Saturday, November 23, 2013

At Edison School in Pullman, WA. when Kennedy was assassinated

Just another "where were you" Kennedy assassination story, but you're probably sick of them by now.

50 years ago, I was in the 3rd grade when a surprise assembly was called. We went to the gym and sat in the place marked on the floor for our class. Other classes were gathering in their little squares on the floor. The principal was pacing back and forth on stage looking real upset. We wondered, "what happened?" He would stand at the mike and walk away several times. Then he was finally able to say it. "The president has been shot." The room of little kids gasped. Eventually we went back to our classrooms and the teacher in my classroom was crying. She said she didn't know if she could teach the class because she was so upset. Then a messenger came down the hall with a memo from the main office. School was dismissed for the day. I found my older sister, who was then in 6th grade, and we walked home thinking Kennedy might recover from the gunshot. At home, our mom greeted us with the news that he had died.

Much of the rest of that weekend news came to me through the radio as I think my parents were wise and thought too much television might just be "too much;" so to speak. My memories of Lee Harvey Oswald being shot are from radio rather than television. Maybe not hearing it as it happened, but I did hear replay after replay on the radio news. I think my folks wanted us to try and continue living life in a somewhat normal way. Our black and white television was used a lot during the funeral, though. The flag draped coffin lying in state in the Capitol Rotunda, the horses, the somber music and so forth all made an impression on me.. I was scared of the dark for a long time after that and my folks had to let me sleep with my bedroom light on.