Friday, November 22, 2013

The LuLac Edition #2567, November 22nd, 2013



This is the day that is meaningful to every person of my generation. We all remembered where we were when we heard the news that President Kennedy was killed. This week I got a few phone calls from old grade school friends who wanted to reconfirm what happened. They know I have been both blessed and cursed with a memory that has served me both well and ill through the years.
The night, before I sat at our kitchen table and was doing a book report on Lincoln. It was around the 100th anniversary of The Gettysburg address and he was top of mind in our history studies with Sister Apolonia. I wondered out loud how anyone could kill Lincoln and then returned to my work.
That Thursday night in Houston in an effort to shore up support with Latin American citizens who thought JFK was not as supportive as he should be, the President addressed the League of United Latin American Citizens Council. LULAC.
The next day at St. John the Baptist was pretty normal. It was a sunny brisk November day. The girls at recess were jumping rope, the boys were playing a version of baseball using a rubber ball and a wall near the church parking lot. Lunch was a treat that day, pizza with government cheese that oozed on top of the hardened crust. I remember sneering at the third grade girl in pig tails that would be my 7th grade girlfriend and she gave it right back to me making oink noises as I devoured my second piece of pizza.
In the playground that day Drew Wasko informed me that a nun, a nun of all people had the number one record in America. A singing nun no less. His brother Bob laughed and said something like imagine our Slovak nuns on Ed Sullivan. Another set of brothers I was friends with, the Dellarte Brothers said they were on the second bus and would be arriving late at home on a Friday. I reminded them that on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I would ride the late bus and they should stop complaining.
Time was going slow on a Friday afternoon until at around 2:20PM someone came in our classroom and whispered in Sister Apolonia’s ear. She nodded gravely and said nothing.
At 2:50 we gathered our belongings and waited as the buses driven by Billy Wagner and Paul Suscon pulled up in front of the school. Unlike prior weekends there was silence. I sat down and I heard a kid say to his sister “He never knew what hit him”. I wondered about that but had no idea what had happened. The Principle Sister Augusta boarded the bus armed with Rosary in hand and crooked a finger at his saying,”Pray, pray, you know what happened!”
She started the Rosary and a Patrol Boy and Girl took over the prayers as the bus rode through Pittston toward the Junction. I still had no idea.
After we left the bus, older classmates filled me in and I was in disbelief. I went home and did not enter the House. My dad was working a night shift at the Cigar Factory, my mother the day. I sat on one of those Milk Boxes our Milk Guy Rudy Forlenza gave us and waited. My mom and I went inside and waited impatiently as the TV warmed up. By 6PM my sister and father (both at work) were let out early. We sat in the TV room as a family just in time to see John Kennedy’s casket come off the plane. I don’t remember what we ate or what we said that night. Although I do remember my Godmother visiting and recalling when Kennedy came through Pittston. It seemed like everyone took turns crying. I remember I did not. I was just scared.
I stayed up until 1am and I remember David Brinkley saying this. After you hear Brinkley’s statement you’ll realize there was little else to say.

The Kennedy assassination to all of us of this age was personal. It is something that none of us will ever forget. As he touched us in life, he touched us in death.
Fourth grade boys and girls turn into men and women. Our lives take twists and turns that make us forget old times and things we’ve done. Sometimes we barely remember what we did last week. In this day and age, with IPhones, computers and all the gadgets that take away any mystery in our lives we as a society are pretty isolated. We only seem to come together in grief. When my dad died in 1980, a woman I knew marveled at the people who came to his wake. She said, “I never saw so many people feel so bad at the same time for the same reason”. She was two when Kennedy died.
That Monday as the Funeral took place, a whole nation felt very bad at the same time for the very same reason. And fifty years later, for some of us, it is still very fresh. It is fifty years to the day….but it might as well have been just a few hours ago.


At 8:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dave: Wanted to let you know this is the first time I have seen David Brinkley’s comments about that day. I just joined the USAF and was at Wurtsmith AFB in Michigan. Just got of my shift refueling airplanes and was sleeping. The USAF called an alert and we all went back to work.
Because of USAF duties I never watched any of the TV of what happened. We worked a 24-48 shift and there we no TV at any of the duty stations. Would of have to go to what they called a day room to watch TV.
My favorite Sunday show was this week with David Brinkley. Always liked to hear what he said at the end. Have never watch another show on Sunday since DB retired. Can’t bring myself to watch it anymore.
Joe B.

At 8:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Dave,Well done. Yes it was strange the nuns never did tell us that President Kennedy died. But I remember well, praying all the way home. Wow still vivid in all our minds, even in our 1963 black & white world. Drew W.

At 11:43 AM, Anonymous Junction said...

Yes Dave I do remember as if it were only yesterday.
I also was in 4th grade but at the old Jefferson elememtary school in the Junction. We were in Miss Donnelly's class when the janitor "Tricky Evans" burst into the class room with tears in his eyes and states in a loud voice. "The president has been shot".
Will never forget that moment in my life as we all looked at one another in disbelief.

At 1:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was 50 years ago and it was a Friday at about this time of day.
This was to be the day of my first High School Basketball Game. Like getting a drivers license, this was a day I had been waiting for, gearing my life toward for about 15 years. The gym was set up for an afternoon Pep Rally. The guys on the team wore jackets and ties and the Cheerleaders were in uniform. It was already going to be a big day.
After lunch I heard a rumor, bits and pieces in the hallway. A buzz. Repeated murmurs heading down the hall and my way.
The President had been shot in Dallas. No way! Nobody believed it. I damn sure didn't. Next class, study hall in the library, an announcement was made over the PA that President Kennedy had in fact been shot. For awhile we sat in silence, sweating out further news. When it came it wasn't good.
I remember no formal announcement of his death. There may or may not have been one. Next thing I remember I was on a School Bus on the way home. The next three days are now a blur, hell its been 50 years! There were to be other Basketball Games and unbelievably, unimaginably at the time, other assassinations to come.



Post a Comment

<< Home