22 November 2008

22 November 1963

I was just looking at the calendar and the significance of the date hit me.

On this day in November 1963 I was in school in 4th grade, in a little town in Louisiana. We had speakers in the classrooms that the office used to make announcements. The speakers broadcast simultaneously in all the classrooms. We were working on a history project about Marco Polo. I was wearing a dark green plaid dress with a white Peter Pan collar. All of a sudden the principal came on the loudspeaker and told everyone to go to their desks immediately. (Remember, this was in the days of the Cold War and we used to have drills where we had to hide under our desks in case Moscow bombed us. Like a desk would do a lot of good against radiation!) So it wasn't completely out of the ordinary for the principal to say something like that to the whole school, but his voice sounded funny.

I have no idea if he really waited long enough for all children to get seated in classrooms or not, but I was sitting in my desk when he said our president had been assassinated. At least half the kids in the class had no idea what that meant, but I did. And I remember we all started crying. I wanted my teacher to let me call my Mama because my little brother and sister were in Dallas that day with my aunt, having gone to see President Kennedy. I don't recall the details of what exactly went on next, but a semblance of order was restored. The schools shut down and everyone went home early. That was very out of the ordinary, but the events were also not something we'd experienced before. The end of Camelot.

My brother has crossed and my sister was too little to have any memory of being in Dallas that day. As an adult I talked about it with my aunt. They did not actually see the assassination, as the motorcade had already passed them by when it occurred. I am glad that my sister did not see it happen, even if she doesn't remember.

Where were you on this day in 1963?
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1 comment:

Mari at Once Upon a Plate said...

Truly touching and heart wrenching memories Becky, and to know some of your family was so nearby makes it all the more poignant.

I was 11 years old, during gym class (P.E.) the principal announced the news over the intercom that our president had been shot. I remember just feeling numb and shocked.

Most all of the girls huddled in the girls' bathroom in the main hall, crying and hugging.

We were released from school early, and went home to be with our families.

It seems we all stayed glued to the television for the next few days events unfolded.

When I look back, it all seems so oddly surreal, gray, and cold.

Life changed forever for many of us on that November day.