Somewhere along the digital way, I stumbled on this picture of the members of the U.S. Figure Skating Team. For some reason, it stopped me in my tracks, and it has haunted me ever since, mostly because, just like them, I didn't see what was coming next.
The date was February 14, 1961. They were on their way to the World Figure Skating Championships in Prague. Look at their faces, every one of them full of hope.
Everyone is wearing their best clothes, except for the guy on the bottom step. He's standing front and center, collar proudly open. He is a maverick, both in sport and spirit. With that kind of confidence, he's at least three decades ahead of his time.
Look closer. Notice the tall beauty holding the sign, and the man standing next to her. He must be the coach, his face full of concern and angst. The fairy dust long wore off that one.
Further up the steps, we have the group comic who keeps the mood light. That's him hiding behind the black rimmed glasses, with his hand extended in a Shakespearian gesture. He is the original Drew Carey. That hand seems as displaced as he secretly feels.
Over on the right, at the bottom of the steps, are what I originally thought of as the "love birds", but lately wonder if they weren't brother and sister. She leans into him to remind herself that she is not alone. He smiles, wondering if she can feel him shaking with fear and uncertainty.
Then there's the boy who tried to hide. See there, on the left, between the beauty queen holding the sign and the girl on her right? Just a half of a face, peaking over, as if he were an uninvited guest. His lost expression leads me directly to the girl with the corsage and curly hair standing directly above him. Their aura's seem connected and I wonder if they sat together during the flight.
So much emotion. So very haunting. Did they know what destiny beckoned?
The picture was taken at Idlewild International Airport in New York, before boarding a Sabena jet to Brussels. The plane crashed on February 15, near the airport at Brussels, killing all onboard. So there you have it.