I remember within 10 feet of where I was on November 22nd 1963. It was just after lunch and I was sitting on the bleachers on the east side of the gym at the old Dora High School. I was sitting about halfway up the bleachers lost in my thoughts when a boy from eight grade burst into the gym yelling “Kennedy has been shot…..The President has been shot!” but the words did not sink in. It was as if I’d taken an uppercut and I was addled. But I could hear what the eighth grader was shouting and somehow it sounded to me like he was happy about what had happened… as if someone he respected had told him the President was a bad seed and deserved to die horribly with a sniper’s bullet in his brain. It was just too much for me to comprehend.
There were about 30 kids playing basketball moments before we learned of the tragedy. The echo of the bouncing basketballs sounded like slamming car doors, but after we heard the news the gym was as silent as a graveyard.
My parents were never really good with words and more times than not, sad events were marked with silence. The cold war with Russia was real and always in the back of my mind since the Cuban Missile Crisis, but it seemed so far away. The assassination of our President was much too close to home and I had the feeling somewhere deep down inside that this country that I loved so much would never be the same again.
I kept my ear glued to my sister’s Sylvania transistor radio to glean any details I could get but nothing seemed to
make sense. Oswald was captured soon after the assassination, but Jack Ruby killed him before anyone knew why.
A few days later we gathered in the auditorium to watch the funeral of JFK. I can remember hearing the news commentators describe the solemn event. With the TV cameras rolling, the event was captured for all the world to see. The thing that is etched in my mind like a prison tattoo is the image of the four-year old John John (John Kennedy Jr.) saluting the horse drawn carriage that was taking his father to Arlington National Cemetery. I cried. It’s not something I often did, but I did not feel self conscience because as I looked around, everybody was crying…..even the eighth grader that had seemed happy about the tragedy only a few days earlier. Maybe he too realized that things would never be the same again.
|Asa Faith Randolph Remembers – I was mopping my hardwood floors in our tiny apartment at JSU. About ready to wax them and then study for a test. My neighbor came over to tell me the sad news. Now — note this: the shock was so terrific that my husband and I comforted each other more than usual. I conceived my first child (Bunker) that night. Something wonderful , my son, came to me because of the JFK tragedy. Strange, isn’t it, that many good things are brought about by tragedy??