November 22, 1963 Was On A Friday


lee oswald


I was 15 years old.  My grandfather had just passed the week before. I was sitting in Geometry class when the announcement came over the PA .  We were dismissed.

      We were all Democrats then.  My best friend’s father was the Democrat County Chairman and County Assessor.  I of course had passed out fliers before and after on behalf of him and the party.
      I pretty much lived at my friend’s house the next four days.  Dad was a Democrat, too,  but politics was not his life, though he later served as Township Trustee as a Democrat.  Anyway, we watched every minute of the coverage over the famous Four Days.  All the re- broadcasts you will be seeing this week on the 50th anniversary, I watched live.
     Later, after the Warren Report and all the conspiracy books came out, many of which I read, I developed a belief that Oswald couldn’t have acted alone.  One particular fact always stuck with me – As part of the investigation, Army snipers attempted to duplicate Oswald’s feat with a Mannlicher-Carcano.  None could do it.
     After 50 years of time lapse and all the books,movies,  investigations,   including the House Assassination Report in 1978, everything is of course dusty, foggy and blurred and the majority of the participants, reporters and officials are gone.  Naturally, the fact that many documents and evidence were ordered sequestered for 75 years fueled the suspicion of conspiracy.  With all that has transpired globally since then, it no longer really matters, though it is somewhat ironic that Fidel is still alive.
     In the late 70’s, I had occasion to be in Central Texas and made it a point to visit Dallas.  I went out in the middle of Dealey Plaza and just looked around  at the panorama where those fateful events took place and, notwithstanding my convictions that we were never told the truth about the events surrounding the assassination, I couldn’t help marvel at how small the place was.  In all of the TV footage it had looked like Dealey Plaza was a huge, sprawling place, but it wasn’t.  I recall remarking to myself “No matter how many there were, or where they were, they couldn’t have missed.”
     Today, of course, I have moved on from November, 1963, in many, many ways.  Some of them very personal, some very practical, and a lot very political. (In addition to the growing old thing, of course.) But the lasting impressions of those days, and the fascination with the Kennedy family, the good and the bad of that whole saga, and the threads running through that dynasty and the lives of ordinary Americans and weaving it all together in the overarching epic of American History in the 20th Century cannot be overstated.
     I am indebted to CBS News, even to Cronkite, Rather and Schieffer – all scoundrels of The Left to me now in my old-age Conservatism – for the service they provided back then.  And Howard K. Smith and Huntley and Brinkely and the vastly more professional and principled Press that existed in those days than does now.  It has been excruciating and confounding at times, but my curiosity about national politics and socio-political arrangements and relationships and schemes stemming from the events of November, ’63 and the turbulent years following, has provided a somehow fulfilling psychological getaway from an otherwise less than glamorous, indeed sometimes regretful personal existence.
     Yes, Camelot was a fiction.  Yes, some of the Kennedys were scoundrels, cads and users, but the breadth and scope  of that entire  family saga is breathtaking.  Think old Joseph P.  Think young Joe.,Jr.  Think even Kathleen.  Think even the mentally deficient Rosemary and the whole Special Olympics thing. Think Ted’s overtures to the Soviet Union in the 80′ s while Reagan was trying to thwart the Evil Empire.  Chappaquiddick?  The Los Angeles Hilton?  John, Jr.?  All of that in addition to the  White House Years.  Triumph and tragedy replayed over and over again for a full third of the existence of the American Republic. Good grief!  No author of epic romantic fiction could come up with a work  encompassing  all that and so much more.  Well, not in these modern times of shallowness, limited imagination and stunted curiosity.
It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.

geometry class


“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way

Charles Dickens, A Tale Of Two Cities

Crossposted at Grumpy Opinions

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Poor. No advanced degrees. Unorganized. Feeble. Disjointed. Random. Past it. .... Intrigued, Interested, Patriotic and Lucky.
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Poor. No advanced degrees. Unorganized. Feeble. Disjointed. Random. Past it. .... Intrigued, Interested, Patriotic and Lucky.

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Larry Eastbay
November 19, 2013 6:53 pm

I learned of the assassination between classes, thought it was bunk, then saw the school flag at half-mast…

vassar bushmills
November 20, 2013 4:34 pm

Fine tribute and remembrance Bob. I’ve always said that when the last person who can remember where he was on Nov 22, 1963 dies, so will the memory of this otherwise unmemorable man and president. But as martyr-saint, he will live on as LBJ’s legacy, for LBJ built the entire plantation system on JFK’s shrine. When we tear that down, then JFK can rest in peace.

November 20, 2013 5:33 pm

Our family was one of the odd-duck Republican households in the city of Chicago; Vaughn Meader, a Kennedy impressionist, was more popular with us than was the President. I do remember that after our teacher made the announcement about Dallas, a fellow freshman female who sat behind me said ‘well, I guess you Kennedy-haters are happy now’. Those people were nasty even at age 14.