Friday, November 22, 2013

The day we'll never forget

I was in third grade at St. Ann School but stayed home that day, sick with some kind of childhood bug. My mother had brought the portable TV to my room so I could watch "Queen for a Day," "The Price is Right" and the "Loretta Young Show" which I only watched because it seemed racy. Mom had just brought me her signature "sick day" orangeade on the special bed tray, when a special bulletin came on the air. "President Kennedy has been shot...." I called out for her: "Motherrrr!!" I must have sounded panic-stricken because she ran up the stairs and, together, we watched the tragedy unfold, crying on my little bed. (I didn't realize until today, that she had left my baby brother and sister downstairs, unattended for who knows how long. I'm assuming they were in the playpen.) Although my mother was a Republican, we were Catholic and deeply enamored with JFK and the first family...if not for substance, for style, in my case.  (I was 7. What did I know of politics?) The rest of that day is a blur, as are the days that followed except for the funeral procession and that heartbreaking little salute of John-John's.
I remember being struck that Caroline was my little sister's age and John-John, my other little sister's. It was the first time I think my young brain realized that not everyone gets to live to a ripe old age. And what kind of monster would kill the father of two little kids?
     How do you remember that day?


A Fan said...

4th grade. . .we came in from after lunch recess - to find that all the teachers had been called to the cafeteria. Miss St.James returned to class and looked sad with teary eyes. She said the principal would be making a special announcement soon. It came over the speaker - tears, shock, fear. School was dismissed shortly after - we all were sent home. It was a Friday, just like today. Walked in the house to my mother and a neighbor woman crying in front of the TV. I remember family glued to the TV for days. More tears and adult discussions in hushed tones to shield us kids. Family gathered for Thanksgiving the next week as usual at my grandparent's home.

jp said...

8 years old...I was on the way back to school from eating lunch at home. Due to taking my time, I was going to be late...and in trouble. But when I arrived, late, the teacher was so upset she didn't even notice!

Carol Starr Schneider said...

Just home from nursery school, eating a tuna sandwich in front of the TV, watching "Sheriff John," when they broke in. I ran to get my mom in the kitchen. She worked so hard to get JFK elected, she got a letter from him that still hangs on the wall. All I knew was that we loved Kennedy, and Caroline and I were the same age.

Cathy Hamilton said...

A friend told me last night that she wept uncontrollably at one of the TV shows about it....50 years later. The end of our national innocence. Reason to grieve yet today.