Friday, November 22, 2013

Memories of 50 Years Ago Today

50 years ago today I was a young stay-at-home wife with a 7 month old son.  We live in a small "mother-in-law" cottage behind the main house in the town of Menlo Park.  Quite a few of the houses there have cottages behind them that are rented to students attending Stanford University.

We were really enjoying life.  Everything was hopeful and going forward.  Our life was great, the nation was doing well.  There were problems, the cold war and civil rights were the biggest ones, but it seemed like they were being worked on rationally and hope abounded.  The President and his family were young and active. The previous President seemed like a grandfather, this one seemed like a big brother.  We all felt like we were part of his family because we knew them so well with all the photos in the magazines "Look" and "Life".

The morning started off normally, I had gotten my husband off to work, cleaned the house and all the routine with the baby.  I had the radio on and was listening to "The Art Linkletter's House Party, a popular fun program .  Art Linkletter always interviewed several children at the end of the program which was alway so funny.

As I was feeding the baby his breakfast an news alert came over the radio.  Alerts that broke into a program was rare in those days.  It was announced that the President's car had been fired upon in Texas.  Then that the President had been shot and had died.

It was totally shocking.  It seemed that there was something that needed to be done, but there was nothing to do.  I called my husband at work and they hadn't heard it yet.  I wrote in our son's baby book what had happened because I knew it was a day that would be part of history.

A piece of our life and our nation's life and even the rest of the lives in the world seem to broken.  We were all so stunned and so sad I can only compare it to how I felt when my dad died.  I took the baby and walked to church.  To my surprise, the church was almost full.  It was so strange that everyone felt what we were feeling,  everyone was hurting.  Black was everywhere, and especially in our selves.

The days between when President Kennedy died and his funeral was empty, just sadness.  My husband bought an American flag and we flew is outside our front door.  It seemed the only thing we could do.  We still have that flag and fly it for memorable occasions.

The day of the funeral, our landlady invited us to view the funereal on her TV since we did not have a TV at that time.  It was just all sad, but it somehow helped to know the whole world was recognizing our loss because they felt the loss also.  And then... during the funeral procession, another new alert breaking in.  It was crazy and we just couldn't believe that something was important enough to break into the funeral coverage.  It was announced that Lee Harvey Oswald, the guy they thought had shot President Kennedy was just shot at the police station in Texas.  It was just crazy.  It was just unbelievable.

And then we had to go on with life, but it was never quite the same.

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