Everyone remembers where they were.

We all have a day like that, don’t we? I remember exactly where I was when I heard the news that John Lennon had been murdered. I remember the precise conditions of my morning (weather, what hallway I was walking, who I met coming the other direction) the day of 11 September, 2001.

The anniversary of John Kennedy’s tragic death represents the first of those “I remember where I was” moments for me. While I don’t remember hearing about the actual event, watching the funeral on television is my very first TV memory, with this somber image burned into my consciousness forever.

I was four years old in November of 1963. I remember watching the horses, then seeing the flag-draped coffin behind them. Instantly, I was terrified; I distinctly remember thinking, “a man is going to jump out of that box.” Weird, right? But my clearest memory is of hiding behind the easy chair my dad was sitting in, peering around at the TV, and Dad reaching back for me with one hand, saying, “It’s OK. Come sit with me.”

Then everything is fuzzy.

It’s weird to have only that one commemorative thought in relation to this world-changing event (a world that would be further changed when idiot Geraldo Rivera got hold of the unedited Zapruder film and showed it on national TV), but I treasure it because it’s my solitary link to that time in history.

Where were you, fellow crusties (and there are some even crustier than I :-) )?

11 thoughts on “Everyone remembers where they were.

  1. Mary Sims

    Do you remember where you were 50 years ago today when you got the news about President Kennedy? I was in the First Grade. Mrs. Bray was my teacher. (loved her then and still do) I remember the Principal, Mr. Haas, came in with a white card with a Red Cross on the back of it and showed it to Mrs. Bray. I remember her crying but I didn’t understand why. I remember asking my mom, “Are we going to get a new President Kennedy”. I don’t remember my mom’s answer but I do remember being glued to the TV for what seemed like endless days.

    Reply
    1. Rat Fink Post author

      Thanks for sharing your experience, Mary. It’s very interesting to me that those of us who were children back then have such poignant (and often confusing) memories from tragic events like these.

      Reply
  2. David

    The Day Camelot Died!
    Such an infamous day in our history, one that changed America permanently in so many ways, as you so correctly said Ms Fink, we all remember where we were. I was a freshman in High School; I had just entered my English classroom from our lunch period. The news came over the speaker system and then our teacher Bro. Maurice (aka Squirrel) came in a turned the TV on and we watched the news unfold.
    I remember feeling vulnerable for the first time in my life. It literally was the only thing on television for the next 7 to 10 days, as America watched her President die, looked into the eyes of the assassin Lee Harvey Oswald and watched Jack Ruby take Oswald’s life as he was surround by police.
    In some ways hard to believe it was 50 years ago! Such a volatile time in America…the Cuban missile crisis was only 11 months past; racially America was a pressure cooker about to explode.
    This event has always felt like a lynch pin event for me; Kennedy gets shot, Civil Rights fight and the March in Selma Alabama, our role in Vietnam escalates, 1968 brings about the deaths of MLK (April ’68), Bobby Kennedy (June ’68) and this young boy from Northern Wisconsin found his butt laying in rice patties getting shot at before the Summer of ’68 ends. 1963 through 1968 I morphed from a boy to a man!

    Reply
    1. Rat Fink Post author

      Seems like every tragedy (and triumph — Neil Armstrong in July 69) was played out for the first time on TV. I’m not sure there has been a decade in the last ten as volatile and dramatic as the sixties.

      And let me say in this public forum once again: THANK YOU for your sacrifice in Viet Nam. Someday, if you would agree to, you must do a guest post here at RtB, telling about that time, and when you went back a few years ago to make your peace with the whole experience. It would be awesome!

      Reply
      1. David

        You are kind and your “Thank You” treasured!
        Not sure there would be interest but I would be open to sharing the journey.

        Reply
          1. Rat Fink Post author

            I agree with Suzanne! It’s a done deal! Get ready to write, friend. I will add you as a guest author, and you tell me when you’re ready. Everyone who reads RtB will be greatly moved by your amazing story.

            I don’t know about anyone else, but aside from David, I don’t know anyone who suffered through the jungles of southeast Asia and not only lived to tell about it, but actually went *back* after years of more struggle stateside in order to find closure. It will be a tale none of us will forget.

            Reply
  3. Mavis

    That day is one of the few things I can actually remember, being that young. I was 6 years old. Dad was in his chair, holding you. Mother had a roast in the oven (I can still remember the smells) and other things cooking in the kitchen. I remember feeling bad for JFK’s children. I wanted them to be at our little apartment, safe and having dinner with us. I felt so safe that day, just looking at Mother and Dad, and smelling the wonderful things coming out of the kitchen. My last memory of that day, was Dad telling me everything was going to be just fine. That’s all I needed to hear.

    Reply
    1. Rat Fink Post author

      Our little apartment! Remember how many stairs there were? Probably not many to us now, but it seemed like it took forever to climb them when we were little! Great memories, Mave. Can’t imagine being Jake’s age and having to come to terms with all of it.

      Reply
  4. RD

    I was a sophomore at Ashland College, now University. I was running errands in downtown Ashland when the news started to be communicated among people on the street. As with everyone, my initial reaction was on of disbelief. The image of four year old John John saluting his father’s casket brought tears to my eyes.

    Reply
    1. Rat Fink Post author

      That picture still gets me — every time. Not only because JJ and I are (were) the same age, but nowadays because when I see it, I am reminded of how much tragedy there was to come in the Kennedy world.

      Have you ever known a single family in your lifetime that suffered so much death by violent means — accidental or otherwise? It blows my mind. I think of Rose Kennedy, pressing on after losing four of her children, and I cannot grasp how she did it.

      Reply

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