We asked for your stories and memories of the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, and you delivered. In remembrance of Kennedy, BubbleLife readers share about a day they'll never forget:
That is a day that is permanently etched in my brain.
I remember that our class had all gone to lunch. When we returned to our classroom, our usually cheery teacher was trying to hide her tears behind a tissue. We knew that something unbelievably horrible had happened to make our teacher cry. We all started chiming, “What is wrong, Miss Nelson?” After a while, she found her voice and said that the President, our President of the United States, had been assassinated. We all stared at her in disbelief since these things just don’t happen here. I recall the sadness, adults sobbing, and my child-like, safe and idyllic view of the world changing, forever.
Carol Wollin, Councilmember Place 1, City of Colleyville
Emotionally, Nov. 22, 1963 proved to be the highest of highs and the lowest of lows for this J. L. Long Jr. High student. I was a typical ninth grader—excited to be getting out of school to see the President of the United States.
As unbelievable as it now seems, with a parent’s permission we were allowed to leave school without adult supervision to see the motorcade. For many of us, that meant walking the few blocks to Harrell’s (pharmacy/soda fountain on the southwest corner of Gaston and Abrams) to catch a city bus. Equally difficult to believe—we were expected to return to school.
Once downtown, my friends and I found good viewing spots that would allow us to catch the first bus back to Lakewood so that we could hang out at Harrell’s before going back to school.
As the motorcade approached, the crowd pushed toward the street, and I ended up startlingly close to the cars. How handsome Gov. Connolly and President Kennedy were, smiling and waving to the friendly, cheering crowd! Mrs. Kennedy was dazzling in her pink suit and hat. Despite fears I had heard that Dallas would not welcome the Kennedys, the opposite seemed true to me.
Almost before the last car passed, we snaked through the crowd and met at the agreed-upon bus stop. The plan worked beautifully, and soon we were on our way back to Lakewood. A friend, leaning out the bus window trying to listen to his transistor radio, yelled to us someone had been shot. We did not believe him.
When we arrived at Harrell’s, people inside seemed frozen in place, listening to reports the President had been shot. Without lingering, we quickly walked back to school in silence.
Except for the unfamiliar sound of radio news echoing through the halls from the P.A. system, the hallways were silent and empty. I walked into my algebra class. The teacher was staring out the window, seemingly unaware he had a room full of students. After some time, the radio announcer paused, and then said the President had died. Forever burned in my memory is the image of Mr. Martin staring out the window but now with silent tears running down his cheeks.
Fifty years have passed since that day, but still I remember the quiet, the confusion, and the indescribable sadness.
Kathy Kilmer Moak, author of “The Confusion and the Quiet: East Dallas Ninth Graders Remember 50 Years Later,” former Lakewood resident, current Jacksonville, TX resident
I was a junior at Field Kindley High School in Coffeyville, Kansas. In those days, we had an hour for lunch, and almost everyone went home. The school would reopen at 1 p.m. As we came back to campus, we would all stand outside on the west side of the school waiting for the doors to open. On Friday, Nov. 22, at about 12:55 p.m., a friend of mine, Bill O’Connor, walked up and announced to a group of us that the radio said that President Kennedy had been shot in Dallas. Almost immediately, the school doors opened, and 900 students began entering the building to go to class. About 1:30 p.m., the principal made the announcement that the President was dead.
The other vivid memory I have of that day was an annual dance the Women’s Drum and Bugle Corps. held that Friday night. It was a formal dance and probably due to the short notice, it was not cancelled. My date and I went with another couple. I remember riding to the dance in the car; the radio abandoned their regular top-hits format and played nothing but funeral requiems. Coverage was constant on all three TV networks. I do not remember any event since then, including the moon landing, the Challenger Disaster, or 9/11 receiving such total media coverage, partly due to the limited number of channels available.
Bob Livingston, City Manager, City of University Park
My family had recently moved and was living in Connecticut. We are Catholic, and my father was often a Lector at Mass. I was just three at the time, but remember my parents being very sad and talking in hushed tones. They told my brother and baby sister and I to go to bed. I snuck out of my bed to creep down our stairs to see them watching the TV intently in our family room. All I knew was that someone very important had died, and my parents were upset. I went back to bed that night very sad.
My brother was also affected; although just five years old at the time, he has since always been fascinated by JFK and has read everything he can find about him, and seen all the movies. He followed in JFK's footsteps in two ways: he was editor of his high school yearbook (Kennedy was the business manager of his), and he studied accounting in college - Kennedy studied finance, then political philosophy. Both were good writers—in fact, my brother still writes for enjoyment; he's now a successful lawyer in St Louis.
My brother and I followed JFK's advice to "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country," by being lifelong volunteers in a variety of venues. My brother has his entire law firm volunteer at certain events in St. Louis, and I typically join my Altrusa club members in helping women and children in Dallas, or volunteer along with the students at my high school. Some psychologist might figure out that we are still doing what JFK asked us to do those 50-something years ago, through good ol' Catholic guilt. But I prefer to think we are doing what we can, because we were asked to, by a great man.
Judy Porter, Old Lake Highlands resident, Director of Community Outreach, Bishop Dunne Catholic School
"Devastated" is the word. I was very small, and it's one of my first memories. My father saw the president in the parade. He could not believe it. Sometimes it's still hard to believe, even at almost 50 years.
I remember at our 10 Year Woodrow Reunion, a smaller group of us were closing it down after three days of partying and someone started talking about the assassination. We all found that we had similar experience—nightmares, visions of JFK in our rooms at nights, etc. It was frightening and the hopeless feelings many parents had really affected the children. For most of us, it was our first experience with death.
Then we had the Oswald killing, the trial of Jack Ruby (D.A. Henry Wade lived in Lakewood and his kids went to school with us), Warren Commission... and of course, later on, we also got the "you're from the city which killed the president" remarks.
It’s hard for me to watch the 50th anniversary coverage. We are all so proud of our hometown, and our leaders really made Dallas out of nothing. It was tough seeing this happen in our midst. It's like someone was murdered in our living rooms. The ghosts are still with us...
Kyle Rains, Lakewood resident, Woodrow Wilson High School alum