50 Years Ago Today

I was a sixth grader at Holy Family School.  An announcement was made over the PA system.   The President had been shot.  We were to all file out to the church.  We hit our knees and prayed for all it was worth.  All the desperate prayers of children wafting upwards to heaven.

I was deeply afraid.  The 1960 election was the first I payed attention to.  I was 9 years old.  I also had the gall to hope for a different presidential candidate than my father.  The rest of the family had backed Kennedy rather than Nixon.  We were a family that talked about current affairs and politics.  If you wanted to participate, you had to do your homework.  You couldn’t just express “cute” 9 year old opinions.  You had to back them up.  I started reading the daily newspaper as soon as I could read.

So when I heard the President was shot, I immediately thought it had to be “the Russians” who had done it.  I assumed it would be a coup.  I was not only sad, but I was terrified.

The Sister came to the altar and told us he, our Catholic President, had died.  We cried.  I doubt they were phony tears.  I know mine weren’t.

Our family television was not in our living room.  My family considered television to be some form of low-brow entertainment.  The TV was in the basement, along with the washer and dryer, the ironing board, the mangle (does anyone even know what that is?) and lots of storage.  There was a sofa and two chairs.  That weekend we were all glued to that television.  My brothers were home from college for the Thanksgiving holiday.  My mother kept saying “This is barbaric! Barbaric!” She hated that we were watching the young widow with her small children try to get through her husband’s funeral.  But she never walked away from the TV.  None of us did.

That day changed my view of the world.  It destroyed my illusion of permanence and safety.  It was my first experience of some weird failure type of person being able to alter history.  That was a change.

A couple of years ago, I read a book by Stephen King about this day.  It was aptly called “11/22/63.”  Of course, it was a Stephen King book, so it wasn’t just a history lesson.  It was weird.  But so good.   It posed an alternate history with a Kennedy who lived.  It was not a good place.  It was interesting.  It is easy to believe that everything would have been OK if only this or that had happened.  If our young president hadn’t been killed.  If his assassin hadn’t been assassinated.  Etc……………

But today is today.  We live in today.  Always.  No matter what it is.

I’ve realized that I am growing increasingly grim.  Everything is again beginning to feel like a chore.  Each day is beginning to again feel like something “I have to get through.”  Perhaps I can change that. I will give it my best shot.  I have a meeting at 9 a.m. with one of my favorite docs.  She is going to help me get started on a massive project.  She is so good, and so kind, and we tend to see things the same way.  I am going to endeavor to enjoy this meeting and the rest of the day too.

Five more weekends till Christmas.  I have a lot of knitting to do!

1. pair of slippers – done

2. infinity scarf – done

3. another pair of slippers – one slipper done, will get the other one this weekend.

4. another pair of baby slippers – next week.

5. hat and gloves for my son – the week after that.

6.  Christmas stocking for one daughter – the week after that.

7. ????? for my daughter-in-law

8. slippers for my sister – I asked her what she would like, having no idea she would ask for something I am sick to death of knitting.

—–I need to do the math and see if all this is even feasible———–

One day at a time, sweet Jesus.

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8 Responses to 50 Years Ago Today

  1. Chenai says:

    I giggled at your family’s view of television as too low-brow to watch. For some reason, perhaps something about the way you describe your childhood, I never imagined that you had that kind of upbringing. I just re-read that sentence and it seemed rude, so please understand I say that without intending any offense whatsoever. And no, I don’t know what a mangle is.

    There has been something gloomy about things here too Mary, here being “my world”. I suspect that it is mostly prompted by the weather. I am so excited about christmas too.

    • I think the snobbiness about TV was more a feature of my parent’s age than anything. My dad was born in 1911 and my mom in 1913.

      Let’s see if I can describe a mangle… it is an electrical thing, with heated panels that press whatever’s put between them. My mother used one to iron clothes.

  2. Mary LA says:

    So much knitting! The gifts will be much appreciated.

    The real American shocker of the 1960s was Vietnam and that was what horrified me as a child living in a country going through war, looking at the images of My Lai and knowing that could be me — my mother had known the Uhuru violence of Kenya’s independence struggles and war was very much a living reality for us. The death of an American president seemed very far away.

  3. atomic momma says:

    Hang in there Mary….the holidays are upon us and I try to see past all the “noise” and slow down and appreciate the contemplative side of things.

    You are amazing at what you knit. Saw the ?????? for your daughter’s stuff and had this neat thing bookmarked as a future project for a friend.

    http://therunningyarn.wordpress.com/2008/04/03/punk-rock-corset-gloves-free-pattern/

    For some reason I thought of your daughter when I saw the ?????. They look pretty straightforward.

  4. Syd says:

    It was a confusing time for me as I was young and my uncle died the same day as the President. I understood the sadness but didn’t really feel such a loss until MLK and Bobby Kennedy also were killed. And whenever I hear that song Abraham, Martin and John, it brings back the sadness of those times.

  5. I thought I would die the morning I woke up and heard that RFK had been killed. It felt like the world was ending.

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