Friday, November 22, 2013

This is what I remember

photo from Google Maps street view
I was 8 years old and in the second grade at Roadoan Elementary School in Brooklyn, Ohio. The teachers let us out early that day without explanation. I walked down the front steps past the flagpole, and Nancy Gardner said, "Look, the flag is falling."

My mom had been in her car at the time, driving down Memphis Ave., when she heard the news on the radio. She told me later that she had to pull over so she wouldn't cause an accident. She turned the car around and drove to my school to pick up my sister and me and take us home.

photo from Google Maps street view
Home was on Winter Lane in this yellow house with brown trim, the same colors it was 50 years ago, which seems a little odd, but since nothing much changes in Brooklyn, Ohio, I shouldn't be surprised. I hated mowing that lawn. Anyway, I remember the tv being on non-stop for the next few days. The whole family – Mom, Dad, Grandpa, my sister and I – huddled in front of it in the living room, watching Walter Cronkite give us the details.

I remember the family going to Aunt Marie's house to watch the news with her one evening. And I remember going to Joe and Paul's house to watch the funeral. Joe was a long-time friend of my mom. They met when they worked together at a bank. I'm pretty sure that Joe and Paul were gay, but that was never a topic of discussion in my family. Mom, are you reading this? Am I right? 

I remember being in the kitchen that Sunday morning, helping my parents get lunch ready. My dad was in charge of the sausage that was cooking in the Sunbeam electric frying pan. I was standing next to him when we heard Grandpa shout from his room, "Oswald's been shot." Dad gave me that look that said Gramps may have been sipping his Canadian Club a little earlier than usual that day. Then Gramps yelled it again, and we all ran into the living room to watch that part of the story unfold on the tv.

I remember feeling bad for the guy who hit the wrong note during "Taps," and the riderless horse with the boots facing backward in the stirrups, and the precision of the soldiers as they folded the flag from the casket and gave it to Mrs. Kennedy. Most of all, I remember how sad everybody was.

28 comments:

  1. I too remember that fateful day. Kennedy was such a popular president. I don't think anybody has matched his celebrity since. 50 years has gone by so fast. I was 17.

    Best always,

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  2. I, too, was 8. I remember feeling an overwhelming sadness as the story unfolded that day.

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  3. I was a tad younger, 4, and don't remember much other than my parents crying and being very upset. And it was my mother's birthday the day Kennedy was shot. None of the details afterwards touched me, but I definitely remember that day!

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  4. I remember that day well, too. I was in first grade and came home for lunch right after it had happened. The boots backwards was another thing I remembered. And the picture of young John saluting his father's casket. So sad.

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  5. And of course it is my mother's birthday today as well, but she's been gone so long now (1972), her day gets past me lots of years. I probably would have missed it again this year if it weren't for all the 50-year hubbub. Shame on me.....

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  6. I was born in 1964, so I don't have the memories first hand. I did, however, grow up in Dallas. We drove by all these places all the time. It's hard to think about how out of place that act was then and how frequently senseless violence happens now.

    The starkness of empty boots in a stirrup backward is unlike any other symbol.

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  7. A nne Boleyn11/22/13, 5:31 AM

    So beautifully said,Carson. This is,in many ways,each of our memories.

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  8. This is a beautiful bit of writing, Linda. You brought me there.

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  9. Columbus, Ohio native here. I was in 4th grade. I remember that weekend like it was yesterday: Blackjack, the steady drum roll during the funeral march, the sound of the hooves as the caisson traveled thru D.C. A sad memory that an entire generation shares. Great job, Linda.

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  10. I too was in second grade. Groves Elementary, Groves TX. I don't now remember exactly how long it all went on, but it seemed like for at least a week. no school, funeral on TV, businesses closed, ALL the information repeated over and over and over, and the incredible weight of the sadness throughout the country.

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  11. I was 4 yrs. old and riding the vacuum cleaner while Mom vacuumed. I'm sure she loved my help. I remember my sisters and brother coming home early from school and I remember the sadness.
    I also loved seeing the pictures of Old Brooklyn. My daughter-in-law lives in a house that looks just like that in OB.

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  12. You did an excellent job of putting this story just where it was for those weeks....in each of our hearts forever. I was in Jr. High sitting in English class when the announcement came over the PA system and it was like the rest of the day went in slow motion as we all went home to gather around the TV and grieve. He was an extraordinary quick flash in our nations history. It's easy to get caught up in the what if's now that I am older. Such a shame. Oma Linda

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  13. I was eight too, the principal came in and told my teacher. I remember the days of public mourning and the old black and white tv we watched the whole funeral on. I too remember how sad everything was.
    marsha.kern@yahoo.com

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  14. Since I am probably the oldest person on this list, I can thank you and others for your little kid memories. My first presidential ballot was proudly cast at age 22 for JFK and at 25 I was working in a tire shop when one of the men came in with the horrible news.

    I still have trouble believing the results of the Warren Commission. Maybe it will all come out sooner or later.

    Jo in MN

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  15. I was in eighth grade in a small Catholic school in Santa Monica, CA. Our teacher who was a wiry little tough-as-nails nun was called out, then came back into the classroom crying which was incomprehensible to us, that a nun could cry. Then the whole school assembled in the auditorium to pray and wait for updates. I also remember being at Church on the Sunday when a man ran across the parking lot calling out that Oswald had been shot. News traveled differently in those days.

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  16. Canada was VERY upset with the death of JFK. He was a great man!!!!! I was a year old when he was shot so I do not remember much. No matter how many times I see it I always get a shiver viewing Walter Cronkite announce JFK's death :-(
    There is a book written by Archbishop Philip Hannan, another good man. At the request of Mrs Kennedy was the priest at JFK's funeral. very few people knew about it until he wrote is EXCELLANT autobiography.
    http://www.amazon.com/Archbishop-Wore-Combat-Boots-Extraordinary/dp/1592766978/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1385130365&sr=8-3&keywords=philip+hannan

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  17. I have some vivid recollections of that day, too... but not with as much detail as you shared. However, I do recall the horse with the boots. That image had a huge impact ... I remember getting chills watching the horse prance in the procession without his rider.

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  18. I was in a class in high school. Much like Linda. Thank you for this story.

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  19. Carol in N. Colorado11/22/13, 9:03 AM

    I was 9 and remember watching part of the events unfold on the TV at school. At some point during the day we were sent home. I remember not going to school for three days. We didn't keep the TV on during the entire time. I remember when Bobby was killed.

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  20. I was 8, in third grade, and living in Biloxi Mississippi. My dad was Air Force and this one just one of many assignments in the south. We, too, were sent home early and I was really confused by the talk on the bus. My most powerful memory was passing the "for blacks only" gas station on the corner and seeing adults weeping. It still doesn't make sense to me. What a tragedy.

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  21. I remember the shock and the screen on television, back then in Brussels, Belgium!

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  22. My memory of that day is still so clear. I was 5 yrs old and my mom and I were shopping when she got very upset. We went right to the car and my mom began to cry. I started to cry too and she explained that a very bad man shot and killed our president. I thought, who could do such a thing? It was the first time I realized that there are bad things that happen in the world. RIP JFK and Mom.

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  23. I've always heard my mother describe this day. I think it was her generations 9/11

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  24. I was in first or second grade at St. Leo's catholic school. We all were taken to our church and wondered what was going on. We'd already done our morning mass and this was a second one.

    I remember the black and white tv showing what I thought was a parade. My Mom told me it wasn't like our Daffodil one that I liked so much.

    She also had told me that little boy had lost his Dad. I of course didn't really know what that meant.

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  25. I was four and don't remember anything of that day. What I do recall is the funeral being on every station - and all I wanted to do was watch cartoons. Actually I am assuming that the funeral was on, as only my Mother was around. Had it been Saturday or Sunday, my brothers and father would have been in the house. I don't remember anyone in my family watching the TV to any great extent.

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  26. I was ten years old...out on the school playground when the principal came out and spoke to the teacher watching us play. She blew her whistle and called us all to line up and come inside. We were all confused because we were only half-way into our recess time. Once at our desks, our teacher told us that the president had been shot and killed. I remember asking why would anyone want to shoot our president. It made no sense to me then...or now.
    The rest of my memories mirror yours.

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  27. I'm a generation too young. I vaguely remember Sadat's murder otherwise, to be able to tell where i was , it goes to Diana's death. Don't laugh.

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  28. I was 6 but I remember the day because it was the first time I saw my stoic father cry.
    It was such a shock to see him in tears and I remember sadness in the house for many days afterwards.

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