Sunday, November 24, 2013
Out of Focus
It's still not clear at all to me, and the event is over 50 years removed. For the last week or so our airways have been bombarded with the JFK retrospective. It's getting a bit hard to take. The politics of the time, Honey Fitz, PT 109, the Walter Cronkite broadcast, Dealey Plaza, Oswald, Jack Ruby, the pink dress, summers at the Hyannis complex, John-John and Caroline running around the Oval Office and, of course, all the conspiracy theories. Enough already.
This is what I know. It was sometime after noon on November 22 of my Sophomore year, and I was in the library at Cheverus High looking for a book, when an announcement came on the PA system. The Principal said the President's motorcade had been shot at in Dallas, and news reports were saying that President Kennedy had been hit. We were told to say a prayer and that school was being dismissed early. I remember thinking- what is happening? As I did each day, I walked the entire length of Read Street, about a mile in length, totally confused, alone and wishing that it was all a nightmare. At the top of Read, I dreaded my cut across to Arbor Street, because I knew I'd have to pass the fire station and that flag flying atop it. I had this sick, in the pit of my stomach feeling, of what was in store for me. As soon as I could, I searched out for the flag. And there was depressingly, limp at half staff and my wishing, wondering and hoping was over. I walked in the house, and I heard the distant hum of the TV. Mom, in tears, met me in the kitchen and filled me in on the latest out of Dallas. She told me life would never be the same. And she was right again. The guys met that night, shooting baskets, playing 'Horse' in our driveway and going over the events of the day. We talked about a lot including the upcoming high school basketball season, but what we had lived through that afternoon was foremost on our minds. I fell asleep after midnight, listening to my radio and staring at the flickering light on my ceiling, trying to make sense of a senseless event. The weekend was spent mostly glued to our black and white in the living room. Yes, I saw Ruby shoot Oswald on live TV, our President lying in state, and the ever-somber news broadcasts over and over. Monday was the funeral and a day off from school. There was no excitement there. I took it all in, maybe 12-15 hours. The rider-less horse, the haunting sound of the clip-clop of the horse's hooves on pavement, the ever-strong, black-clad dignified, stoic Jackie and John-John's salute.
It was a weekend that changed us all in ways we can't even begin to comprehend.
That 50 years have passed from that afternoon is mind-boggling to me.
I lived through it.
Even now 50 years removed, the replay is difficult to watch.
Still out of focus---
Life moves forward though.
But some memories are still tough to take.