For more than a century, the short ride home on a train - away from the urgency and innumerable threats of the city - has been essential to a shared vision of safety that in many ways defines the purpose of life in an American suburb. Everyone riding in the 5:33 that night must have realized that the violence and crime had flowed out from the city in the wake of the post-World War II suburban surge. That in all that time, only one passenger had been killed on a Long Island Rail Road train, when a kid with a rifle fired into a passing train in 1968. Commuting on the LIRR was statistically much safer than driving a car, crossing the street, or even breathing in the New York air.
The Long Island Rail Road Massacre changed the lives of every commuter by placing fear where there once was a sense of safety. In A Journey We Didn't Want to Take, Donald Katz tells us the story of this nightmare as it was felt by the people who witnessed those three horrific minutes, the people who were shot but survived the attack, and the people who's loved ones did not make it home that evening.
A Journey We Didn't Want to Take is one of the fascinating profiles featured in The King of the Ferret Leggers and Other True Stories by award-winning journalist Donald Katz, available in audio exclusively at audible.com. It was originally published in Worth, April 1995.
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Producer: Paul Ruben