Telegraph readers share JFK memories

November 22, 2013 

The Telegraph asked readers for their recollections of the day President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed in Dallas, Texas. For many Middle Georgia residents, the events of Nov. 22, 1963, are indelibly etched in their memories.

A quiet desperation

Nov. 22nd was my ninth birthday. I was in the third grade passing out cupcakes. The teacher was called to the door and told that the president had been killed. My father was a doctor in our small town and my mother commented that the three days after Kennedy was assassinated was the only time when nobody came to the door and the phone didn’t ring. Everyone was glued to their TV screen watching the news and the funeral. My parents supported Kennedy and grieved over the loss. There was sort of a quiet desperation, uncertainty about what it meant for the country.

Penny Culpepper

One of my earliest childhood memories

In 1962, my father was a State Department physician stationed in Karachi, Pakistan. In March of 1962, when Jacqueline Kennedy took her historic trip to India and Pakistan, my father acted as her personal physician.

In November of 1963, we were in New Delhi, India, and my father noticed a folded newspaper with the headline, “KENNEDY ASSA-” He opened it and was shocked to read that President Kennedy had been assassinated. Later that morning from the balcony, I heard all the churches, mosques and holy temples throughout the city ringing their bells. The sound was deafening. I asked my father what was happening. He replied, “President Kennedy has been killed.” I was a small child, but I knew about President and Mrs. Kennedy, because of her visit the previous year. Strangers stopped us on the street all day to offer their condolences. The wonderful impression Mrs. Kennedy made was still fresh in most people’s minds, and everyone in India and Pakistan deeply felt her loss. That day in New Delhi is one of my earliest childhood memories.

Kathy Hall


A stunning couple

The Kennedys came to San Antonio, Texas, the day before John Kennedy was shot in Dallas. I worked at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, and a friend and I asked for annual leave to go to the airport to witness their arrival. It was such an exciting day. They were a stunning couple, he in a dark, navy blue suit and Jackie in a beautiful pink outfit. They emerged from the airplane and waved to the crowd, and we were cheering and awed by them. We were so happy, only to be shocked and totally crushed the next day when we got the news that the president had been shot. A terrible quiet came over the whole building. We stepped out of our office and people were standing around in shock, not speaking but looking lost.

Connie Kay

In algebra class

In 1963, I was a 10th grade student at A.L. Miller High School for Girls. I was in my Algebra II class when my teacher told us that President Kennedy had been shot and killed in Dallas, Texas. No one knew what to say. No one cried. We were all in a state of shock. School was let out early. We had the next few days off because of Thanksgiving. It seemed that all Mama, Daddy and I did during those days was watch television and cry. My heart was broken.

Susan Middleton

At the beauty shop

My hair was literally going up in curls while having a perm at Christine Barron Ryals Beauty Shop in Rhine, Ga., when the radio blared that President John F. Kennedy had been shot at a parade in Dallas, Texas.

Another good friend with us at the shop that day was Marion Swain Hilliard, who shared in our shock. Mrs. Ryals’ beauty shop was in her home within a stone’s throw from the spot where, last week, an armed posse captured a robber last week. (Joe Kovac did a good job with his reporting that episode.)

Loye Fuller McCranie Luginbill.

Eastman, formally of Rhine

With grandmother

I was 9 years old in 1963, the year JFK was assassinated. I remember on the 22th of November 1963, being with my grandmother and watching TV the time it was announced by Walter Cronkite about the president being shot in Dallas. I had been sick that day and stayed out of school and was at her house. We stayed glued to the TV for any news updates. I also remember when my parents got off work that afternoon, and everyone was standing in the kitchen, talking about the late president’s death, and what it would mean now for this country. It all seemed confusing to me at the time. I guess everyone was in such a state of shock, that we didn’t know what to expect next. I especially remember little 3-year-old John-John standing with his little salute to his late father at the funeral. That was such a poignant picture etched in my mind.

Donna Bell

‘Pray for the president’

When President Kennedy was shot, I was in the third grade at Prince of Peace Catholic School in Lake Villa, Ill., when the teacher was called from the classroom. Returning 10 minutes later, she said, “Children, we must get down on our knees and pray for the president, who has just been shot.” So, we did. But in my third grade mind, all I could think of was, “I got a shot last week and nobody prayed for me.”

For the next three days, my family and I all sat glued to the TV watching the news stories related to the assassination and then the funeral on Monday.

Sloan Oliver


Going to war?

As a 16-year-old boy, I was attending the Baylor School, a military preparatory high school at that time located in Chattanooga. We were on the drill field standing in military formation with our M-1 rifles when we heard the president had been shot. We were all confused and uncertain about what this meant. I remember thinking, “are we going to war and does that mean me, too?”

H. Newton

Saw him day earlier in San Antonio

In the early afternoon on Thursday, Nov. 21, 1963, I was standing on the sidewalk outside the studios of radio station KMAC on Commerce Street in downtown San Antonio, where I was program director. Myself and a few hundred curious others were awaiting the arrival of President John F. Kennedy’s motorcade as he made a whirlwind swing through the Lone Star State. Moments later, a hoard of police motorcycles preceded the president’s open air limo and all of a sudden I was within an arms’ length of the president of the United States and the first lady, Jackie. I was struck by the contrast between him and Ms. Kennedy. The president in his conservative dark suit and she in a bright pink suit with matching pillbox hat. Very quickly the president had come and gone and it was all over. No one I knew was very excited, as this president was not a popular man in Texas.

The next day, Friday, Nov. 22, seemed like an ordinary day. At 12:30 p.m., I was in my car in the parking lot of a local bank. My wife was inside signing some loan papers, and I was listening to my radio station, a CBS affiliate. Minutes later, a Bob Dylan song was interrupted by a bulletin: The president had been shot in Dallas. Just seconds later, Walter Cronkite reported that President John F. Kennedy was dead.

All of a sudden, the shock and historical significance hit me. I was one of the last few thousand people to see JFK alive.

Ron Frasier

Put on high alert

On the morning of Nov. 22, 1963, my Marine Corps unit was in the middle of hand grenade training at Camp Geiger, N.C. Our instructor received a call on the field radio and alerted our transportation officer to get us back to the barracks immediately. We were all told to assemble in the recreation area where we were informed of the shooting of our commander-in-chief, John F. Kennedy. We had arrived from Parris Island, S.C., less than a month before and I had turned 18 two days prior. We turned on the television in the recreation room and watched as Walter Cronkite reported that our president had died from the gunshot wound he received while riding in a convertible in Dallas, Texas. The entire base was put on high alert, and we were restricted to barracks with no liberty off-base. I had a fear that we were about to go to war with an unknown enemy. We had to remain in our barracks until the funeral was over and the investigations were completed. We finally returned to normal, if anything could ever be normal after such a tragic event.

Roy Anderson


Day of my wedding

I was in the Air Force stationed at Waco, Texas. It was the day of my wedding, at 7 p.m. that evening. All the conversation was about the assassination, and on our honeymoon, all the TV programming was about the events leading up to the funeral.

Joe Mitchell

Warner Robins

Stunned silence

Nov. 22, 1963, I was all of 8 years old, 3 and one-half months into my third year of elementary school in the small close-knit city of Dublin, Ga. Routine day, learning the history and current working of our state government and, by extension, federal government which in 1963 were aptly called “social studies.”

Out of the blue, over the tiny, 6-inch intercom speaker mounted front and center 8 feet up the wall behind the teacher’s desk, our principal, Mrs. Sally Horne, announced that President John F. Kennedy had been shot in Dallas, Texas.

There was brief moment of stunned silence as our 8-year-old minds strained to absorb and then process this completely unexpected news. This was not in our history books that lay before us on out desks.

Later that evening, I would learn a new word that was totally alien and incomprehensible to me — assassination.

I wondered how this event and the word used to describe it had any place in the noble workings of our great nation.

After a brief silence in the classroom, most of us students and our teacher were gasping and expressing our disbelief in low tones at such a horrible occurrence. A few of my fellow 8-year-old classmates began to clap and cheer!

This made a huge impact on me, and I was relieved when the teacher made them stop.

I would not wait to get home and ask my parents, “Why would anyone celebrate the murder of fellow human being, especially the president of the United States?”

My father illuminated me with his explanation, that has stayed with me since that day, Nov. 22 1963!

John Stanley Killingsworth


Student ran down the hall, announcing news

I was 16 years old and a student at Monticello High School. I remembered vividly sitting in study hall and hearing a fellow student run down the hall yelling that the president had been shot. No one could believe it. I mourned with the rest of the nation over the death of our president. I watched intensely the funeral on black and white television and cried when John Jr. saluted his father’s casket. I marveled at the bravery of his young widow as she lit the eternal flame at Arlington Cemetery.

Later I was able to share these JFK memories with my students in a humanities class. They were fascinated with my original Life magazines that detailed the day Kennedy was shot and enthralled with the many conspiracy theories pertaining to his assassination. JFK’s death was the end of one thousand days of Camelot when America truly lost her innocence. I sometimes wonder “what might have been” had this infamous day never happened. The tragedy of this day still lingers after 50 years.

Elaine Greene


Praying through tears

I was living in Washington, D.C., and listening to our teacher, Mrs. Zaharis, read to my second-grade class at Nativity Grade School when we heard that President Kennedy was shot. One of the nuns knocked on our classroom door to speak with our teacher. They whispered for a few seconds and then we saw her walk to her desk. Just then, the principal of our school came over on the loudspeaker, to announce that President Kennedy has been shot and died in Dallas, Texas. We were instructed to take out our rosaries and begin praying; yes, praying through tears.

Deborah C. Moten

Lowered the flag

It was a beautiful fall day. I was in Miss Jane Carroll’s sixth-grade class at Ellsworth Hall School. With lunch behind us, we were into our afternoon lessons. Miss Carroll said there was something important that she needed to tell us, something only the seventh-graders had been told. She then told us that President Kennedy had been shot and killed. The girl that sat in front of me laid her head on my desk and wept. I wondered what the Russians would try to do now that our president was dead.

Shortly after her announcement, Scott Wood, a seventh-grader, came to the door and asked for me. Scott and I raised the flag in front of the school each day. Scott told me we should go and lower the flag. We went to the flagpole and lowered the flag to half-mast, a position we would place the flag for the remainder of the year.

Just before the end of the school day, our principal, Mrs. Lillian Mahone, came on the PA system and made the announcement of the tragic event that day in Dallas. She then introduced Rev. Bond from Shurlington Baptist Church next door to the school. Rev. Bond began praying and was praying when the school bell rang. No one left their desk that day when the bell rang. After Rev. Bond’s prayer all the students very quietly exited their classrooms.

Ben Butt


Heard on car radio

My dad, Col. J.O. Wingard, was stationed at Elgin Air Force Base in Fort Walton Beach, Fla. He was deputy in chief of the Hound Dog and Skybolt Missiles. Elgin, at the time, was a testing site for these missiles. President Kennedy had visited the base several times on Air Force Day.

Dad was retiring and we were moving to Dublin, Ga. We left that morning from Dublin, headed back to Elgin for his big retirement party at the base. I remember the car radio announcing that the president had been assassinated. It was about 3 o’clock in the afternoon. Mother stopped the car to hear the news. Needless to say, the retirement party was canceled and Elgin Air Force Base was on full military lock down.

Gail Wingard Yates

Ready for shore leave

I was on board the USS Ranger (CVA-61) ready to return to port in Alameda, Calif. It was a Friday and we were all ready for liberty (shore leave) when we were informed that President Kennedy was shot. A bit of time later, we were informed that we would remain at sea for the weekend because no one knew what was going on.

Of course, everyone in the crew was shocked and could not believe what had happened.

During the next week the chaplains onboard conducted a memorial service in the forecastle of the ship. It was standing room only.

Alan F.E. Thiese


Ordered to return to Andrews

I was a crew member aboard a USAF T-29 aircraft based at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. We were on a scheduled navigator training flight from Andrews to Kinley Air Base in Bermuda. Upon arrival, we were met with the news that the president had been shot. When it was determined the president had died, we were ordered to return to Andrews. We arrived at Andrews as Air Force One was landing. Our aircraft was sent to a “holding pattern” away from Andrews and not permitted to land until the presidential cortege and AF-1 were completely off the tarmac, some two hours later.

Allen Powell

Room fell silent

In June 1959, U.S. Sen. John Kennedy was featured speaker at my graduation from Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School. This Friday is Nov. 22, 2013. On Friday, November 22, 1963, I was at my desk at Geico in Chevy Chase, Md. Over the PA system they announced that the president was dead in Dallas. The room fell silent. Then one voice. Somewhere to my left said, “Good!” The response was dead silence and hard stares from the entire division. Like everyone else, I spent the entire weekend glued to the TV. It took a long time to get over this event — the first national disaster in my memory.

Carolyn B. Cherry


At a bar in Germany

An Air Force buddy and I had gone via troop train to Berlin, Germany, for some R-and-R. That day we saw “Cleopatra” at a downtown theatre. Afterwards we stopped in a bar for a beer.

A radio behind the bar was interrupted by a news bulletin. I asked the bartender if he could put on the AFN, which he did just in time to hear that “the president of the United States died an hour ago in Dallas, Texas.”

My buddy asked what was going on and I had him lift his stein and drink a toast to President Johnson.

We left Berlin the next day on the troop train that was lengthened so that all of the military dependents could leave Berlin. No one knew what was going on or who was responsible. The radios on the train played nothing but martial music as we crossed East Germany.

John M. Cherry III


Visibly shaken

On Nov. 22, 1963, my four children and I were in Oslo, Norway, as my late husband was stationed in Greenland. We were lying on the floor playing a game. The doorbell rang, I opened the door and my friend Mabel ran past me, ran across the game board with tears streaming down her face, screaming, “The president has been shot!” We turned the radio on for the news and were totally stunned. We all cried.

The following days out in public, the citizens of Oslo were visibly shaken as they gathered around the televisions in the shop windows. All the flags were at half-staff.

Lillian Kurth

At Cape Canaveral

I was standing in the middle of the Complex 39 Vertical Assembly Building at Cape Canaveral, Fla., where I was managing the Phase One construction of the largest building in the world from the standpoint of volume as we (the United States) made preparations for launching the Saturn V rockets and Apollo space crafts that would send astronauts to the moon “before the end of the decade.” Someone delivered a message from my wife, Carolyn (who was ironing baby clothes in nearby Satellite Beach while watching “As The World Turns” on TV), saying President Kennedy had been shot.

Floyd Williams

A hero lost

A month after my 13th birthday, I was in my sixth-grade class in East Point, near Atlanta. It was Friday. I had become aware of President Kennedy a year earlier during the Cuban Missile Crisis. How Kennedy handled that situation made him become a hero to me.

At 1:30 in the afternoon, our principal rushed into my class, crying. She grabbed the rolling television from the back and plugged it in. Her behavior stunned us all. The television warmed up and after some adjustments of the antenna, in came Walter Cronkite with the news that the president had been shot. School was dismissed early and we didn’t return until the following Tuesday, and a weekend of indelible, truly unforgettable images were burned into my mind, and they live there, still.

J.D. Spence

Warner Robins

Along the side of the road

I think it was about 2 in the afternoon. In November 1963, I was working for the Florida State Road Department on the I-75 bridge being built over State Road 484 southwest of Ocala. A woman in a cream-colored Cadillac pulled over to the side of the road, weeping. She let her window about halfway down and cried out to the group of men closest to her, “The president’s been shot!” She looked around for a moment, then drove away. I was already running to get my transistor radio.

Thom Harrison

Recovering from malaria

I was in Karachi, Pakistan, recuperating from a severe bout of malaria. My wife and I were staying in the home of missionary colleagues. Coming in from fetching the morning newspaper, our hostess, Grace, shouted to her husband words that sounded like, “Sam, our kitty has died.” We all ran to her and saw the large headlines, “KENNEDY HAS DIED.” An ordained American minister, Sam was asked by the U.S. consular general to conduct a memorial service the next day for the large American community. With very little time to put together such an event, Sam asked for my help in writing the eulogy. From my bed, I did so. Before a packed out crowd of Americans and other nationalities, he read the eulogy.

Hubert Addleton


Just finished lunch

It was a clear, cold afternoon on Nov. 22, 1963. We were living in Randlett, Okla., about 150 miles from Dallas. We had finished our lunch and gone back to our class, when the principal came over the intercom and said that about 12:30 our president had been shot in Dallas and he had died after being taken to Parkland Hospital. He said to pray for his family and our nation.

We were in shock and crying in our sixth-grade class. The whole school went outside to the patio, and we comforted each other until school was dismissed early.

Sylvia Stith


Stopped still in my tracks

We had just landed at a small feeder airport in Memphis, Tenn., to refuel. The University of Louisville football team was on a DC-6 headed for Houston, Texas, to play the University of Houston; I was the Louisville fullback. When deplaned, I walked into the small terminal and immediately saw the black and white television sitting on a counter blaring “John Kennedy assassinated moments ago in Dallas, Texas.” I stopped still in my tracks, almost in shock, and watched as the motorcycle cop that was riding behind and to the left of the convertible in which President Kennedy was shot relate his story, his blood-stained face and uniform saying more about what had happened than anything he had verbally expressed. I felt drained. President Kennedy represented our youth and now he was dead.

Ronald B. Hall

First president I remember

I was sitting in Mrs. Sammie Dennard’s fourth-grade classroom at Pulaski County Elementary School in Hawkinsville when we got word of President Kennedy’s death. My first thoughts were that the communists were coming to get us. I have remained intrigued with President Kennedy, as he was the first president that I really remember. My husband and I visited the JFK Presidential Library in Boston in June 2011 and I could have stayed all day.

Hope Sinyard Dow

Ran home crying

I was in middle school in Tampa, Fla., at the time. I heard it at school and ran all the way home crying my eyes out to talk to my mom. She was taking a nap and I ran in and woke her up and told her the news. She replied with “Melanie Ann, you don’t say things like that.” (The only time she called me by my first and middle name was when she was mad.) When she saw how I was crying, she jumped up and the story goes from there. It was a very traumatic day for me, a day I’ll never forget!

Melanie Wheeler


An end of rotation party

I was a nursing student at Bellevue Hospital in NYC. We were planning an end of rotation party on the medical ward when our instructor came back to the ward with the news that the president had been shot. We were all in a state of shock as the news came that he had been killed. I’d voted for him — the first presidential election I was eligible for.

Joan Brumett

Warner Robins

At home painting

On that fateful day, Nov. 22, 1963, I was at my home in Macon, Ga., painting the ceiling of my living room. However, my job — that of special representative of the International Association of Machinists — had me stationed at Cape Canaveral, Fla., where I had recently been appointed to President Kennedy’s Missile Sites Labor Committee and the Marshall Space Flight Center. Missile development was a top priority and I was working on the missile program attempting to reduce the number of labor conflicts in order to maintain continuous and peaceful work on projects at missile and space sites throughout the U.S.

In 1961, Uri Gagarin became the first man to go into space, which prompted our young, newly elected president, John F. Kennedy, to boldly declare that, by the end of the decade, the U.S. would put a man on the moon and return him safely. Only a few days earlier at the Cape, President Kennedy visited and I shook his hand. Now he was gone and I was in shock. We persevered in the space program in his memory and, six years later, we successfully fulfilled his challenge of putting a man — Neil Armstrong — on the moon and returning him safely home.

Bill Usery, former U.S. secretary of labor

As related to Judy Archer

Started to cry

I was a 6-year-old attending Ziegler Nursery in Warner Robins. We had a black and white, I believe, Zenith, TV. The nursery ladies sat down in front of the TV. The children were playing but very soon the ladies started to cry as did us kids. I can remember each of us sat in the floor, in the laps of the ladies and the whole room was wailing. Of course, we children did not know really why, but we cried just the same.

Teresa B. Hawk

A November tornado?

I was a freshman at the University of Georgia in 1963.

I was in the Reserve Officer Training Corp. program at UGA so I could be commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant upon graduation. Upon completing a task of polishing and cleaning M-1 rifles at the ROTC building, just north of Sanford Stadium. I left the building to return to my dormitory.

When outside, I observed people running in all directions; hundreds, maybe thousands. I assumed it was an unusual November tornado. I grabbed someone near and demanded, “Why are you running?” He replied, “President Kennedy was shot in Dallas!”

I turned him loose and started running to the student lounge in my dormitory.

Frank Horne


Changing classes

When President Kennedy was assassinated, I was in the ninth grade at Monticello High School walking down the hall changing classes. What a shock it was to everyone. School was immediately closed and we were all sent home, since no one really knew what was going on or what could be coming next. What a sad and gloomy time it was and a day I will never forget.

Nancy Campbell

Warner Robins

Confirming rampant rumors

I was in an eighth-grade all-girls home economics class in Des Moines, Iowa, when the office confirmed the rampant rumors. Earlier in the day, an English class performed a play about a president being killed. There was much confusion among students and staff alike. My all girls class sat there in stunned silence. No one uttered a word. All after school activities were canceled and we were told to go directly home. School was canceled on Monday while 13-year-olds tried to make sense of the world, as did the adults around them.

Rhea Patrick

An ‘international’ experience

I was a senior at Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio, at the time. I was in chemistry laboratory at the time of the shooting doing a very difficult electrochemistry experiment requiring three persons to complete the lab. My lab partners were two international students — one from Nigeria and the other from Indonesia.

We had a radio on listening to music while conducting this experiment. When Walter Cronkite cut into the normal broadcast, we were shocked to say the least. Both of my international friends wanted clarification from me on what had happened. I told them the president had been shot, but we needed to complete our experiment. Both of them bolted out of the lab with me yelling for them to come back. I attempted to continue the experiment doing three persons’ work, without much success. I was not a happy chemistry student. How would I explain to our professor that they had abandoned me?

After about 15-20 minutes that both returned. I was angry. Why did they leave? Where did they go? They both ran down the street to the local bank and withdrew all their money and then went to a travel agent and booked a flight to their homes in Nigeria and Indonesia.

I was amazed. Why do that? Why leave? They both said almost in unison. Don’t you realize what just happened? We have had a coup d’état. Each of them had lived through that kind of event in their home countries. They told me there would be chaos and tanks in the streets of this small town, Delaware, Ohio, before nightfall. I said I didn’t think so. JFK’s shooting was tragic, but our government would continue peacefully.

We finished our lab work as I gave them a brief lesson in US government — a civics lesson. We then went over the Student Center, the closest TV, and just as we arrived LBJ was being sworn in as president with Jackie beside him.

As every American living then, I will not forget there I was when JFK was shot, but I also had my first “international” experience giving my friends a civics lesson. The event was tragic, but our nation’s response was admirable.

Robert J. Hargrove


Dark and dismal day

I was a 10th-grade student in class at Oconee High School when the announcement came over the intercom that the president of the United States had been shot and later died. The news made for a dark and dismal day and many to follow. Students were crying, teachers were choking back tears. As the news became more frequent and pronounced classes was dismissed for closing of school classes. It was as if we all knew him personally.

Earnestine S. Holder

Entire class began crying

When I heard about President Kennedy’s death, I was a second-grade student at Lamson-Richardson Elementary School in Marshallville. Our principal, Mr. Samuel R. Hollinshed, made the announcement on the school intercom. Our teacher, Miss Mary R. Brock, and the entire class began crying. We knew we had lost a great president. When I got home from school, my parents, Adortha and Susie M. Harris, were very sad about the assassination. They knew he was a good man as well and did not understand why someone wanted to kill him. We all loved President John F. Kennedy.

Gwendolyn H. Young

Home sick with strep

I was in the seventh grade at Rosa Taylor Elementary School at the time. I was home sick with strep throat, watching TV when they made the announcement that President Kennedy had been shot. I was a little too young to know a lot about politics, but I do remember my mom and dad being very upset. I think people all over the country were in shock at what happened. It just did not seem real.

Audrey Cox


Complete silence and disbelief

In 1963, I was a sophomore at what was then the Woman’s College of Georgia (now Georgia State College & University) in Milledgeville and had just returned to my dorm room after working lunch in the dining hall (No cafeteria; family-style dining with real waitresses and white tablecloths and napkins. I was a waitress). No one had TVs. There was one in the basement and maybe one in the receiving room, where girls typically met their dates, who likely as not were military students at nearby GMC. Most girls had radios; a few of us had them on and heard the bulletin that President Kennedy had been shot. Those of us who were there and not yet in an afternoon class gathered in the halls in absolute shock. Later that afternoon, there was a memorial (in reality a mourning) service in the school chapel. Complete silence and disbelief. It was as if we had lost one of our own. JFK was the first president from our parents’ generation and he seemed to be so young and his wife, of course, was just a decade older than the seniors in school. It just seemed impossible that his life had been taken in such a way. We were in shock. I remember hearing one of the older students (we looked up to the older girls) wondering what would happen to the country now that Johnson was president. She didn’t hold out hope for his presidency.

That weekend of the 22nd was the weekend of Golden Slipper, the biggest event of the school year in the all girls’ school. Most of the girls that afternoon wanted to call it off, but school officials decided that the event (which was on Saturday night) should go forward and it did. That was the weekend before Thanksgiving break, which in that era was a two and a half day event, i.e. classes dismissed at noon on Wednesday. For the remaining time we were at school we gathered around the one or two TVs that were around and watched all the funeral events in D.C. The black and white images of the funeral remain forever embedded in our minds. Though the image of Jackie Kennedy with Caroline and John in tow standing and watching the president’s caisson go by is now an iconic one, we were all so impressed with her sheer stoicism and her insistence that her children be a part of the funeral procession. I honestly don’t remember if we went to class that Monday, the day of the funeral. It is likely that classes were canceled, since Johnson had declared it to be a national day of mourning.

Donna Williams


Returning from Puerto Rico

My family and I were returning from Puerto Rico, where my father, who was a sergeant major in the Army was stationed at Fort Buchanan during the Bay of Pigs Conflict.

We landed in New Orleans the day of his death, where my grandmother picked us up and took us to Tyler, Texas. We arrived just in time to witness the killing of Oswald and funeral of Kennedy.

Rick Hughes

Awaiting orders

We were conducting ASW exercises with the Ecuadorian Navy when news of President Kennedy was received. I was on the bridge of USS Norfolk DL-1 when Capt. Armstrong ordered me to take the helm and steer 290 west. Our task group consisting of us as flag, two DD’s, three DE’s and the Sub USS Skate regrouped and awaited orders.

J. Ray Markwalter

Thought it was a joke

Friday, 11-22-63, dawned a beautiful sunny day with the temperatures in the 70s. While I was changing a tire in the parking lot behind Building 215 at Robins Air Force Base for a co-worker at approximately 2 p.m., an individual walking through the parking lot asked me if I heard about the death of the president. My initial thoughts were that he was setting me up for a joke, for at that particular time in the turbulent ’60s the president was not popular in all segments of society.

Irv Shaw

Warner Robins

Total sadness

I was in the fifth grade at John W. Burke School when our principal, Miss Lillian Bloodworth, came over the intercom and asked for complete silence. Then she went on to announce that President John Fitzgerald Kennedy had been shot in Dallas, Texas. She asked us to please bow our heads for a prayer. After the prayer, she then announced that school was to be dismissed early due to this tragedy. I remember all of the teachers and the students crying and seeing the looks on the teachers’ faces. There was total sadness and almost complete quietness that sent shock waves over the students. Even though we were young, we knew that something with an earthquake, life-altering event had taken place, and that for the next couple of weeks, life as we knew it would never be the same again for any of us. When we got home, every household that had a TV was tuned in to CBS News. I remember watching and staying glued to this channel for what seemed like a week, not wanting to miss any of it whatsoever. Our dad — state command Sgt. Maj. Olen Carden — had called our mother to tell her that all of the units of every United States Armed Forces were on high alert and he wasn’t sure when he would be able to come home. My sister and brother and I all cried as we really didn’t understand all of this but yet at the same time we knew that it was tragic. I will never forget watching the funeral and seeing Mrs. Kennedy and little Caroline and John-John and the looks on Mrs. Kennedy’s face and, of course, the most famous salute of history, when John-John saluted his daddy’s coffin. The tears rolled ... sad, sad time in American history. I will forever be fascinated with the Kennedy legend — a great history lesson taught to me by my dad, and for this I have remembered to this day and I am grateful and thankful.

Brenda Stovall

Principal told us

I was 11 years old, a sixth-grade student in Mrs. Porter’s class at Winship School. Our school had burned down earlier that year and our classes were held at Cherokee Heights Methodist Church. Our principal, Mr. Guyton Carr, came to our classroom and told us President Kennedy had been shot and killed. Mr. Carr then told us we could go home.

Ms. Lee A. Johnson


Listened on the radio

I was 10 years old, in the fifth-grade at Charles H. Bruce school when my teacher Ms. Massey was called to the principal’s office. She came back and told the class that President Kennedy had been assassinated. She turned on the radio so we could listen. I remember being at my aunt’s house watching the funeral on TV. I did a class essay on the assassination of JFK when I was in junior high school.

Lenny (Combs) Rushin

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