#Letters to Tuvia Y2#31: Remembering JFK, Celebrating James (11-22-16) #sol16

Morning T,

Instead of tormenting you with updates about the Donald, I’m going to take you back to a man we both loved, even if we were never together to celebrate his time as president. But on this day,  you always joined me to remember him, offer a toast to him.

Here’s what happened on November 22, 1963- John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

I sat in the Earth Science class as a 9th grader, dreading the quiz we were scheduled to take.  I dreaded everything about that class.  My teacher was terrible and kept the study of earth science a mystery to me and most of my class.  But on this day, as he prepared to hand out yet another quiz  we heard the crackle of the PA as it was turned on.  No voice from the principal, just a news bulletin that JFK had been shot and there was no news yet as to his condition.

Silence… shock…tears.

“Okay, we don’t know what’s happened, so get  to the test!”

No one moved.  No one picked up a pencil.  We just sat, stunned.

Then  we heard the toll of nearby church bells.

Silence. Sobbing. Wailing. Tears.

“He’s gone.  Back to the test!”

No one moved.

The principal’s voice:  “We have lost our president.  We are dismissing you now. Leave your classes, get your things from your lockers and head home to be with you families. We pray for JFK.”

We all got up, ignoring the insensitive teacher in front of us. We moved out of his classroom and headed home.

My first president who spoke to me was gone. I have never let this day go by without a moment reserved just for him.

And then I met James Coleman at a theater conference at my alma mater one summer.  We discovered early on that we were  the same age, but he was born on November 22, 1949.  So on the November 22 I have been able to honor  JFK  and celebrate James Coleman.


Bonnie S.

PS. Loved my time in Atlanta at the NWP annual meeting a meet up with some great slicers!


9 thoughts

  1. A moving account of memorable day. My mom shares about the day, teaching her second graders and slumping into tears. A president dearly loved.

    Glad you had a special time in Atlanta. I so wish I could have been there, viewing so many tweets and savoring bits of knowledge.

  2. I guess we all have the memories. What a terribly insensitive teacher/man. I was in college, and was walking across campus when I heard screaming. Then I found out. Arvie and I spent the weekend with my close-by grandparents, one of watching endless tv & comfort. James Coleman is the name of one of my uncles, but not your James Coleman. Happy Thanksgiving, Bonnie.

  3. That is a day seared into the memory of many. It was recess, but I was spending it inside (must have had a cold). I was in fifth grade and did not understand what had just happened. What an awful weekend that was! So many memories from so long ago.

  4. Assassinations of presidents was something you read about and studied in History classes…Garfield. McKinley, Lincoln…not something that happened during your lifetime. This was a great shock to all of us who remember.

  5. Thank you for this remembrance of JFK. I remember Bobbie and MLK and the deep sadness and fear I felt –like the world was coming apart.
    PS so good to spend time with you in Atlanta.

  6. My sixth grade teacher sat at her desk and cried. We were all so startled that something like this could happen. My parents had heard about the assassination while grocery shopping. They left the store, came to school and took me home. We spent the rest of the week and weekend watching the coverage on television. Sitting in front of the tv, watching over and over, the 9-11 attacks, brought back that horrible time.

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