Wednesday, November 23, 2005


Didn't remember yesterday until I got to Lions Club last night, and the tailtwister was asking everyone: (1) What happened on this day in history? and (2) Where were you when it happened?

Most everyone was able to answer both of those questions.

Forty-two years ago yesterday. November 22, 1963. I was in second grade when President Kennedy was assassinated.

The memories of that day are engraved on my mind. We were sitting there in Mrs. Kuhl's second-grade classroom, when there was a knock at the door. It was the art teacher, and I remember that she had with her a white transistor radio. She called our teacher out into the hallway, and they talked.

Odd how those memories stick with you: not just any transistor radio, but a white transistor radio.

When our teacher came back in the room, she told us that the President had been shot in Dallas. I remember how rumor floated around that day, I remember some of us arguing out on the playground over whether the President was dead, or just seriously wounded. Rumors were soon dispelled: President Kennedy was dead. At the end of the school day, when the bell rang, our class stood and faced east for a minute of silence.

That evening our family went grocery shopping. My mom was feeling quite down, so she bought a rainbow-striped clothespin bag. When we got home, at a certain hour of the evening my dad went over next door to the church and rang the bell. I composed a plunkety-plunk dirgelike song on the piano: it consisted mostly of playing the scales backwards, from high C down to middle C. Backwards. Down.

Damn. I was only seven years old, but I'll never forget that day.



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