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A Story of My Life, Part 16: The Day Kennedy Got Shot
I was six years old in 1963. Upstate New York could be New England, if you go far enough north. It's always fall I remember best, October is the month of my birth; and those vivid reds and yellows and oranges on the leaves of the turning trees.
Yes, Upstate New York could be New England. It could be Maine, or New Hampshire, or Vermont, with the trees clothed so vividly...the cool crisp autumn days with the smell of burning leaves in the air...the big yellow school bus smelled of apples...we, with our downhome country accents...
And there were apple trees all around, MacIntosh, mostly. We had MacIntosh, also a couple of Northern Spy apple trees on the farm where we lived. How bridal those trees looked in the spring, with their snowy white blossoms...
But it's always fall time I remember best, The big blue sky, with high white clouds, and a patchwork of sun and shadow chasing each other across the patchwork fields as I stared out the schoolroom window.
It was later in the fall, almost Thanksgiving. The leaves on the ground were turning brown and crumbly. We had wood stacked up neatly on one side of our porch, against the coming winter. Our Mom had us iron some of those bright autumn leaves between two sheets of waxed paper, and I had them pinned to the wall in the chilly upstairs bedroom I shared with my sister. They were preserved in their glory while outside the trees were bare, their naked branches beseeching the grey sky for mercy.
I was in the second grade at school. Our schoolroom was decorated with cheerful construction-paper turkeys in the windows. Thanksgiving was almost upon us. I was doing bellwork, sitting quietly at my desk, copying out the poem on the chalkboard, "The Lamplighter", from Robert Louis Stevenson's "Child's Garden of Verses".
My tea is nearly ready and the sun has left the sky;
It's time to take to the windows and see Leerie going by;
For every night at teatime before you take your seat,
With latern and with ladder he comes posting up the street.
Now Tom would be a driver and Marie would go to sea,
My Papa's a banker and as rich as he can be;
But I, when I'm stronger and can choose what I'm to do,
O Leerie, I'll go round at night and light the lamps with you!
Bellwork was something to keep us busy while the class was gathering, before the bell rang and classes officially started. Mrs. Yeager, our teacher, was sitting at her desk. She had the roll book out and was getting ready to call the class to order and to take attendance
We all looked up at the P.A. system speaker in the corner of the room.
Mr. Graham, the principal of the school, had come on. He had an announcement to make, and it sounded like he was crying....
"President Kennedy was shot..."
Dallas, November 22, 1963
Dallas, November 22, 1963
- January 1, 1963 George C. Wallace becomes governor of Alabama. In his inaugural speech, he defiantly proclaims,"segregation now, segregation tomorrow, and segregation forever!"
- In February, 1963 The John F. Kennedy administration makes travel, finiancial and commercial transactions to Cuba illegal.
- March 4, 1963 6 people are sentenced to death for conspiring to assassinate President Charles de Gaulle. De Gaulle pardons five of them but the sixth is executed by firing squad a few days later.
- March 21, 1963 The Alcatraz Island federal penitentiary in San Francissco Bay (The Rock) closes.
- April 7, 1963 Yugoslavia is proclaimed to be a socialist republic and Josip Tito is named President for Life.
- April 12, 1963 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Ralph Abernathy and Fred Shuttlesworth are arrested in a Birmingham, Alabama protest for..."Parading without a permit".
- April 15, 1963 70,000 marchers arrive in London to demonstrate against nuclear weapons.
- April 16, 1963 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. issues his "Letter from the Birmingham Jail".
- May 1, 1963 The Coca-Cola company debuts its first diet drink, Tab.
- May 2, 1963 Thousands of African Americans, many of them children, are arrested while protesting segregation in Birmingham, Alabama. Public Safety Commissioner Bull Conner unleashes police dogs and turns fire hoses on the demonstrators.
- May 4, 1963 Dr. No, the first James Bond film, is shown in US theaters.
- May 23, 1963 Fidel Castro visits the Soviet Union.
- May 27, 1963 The Free-Wheelin' Bob Dylan, Bob Dylan's second album is released. It was the most influential album, the most influential song, "Blowin' in the Wind", was on that album.
- June 3, 1963 Pope John XXIII died.
- June 5, 1963 The FIRST annual National Hockey League draft is held in Montreal, Quebec.
- June 11, 1963 President John F. Kennedy delivered a historic Civil Rights address, in which he promised a Civil Rights Bill, and asks for the kind of "equality of treatment we would want for ourselves."
- June 12, 1963 Medgar Evers is murdered in Jackson, Mississippi. His killer isn't convicted until 1994.
- June 16, 1963 The Vostok 6 carries Soviet Cosmonaut Valentine Tereshkova, the first woman, into space.
- June 17, 1963 In "Abington School District vs. Schempp" The US Supreme Court rules that state-sanctioned Bible reading in public schools is unconstitutional.
- July 1, 1963 ZIP codes are introduced in the US by the US Postal Service.
- August 18, 1963 James Meredith becomes the first black person to graduate from the University of Mississippi.
- August 28, 1963 Dr. Martin Luther King delivers his famous "I had a dream..." speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to and audience of at least 250,000 people during the March on Washington.
- September, 1963 Marvel Comics releases the first ever X-Men comic book.
- September 18, 1963 Rioters burn down the British Embassy in Jakarta, to protest the forming of Malaysia.
- September 24, 1963 The US Senate ratifies the nuclear test ban treaty.
- October 1, 1963 Nigeria becomes a republic.
- October 30, 1963 The car manufacturing firm Lamborghini is founded.
- November 10, 1963 Malcolm X makes a historic speech in Detroit, Michigan, the "Message to the Grass Roots"
- November 22, 1963 The Beatles' second album "With the Beatles" is released.
- November 22, 1963
In Dallas, Texas, the United States President John Fitzgerald Kennedy is assassinated. Lyndon Baines Johnson becomes the 36th President of the United States, and the country mourns...