Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Thoughts on JFK Assassination
I wrote this piece on 11/22/13 and posted it on Facebook. I decided I really should post it here too, even though it's a bit tardy…
I had only recently realized that teachers had conversations that weren't about students. Back in October I had been surprised to hear them talking about the World Series and to hear them laughing at the Yankees for getting swept by the LA Dodgers. Now it was November and they were huddled in groups again, talking in their teacher voices. This time they weren't laughing though. In fact, some of them were crying. It was November 22nd, 1963.
President Kennedy was cool. He was young and handsome with a gorgeous, fashionable wife. Because of him and his plan to send us to the moon, we got to study "new math" and learn about engineering and science. The Weekly Reader promised us that we could travel to space, and have flying cars, and never have to cook because we would have automatic meals prepared by a robotic chef.
Suddenly the future looked less fun than we had imagined, though. Our teachers told us that Kennedy had been shot and we should go home early.
Mothers would be home, of course, waiting to greet their kids in their pretty Donna Reed dresses, ready to comfort them with Campbell's soup, Jell-O, Nestlé's Quik. They would then set them down on the Hoover-vacuumed carpet to watch TV until the Dads came home from work.
We didn't have a TV. We didn't have carpeting, either, and my Mother wasn't too happy to see the five of us tromping in sooner than she expected. She was busy with a one-year old and a five-year old, and was probably hoping they would take a nap so she could have her ciggie and coffee in peace. We were quiet, though. We trooped into the living room, dropped our book bags, and picked up our books to read. It was as quiet as church in there.
When my Dad got home, we turned on the radio and learned that Kennedy was dead. My Dad was a professor at Notre Dame. He said that people had spontaneously gone to the church on campus and prayed.
I don't remember much else from that day. It seems like life returned to normal pretty quickly, and soon we were back to playing dolls, making up stories for the dolls to grow up and be famous politicians, or at least the tragic wives of politicians. At school we went back to learning Venn diagrams and multiplication tables. Music lessons continued. We moved to the right side of the tracks and bought some rugs. The Yankees lost the World Series again and didn't win again until 1977.
People talk about the loss of innocence that day, but I was too young to lose my innocence then. That came later when MLK and RFK were assassinated. Today, in 2013, I may no longer be the naive girl I once was, but I'm still inspired by space travel, flying cars, and robots. President Kennedy wasn't perfect but he inspired a generation of nerds and we still love him for that.