Gut Rumbles

November 22, 2003

i remember

40 years ago, I was eleven years old and in sixth grade.

About 1:30 that afternoon, an announcement came over the school intercom saying that the President had been shot by a sniper and class was dismissed for the day. I remember a girl named Cheryl Cannady clapping her hands and saying, "Goody, goody," as she jumped up and down. I never knew whether she was delighted by the fact Kennedy was shot or she was simply happy about getting out of school early that day. Either way, I still recall thinking that her reaction to the news was a poor one.

I could see my back yard from my classroom at Hesse Elementary School. I didn't have to wait for the school buses to arrive early that day. I walked home.

I entered my house through the back door the way I always did when I walked home from school. I saw my mama in the living room. She was ironing clothes and watching Walter Cronkite on television. She had tears streaming down her face.

I will always remember that image. My mama, crying because the President was dead, but still ironing clothes.

I stayed in front of the television most of that weekend. I was watching the TV when Jack Ruby shot Lee Oswald. I watched the President's funeral. I listened to the bugler blow the bad note when he played "Taps" that day. I knew that I was seeing an important part of American history playing out before me and I watched it unfold as an 11 year-old boy.

I still remember ALL of it to this day.

Yeah. I know exactly where I was and what I was doing on November 22, 1963.


I know exactly what you mean, I remember, too. (And I was only 5.) Funny how, of all the events of which people say "you'll remember where you where that day", President Kennedy being shot is the most memorable.

I would put the Challenger blowing up as #2 on the list. Someday 9/11 will be on the list; but right now it seems too recent to have the same quality.


Posted by: Ole Eichhorn on November 22, 2003 09:48 AM

I was attending an "experimental" school on that day. Had it's own TV studio, etc. We weren't dismissed for the day, we were all brought into the cafeteria, to watch the news on TV's placed all around so that we could each see. i still remember when Cronkite announced that President Kennedy had died. There was just deathly silence in that packed cafeteria, and tears.

The first landing and walk on the moon is another day to remember, but with well-earned pride and awe.

Posted by: Ms Anna on November 22, 2003 10:05 AM

We mark time in our lives by events, usually catastrophic ones. In 1963 I was in Mrs. Phillips' 3rd grade classroom when the intercom box above the chalkboard and between the U.S. flag and the Texas flag, announced the assasination on J.F.K.

I knew immediately the situation. We at that time had been brought up on safety drills in the classroom. The Soviet prime minister at the time, Kruschev (sp), had already threatened to come over here and bury us alive. So we had regular drills....head down, hands clasped behind our necks, under a desk...and wait until someone told you it was OK to get up. So when the announcement came, everything that we had been warned about seemed to be happening in this young childs mind.

Later at home, I had heard my dad and uncle talk about the Communists and Russia and how bad they were.They talked about their stints in the armed services. I don't remember much now of course, other than the attitude of how they fought to defend America and that no country would ever invade us. Now I heard them talk about how the President of the United States of America had been killed in the town where they were born and grew up. It impacted me tremendously.

I also remember watching as much TV as I could. I remember once again hearing my dad and uncle talk. This time it was about Jack Ruby. They weren't close friends, but more than aquaintences, with Ruby. They knew him, had been clubbing in his circle and at his night club. I remember they weren't exactly surprised that Jack Ruby had shot the man that had been arrested for the assasination of J.F.K.

Posted by: MARCUS on November 22, 2003 11:43 AM

It's amazing to watch that old footage and see so many people crying. I can't imagine us reacting that way if the same thing happened today--and I'm not sure why. Could be because Americans felt a "special connection" to Kennedy that they don't feel with Bush or could be because we're more jaded generally these days. Anyway, food for thought.

Posted by: Allah on November 22, 2003 11:52 AM

I wasn't born in 63 but it still touches me to read all of the recollections.

Posted by: SASSY on November 22, 2003 12:07 PM

I was in the first grade and I thought it was cool that we got out of school for the rest of the day! I had no idea who had died. It was many years before I understood the signifcance of that day. Or it's impact on history.

Posted by: wanda on November 22, 2003 12:41 PM

I was just a bit over two years old and while I do remember some things from that far back, I don't remember the murder of JFK.

I do, however, remember the murders of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr., so I have an inkling of the mood. What a bloody decade in America, the sixties.

Posted by: Juliette on November 22, 2003 01:39 PM

I was 5 yrs from travelling down Pop's vas def when Kennedy was shot. He was, at best, a mediocre president, and a quick look at Friday's paycheck shows that his legacy lives on, given the "Camelot guilt package" that Light Bulb Johnson got passed by virtue of a head wound. Just another socialist to me......

Posted by: Ruester on November 22, 2003 01:40 PM

Rob - I was 19 and working for a trucking company in Denver while I (sort of ) attended the University of Denver. I had just returned from lunch at a blue-collar diner up the road to find half my co-workers in tears. (Mind you, this was a tough bunch of truckers and warehousemen, most of whom were union guys and Democrats, (back when Dems had spines), but I digress. But the hardest hit of all was a gentle giant immigrant from Russia who ran the Billing department. This six foot five, 270 pound Western Front veteran, was inconsolable. Suddenly, the events of the preceeding two hours had brought back the fears that he thought he had left behind in Mother Russia. (I think it may have been the first time I saw a grown man cry). This land, which had given him freedom and a chance for a better life for him and his family, had suddenly, turned into a fearsome place. Yes, I was glued to the TV for days, I saw the Jack Ruby shooting, I saw the John-John salute, but the image I will carry with me of that tragic day, (and the one that makes it hard to now see the keyboard), is that of of the Big Russian, crying in my arms.

Thanks for listening.

Posted by: Terry Reynolds on November 22, 2003 01:51 PM

So do I remember that day. Our school Supt. made the rounds. I started crying and never stopped. Went home watched it all on our black and white tv. I'll never forget John John's salute. I wrote a very profound poem that night and took it to my 6th grade teacher the next day to share. She just shrugged so I thought it was no good and tossed it into the trash. I'd give anything to have that poem today. The majority of teachers aren't worth a shit. I'm glad I was a great one that cared about children and their deep thoughts.

Posted by: Lexia on November 22, 2003 07:33 PM

I was in college, eating at the "Nine-Cent" cafeteria across from my co-op rooming house when someone ran in with the news he had been shot.

That evening our entire "house" was unbelievably quiet and depressed. We had two Koreans who roomed together, and never associated with the rest of us. After supper, the Koreans played that Kennedy parody comedy record by Von Meader (sp?) over and over in their room. Loudly.

Some folks wanted to hurt them. Three of us tried to politely explain that it wasn't respectful. They hadn't been laughing, and I have no idea what was in their minds, but they stopped.

Posted by: Dan Pursel on November 22, 2003 07:44 PM

I think I was in the third grade--8 years old--but I was home sick from school that day. We lived out in the boonies and didn't even have a TV or phone, so we didn't hear until my older brother got home from school.

I was too young to understand it at the time, but that day marked a real turning point for America, I think.

Posted by: hackjammer on November 22, 2003 11:30 PM

I was extremely miffed that adults would "break down" at the Kennedy murder and call an effective halt to the Country, apparently due to a disabling emotional reaction, revealing a weakness in character and content which indicated that they had no confidence in the government of the United States, or themselves. This is why I remember where I was on that day - as a freshman in college, getting ready to go to basketball practice, which was cancelled, much to my rightful indignation.

My daughter went to school 9/11/2001- her 14th birthday -while the attack was transpiring, having heard about it partially as she was getting ready for school while listening to the radio, as was her habit. I got up later unaware of the event, flicked on some cable channel and was immediately treated to the macbre replay of a plane going into the Twin Towers, which I transiently concluded must have been a scene from a new Hollywood production. I was soon frightened, however, on realizing the fact that this was actually occurring - overly frightened, due to a melancholy which I had been experiencing for reasons which I will not explain, but which many of you would understand. I was now in a "disasterizing" mode: I was fucked-up. Then I wondered about my daughter. It was her birthday to boot, for Dog's sake. Yet I awaited her own response, knowing I was abnormally weak, while she had shown me she was capable of surprising things. She came home after school completely unphased by the event, which she understood, reporting instead the reaction of one of her teachers, who entered the classroom crying. My daughter reported the teacher's crying as infantile, which it was. As was I, until my kid led me out.

Posted by: Ga-ne-sha on November 23, 2003 01:13 AM

I was in the band room, 12 yrs. old. I was in a battle of the trumpet players to sit first chair.
When the intercom cracled to life we ended
our competition, and I remember slowly walking over to the first row of seats and listening in disbelief. Not long after the news of his shooting came the news of his death.
It's funny.......I can remember that part, and the rest of the casket on public view, the lines of people paying last respects, the casket on the wagon and john's salute, the eternal flame......but I can't remember the rest of that school day at all. It's just sad.

Posted by: wes jackson on November 23, 2003 01:51 AM

I will reserve comments on the content of GA-NE-SHA's post. It's Sunday morning and so far is a great start to a beautiful day here.

Posted by: MARCUS on November 23, 2003 09:35 AM

Hi...Im just surfed in and want to say hello!
Regards George

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