When the first explosion went off at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, Marsha Quimby immediately thought of the cannon that marks a Cadet score at Fort Frye High School football games.
“I personally thought that it was maybe a small cannon for celebration,” said Quimby, 61, of Beverly.
Then came the second blast.
“That’s when people really started to realize something was going on,” she said.
Quimby was “literally halfway in between each explosion on the opposite side of the street” waiting for her husband Roger to finish the course.
“I actually saw the bombs explode and the smoke,” she said.
As police directed her and other spectators away from the area, she didn’t look around much. Two things were on her mind – finding her husband and whether another explosion was coming.
“Was there a third one on down somewhere? Are there more of these that’s going to go off?” Quimby said.
She was able to see far enough down Boylston Street to know Roger wasn’t nearby, so she knew he hadn’t been hurt by the explosions.
But Roger Quimby had no idea whether his wife was safe.
“I never finished the race,” Roger, 61, said Wednesday shortly after the couple returned home to Beverly. “All the runners and everybody just stopped there on the road.”
Stopped about three-quarters of the mile from the finish line, it didn’t take long for them to hear what had happened.
“My wife was at the start/finish line, and I immediately started to look for someone with a cell phone,” Roger said.
One woman dialed Marsha’s number but the call went straight to voicemail. Another sent her a text message, letting her know Roger was OK and asking her to meet him at their hotel. She had to go look for someone else, leaving Roger still wondering where Marsha was as he tried to make his way to get his own phone and bags.
“I was worried sick,” he said. “I knew there were two explosions … at the start/finish line. That’s all I knew.”
It took more than an hour for Roger to make contact with Marsha by text message, and longer still for them to actually be reunited. Law enforcement officers were checking their hotel, the Westin Copley Place, and a walkway connecting it to a nearby mall for more possible explosives and wouldn’t let anyone in or out.
Marsha said she didn’t see much of the explosion sites because she was concentrating on finding Roger. She did recall seeing lines of people six or seven deep at the finish line prior to the blasts, with some moving forward as others left with friends and family who finished the race.
Once they did get back together Monday evening, the couple didn’t change their plans to go sightseeing in Boston the next day.
“It was just kind of the opinion of all the Boston people that this is not going to stop what’s going on and they’re not going to scare us,” Marsha said.
She said a number of marathon participants remained and made it a point to wear their race T-shirts and jackets.
Security remained heightened on Tuesday around the city.
“There were still people walking around our hotel with guns,” Roger said, referring to S.W.A.T. personnel carrying assault rifles. “They were searching vehicles, opening trunks going into the Copley Marriott (another nearby hotel).”
The Quimbys said they didn’t feel any hesitation about remaining in Boston. Likewise, they aren’t altering their plans to go to Cincinnati in three weeks where Roger, a veteran runner who first competed in the Boston Marathon in 2010, will participate in the half-marathon portion of that city’s Flying Pig Marathon the first weekend in May.
“You just can’t stop living your life because some stupid person or persons think that they have to prove something,” Marsha said.