Saturday, November 22, 2008

Where were you?

Today is November 22, the 45th anniversary of the day John Kennedy died. I was in study hall when the principal gave us the news, and then sent us all home early. There was, of course, a general air of total disbelief. It took a day or two to sink in that it had really happened.

What made it even more unreal for many of us, I think, was the fact we had been privileged to see Kennedy in person not long before. Kennedy had visited northern Wisconsin, flew over the Apostle Islands, and on September 24, 1963, spoke in Ashland on the importance of preserving natural resources. Every school district for miles around loaded its students on to buses for the day so we could see (and maybe hear) Kennedy speak at the Ashland airport. That C-47 behind my friend Diana Bluse is Air Force One.

I can't remember a word Kennedy said; I just recall that the man radiated charisma. He walked down the line shaking hands and we teenage girls all reacted the same way we would have if he'd been Elvis or Fabian. It's still a little hard to believe that less than two months later he was dead.


  1. A friend and I were the first persons in our school to get the news. As a tech nerd, I worked one period a day in the school's closed-circuit TV studio, and when nothing was going on, we'd switch one of the monitors to the broadcast feed and watch daytime TV. That day we were watching the "Ann Sothern Show," a typical lame sitcom of the era, when the bulletin broke in. I ran out and told the first adult I encountered, the A/V department secretary, who scolded me for making such a sick joke.

    I'd seen JFK twice, several years before, at campaign appearances on Long Island, but was just young enough that I don't have any real substantive memories of anything he said.

  2. i was married and living in roswell new husband and i had walked to town to pick up some was a beautiful day ..we went inside and the lady behind the counter was really really old..(to us at the time) and said 'the president's been shot'...I thought gee, poor ole dear, she's talking about abe lincoln..then she said he was in dallas, texas and they shot and killed him...bob and i were both stunned..we walked out side and some kids were laughing and singing 'the presidents dead, the presidents dead'...i screamed at them and started crying and bob took me was horrible..i was home in front of the tv watching the news and saw oswald getting shot..45 years ago and it seems like yesterday

  3. This is lovely and sad. I never got to see him in person, but I sure remember the day, the shock, and the strange stopping of time. There are long stretches just after that death that are a blank space in my memory.

  4. I was standing on an airplane field in Milton, Florida for a dress inspection.

    I was 19 and in the Navy when they announced it.

    At 19 I just found it to be interesting news, I didn't know much back then.

    I wish I didn't know much now, ignorance is bliss.


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