Friday, November 22, 2013


It was a warm, bright November day, and my little boy and I had been out shusssshing our feet in the leaves in the back yard.  We’d just celebrated his birthday, and he was wearing a little denim jacket, his golden hair glinting in the sun, while we just whiled away the time.


We went in after a while, and he ate his macaroni and cheese, one elbow at a time, from the steel tray of his high chair, as each warm curl spread a tiny vapor halo around itself on the cool steel. We’d picked or picked up half a dozen or so rosy-turning pears into my upturned shirt-front from the trees out back, and I peeled and cut one into thin slices for his dessert.   It was an ordinary day.


I got my bath, got into a “nice” maternity dress for the trip to my once-a-month doctor’s visit, and walked him out to the Big House to his grandmother for the afternoon.


She was sitting in the den---unheard of in the daytime with the noon dinner dishes in the sink and food still on the table.  I think I was more astonished at that than at the news to come.


“The President’s been shot!” she said, as I put down baby, bag and purse.   I seem to remember sitting on whatever was handy, rapt to the screen and my heart beating fast.  I kept count of the time, for I dared not be late---those were the days when your OB was a Deity to be reckoned with, and you humbly listened and obeyed---and then we had to leave.


We heard the final news on the car radio, as we both sat in stunned silence for a long, long time, and that evening, saw the first of many, many re-plays of Walter Cronkite’s tearful words as he was overcome with his dreadful message.

Do you remember? 



Kathy said...

I remember so well. I was in 5th grade. The principal came in and said something to my teacher. When she left my teacher told us to pack up our books, that we were going home for the day. That the President had been shot and killed. I think when something like that happens, you never forget it.

jeanne, backyard neighbor said...

Rachel, I so remember that day as well. Bill and I were newly married and we lived in Gainesville FL. while he was finishing his last year of college. I did not have the TV on and he called me from school to tell me the sad news. It was shocking, to say the least. I will never forget.

You made me smile about how we felt about our doctor when we were having babies. It is so true. His word was like the gospel. Smile.

Love, Jeanne

Beverly said...

I was in the sixth grade In Florida, and we were having our Spanish lesson via television. The principal came over the intercom, and our teacher switched the channel.

Kennedy was the first president of which I have strong memories. I was mesmerized by his family. I guess I could relate because there were young children.

steelersandstartrek said...

I remember the day but not the event. I was four and a half, and by then the Stairsteps were in full swing (Sister would have been nearly three, and Brother a year and a half.) Mom was babysitting two cousins at the time as well, and in the style of childrearing in those days any child who was old enough to talk back was old enough to be playing in the yard or with the ubiquitous lincoln logs or wooden blocks or anything else to be out from underfoot. We had a television even in those days -- a rectangular upright thing with a miniscule fuzzy black and white screen set high in the cabinet. About the only things I watched on it were the Stooges and Captain Kangaroo and local shows called Sailor Bob and Dandy Doodle at that point. So I am sure the set was on -- all the other neighbor housewives would have alerted mom to the news and she would have flipped it on, if it wasn't already tuned to The Secret Storm -- but I was not aware of it. Just the upset that was present that day. I remember mom trying to explain it away without engaging me or any of the kids in adult issues. I remember dad's quiet brooding when he got home. They were young themselves (she 22, he just days over 24) and probably had a lot of trouble figuring out for themselves what this all meant. I remember days and days of coverage on TV after the fact - Huntley and Brinkley and Cronkite became an important part of the evening ritual, perhaps that very day.

I can't imagine being a young adult then, especially one who believed in the Kennedy world view. My adult frame of reference -- I had attained about the same age as my parents had been in 63 when another president and a pope were both shot in close succession -- pales next to the finality of Kennedy and the rest of the bloody 60's. But they were my formative years, and made me aware of things way too early I think.

Kim S. said...

I, too, was four and a half. I remember the day because I actually saw adults crying. By the time that my daughter was that age, she'd probably seen me cry a dozen times, but in those days adults just didn't cry in front of children. I remember being so shocked and frightened that it made me remember.