It has been 50 years since the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas. I have some lingering memories of November 22, 1963, mostly from my mother talking about that fateful day, and from the memories of being about five years old at the time.
Dallas, Texas, is over 600 miles from Mill Grove, Missouri, which is where I was living on that November day in 1963. Mill Grove was a very small town – a one general store type of town, with the post office at that time in the corner of the general store.
My mother was an avid “As the World Turns” viewer. She watched it until her death. She was watching the show that day when a bulletin came on TV with Walter Cronkite announcing that President Kennedy had been shot. I was playing in my room, and I could hear her crying and could tell she was really upset. She started making some phone calls to friends and family.
Back then we had “party lines” so it was common to have three or four people talking with each other over the phone – especially when there was some major news to talk about. Sometimes people just listened in on your phone calls to get the latest news and rumors.
Later that day we walked to the little general store a few blocks away. People gathered there to hear the news and share rumors about the happenings in the community and from around the world. I remember seeing three or four people just kind of staring at the big wood stove in the middle of the store with the wood crackling and talking about how awful the world had become.
I remember some of them saying that nobody was safe since Kennedy had been shot. Being about five years old, their talk of nobody being safe scared me.
My mother and other women in the store talked about how sad they were for Jackie Kennedy and the children.
I remember my mother being glued to the television for the next few days. She also cut articles out of newspapers about the assassination and placed them in a Bible to keep.
I remember watching the funeral with my mom on our black and white television. Seeing his little boy, John F. Kennedy, Jr., salute his father’s casket and Jackie holding Caroline’s hand was a moment nobody can ever forget.
The assassination seemed to take away our country’s innocence.
Our family always celebrated Thanksgiving, and I remember my mom saying over the years that the Thanksgiving of 1963 was one of her saddest Thanksgivings ever due to the assassination of the President.
I know his death left a hole in my family’s heart. It left a hole in the hearts of many people in the little town of Mill Grove, plus it left holes in the hearts of people all across our great country.