JFK 11-22-63

kennedy picThe bell summoning us back to our classrooms from lunch recess rang early. We only just had time to finish our sandwiches and milk, then head to the playground for a climb on the monkey bars or a game of four-square. A self-absorbed sixth grader, I groused to friends about the unfairness of our shortened lunch break.

Still grumbling, I sulked into Room 9 at Burkhalter Elementary School in Oakland, California and spotted my teacher, Mrs. Gregg, leaning close to the radio on her desk, adjusting the dial. Her red-rimmed eyes revealed her emotions.

The broadcast crackled. “…We repeat, the president has been shot.  He is being taken to…”

I had never before seen a teacher cry.  I slid into my seat, unsure what to do next.  The voice from the radio repeated the horrifying words again and again.

“…The president has been shot.  President Kennedy has been shot.  The motorcade is now heading down…”

At some point, Mrs. Gregg must have dismissed class. The next thing I remember is walking up Greenly Drive toward home, hoping I was in a dream from which I would soon awaken.

I don’t remember how many days I stayed home from school.  But my desire to wake from the dream lingered for weeks, as our country mourned.

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6 responses to “JFK 11-22-63

  1. A day no one will ever forget. I, too, was in class when the announcement came.

  2. Seeing adults cry seems to be a common thread in these posts. For us young children, this was as traumatic as anything else, and contributed to our feelings of confusion and fear. Great post.

  3. kaylynnweightchronicles

    Such a sad day.

  4. Nancy

    Very well said, Camille. I think those of us that lived through that day will never forget where we were and how we felt. I can’t believe it’s been 50 years because the memories are vivid. We’ll never know what could have been, will we.

  5. Your story brings us into the moment of that tragic day. I can feel the bell ring. Thanks for sharing.

  6. thegenaboveme

    I was not quite 2 years old, so I have not memory of that day. Thank you for sharing your perspective as a young person trying to figure out what was going on during a time when all the adults were visibly shaken.

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