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2013-11-21

JFK - remembering 50 years later

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

The assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States, led to a seismic shift in both America and the world.

Even given all the revelations that have since emerged, JFK remains a charismatic individual, who, with his stunning wife, Jacqueline, presented an impossibly glamorous and sophisticated vision of this country. All that ended on Nov. 22, 1963.

Anyone of a certain age - we won't say what - will remember where they were on that date. Below, are just few recollections. We encourage Courier readers to send in their own stories, which will be published in future editions.

Friday, Nov. 22, 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy's death.

'Blessings & tragedy'
Charlene Coats

I was sitting in the reception area of my gynecologist's office, waiting to be seen. I noticed the usually quiet hallway suddenly sounded like a beehive of voices. A radio had been turned on.

I walked down the hallway to the office where all of the noise was coming from and was told that President Kennedy had been shot.

Blessings and tragedy - I also found out that day that I was pregnant with my first child.

'Immediately ostracized'
Mary Jane Crowe

When President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, I was attending junior high in a parochial school in Mobile, Alabama.

My dad and his family were from San Antonio and when the news broke that the president had been killed in Texas, I immediately became ostracized at school. Since I was from Texas, I was viewed as "one of them" and the teachers did not want my influence to negatively impact the other students.

I had to sit by myself at lunch and was not allowed to go to recess, which seemed like an eternity to a sixth grader.

'Stunned reaction'
Carolyn B. Edwards

On that early afternoon of November 1963, I was a sophomore at Shiner High School in Shiner, Texas. My English teacher was a little late for class, which was very unusual for him.

Mr. Bubolz came in holding a transistor radio to his ear. He looked at us and said, "The President has been shot." Then he turned up the volume and we all sat there and listened in shock as Walter Cronkite, Dan Rather and other newsmen covered the story.

We soon heard those awful words, "President Kennedy died at 1 pm Central Standard Time."

On the bus home that day, one of my classmates said, "Well, I'm glad somebody shot that SOB!" The stunned reaction of everyone else on the bus to that remark kept him from saying anything more. With school cancelled on Monday, I stayed home and watched the funeral on our little black and white TV. It was the first non-stop news coverage I'd experienced.

Looking back, I'm impressed by how well organized that solemn, yet beautiful, occasion was. I also think it must have been so difficult for his family to deal with that awful grief so publicly.

'Personal thing for us'
County Judge Richard Evans

Bandera County Judge Richard Evans was a sophomore in Mrs. Lewis' history class at Bandera Middle School when the class received word that President Kennedy had been killed.

As Evans recalled, "Charmen Hicks was crying because her uncle, Texas Gov. John Connally, had earlier been reported as also being killed. That report was later determined not to be true, but it was still a very personal thing for us." The governor's sister, Carmen Hicks, lived just off on Ridge Route and Peaceful Valley roads.

According to Evans, at that time, only one television was available in an English class in the high school and it only received one Channel 9, KLRN. "We all went to the English classroom to see what had happened," Evans said. "There was so much misinformation going around. It was very traumatic."

He continued, "After school was dismissed, we went home to watch the six o'clock news to see what else had happened. We only had that news program. It was a depressing time for the whole country."

Dallas, 'JFK'
Gail Joiner

I was in the sixth grade going up the stairs in the old two-story school building when the announcement was made over the intercom that President Kennedy had been shot.

The memory that sticks in my mind most vividly is that everyone was crying, myself included. That memory has never faded.

Years later, while attending college, I traveled to Paris, France to study fashion design. While in France, it became apparent to me that the assassination of our president was not just an American memory.

If we told someone we were from Texas, they responded with "Ah, cowboys and Indians." But, if someone said she was from Dallas, the French responded with "JFK."

'Ethel Kennedy apologized'
Maggie Schumacher

In 1963, our family was living in McLean, Virginia, because my father, a career infantry officer in the United States Army, was stationed at the Pentagon.

We belonged to the same church as the family of Robert Kennedy, who served as US attorney general in his brother's administration.

Coincidentally, Friday, Nov. 22, the day of President Kennedy's assassination was also my sister's birthday and mother had planned a party for her.

After hearing the news of President Kennedy's death, mother drove to our school and found that the nuns had taken the school children to the church to pray for the Kennedy family and the country.

My mother asked my teacher and a neighbor if they thought she should cancel my sister's birthday party. They agreed that the party should go on and it did - though it was a bit subdued.

A few weeks later, Ethel Kennedy, Robert Kennedy's wife, came up to my mother after church and apologized that one of her children had missed my sister's birthday party.

'Slapped him hard'
Priscilla Mihalic

I grew up in Mississippi and was in the third grade when President Kennedy was assassinated. He was not a popular president in Mississippi.

Later, three civil rights workers would be killed and buried in a levy (dam) near Philadelphia, Mississippi, which was about 10 miles from our dairy farm.

On Nov. 22, 1963, our teacher was called out of the room. When she returned, she announced that President Kennedy had been shot and killed. Our teacher was crying.

We were in shock. We had learned about the assassination of Abraham Lincoln in school and now we were witnessing a historic moment ourselves.

When he heard the news, a boy at the back of the room - a little redneck! - started clapping and cheering. In response, the teacher walked back to him and slapped him hard.

Then the teacher said we were going to pray for President Kennedy and his family. By this time, it was about 2 pm. We prayed and then called our parents to pick us up because school was dismissed early that day.

School was cancelled the day of the funeral and I actually saw Jack Ruby shoot and kill Lee Harvey Oswald, President Kennedy's assassin.

'Bad day for our county'
Eddie Rowe

As I recall, I was in Mrs. Buchorn's 11th grade history class in Texas City. During the class, she was called to the main office and was gone for about 10 minutes.

When she returned to class, her eyes were red and all the students could tell she had been crying.

In about five minutes, she became calm enough to tell us the bad news. All of the students were in shock and most of them started screaming and crying with sadness and fear.

Nov. 22, 1963 was a bad day for our country and the youth of our country.