People around my age have one thing in common – no matter our political or religious beliefs, no matter our social standing – we all know exactly where we were when we heard the news that the President had been shot.
I was a 6th grader at David Lipscomb. My teacher was Mrs. Deese. We were quietly working in the class (probably one of the few days of the year when I was actually quiet), when the intercom crackled on. Our principal asked everyone to listen…a radio reporter somberly intoned that our President had been shot. A few idiots in my class actually cheered. Students at David Lipscomb in the early 1960s were no fans of a Catholic president. Most of us kept quiet.
After the announcement we were dismissed for P.E. Everyone was milling in the halls. Any trace of jubilation disappeared – possibly based on threats from the P.E. teacher.
No one in my house was a Kennedy fan, but that night we ate completely without conversation (also a first). I got to go over to a friend’s house to spend the night, but the visit was joyless.
I’d like to say that I had a great epiphany that day or night. My fear of a Catholic president didnt’ recede until later years, but I do know that it felt really strange to be in a country that suddenly had a lot more in common with the ‘banana’ republic method of political opposition than I had read about in those books we were supposed to be studying when that intercom crackled…