Where Were You in '63?


by Mike Peters

Thank you to everyone who answered the question, "Where were you in '63 when you heard the news?" The following is my attempt at a summary.

We didn't want to believe.

One responder heard the news via a 1961 Plymouth's car radio.  He thought the "radio was playing a commercial with a dumb lead."

Another replier was informed by her son in a public library who said, "Mother, the President was shot."  She told him that he shouldn't joke about something as serious as that.  He then told her, "I'm not joking--I just heard one of the librarians tell the other one."

My mother, upon hearing the news from my grandpa, waited for a punch line.  This had to be the start of a really bad and tasteless joke.

We believed that we had lost more than a leader.

One person wrote, "We had lost our President and a friend."

Another said, "... I had met and talked with Jack Kennedy for about half an hour when he was traveling through West Virginia during the campaign, and I felt I had lost more than a president; I had lost a friend."

The underlying theme of most of the E-mails seemed to be family.

One person after hearing the news in a college dormitory said she "went straight to the telephone and called (her) parents and (they) wept together via long distance."

Another asked the question, "It's interesting, isn't it, that in times of tragedy the overwhelming feeling is:  I want to go home?"

One of the responders informed us that she was a young pregnant wife about to give birth to her first, when she heard the news.  Her husband was going to name the child.  The child's name, if a boy, was going to be John Fitzgerald Kincaid, her husband had told her.  Their first child was a girl.  She named the second child, a boy, after his father.  The third child, born some seven years after JFK's assassination, was the boy the couple named in honor of the fallen President. "... our son's name will never let us forget when JFK died."

22 November 1963. The date rolls off some of our tongues almost as quickly as our birth dates.  Even if we wanted to, we couldn't forget.  We need to take a cue from John Fitgerald Kincaid's parents.  Our children, if not old enough to remember, need to be reminded, in some way, that "For one brief and shining moment--there was Camelot!"


Mike Peters

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