The morning of Jan. 28, 1986, a Tuesday, was a cold one in New York, following a surprise 1.5" snowfall overnight. I was back at work (ad agency Young & Rubicam) after having been out sick on Monday and the previous Friday. Shortly before noon my secretary, Voula, came clomping into my office to deliver the day's mail and blurted out that the space shuttle had exploded. Then she made a snide comment about the teacher, Christa McCauliffe, who was on board, let out a little cackle, and walked out. I left my office and walked over to the office of a broadcast buyer to watch the unending replay of the shuttle's disintegration against the clear blue Florida sky. What was chilling was the crowd reaction at the launch site because at first they didn't understand what they had just witnessed but as the realization came over them their excited gasps of wonder turned to sobs of distress.
This date also sticks in mind because after coming home from work I went to electronics store Crazy Eddie near my apartment in Greenwich Village and bought my first color TV - a 14" Sharp. I paid $329 for it, at the time the largest single purchase I'd ever made. I was really looking forward to watching that evening's episode of Moonlighting in color.
(The book Truth, Lies & O-Rings: Inside the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster provides a detailed account of what led to the shuttle's tragic demise.)