Thursday, October 14, 2010

On Happy Endings... the mine rescue

Foreman Florencio Avalos, 31, was the first of the miners to ride up the shaft. Wearing sunglasses to protect his eyes from aboveground lights, Avalos squeezed into a specially fitted, bullet-shaped capsule only a shade smaller than the 28-inch diameter of the tunnel and was winched to the surface over 14 agonizing minutes. -- LA TIMES

HALLIE: As I was reading the exhilarating story about the Chilean miners rescue, I was reminded of how few big news stories there are with truly happy endings. Seeing that first guy who came up, hugging his weeping 7-year-old son--doesn't get much better than that. "Trapped in a mine" rarely ends with a successful rescue, never mind 2 months later. Happy endings are usually reserved for our novels.

I tried to remember events in the past that have captured us like that? Remember Baby Jessica who was 18 months old when she fell into an 8-inch pipe and was stuck there for more than 2 days? Radio and TV were riveted as rescuers drilled in sideways to free her and she sang Humpty Dumpty to herself. The banner headline on papers across America: "BABY JESSICA RESCUED."

Or when Elizabeth Smart was found and returned to her family 9 months after she'd been abducted from her bedroom.
What are some of the happy endings you remember?

ROBERTA: Oh my gosh, I LOVE this miner story. Because I've been trying to picture myself trapped down in that black, dusty, hot space for all those days and hoping I'd rise to the occasion. But really not at all sure I'd do as well as those guys. I watched the video Tuesday morning of the first man to surface in that little capsule--amazing! (And just by the way, riding in that little tube would do me in, though I suppose you'd put up with anything at this point when you are deliriously happy to get out!) And I'm so curious about what kinds of long-term psychological effects this will have on them. A lot we'll probably never know.

ROSEMARY: I had just landed at JFK when I saw everyone riveted to the television monitors. It would be three hours before the first man came out but I had to stay up to watch. The second man - Mario Sepulveda - was amazing. He was high fiving the president and handing out rocks. Ye gods,what a great story. BTW, did Larry King really say "I was on Sepulveda Avenue just today"?

I can't say it's not without some negatives, but the Utah hiker who had to cut his own arm off, but survived was one happy ending. And I remember being transfixed by the story of the Uruguayan rugby team that survived the plane crash in the Andes. The survivors just celebrated an anniversary. Wow...they are few and far between aren't they?

RHYS: I have found myself quite weepy over this and I saw that all the hardened media types were teary-eyed too. My favorite happy ending was Apollo 13. I remember watching it live on TV and literally holding my breath for the one and a half minutes that they were out of contact before that capsule appeared in the sky. Years later I saw the movie, and even though I knew it was going to end happily, I still held my breath!

ROSEMARY: Apollo 13...I've seen the movie 8 times and I still get excited when they hear Hanks/Lovell's scratchy voice.

HANK: Oh, of course, Apollo 13. And how about the moon landing? Has there ever been such an amazing event? I still get teary. Yeah, the miners. All those guys, the drillers, being so proud of themselves. And the trapped miners not turning into Lord of the Flies, but all wanting to let their pals go out before them. Two empire state buildings down. Pretty amazing.

HALLIE: News this morning - they're all out!

What happy endings that have stuck with you over the years?


  1. I can't remember an ending happier than this one. And I can't imagine an ordeal harder than this one for the miners. Yikes I was in a salt mine once in Poland that is a tourist destination and the minute I got down there I had a panic attack of claustraphobia -- something I don't usually suffer from.
    The terrific thing about this aside from the saving of lives is the way its united the world.

  2. I'll bet that scene that Ro witnessed in JFK was repeated in airports everywhere.

  3. One of my vivid memories as a kid--I was four I think, and lived in NY State at the time. A small boy was lost and the search parties went out--my Dad among them. It was cold and when the sun went down all were worried the boy would freeze to death. I guess I eavesdropped even as a four-year-old. They found they boy early the next morning, alive. He wore a light weight jacket and had stuffed the puppy inside because he didn’t want the puppy to be cold. I remember Dad saying the puppy saved the kids life by keeping him warm.

    However, I also remember Baby Jessica, and Apollo 13, and the Moon Landing--now this--all miracles for sure.

  4. Pat,
    What an experience for a four year old to eaves drop on.... no wonder you remember it.