Fifty Years

I wasn’t going to post today but then I remembered~November 22.

Fifty years ago today, November 22, 1963 President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.  We all know that.  I thought I’d share a few memories from that day and that weekend.

I was in seventh grade.  I even remember what I was wearing that day-a blue and white seersucker suit.  Sounds a little summery for November now that I think about it, but that was my outfit that day.

I remember there being an announcement that we were being sent home early. I don’t actually remember if they told us why.  I should have checked with Gail to see what she remembers.  But as I said, I wasn’t planning to write this.

We went home and then I were glued to the TV for the rest of the day.  Being the news junkie that I have always been, I was especially glued.  I was very upset when I remembered that the next day, Saturday we would be going to New York City.  My father was an avid stamp collector and we were going for a stamp convention.  But I wanted to be in front of the TV.

We did go to NYC and the day started with terrible rain storms and by the time we got to the convention center, we were all soaked.  I remember that my Mother’s velvet had gotten ruined.  She wasn’t happy.  Of course, the main topic of conversation in the convention center was the assassination.  I remember being shocked that there were so many people there in spite of what had happened.  I thought they would all be like me, longing to be in front of the television.

Eventually, my Dad had enough of the convention and the heat and damp of so many people drenched from the rain.  Amazingly, by the time we headed out into the city, the rain had stopped and I think I remember that the sun had begun to shine.

We walked and walked.  I’m sure we stopped and ate something.  I remember that by now my Mom was laughing and making fun of her terribly misshapen hat.  I think my sister and I took turns trying it on and making funny faces.  I probably spilled my milk.

As we walked through the city, there were many shocked and saddened faces.  We eventually found ourselves in Washington Square walking through the arch and looking for a park bench where we could take a rest.

This is where something really interesting happened.  In truth, I’m not sure if it happened or if it’s something I made up in my imagination.  While we were looking for a bench, we came upon a black man sitting on a bench.  We were settling ourselves on the bench when he apologized because he had been drinking and was still somewhat hung over.  He introduced himself and  told us he was a singer performing in the city and that when he heard the news about the President, all he could do to comfort himself was to drink.  We talked with him for quite a while.  I am not sure to this day and when I’ve discussed this with my sister, Ele, she’s not sure either but she doesn’t think I’m wrong.  I think the man was Richie Havens.

We finished off the day in New York, made our way back to our bus and then home.  The rest of the weekend found me glued to the TV and radio watching and listening.  I remember that when the newscasters ran out of things to say they broadcast musicians playing classical music.  That would never happen today.  They would never stop talking if it happened today.

I remember watching Oswald being shot on live television.  I remember the lines of thousands of people filing silently through the Capital rotunda all throughout the night.  Then the funeral; Tall Charles De Gaulle walking next to tiny Haile Selassie both regal in their uniforms with all their medals.  I remember the children and the brave Mrs. Kennedy all in black with the huge veil covering her face.  Better than the pink suit.  I will never forget the pink suit.

After all these years, I remain fascinated with the assassination and all of its details.  So many sides to the story, so many theories.  I’m sure if you were alive when it happened, you all have your individual memories. I know we’ll hear them on TV and on the internet today.  There are still some people alive who were actually there.  I like to hear their memories.

This is my memory.

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4 responses to “Fifty Years

  1. Yes, I have realized over the years that it was, in fact, Richie Havens…not a voice you would soon forget. I remember Daddy’s reluctance to talk to him, I remember him saying that on such a sad day it gave him joy to see such a lovely family…not a weekend I will soon forget. I do believe that for people of age ,our innocence was stolen that day. When we are all long dead and gone, I think historians in the future will see this event as the turning point for America, a point at which the entire country turned downward…innocence lost is a sad, sad thing

  2. I remember the day, where I was and what I was doing when we got the message. It was my last year of high school.

    For Canadians, the impact was not as strong, but it was still a significant event. But then, so were the murders of Martin Luther King Jr., and Bobby Kennedy. It was like the world was coming unglued. “What next?” was the thought. Lots of us are still asking that.

    Blessings and Bear hugs!

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