If you are of a certain age, you will remember where you were…exactly…when you found out John Kennedy was shot 50 years ago today.
I was in a school study hall, a young kid. We sat in long silent rows and we all had school jackets that were too big for us.
Miss Bull, big, friendly, happy, was in charge. She sat at the front of the seated rows of boys, all supposedly doing their homework or passing off what could be thought of as studying.
Another teacher came and said something quiet in her ear. Miss Bull put her large head in her hands and held the position as if it was forever.
Then, she made the momentous announcement that the president had been shot. She stood up in front of us all. Then she sat down.
I don’t know if I was more surprised that there had been a political shooting as the fact that Miss Bull,who all the boys liked, seemed not to be in control of herself.
Teachers were not supposed to act that way.
I went home. Then another new world opened. It was on TV. Gunsmoke, the western, was a tv show that showed violence. As was any of a dozen cop shows.
But 50 years ago, you didn’t get real violence, real murder on your screen. Until that day, November 22, 1963.
We saw the cavalcade, the secret service agent trying to crawl onto the car, Jackie Kennedy trying to cloak the terrible wounds, the arrest of Oswald, the murder of Oswald.
A few years later, I opened a drawer in my house. There in front of me was a newspaper cutting, carefully sculpted from the front page, of the assassination. Either my mother or father had cut it out.
For their generation, presidents did not get shot. To remember this, and never to forget, one of them had spent the time to find a pair of scissors, scrupulously surgically excise it from a paper and carefully set it aside in a drawer.
That memory of the newspaper cutting,in a way,was as dramatic, as important,as unerasable as the bullet that killed Kennedy. It lay there in a closed drawer, maybe forgotten, but still alive. I don’t know what happened to that article. Maybe I should have kept it.