Memories of a president lost: Nov. 22, 1963

“John F. Kennedy,” mixed-media collage by Alejandra Vernon

“John F. Kennedy,” mixed-media collage by Alejandra Vernon

Last week, Signal Tribune publisher Neena Strichart reminded our readers that Nov. 22, 2013 would mark the 50th anniversary of the death of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. In her column, she shared her recollections of the events that took place five decade ago and invited those interested to share their memories of the nation’s tragedy in this week’s issue.

Below are the responses:

Thank you for sharing your reflections last week regarding the assassination of JFK on that Friday 50 years ago today, of our nation’s beloved 35th president, and for inviting readers to share their thoughts as well. Thank you also for publishing the obituary of my beloved grandmother, Elizabeth “Betty” Moffitt, in the Oct. 25 issue of the Signal Tribune. Fifty years ago today, I have vivid memories of being at her home in north Long Beach when my grandmother cried or was visibly shaken upon learning and sharing with me the very sad news that President Kennedy had been shot and died. I was old enough to understand what had happened and can still remember many TV news images of the fallen president’s funeral and about his dedication, commitment and life’s work trying to help the American people and our troubled nation. 

Nick Dibs
Long Beach

Wow! Fifty years. I was teaching a U.S. history class at Banning High School, [in] Wilmington, California. A little after 11am, a student informed me of the shooting. I escorted my class to my car. The radio was reporting the details. I never left the TV for the next four days.

Alvaro (Val) Rodriguez
Signal Hill

On that particular day I was riding my bike while on lunch break from my job at the Department of Social Services. I was on my way to my daughter’s elementary school to join her in the cafeteria for the noon meal. Just blocks from the school, a man yelled to me across the street, “Hey ,lady. Did you hear? The president’s been shot!” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

Marjorie Grommé
[Signal Tribune Publisher Neena Strichart’s mother] Long Beach

I was in New York attending junior high when I heard about the president being shot. We were riding on the bus headed for home when the bus driver announced it over the loud speaker. Once I got home, Mom had the television on, and we were all in shock. “This can’t really be happening,” is what I remember thinking.

Barbie Ellisen
Signal Hill

My memory of that day is vivid. I was working for a touring opera company at the time, and we had stopped at a train station in Illinois. The weather was misty and rainy, and I was with a friend looking at a plaque about Lincoln. A woman came running out of the thick mist screaming “the president’s been shot!”…we initially thought she was crazy, and then the grim reality set in. It was the day the world changed.

Alejandra Vernon
Long Beach
[Vernon created the portrait of John F. Kennedy that is pictured left.]

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