Our list of top-read stories online shows us that Islanders respond to news about their Island. How did that bond vote do at the polls? Who was hurt in an accident? Who is dead? Stories are chosen out of curiosity or caring. What happened? Who was involved? Some — perhaps Island teens, who may or may not have been at a party, might want to make sure nothing that identifies them has shown up in the paper.
This writer’s favorite stories of the year range from the silly to the inspiring. On my top 10 list for 2012 is a story by Bryan Welch, of Club Emerald, a contributor to the Reporter. Welch honors his mother, Joan Welch, who lives here. He has written more than once about her. She has met many challenges, including being a single parent of two boisterous boys and, later, undergoing a successful heart transplant.
Bryan Welch’s story, published on March 7, 2012, relates the events of a cold November morning in 1959, near Midway in Chicago, where his mother and her newborn baby were in an apartment building hit by an airplane. Her husband, Hal, was away at work. The story was much too long for our paper, but it was riveting in its description and details. I kept every word. The story describes the scene vividly — how the TWA jet from L.A. sheared off the rooftops of several buildings before it hit his parents’ apartment; the flames, and the panic.
He takes the readers through the harrowing escape of mother and baby (his older brother, Carey) through the wrecked building. Despite her instinct to flee, Joan stopped to check on her neighbor, who also had a newborn, across the hall. She found the apartment gone. Welch continues with his father’s frantic search for his family that ends in relief and joy. He writes of the kindness of friends and strangers who, long before FEMA, helped the then homeless family after the crash.
Such stories bring us hope. Today, stories about Islanders as far away as South Africa or New Jersey, helping others to fight AIDS or restore a community after a storm, bring us another kind of hope.
Read Welch’s story here.