57 Years Ago

It was a Friday, I was 14, a freshman in high school. I came back from lunch and knew something had happened, all the teachers were clotted together and murmuring to each other. Our football team had a playoff game way downstate for the state championship, and after we found out what had happened we were afraid that it would be canceled. But it wasn’t, there was just a moment of silence at the beginning, and the rest of the evening went by as if nothing had happened. We won the game, that was the main thing to us. I cringe with embarrassment and shame at some of the things that I and others said on the bus ride down. Coming back everyone was pretty much asleep.

Was it Sunday when the next shocking thing happened, in the jail? I just remember my father saying that we should pay attention and remember, because this was history being made right in front of our eyes.

Now I look back on that day and those events as a turning point, not the only one certainly, but a major one, that ended the period of post-war smugness and certainty, and ushered in rapid changes and the anxieties that went with them.

How much has changed since then, and how little. I’ve been alive long enough to take the long view, but there are momentous events that mark the turning of a corner. I can’t help wondering what corners are coming, especially for those who are 14 right now.

Wow, you are making me feel old, because I know just what you are talking about. (Kennedy, Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby for all of you youngens.) My teachers were all crying and they sent us home early. Mom was crying.

I had a bit of a shock when I realized that several of the great grand kids didn’t remember 911.

My mother was 6 months pregnant with me, and the doctor had just found my heartbeat when the nurse came in the room and told them that the President had been shot, but she didn’t know any further details.

She saw Jack Ruby shoot Oswald on live TV on the first day of her maternity leave. Back then, women were often forced to leave jobs mid-pregnancy, but her company didn’t do that and in fact she got a year’s unpaid leave and could still have gotten her job back. :slight_smile: My dad was the one who insisted that she leave the job at that time, and he still believes that women should not work outside the home during late pregnancy.

I remember it all. We were having Sunday dinner when Ruby was shot. My mother, a calm, serene, placid woman jumped up and said “I hope the son-of-a-bitch gets gangrene and dies!”. We almost had heart attacks at her outburst, never having heard her raise her voice or curse before.

Ruby? :thinking:

I suppose that meant ‘Oswald was shot by Ruby’.

Wow, so long ago, so cataclysmic at the time, and the world has changed so so much since then. I was just a child, I understood it at the time based on the reaction. I and so many others felt It was a once in a lifetime event, but then more once in a lifetime events followed one after another and keep happening.

I wondered if someone would post a thread on this. One of these days there will be no Dopers left who are compos mentis enough to remember.

I was a sophomore in Geometry class at Madonna High School in Niagara Falls, New York. When I got home we were glued to our tiny black and white TV screens for a week. I remember seeing many replays of Walter Cronkite’s anguished face when he announced that Kennedy was dead. And I also saw Jack Ruby get shot on TV. It was a defining moment in the life of a generation and in the life of the country.

Rats! Ruby shot Oswald! I knew that just typed it wrong.

My Dad went out and bought an early color TV. It was neat. I remember watching the funeral. It looked like they had painted all the streets blue for some reason. I remember the awful quiet from the grownups.

The announcement “the president has been shot” was made by my teacher. I remember that at recess there were groups of students just walking or sitting together and crying. We were sent home early from school.

At home, the TV was on all day and some of my parent’s friends and our relatives came by. It was like someone in the family had died. Everyone sat around and drank coffee and talked in quiet tones and kids were told to play outside if they couldn’t be quiet.

I was in class, in eighth grade, when the teacher announced the President had been shot. They let us go early. I went to the church next door (it was parochial school) to pray. Then I went home.

The TV was on continuously for the next three days. I don’t recall if I actually saw Ruby shoot Oswald live, but certainly saw the replay shortly after.

It’s still the most shocking moment of my life, more so than 9/11, or anything else I have lived through.

I was in church, next door to our parochial school – we were doing altar boy practice for all the special services during the holidays. Then the pastor came hurrying through, going to set the church bells tolling. Then he sent us back to school, where we were sent home early.

Went to Grandma’s for Thanksgiving that week, and went down the street to the big Sears store. All their display windows had been cleared out; nothing in each but a black drape and a bare picture of JFK.

And that crook Nixon got away with it!

I was a very young kid in some early grade of elementary school that I could figure out if I thought about it. Even here in Canada, I remember the teacher making an announcement. I understood it in some detached academic sense but the import didn’t really register with me, because I remember running home after school to turn on my usual cartoon shows, and there were no cartoons to be seen. The wall-to-wall coverage continued for days. I remember watching live as Jack Ruby shot Oswald. Even less did I understand that it marked the end of an era, and the beginning of a turbulent new one that would come to be known as “the sixties”. Camelot was over.

I was in the seventh grade. In the first class
after we’d heard the news, the teacher didn’t say a word about it.
I guess he didn’t know what to say, but it seemed odd.

I was in the seventh grade at lunch, eating an Eskimo Pie, when they announced it.

Everyone thought we would get on the buses and go home. But nothing happened and we just went back to class. Kids were really mad about going to school during something serious like this. It took an hour before someone found a tv.
I don’t remember any parents picking up their kids. All of us just hoped the killer wasn’t Russian. When Oswald was killed, the reaction was “Now we never will find out who really did it.”

Later, everyone thought it was awfully quick to find the shooter on the same day.

We didn’t like the way the riderless horse behaved during the funeral. Always walking around nervously and not walking normal.
People said “Why couldn’t they get a better mannered horse!”. Turns out that this happened:
“Black Jack was the first choice in monumental funerals. Even though he was horribly misbehaved and always a challenge, he was everyone’s first request.”

The bugler at the funeral missed a note playing “Taps”. And everyone thought it was kind of appropriate.

As bad as this was, the real hell was the Cuban Missile Crisis. Everyone went crazy.

Yes. This is hard to explain to people up to 20-ish years younger than I am. The world that the Kennedy assassination happened in was a very different world from the one that 9/11 happened in.

I’ve just spent several minutes composing and then erasing a few attempts to explain what I mean. I can’t adequately explain. <shrug>

I shit myself when I heard the news. Of course, being 18 months old I shit myself whenever I felt like it.

That had to be trauma on a national scale. i can only imagine! As much as I despise Trump, I’m very thankful no one has tried to assassinate him. Let’s hope 1963 never happens again.

@Jasmine Well, there is that certainly. But the public’s relationship to Jack and Jackie Kennedy was very different. It felt personal, even if you had never seen them in person. Camelot may have been a myth, but it WAS a myth. The closest I can come to describing it is the reaction of the British public to Princess Diana’s death. Are you old enough to remember that? People poured into the street, left flowers at Buckingham Palace, lined the roads when her coffin was brought to her home. Even QEII wasn’t ready for that.

That was a very different time, a very different world. And the event we are discussing was the beginning of an end to that innocence that will never return. Camelot was a good myth, our myths now are very dark.