ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

News Events from my Childhood #1

Updated on February 7, 2012

I remember...

Like most people, I don’t remember a whole lot of things from my early childhood. My first words, first steps, even my first day of school – these are lost in the mists of memory, and I have to accept that my family’s recollections of these seminal moments are accurate. There are, however, some big, national news stories from my childhood that I do remember. I was much too young to remember the moon landing in 1969, but there were some major events in the 70’s that I have at least some recollection of. First, a planned paradise goes horribly wrong:

Jonestown Massacre – Nov. 18, 1978

Recap: This was a cult by the name of the Peoples Temple where hundreds of Americans migrated to Guyana in South America to set up a communist society under the leadership of Jim Jones. When reports started surfacing of abuse at the location, US Congressman Leo Ryan decided to visit the place and see just what was going on. Paranoia set in amongst the cult leadership during this visit, which was exacerbated by several members of the congregation expressing the desire to leave. The “defectors” were then gunned down at a small airport when they attempted to board planes. Congressman Ryan was also killed. Back in Jonestown, Jones – convinced the outside world would return and ruin everything – ordered his congregation to drink cyanide-laced Flavor-Aid (a cheap version of Kool-Aid), which resulted in the deaths of over 900 men, women and children.

This mass suicide was a deeply unsettling news story. Even now the sheer number of people that died is staggering; back in the 70’s it was unheard of. Cults usually don’t involve so many people; the Heaven’s Gate suicides in 1997 had a body count of 39, and the David Koresh-Waco siege from 1993 was less than 100. But over 900 people willingly killing themselves? Nothing like that had ever before occurred to American civilians. It was made even more upsetting by further reports that many of the people apparently didn’t want to kill themselves, particularly the children. What a horrible tragedy.

I remember seeing the photos of all those dead people laid out, face-down, on dirt streets. Hundreds and hundreds of people. They had killed themselves because they were told to do it. I remember being confused by that; so many people had done what Jones told them to do, apparently because they believed what he said. Why? What exactly was it that Jones was afraid of, what did he think the outside world would do to his little society?

This was my first real encounter with how a normally sane individual could believe anything, even if it made no rational sense. It confused me even more when this normally sane person would then act in a manner that threatened their life, as well as the lives of those they loved, and all for dubious reasons. It just made no sense to me at all, then as well as now.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Free2writ3 profile image


      6 years ago from Sharon Hill, Pennsylvania

      Interesting...the Jonestown massacre was pretty crazy back..I remember watching it on youtube and it was quite interesting. Even though I wasn't born back then, I still find the story fascinating,

    • mandymoreno81 profile image


      6 years ago

      I'm fairly young but I can vaguely remember the collapse of the USSR and watching news coverage of the war in the Balkans. It's always interesting speaking to older people and talking about events that have happened in the course of their life.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I have vague memories of this. I remember hearing about the Kool Aide. There's a really good movie (I think it's a TV movie) about it staring Powers Booth as Jim Jones. Truly chilling.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)