Harold McFarlane

Student, Physics Building

00:00 / 10:20
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“Like everyone else who was there that day, I have memories of the events that took place. It was between my junior and senior years at UT. I had a summer job working in the basement of the old Physics Building, helping a graduate student, Richard Freeman, do plasma physics experiments. Through sports and part-time work during the year, I had become friendly with several of the graduate students in the building and they had accepted me as one of their own.

As lunchtime approached, I was headed out the back door of the physics building to go get something to eat. From what I learned later some of the first casualties were in the area between the Physics Building and the Tower.

I literally had one foot outside the door when one of the grad students, probably Richard, grabbed my shoulder and pulled me back in.

He wasn’t trying to save me – they had organized a lunch trip to a BBQ joint out on Bee Caves Road. It was a pretty day and everyone was ready for a break from the basement. Their car was on the other side of the building, so we went out the front door.

As we loaded into the car, someone wondered aloud what the sharp noises were. We concluded that it was just construction that was going on somewhere on campus and took off for the restaurant. With a car full of people, we didn’t have the radio on and were blissfully unaware of what was happening on campus. We enjoyed a leisurely lunch; apparently no one at the restaurant knew what was going on. This was well before the days when televisions were common in such establishments.
We drove back to campus, but of course were stopped several blocks away.

We still didn’t know what was going on, but did notice several students walking around with their hunting rifles and a small plane circling the tower.
Eventually someone on the street explained the situation.

I don’t recall anything after that, except that my then girlfriend, Mary Ellen Newberry, was quite relieved to hear that I was OK. She had been watching the news, was aware of my lunchtime routine, and realized that I would have been at risk. I am happy to say that we celebrated our 47th wedding anniversary last summer.”