“Legs for Bomb”
Tom Wood was in Atlanta when Eric Rudolph’s bomb exploded in Centennial Olympic Park eighteen years ago. “I had just published my first story as a New York Times stringer at the beginning of July, and I was in the process of pitching other ideas at the National Desk,” he writes. “I had memorized the 800 number for the desk. I found a pay phone and dialed the number.”
The Timesman on the desk at 2 a.m. told Wood to get quotes from victims as they were released from the hospital.
I had my tape recorder with me — why, I have no idea. The first patient came out within a few minutes, and others emerged at intervals in the hours that followed. As best I can recall, all were willing to talk, and I got a lot of detail about the bombing scene, taking notes feverishly while recording for backup purposes. …
When I think of the vigilant security and PR guardians detailed all around most hospitals today, I can hardly believe my luck that night. I kept gathering quotes and phoning them in to New York until the pace of patient releases petered out a little before dawn.
His check for $75 arrived a few weeks later. “Naturally, in the parlance of the paper, I had been ‘legs for bomb.’ If I ever write a memoir of my freelancing career, I know what the title will be.”
Wood tells me in an email: “I have been telling this story for years, and people seem to get a kick out of it. Now, on the 18th anniversary of the event described, I have written it up — mainly for my friends, but it occurs to me you might take an interest.”
* “Legs for Bomb 7/27/96″ (facebook.com) | Recorded interviews
* July 28, 1996: Bomb at the Olympics (nytimes.com)