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 Posted:   Nov 21, 2013 - 7:11 PM   
 By:   Gordon Reeves   (Member)

When the [ Day ] began, no one had the slightest idea that - by the time it ended -
everything up to that point nurtured as 'normal' would no longer exist.


Actually, the only thing we were excited about is that it was the end of the week - finally. Fridays never came fast enough what with school work, girl work, comics work, parents work, sibling work, friend work and all the other additions and corrections partly parcel of being a teenager.

It's not a period, the teenage rightful wrongs of passage, we'd return to for all the wisdom of Vulcan. A'course, the changes it incorporates into one's evolving persona is unmistakable, and the seeds of whatever arrives afterward no doubt has its genesis during that time. Still, next go-around, we’ll skip Adolescence altogether, thank you very much.

Mind you, we weren’t overly much for worrying about anything outside of what happened or was occurring in, on and around Greenway Avenue in Philadelphia.

Twas autumn by then; a’course, now this was when the Seasons really had discernibly specific beginnings and ends: September through Thanksgiving was Fall, December through March delineated Winter, April through June was Spring while July through August was Summer. (So much for those edjimicated knuckleheads who now say the weather ain't changing roll eyes ).

Our over-riding immediate universe then was directly related to the movies, Marvel Comics and reading (in fact,we started our first attempt at a novel in nearby Kingsessing Library around the corner and two blocks up at about that time, a tome about Hercules' 12 Labors, inspired by Edith Hamilton's "Mythology" - which had an enormous influential effect on us, writing and imagination-wise.

It was getting too cold for the 'bad guys' of the neighborhood to huddle atop the fire escape in the school yard with their girlfriends (Rebecca Rumor had it there was some kind of book being kept by them; we don't know if it detailed who was going to swap with whom or what. Besides, our curiosity wasn't so much ignited by what was going on up there as wanting to be up there with 'em big grin).

We'd already begun playing football by that point, too. The idiocy of doing so when grass wasn't unavailable was only exceeded (during stickball season) by those crazy enough to actually slide on the concrete - eek and guess who was loony enough to encapsulate both those descriptions? eek

Anyhew, our two best friends at the time (Milton Brown plus Vern Williams) and us were walking home from Tilden Junior high that afternoon. Now, ordinarily, we'd take the trolley 'cause it was quite a hike from where the school was (66th Street) to where we three lived (50th).

[ To say nothing of the fact that, back then, certain neighborhoods you literarily couldn't walk through in safety if you weren't of the preferred pigmentation pedigree. From 54th to 60th street was deadly territory to try to get through - not from Indians, mind you, just other kids of vanilla vintage who chased us whenever they could and roughed you up if/when they caught you ... usually with their parents or others on the porches doing nothing to interfere, let alone intervene and forget about curtail. We weren’t exactly Speedy Gonzalez, but we never got bushwhacked by them, either ].

So walking back down from school was no sweat - as long as it wasn't Saturday or Sunday afternoon attending the now lost-always lamented seminal Lenox movie theatre. Usually we'd take the hour-long walking trek back home when we'd either sold our tokens or spent the money we were supposed to buy 'em with.

We don't recall which predicament prevailed on this particular occasion (although there were instances, like on a Friday afternoon, when it was just too nice to be squeezed like sardines inside a crowded trolley, so you'd decide to just leisurely walk the rest of the way).

We'd only gotten halfway home when somebody came out of a corner drug store as we approached and uttered the then previoulsy-inconceivable:

"President Kennedy's been shot."

What's that again ---


Like on teevee?

You mean, with real bullets?

Time suddenly stopped. All three of us - Milt, Vern and yours untruly - looked at each other and, for a few seconds, no one could (or did) say anything. Then we started walking again. What had previously been a light, smart-assed mood subtly shifted to something infinitely more ... inexplicable. No one could articulate it, exactly - not that it needed expression.

We certainly can't speak for them but know that, for us, we were reeling inside. This made no sense. There was nothing even remotely measurable in our experience to prepare us for the impact of an ... an - uh - what's it called?


These things don't happen in America, do they?

We're the good guys, after all.

Aren't we?

Friday evenings were when my parents would go food shopping (our Mother still worked outside the home then). For some unexplained reason, they were already home when we arrived. The television was on (black and white) and we remember our Father standing over the sofa watching the reports with tears in his eyes as the cameras kept repeating the Reality that'd been irreparably ruptured.

"They just killed a great man," we heard him say.

Truth to tell, we didn't know whether he was or not. All we remember about Kennedy is a lot of girls in school going ga-ga over him and wishing they could cast ballots 'cause they'd sure vote for him since he was soooo cute (which, even then, we thought went well beyond silliness and way into stupidity as a reason for doing anything so pivotal as electing a President).

That weekend was like a wave of woe without surcease. All one heard on the tube, all you saw in the paper, all you came into contact with from other people was What Had Happened and What It All Meant or How Could Such a Terrible Thing Happen Here, of All Places?!?

Naturally, we weren’t as emotionally affected as the Grups were, but we definitely recall a very tense knot inside we couldn't identify.

We were scared but didn't know why.

And it wasn't fear of the unknown but rather fear of the unknown WHY behind it all.

In retrospect, we believe there've only been a Trinity of moments in our lifetime when Americans truly transcended their nationalistic notions of 'patriotism" and actually felt the universal human fabric of communally collective connection the concept actually entails.

The first, and most shocking, came courtesy of what happened to Kennedy.

The second was the Challenger catastrophe in 1985.

And, of course,

America's virginity was brutally breached that chilly afternoon (ironic it took a television series set in Dallas to replace the stigma so long associated with that city).

Alas, it opened the karmic door for everything which exploded after. Something we're still attempting to overcome the tragic residue that single second of organized chaos its insanity irreversibly unleashed.

Which is why what Milton said as we stood outside that drugstore after hearing the news echoes with such unexpectedly far-sighted eloquence.

"The world's going to end", he said simply.

Damned if it didn't, too.

 Posted:   Nov 21, 2013 - 8:56 PM   
 By:   Ron Hardcastle   (Member)

neotrinity: So this is your own first person account of what you saw that day 50 years ago? And those 3 friends in the picture are you and Milt and Vern, your 2 best friends at the time? Which was was (is) you?

I was asleep in my "rack," my metal bunk bed in my barracks at First Marine Division in Iwakuni, Japan. I was 20 and had the bottom one with the top usually empty, and I will always remember someone just to my left waking me up and telling me that President Kennedy had been shot and killed. Over the weeks and months following, our Stars And Stripes military newspaper had its covers dominated by shots of Kennedy and the black limousine in Dallas and Johnson taking the oath and little John John saluting at his father's funeral, and I kept those newspapers for years, although I may have finally thrown them out when I moved here in 1987.

 Posted:   Nov 21, 2013 - 9:59 PM   
 By:   Christopher Kinsinger   (Member)

This is so difficult for me.
Too many harsh realities to recall.
When I'm confronted with them, I RE-LIVE them.

Gotta go now...

 Posted:   Nov 22, 2013 - 12:49 AM   
 By:   Gordon Reeves   (Member)

first person account, aye ... but those aren't pix of the three non-musketeers.

 Posted:   Nov 22, 2013 - 7:48 AM   
 By:   Gordon Reeves   (Member)

 Posted:   Nov 22, 2013 - 10:24 AM   
 By:   BornOfAJackal   (Member)

To be utterly Film Score-selfish about this, at least John Williams got the opportunity from Oliver Stone to write a beautiful elegy for JFK. I just hope that score doesn't ultimately come to represent an elegy for our democracy as well.

The malicious undercurrents that killed JFK are alive and well. The tactics of unhinged economic potentates and their intellectually and materially impoverished fellow-travelers remain the same--even if the Secret Service has hermetically sealed the person of the President from physical harm.

 Posted:   Nov 22, 2013 - 7:05 PM   
 By:   dan the man   (Member)

Born a fool always a fool.

 Posted:   Nov 23, 2013 - 12:31 AM   
 By:   Thomas   (Member)

Born a fool always a fool.

dan. the. man.

What 'sought' of comment is that?

1. a class, group, kind, etc., as distinguished by some common quality or characteristic
2. Informal type of character, nature, etc. he's a good sort
3. a more or less definable or adequate example it's a sort of review
4. (Communication Arts / Printing, Lithography & Bookbinding) (often plural) Printing any of the individual characters making up a fount of type
5. Archaic manner; way in this sort we struggled home

 Posted:   Nov 23, 2013 - 4:13 PM   
 By:   dan the man   (Member)

I get a kick out of who are in that picture.

 Posted:   Nov 23, 2013 - 4:14 PM   
 By:   dan the man   (Member)

I get a kick out of who are in that picture.

 Posted:   Nov 24, 2013 - 9:46 PM   
 By:   dan the man   (Member)

Nothing has change in 50 years, there always are garbage in power running things and foolish people acting like sheep following them.

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