JFK Assassination Anniversary

by Newark Talk Collective

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Nat Bodian:
Coming up on Nov. 22 is the 40th anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy. It might be a timely occasion for us to look back at that eventful day and era, and to reflect on what he meant to America, his accomplishments during his shortened presidency, and what each of us was doing on that ill-fated day.

Back on No. 22, 1963, I was employed in the N. Y. office of a European scholarly publisher. I heard about the assassination on 42nd Street as I was returning from lunch to my office on 52 Vanderbilt Avenue.

Our office manager of a staff of five was an English-born lady and a British subject, who had often made known to us that Americans lacked culture and that everything British was better. On my return to the office I told her the president had been shot and was dead.

At that time, our American company president was on holiday and I was the senior in-house staffer, and in charge. On hearing the news, she coolly looked at me and asked: "Shall I send the girls home? ... After all, he WAS your president." Of course we did... but I will never forget her reaction and that unconcerned look.

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It is just a little over week to the 40th anniversary of that tragedy in Dallas. It would be interesting to many of us, I think, to see posted here, some personal recollections from Guestbookers who are also able to recall that Nov. 22 day in 1963 -- especially those who were in Newark at that time.

I remember being in the bath room combing my hair-------the t. v. was on and we were listening to the ft. ball game when all hell broke loose. The words -blaring aloud that J. F. K. had been shot and I went to see the screen when they showed Jackie hovering over J. F. K.-the limo was racing along trying to get out of the area. Total shock went through our house hold as well as the world. It felt like we were in a time warp-we were in denial and in tears. Camelot came to an abrupt halt. The camera men were trying to find the shooter or shooters-people were crying every where a camera went. History was made but so sad a day as well as the days that followed.

Jim T:
I was a jr. in Belleville High School an they made an announcement on the PA system

Just as Jim, except that I was a freshman in ESHS, the announcement that President Kennedy had just been shot, was made over the PA System. Not a sound was heard in the classrooms, or the hallways. Within a short time after that, the announcement was made that the President had died. We were all dismissed from school...everyone leaving the classrooms with disbelief on their faces, and walking like Zombies...and others weeping and sobbing openly. When my brother and I got home, we found our parents already in front of the TV...is how all four of us then were, glued in front of the TV, for the next 3 days...still not wanting to believe what happened.

Nat Bodian:
Yes, as you say, "Camelot came to an abrupt halt" ... and its reigning Queen, Jacqueline Kennedy, and the glamour she brought to the White House was no more.

All, As a 7 year old 3rd grader at St. Benedict's Grammar School, Down Neck , I clearly remember our Principal, Sr. Veronica standing atop the landing of the fire escape which led to the 2nd floor auditorium loudly ringing a hand held bell. It was afternoon recess and I recall thinking that time was up too fast, and then we were rounded up by class and headed off to our classrooms where the announcement was made over the PA system the JFK was shot. School was dismissed, and we all went home. My mother, in tears, watching the television saying to my older brother and me "The President is dead! Oh my God, They've shot the President! "My father was home early from work and as a family we sat glued to that TV set, our world had changed that dark November Day. I have a copy of the Newark News Magazine from the 1st Anniversary of JFK's assassination, I'll try to reduce/copy it and forward to Glenn.

Seymour Pierce:
Nat, a very sad anniversary it is. "Oh, what might have been". It was such an ordinary day, as I recall [ Nov.22, 1963], until the reports of the terrible events in Dallas started to come over the radio and TV. For a fleeting moment I might have recalled Orson Welles' "the War of The Worlds" radio broadcast. However, these reports were the horrible truths. When Walter Cronkite said "President Kennedy had died "! it later brought to mind, one fond memory. Three years earlier, one bright, sunny November day [Nov. 6 1960 ], working, Main PO downtown Newark. We learned that a Democrat candidate was having a "motorcade" past City Hall. We all rushed out to see our future president. He was in an open car waving as they do. He had the appearance, air of confidence, and charisma of a young handsome movie star. I could understand, years later where John Jr. got some of his great looks. That is another story of another tragic loss. Youth, with so much to offer.

I was having my hair done at Woodward and Lothrop in D. C. Several of the operators who were there said something to the effect that the president had been shot in the head. It was very eloquently put and I was upset. I still didn't believe it even after I left the store, I saw Walter Cronkite making the announcement on a TV in the store but it really hit home as I was passing the Bureau of Engraving on 14th St. on my way to crossing the bridge into Arlington. The flag was being lowered to half staff. We were really in a fog. The cemetery was just down the street from our apartment on Columbia Pike and we spent the coldest day in the cemetery on the day the President was buried.

Jule Spohn:
Hello everyone. I was a personal body guard for President and Mrs. Kennedy during their trip to Mexico in June of 1962. I had just finished graduating from the Marine Security Guard School in Arlington Virginia and was awaiting my visa to go overseas to work as a Marine Security Guard at the American Embassy in Seoul, Korea. Out of a class of 60 or so there were seven of us who were waiting for our visas to come through. We were attached to the State Department. They took the seven of us, in civilian clothes, weapons and all, and had us go to Mexico along with the Secret Service to guard the President. I have a wonderful letter from President Kennedy and the American Ambassador to Mexico thanking me for my service framed and hanging on my den wall.

I was in Korea, at the Embassy, sleeping, when at around 4 in the morning the news first broke on at Armed Forces Radio Station, a year later, when the President was shot. Shortly thereafter we received a call from the Marines on duty at the Embassy for all of us at the house to get down there right away. The U. S. military all around the world went on alert and for the next several days we had all of the big-shot Koreans coming to the American Embassy to sign a "Guest book" we had set up there.

Mary Ellen:
Yes...indeed that was a sad day in history! I was enrolling my little girl in a day care facility when I heard it on the radio. We took a cab home and the driver was crying.
What followed was heart wrenching and obviously never forgotten by those of us who saw the whole thing on TV.
Mrs. Kennedy was a class act...when she showed us all the White House it solidified the moment forever. Most of us never saw the inside and I for one was grateful that she helped us to witness something so special.
The days following the assassination were sad for the entire universe. What a lovely moment we had before our world came crashing down on us.

I was at work. It was 1pm. The announcement came over our page system. We all stood still, did not make a sound. My place of business closed for the funeral. My place never closes, not even for snow storms. Saw the shooting of Lee Harvey Oswald live on TV. Guess everyone did!

Nicky G:
I was driving my cab down Clinton Ave. at the time when it came over the two way radio

Mary Ellen:
Jule...you never cease to amaze me with your "moments in time"! You were an honor guard for JFK and the lovely Mrs. Kennedy...of course you were! Would you be anything less? I can bet that you could write a book about your life and we all wouldn't be able to put the book down because it was so good!
Must be the Newark in you...right?

Jule Spohn:
Hello Mary Ellen. I have had an interesting life - not over yet though. Thanks for the kind words.

Tony DiGiesi:
Hi All:
I was also at work like many others on that fateful day. I have a piece of me still back there in Dallas forever in time.
The Kennedy's also made me feel for the first time really connected to this Country in a special way. The stillness could be felt for days the disbelief and sorrow.
John, Jackie and their children & family, will forever be a part of History. The loss to this country is unfathomable.
Thank you all for sharing and remembering the Kennedy's and all the countless others who gave their lives in service to this great Country. And are still doing so today in Iraq and elsewhere. And also for sharing your personal thoughts and remembrances. And the Legacy that was "Camelot".

Bob Miller:
I remember I was outside our auto dealership and was just closing a sale on a new car, when a UPS truck drove up and the driver asked if we'd heard that the president had been shot. We all dashed inside and put the radio on just in time to hear the announcer say that it was now official - the president was dead. I don't remember very much about the rest of the day. The shock was tremendous and one of the saddest days in our history

Nat Bodian:
T h a n k y o u a l l for your prompt responses to my reminder here yesterday about the upcoming 40th anniversary of JFK's death.

You have all made a piece of American history come alive and provided personal insights for others to share that they will never find in the history books.

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