As many of our readers are aware, next Friday will mark the 50th anniversary of the day President John Fitzgerald Kennedy (JFK) was assassinated while riding in a motorcade in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963. President Kennedy was the youngest president (age 43 years, 236 days) ever elected to our country’s highest office.
At the time of this tragedy, I was just 8 years old and attending the 3rd grade at Signal Hill Elementary School. Some of the day’s events are still quite vivid in my memory. I remember our teacher, Mrs. Wright, asking us to pick up one of our textbooks and to read quietly because she needed to leave the room for a few minutes.
She arrived back to us with a somber look on her face, and she immediately told the class, through tears and sobs that our dear President Kennedy had been killed. Not offering many details (frankly, not much information was available at that point), she did her best to calm us and answer our naïve questions. “What do we do now?” and “Why did someone shoot him?” were just two of the questions.
A few classmates attempted to hide under their desks, acting as though a bomb was about to be dropped. It was a very scary time for us youngsters– and an even scarier time for parents who showed up to the school in attempts to comfort their very frightened and confused children.
Coincidentally, that was the very day that parents had been invited to have lunch with their kids in the cafeteria. The parent/child luncheon had been planned for weeks and ironically had never been an option before. Although my mother worked clear over on Long Beach Boulevard at the Department of Public Social Services (the welfare office) and used a bicycle for transportation to and from work, she still participated in that day’s luncheon. I was never so happy to see her in my life!
I don’t recall much about our lunch that day other than standing in the long cafeteria line waiting patiently with my beautiful mother at my side. Her soothing touches and tender eyes seemed to melt all my fears. I remember feeling sad for my classmates whose moms or dads couldn’t be there.
I know that many of us who were old enough to realize what was happening at that time have memories of that day and the days that immediately followed. If you’d like to share them with our readers, please do so by U.S. mail, fax or email. All of our contact information is available at the bottom of this page. We will reprint your thoughts next week on the 50th anniversary of the day our country lost JFK. May he rest in peace.