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Saturday, November 16, 2013

Fifty Years Later

I distinctly remember the Catholic School kids in their plaid uniforms heading east as I walked walked home from Florence L. Walther Elementary School on an Indian-summer warm November afternoon. I scuffed through the fallen dry leaves every chance I got; especially by the cemetery on Ridgeway St., to avert my attention away from the graves. That's when the first uniform shouted to me that President Kennedy was dead. I called her  a liar; my mostly-Catholic background wondered if there was any credence to her assertion. As several more parochial school kids told me the same thing I began to panic.  I remember running from Bobby Goldstrom's house on Ridgeway to my house on Buttonwood; I was freaked out by what I heard and wanted to talk to my mom.

The TV was on and Walter Cronkite was talking; my mom was in the kitchen crying and I knew it was the worst: JFK was dead.

I recall watching the ensuing ceremonies with a grief I haven't words for -- I was very sad, cried when John-John saluted his father's flag-covered coffin -- yet I couldn't relate. I hadn't experienced a loss close to me.

I recall chanting in the schoolyard, waiting to be let inside, with at least a dozen classmates, "We want Kennedy! We want Kennedy!" with our fists pounding on the the concrete window  frame. I was a Kindergartner, mostly a year behind my classmates because NJ law decided that if you were born after Octboer 1st, you had to wait a  year to enter school. I was ready in 1959. I resented having to wait, Most of my neighborhood friends started without me, and that's not set well with me.

Meanwhile, we have so many JFK 50 Yr. Anni. shows airing. They can do only so much with the facts. And perhaps to engage and exploit  the +50 crowd, those of us who know where we were when we heard the news.

Questions? Email me. I'll get right back to you.

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