cup of coffee may have saved him
By Ralph Schaefer, 2017 Inductee
A Cup of coffee probably saved David Page from serious injury when his editor’s office inside The Journal Record was extensively damaged April 19, 1995.
The target was the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, but surrounding buildings were badly damaged, and many were later destroyed.
Page, the newspaper’s managing editor, had gone to work at 7:30 a.m. The sun was shining brightly at about 9:00 a.m. when he stepped away from his desk on the building’s first floor that faced the Murrah building for that Cup of coffee—–one he never got to drink.
“I could see the federal building, and if I had seen the truck, I would not have thought anything about it,” said Page, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2011. “Everyone was going about their business.”
Page was returning to his office when the bomb exploded, and he was covered with glass from Journal Record windows that had been blown inward.
“I checked the composition room, then walked outside a north entrance to the nearby parking garage,” he said.
A garage attendant saw Page was bleeding, so provided a bandage and a clean garage rag for his only apparent wound. He later would require 30 stitches for other injuries.
Initially, page thought the explosion occurred inside The Journal Record Building. After he received help at the parking garage, he walked to the South side of the newspaper building and saw the Murrah Building. Injured people were being taken to area hospitals. Page was treated at a local hospital. 3 doctors stitched up his wounds in a priest called June, his wife, to take him home.
“The doctors wanted to get to me and others less seriously injured, so they could be ready for other casualties,” he said.
When daughter Mary and son Daniel arrived from school, the family went shopping for Page. His glasses had been lost in the explosion and his clothes had been removed at the hospital, so he could be checked for any glass that might be in his body.
“I went home in a hospital gown,” he recalled.
Telephone calls came that evening from reporters checking on Page, as well as media and The Associated Press wanting to talk to him for stories. Page would be on CNN and Dateline.
Despite the loss of their offices and printing capabilities, The Journal Record staff met at Remington Park on April 20 to look at publishing the next issue.
The access to computers was the greatest obstacle.
A University of Central Oklahoma graduate and staff member noted the public relations department had computers that might be available.
The university’s facilities were available, and a two-page broadsheet was published with staff members writing about their experiences. That was expanded to four pages and more during the upcoming weeks.
The Edmond Sun printed The Journal Record’s first newspaper after the bombing.
Page and staff writer Kirby Davis returned to the damaged Journal Record building on April 20, the day after the bombing, to retrieve documents and personal items, but were chased out by FBI agents searching for evidence. Page and Davis returned about a week later to recover various items.
Today, part of The Journal Record’s building houses the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum. The wreckage of Page’s office where he would have returned with that Cup of coffee is preserved as part of the exhibits.
Statistics tabulated by the Oklahoma City Bombing report—-courtesy of the Tinker Historians office——noted that while estimated damage would exceed $650 million, the exact cost could never be tabulated. It was estimated that 168 people died that day. At least 600 were hospitalized; 30 children were orphaned; 219 children lost one parent; more than 300 buildings were damaged or destroyed; 462 people were left homeless; and 2,000 vehicles were demolished.