If you are old enough to remember 40 years ago today...

This thread is just for the few of us who remember all of it.

Where were you when you heard that President Kennedy had been shot? What do you remember most vividly about those three days? Did his assassination have any lasting effect on you? If so, in what way? How do you think that it changed the USA? What did you like most about him? Do you ever still grieve? What questions how I left unasked that you would like to answer?

Since there aren’t many of us, a kindly “bump” would be appreciated.

I’m looking forward to reading this thread; I’ve always (especially since 9/11) wondered what that day was like.


I was outside, at school. Some of my classmates who went home for lunch (this was second grade) came back and told the rest of us that Kennedy was shot.

I didn’t believe it. Then the principal announced it over the PA.

I had recently read a book about the Secret Service, in which they discussed the McKinley assassination, so for some reason I didn’t see that it was a big deal. I thought that was just something that happened every so often.

I can’t say it had much effect on me, then or now. I don’t think all that much of Kennedy as a President, although he would have been better than Johnson.

I heard the “parallels between Lincoln’s assassination and Kennedy’s” on the radio some time later. My first experience with the creative use of coincidence to manufacture meaning. Which found its full flower in the conspiracy theories about JFK ever since.


I was in fourth grade, in Levittown, Long Island, New York, and our class had gone to NYC on a field trip. As our school bus returned to the parking lot of our elementary school, someone on the bus noticed that the American flag was at half staff. Then we turned the corner, the bus was parked, and we saw grownups and kids milling around the school entrance, but it was not yet 3:30, though probably close to it.
When we got off the bus, our teacher was told that the President had been shot. She relayed this news to us. She was visibly shocked. All the grownups were.
All the kids were dismissed to go home. My mom was watching the news on TV, and this is one of the first times I can remember seeing her cry.
My parents had been solid Republicans, had voted for Nixon.
In my nine-years-old way, I had always preferred JFK: he was handsome, obviously bright with a self-deprecating sense of humor, he seemed young and vigorous,he had a daughter only a couple years younger than I, and he had smiled and waved to me when his limo was stopped on a NY highway the year before.
A lot has been said about Camelot, and how the tumultuous Sixties really began after Kennedy’s assassination.
We’ll never know how the rest of JFK’s presidency would have fared.
It does seem that any innocence and complacency left over from America’s Fifties was pretty much swept away that day.

I was in third grade. We got back to our classroom (from the auditorium, where we were rehearsing the Thanksgiving pageant) and the teacher told us.

The main thing I remember is being up in a tree behind the meetinghouse wher our Brownie troop met, discussing with my best friend Cackie (sic) whether this meant there would be an election. We both hoped not.

Beginning of the 'sixties – yeah, definitely. I first heard about Vietnam the next year, the Beatles hadn’t yet invaded, etc.

I was working in NE Dallas, about ten miles from Dealey Plaza. In those days I worked a door to door delivery route for Manor Bread. I learned about the shooting from a customer. The thing I remember most vividly is that a lot of the action subsequent to the assassination took place in what used to be my neighborhood. I graduated from Sunset High School in the Oak Cliff part of Dallas, and I can’t count the number of movies I’ve seen in the Texas Theater where Oswald was captured. I could, from memory, draw a map to the point where JD Tippet was killed. For that matter, I could draw a map of the supposed route Oswald took from downtown Dallas to his boarding house, as well as his subsequent movements. I remember feeling violated somehow as things like that just weren’t supposed to happen in my neighborhood.

Second grade. The school crossing guard told me about it. That night, my dad gathered us around and broke his Vaughn Meador album.

Extra points if you know why (without Google).

I had completely forgotten about that album! At the time it seemed like everyone had a copy. I don’t remember anything about it except that it was a takeoff on the Kennedy White House.

One of the things that I remember from that Administration in general is that press conferences were fun to watch. Really dry sense of humor.

I was in 6th grade. We came in from recess and somebody told us the President had been shot.

I remember there were a lot of confused rumors at school at first. The one that stuck in my mind was that the President had been trapped in a cave (?!?) and had been shot by one of the men with him. Heavens only know where that came from!

We got sent home from school, and I seem to remember being out of school some more, at least on the day of the funeral. My mom made me stop reading my book to watch the funeral. I remember thinking “This is something to think about and remember.” And when the coffin went by, I thought (a little self-consciously) “Au revoir, mon capitaine.”

I’ve already posted some of this in another thread.

It was a Friday afternoon. I was in 7th grade, and we were just coming back from recess. (No, I didn’t go to the same school as Archergal, but apparently we had recess at the same time!) The next class out to the playground told us, but we didn’t believe it. When we got back to the classroom and saw that a television had been wheeled into the room we knew something important was up. The only time they brought a TV into the classroom was for space launches.

Interestingly, every seems to recall Cronkite wiping the tear from his eye after announcing JFK had died. In Atlanta at the time, the NBC affiliate was the dominant station, and had the stongest signal, so that’s what the school TV was tuned to. It was Frank McGee (who?) who told me about JFK’s death.

The next day, I was over a friend’s house playing football in his back yard. When I got home that afternoon my mother was aghast that I had been playing when Ruby shot Oswald on live TV, and that I hadn’t seen it. She told me that I was going to watch the funeral on Monday - all of the funeral.

And watch it I did - all 4 1/2 hours of it, at the Capitol, at the White House, at the Cathedral and at Arlington cemetery. I remember the procession with the caisson bearing JFK’s coffin going down (I assume) Pennsylvania Avenue, and the band playing the “dom dom da dom” of the funeral march over and over again. Previously, I had only heard that tune in Popeye cartoons, and the somberness of this occasion was markedly different. To this day, when I hear that funeral march I’m instantly transported back to JFK’s funeral.

Fifth grade. A kid that was just coming back from bible school told us.

I knew! I had forgotten all about that album. Heh.

Is the album in question called something like The First Family? I think I remember reading an article on how the assassination killed not only Kennedy and Tippett, but Vaughn Meader’s career as a parodist.

Never heard any of the album. No Googling.


I was but a wee girl, 3 at the time, but my memories are fairly strong. I was with my sister and my mother doing the shopping on that afternoon. We were blacks living in the heart of the Jim Crow south, and President Kennedy’s stance on civil rights had made him a hero to us and to our community.

I remember quite distinctly that we were in the “colored” grocery when a young man came running in screaming “They shot the president, he’s dead. Someone killed President Kennedy!” The next sound was of my mother and every woman in the store collectively sending up a wail of abject horror and sadness.

My mother abandoned the shopping right there in the middle of an aisle, took my sister and I each by the hand, and we went outside. People were flocking out into the streets, women were weeping and shouting and hugging one another. The men were just shaking their heads and looking very lost. My mother rushed us to the car, and hurried home as fast as she could. She turned on the television as soon as we got inside the house, which was unusual in and of itself because the television was never on in our home during the day. My father came home shortly thereafter, which was also odd, as it was several hours too early. We all just sat, my parents watching the television.

I don’t really remember the television coverage, and I don’t know that I understood what really happened, but I knew from what I had seen and from my parents’ demeanor that it was something terribly sad and must be something terribly bad for black people. And then it seemed like a pall was cast over the whole of my world for the next week, and I remember seeing JFK, Jr. at the funeral, and my mother telling me that he was my age, and was the president’s little boy, and though I don’t remember crying, my mother and my sister tell me that it was the first time I cried through everything, was when I figured out that the little boy on television didn’t have a daddy anymore.

I also posted in the other thread.

Fifth grader, but I hadn’t been in school for a month at the time. I’d been in the hospital and was thus spending my days watching television, so the whole thing is pretty well seared into my memory. It was nonstop once the networks caught up to it.

No video at first, just an announcement that Kennedy and Connaly had been shot, and not too much later, the announcement that Kennedy was dead. I seem to remember some video outside Parkland Hospital that was confusing and none too informative. And scenes from LBJ and Jackie boarding Air Force One, where LBJ was sworn in. I’d guess that was Love.

News of Oswald’s arrest came fairly soon, and when he was shot (which I think was live, or close to it), my 10 year old (and quite ill) brain was swimming. It was more history happening.

I was in seventh grade. I had just gotten out of wood shop, when someone told me in the hallway on the way to homeroom to be dismissed. Our teachers were very upset. I went right home where we watched CBS non stop for the next three days.

We owned The First Family - it was one of the best selling records in the country. I still remember some of the bits. It opened with a version of a Crest toothpaste commercial, with Meader as Kennedy saying that his family got 25% fewer cavities with Crest. Chuck McCann, who was big in NY kiddie TV, was on it also.

Voyager, that’s a little too close for comfort… I was just coming out of metal shop (eleventh grade) when I heard the news over the school speaker system.

was at my sister’s house in Orange CA, shaving. I had slept in and was getting a slow start on the day. Her wedding was set for the next day and we had lots of chores and errands to do. They considered postponing the wedding, but finally decided that since everyone was already there to go ahead. I never have any problem remembering how long they have been married because it always comes out in the paper. It helps me remember how long I have been married because all I have to do is subtract two.

They renewed their vows a little early a couple of weeks ago.

Funny how an event like that freezes the most mundane details of life.

I loved that album. It got played over and over in our house and still remember parts of it:

“go to the polls and vote,
vote for the Kennedy of your choice, but vote!”

I have no clear memory of the exactly what I was doing when the president was assassinated. I was in the 3rd grade and the school didn’t tell us, though I think we were sent home early. My mother told my brother and I later that afternoon.

I did see Lee Harvey Oswald shot on live TV, though. That moment was so stunning–even to an 8 year old–that I don’t think I’ve had one even close to it until September 11, 2001 when I saw the towers fall.

I wasn’t quite born yet - 3 months away from life. I’ve told this story many times, but: Mom took my big sis to Love Field Airport to shake hands with Jack and Jackie. After Jackie picked up my sister (I have a great picture) my mom says Jack looked at her with a rather odd blank look on his face - she said “Welcome to Dallas.” and then they moved on.

I’m getting the crap beat out of me in Pit on acknowledging that his death is a viable topic, and need everyone’s help. Thanks!

I was at elementary school, and they announced it over the PA.