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  Martinsville High School Alumni
Class of 1970 Reply  |   Post Message  |   Message List
45 Years Ago Today: JFK and Patrick Henry Elementary - 17
11/22/08     David Young  (1973)      BYoung1441@aol.com
My parents were big JFK supporters, so, consequently, I thought of him as one of my first heroes. In this day and age, when the President is on the TV addressing the nation, most people say, "yeah, big deal, what ELSE is on?" Remember the early 60s, though? A Presidential address on TV meant EVERYTHING STOPPED. Guess it was just the nature of things then, with the Cold War, anxiety left over from the Cuban Missle Crisis, etc.

Like the rest of the class of '73, I was in the third grade on 11/22/63, at good ol' Patrick Henry Elementary. We came off the playground, and the normal procedure was to take a rest room break and then finish the afternoon in the classroom. This day, however, our teacher made us sit down. Mrs. Stone told us that a terrible thing had happened....President Kennedy had gone to Dallas to make a speech, and had been shot (I remember immediately having a visual image of the man actually giving a speech at a podium and suddenly collapsing mid sentence). She said that there was a radio on in the principal's office (funny, I can still remember what that radio sounded like down the hall), that we did not know yet what his condition was, we would have to wait and see, hope for the best, etc.

We took our rest room break, and I was standing in the doorway of our classroom with our teacher. A first grade teacher (oddly enough, my wife Betty's first grade teacher....she was two years younger, and we did not meet until high school) walked up and simply said, "He's dead."

I remember the rest of the day being sort of upside down. My dad and I had planned on going to the community center by the old high school to do some swimming in their indoor pool, and we followed through on that plan immediately after school. That big pool, and there were only three people there.....me, my dad, and the lifeguard. Swimming in dead silence with only the sound of a little bit of splashing, no conversation, just a feeling of being stunned.

Went to bed that night scared....it seemed like everything was wrong.

Many of you remember that my dad was the minister at Holy Trinity Lutheran, so we were always the last people to leave the church on Sundays. Consequently, two days later, my mom and I were upstairs changing out of our Sunday clothes when my dad came charging up the steps yelling "they shot Oswald! They shot Oswald!" I am the only person I know who was alive then and did not see it live.

A quick side story. When I was getting my Masters at Georgia State, I had an Associate professor who was in the Army at that time, stationed in Korea. Because of the time difference, it was breakfast time over there. In the US, we had no idea, of course, that we had just ramped up to the highest possible military alert immediately after JFK had been shot (could have been an invasion, or God knows what). He said they were going through the chow line, getting their oatmeal, in FULL BATTLE GEAR, with rifles, bayonets attached and unsheathed, in their hands. They were ready to go at a second's notice.

Anyone else have any memories of November 22,1963, which was 45 years ago today?
12/09/08     robert campbell  (1968)      robertoc49@hotmail.com
Re: 45 Years Ago Today: JFK and Patrick Henry Elementary
Life in a Northern Town

A Salvation Army band played
And the children drank lemonade
And the morning lasted all day,
All day
And through an open window came
Like Sinatra in a younger day,
Pushing the town away
Ah -

Ah hey ma ma ma
Life in a northern town.

They sat on the stoney ground
And he took a cigarette out
And everyone else came down
To listen.
He said "In winter 1963
It felt like the world would freeze
With John F. Kennedy
And the Beatles."

Ah hey ma ma ma
Life in a northern town.
Ah hey ma ma ma
All the work shut down.

The evening had turned to rain
Watch the water roll down the drain,
As we followed him down
To the station
And though he never would wave goodbye,
You could see it written in his eyes
As the train rolled out of sight

Ah hey ma ma ma
Life in a northern town.
Ah hey ma ma ma
Life in a northern town.
01/16/09     Gael Marshall Chaney  (1970)      gael.chaney@alumni.duke.edu
Re: 45 Years Ago Today: JFK and Patrick Henry Elementary
I just found this today, January 16, 2009, so it's late for the anniversary but not too late for memories. I was in the 6th grade at Druid Hills school when President Kennedy was shot. The 6th and 7th grades were in their own wing at the end of the building, and the first word we got of it came from the teacher across the hall. She had sent Pat Carpenito to the office for misbehaving, and he came back right away with the news; I would love to hear Pat's memories of that day. The teacher didn't believe him and went to the office herself, then came back and told the other classes. While the teachers tried to find out the latest news and relay it to us, we students were discussing it among ourselves. After hearing that the President had been shot in the head, I remember one boy saying over and over, "He's a dead duck." As soon as my sisters and I got home, we turned on the television and watched Walter Cronkite's coverage for the rest of the day.

I stayed glued to the television for the whole next day (a Saturday), watching the ceremonies, retrospectives, replays of the swearing in of President Johnson, and so on. It was my sister Shirley's birthday, and I couldn't understand how she could play with her friends and act so uninterested (I now see that she, three years younger than me, was too young to really comprehend it all). The most memorable part was the horse-drawn caisson with the casket parading mournfully through the streets of Washington along with the riderless horse, a pair of boots turned backwards in the stirrups.

I didn't see Oswald's shooting live, either. Our family always went to Sunday School and church and never turned the TV on on Sunday mornings. I think I was too young to understand at the time all the ramifications of Oswald's death.
06/30/09     Pat Carpenito  (1970)      pcarpenito@comcast.net
Re: 45 Years Ago Today: JFK and Patrick Henry Elementary

You are correct. I was on my way to the office from my 6th grade class (I forgot that I was sent there for misbehaving; thanks for reminding me) when the school secretary, Linda Schumate, was coming out from behind the counter excitedly exclaiming that President Kennedy had been shot in Dallas. I ran back to the classroom and announced it to the class, which really upset the teacher (I believe it was Mrs. Soule, as we had 3 teachers that year). She got angry and made me sit down and she went to the office herself to check it out.

What a sad time. The memory that stays in my mind is that of young John (probably 3 years old) saluting his father's flag draped coffin. We were all mourning the loss of our president but being 11, it was troubling knowing that these 2 young children had just lost their father to an assassin's bullet.

We had just gotten home from church on the following Sunday and my father and I were watching the live broadcast of Oswald being transferred from the Dallas City Jail, when Jack Ruby stepped in front of the camera and shot him with a hand gun.

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