Jersey, we were not far removed from the Newark
riots. Racial tensions were a reality in that area of the country as well
as the south.
We (Teddy and Marcelo's teammates) went to Passaic
to pay our respects to Art Harris's mother and sisters. Mrs. Harris also
lost her husband in the crash. Mrs. Harris was a German war bride who met
Mr. Harris when he served in Germany
during World War II.
Seeing an interracial couple was certainly an oddity at that
time, but as you state in your description of the situation after the crash,
the racial differences didn't matter. All that mattered was our shared
grief and our common humanity. I remember standing in Mrs. Harris's
kitchen with Art's friends comforting each other and being together if only for
that short period of time.
On the 25th anniversary of the crash, I was sitting in my
living room watching college football, when all of a sudden a feature story about
the crash came on. There was a picture of the team, and Teddy, and the
crash. It overwhelmed me and I started sobbing. My wife walked into the
room and asked me what had happened. How do you explain that?
Before downloading your book onto my iPad, I thought I would
have to read it with some trepidation. When I finished reading, I put a
review on Amazon. I expected a detailed account of the plane crash. What
I got was so much more. Your description of your life on campus and with your
friends rings so true. I found your narrative of the joint funeral in Tuscaloosa
(Alabama) especially moving. To
imagine the impact of four lives lost in one community is heartbreaking.
At the end of your book you mention how every November you check
to see what day the 14th falls on.