Friday, November 22, 2013

Where were you 11/22/63?

On Nov. 22, 1963 I was 6 years old and in the first grade. I went to Ed C. Lewis Elementary School at 13220 Bellflower Blvd. in Downey California. I only have 3 memories of going there. This is one of them. 

It was a typical Southern California school with most of the doors opening onto covered but otherwise open air corridors. The main building did have one indoor corridor going through the middle with a big door at the side leading to the playground and the other corridors. I’m sure that they didn’t usually let us little guys wander around unattended but for some reason I was by myself on my way to the office. The office was located in the indoor corridor.  I had only been there a couple of times before. I remember the way sounds echoed off the polished linoleum floor and walls painted the same green apple color all government installations were painted in those days. I could hear the biggest clock I had ever seen ticking and tocking. The secretary was situated in a kind of niche in the wall behind an island counter that was too high for me to see over. She or some adult had always been there before. Tick tock. It was kind of spooky. I peeked around the counter to see the secretary sitting at her desk crying. Other in the room beyond were crying too. I don't remember if I said anything. 
She saw me and said “The President has been killed.” 

We got the next day, maybe 2, off of school. At first the adults were interested, concerned, upset. Those black and white clips you see of the funeral procession were the only thing on TV for days. After many hours of this mom pronounced that she had had enough of the riderless horse and eternal flame. The others concurred. The next time the adults; mom, dad, grandma, grandpa and assorted aunts, uncles and cousins all watched the television spectacle in amazement and horror was during the Watts Riots a couple of years later. We had moved to Bakersfield by that time and I was closer to being a sentient being so shared in their emotions to some degree. The things on the TV and the things the adults were saying mixed much more darkly in my child’s imagination than they had when President Kennedy was shot. 

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