Skip to comments.WHERE WAS EVERYBODY THIS YEAR?
Posted on 11/23/2010 7:46:34 PM PST by johnwcassell
NOVEMBER 22, 1963 was a day many Americans still living will never forget....
The President and Vice President were in Dallas...
Most of the Cabinet were on a plane bound for Tokyo...
The country was preparing for Thanks giving which I was looking forward to spending with Helen Fairbanks, my teenage love, in Baltimore.
Whether you liked JFK or not, you found yourself listening to Peter, Paul and Mary, the Sound of Music and a song about "chickenfat" supporting Kennedy's fitness program.
You were YOUNG. Even going to Atlantic City High you could wake up JOYFUL.
It was just something in the air.
Some people, including noted author Jack Engelhard, said we lost our innocence beginning in the early afternoon when the first word from Dallas was flashed around the country.
I, of course disagree. Kennedy had a sordid private life and no experience governing. Rep. Howard Smith could halt the New Frontier by adjourning his powerful committee. Joseph Kennedy's mad ambition to turn his criminal millions into presidential power for some twenty years gave those of us who preferred the gentility and quiet, simple dignity of the Eisenhower years pause as well.
But those bullets that blasted into the head of the President on that fateful day did change the world for all of us.
The aura of youthfulness began to dry up. Helen and I had a great Thanksgiving....and we went to a Kennedy Era Hootenany... but things were about to change.
Nowhere can you find a more down and dirty, truly accurate description of the change than in Jack Engelhard's DAYS OF THE BITTER END.
The cities began to burn. There were tanks and National Guardsmen in the streets. Vietnam was escalated to a vicious slaughter... The Armed Forces were disintegrating with mutinies and fraggings. A whole division sat on the DMZ with the Army afraid to move them. Their officers refused to even try to take them out and the Pentagon felt it was too dangerous to bring them home.
As an Air Force officer I faced sit-ins... slow downs...
There was a pall upon the land as that gross creature in the White House twisted arms ramming through Great Society opium to hook the economy on government aid.
Yes, I missed Kennedy. His successor had the nation in flames...mobs in Washington chanted "burn...baby burn
...burn that White House down."
It was nearly a half century ago...
Yet those of us there will always remember... Why wasn't this Black Day in our history observed with a pause... a minute of silence?
A lot died with the President that day.
Whether you liked him or not.
John W. Cassell
PS-I don't even know where Helen is now.
I was not yet conceived.
I wasn't around yet when JFK was killed so this, like all things Camelot and Kennedy, has always been something Baby Boomers spoke of with cult-like fervor and left younger generations to just shrug off.
I'll admit to having being curious about the conspiracy theories at times but that was the extent of it.
It's hard for them to realize their time has passed and the twilight of life has come. The world so many activists of the day envisioned never came to pass. It was made worse, not better, by their naiveté, inexperience, arrogance and an experimental meddling with the nation's values and culture.
I can only hope the damage wrought by that generation isn't permanent.
Happened on my eighteenth birthday.
I was 7 years old and we had split sessions in grade school so I was already home. My aunt who lived next door came over and remember her crying while watching the news coverage.
Numerous residents were very disturbed while a few of us, felt that life would go on..., knowing that assassinations of presidents had occurrred in the past, and the Nation had endured.
I almost posted a vanity on this theme yesterday, but chose not to. I’ll bet someone did, but I didn’t see the thread.
I was a ten year old fifth grader at George S. Patton elementary school at Ft. Ord, California. A woman from the school office came into our classroom and whispered something to our teacher. She got up from her desk, and they went into the hallway, closing the door behind them.
After a few moments (which seemed much longer), our teacher came back into the classroom, looking stricken, and as white as a sheet. She stood in front of the class and announced to us that the president had just been shot, and that we were to all go home immediately.
Time literally stopped. The whole class sat for a moment in stunned silence before any of us moved. It was during this brief moment that I saw everything I needed to know in my teacher’s eyes. There was no question that the president was dead.
I remember walking home, but to this day, I don’t remember the sight of hundreds of other kids on the sidewalks. In my memory, I was completely alone, hurrying toward my house. To the promise of some reassurance that the world had not just ended.
The rest of that day is a blur to me. I remember that it was the quietest our family of seven had ever been during waking hours. The whole family sat watching the coverage in front of the TV until we kids all passed out from sheer exhaustion.
For about the next twenty five years or so, I couldn’t bear to hear Kennedy’s voice on radio or watch video of him on television. The emotions that his voice and those images brought forth, were just too painful for me to bear.
I’m long passed that now, but the death of JFK was perhaps the most horrific and indelible incident of my young life.
That evening, my Boy Scout troop left for a campout in Tonner Canyon in the Chino Hills east of Brea in Orange County. All through the weekend, rumors were filtering into the canyon--that the murder weapon was a Mauser with a British scope, etc. only after we got home did we hear the true story of what had happened.
The writer mentioned a song called "Chicken Fat"--a recording waxed by Broadway star Robert Preston and issued on the Chicken Fat label (CF 1000, 1961) you can listen to it here. Our elementary school district went whole hog for JFK's physical fitness program, and one teacher in the district actually used the record in her PE classes.
The writer also mentioned listening to Peter, Paul & Mary. Also working its way up the chart at the time was "Dominique," a musical oddity by Soeur Sourire, aka The Singing Nun. This French-language song, about the crusader and evangelist Domingo Félix de Guzmán, who fought in the thirteenth-century Albigensian Crusade, actually made it to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and sat there for several weeks--an illustration as to how times have changed, as it would be considered highly politically incorrect today. You can hear it here
By the way, don't get me wrong--JFK is NOT one of my heroes.
You're going to find this really strange, because there was a British group called the Beatles that had already established they were quite talented with a #17 record on the UK charts called Love Me Do more than a year before Kennedy was assasinated.
What became of your group?
My baby sis was born 32 days later, on Christmas Eve.
I think Johnson had Kennedy killed. He had the most to gain...and BOY, DID HE GAIN!!
(I was in 6th grade, and we were all sent home.)
Nov 22 is my son’s birthday...but that was in ‘77.
I’d heard that on Barbara Walter’s show, and just assumed it was a mispronunciation until your post.
I was just 4. I was at home at the time I guess, doing i don’t know what. I do recall the parents being glued to the TeeVee, probably watching Cronkite that evening.
I was teaching on 9/11. We watched news all day.
I was four also, and honestly don’t remember anything about it.
Not so fast there, newzie. At fifty-four I’m still working hard to undo the idiocy of my generation — and my parents’ generation as well (ever heard of the New Deal?) But “the twilight of life?” D00d, get over yourself.
I was 88 days old.
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