By Tom Quiner


It was cold and wet outside.

I was excited about the imminent Thanksgiving holiday. But first, one more day of school.

I was in fifth grade at Perkins Elementary School in an era when kids still went home for lunch.

I raced home with my younger sister for my usual peanut butter and jelly sandwich and Campbell’s tomato soup. I lived a half a block from school. In Spring, I could get back in time to play a little baseball after lunch before the bell rang.

But on this chilly, drizzly November day 52 years ago today, there no was no baseball in the offing, only a half more day of school before a delightful  4 day Thanksgiving weekend.

The kids gathered in the auditorium after lunch as usual. Frankly, I can’t remember why. And then the room was quickly hushed. We heard the principal, Mr. Pace, over the intercom. He said he had just heard news that President Kennedy had been shot, and that he would keep us posted.

At the next bell, we went to our next class. For me, it was Mr. Coon’s science class. It might have been social studies. Again, details grow fuzzy, except for what happened next.

It was Mr. Pace again on the intercom. The class froze. Mr. Pace told us in somber voice that the President of the United States had been shot and killed. Even more, schools were sending kids home immediately.

This was an era when most of us kids had a mom and a dad, and the mom didn’t work outside of the home. So it wasn’t as difficult to send kids home early as it would be today.

I remember the mixed feelings I had. What kid didn’t like to get out of school early? But our president had been violently murdered, and we didn’t know any of the details. It was pretty darn jarring to this 11 year old.

What happened next in the Quiner household was pretty much what happened in every household. Everyone went home and turned on their television. There were only the three networks in those days.

When dad got home, we got in the car and drove to grandma and grandpa’s house. Our aunt, uncle, and cousins met us there. And for four days, we watched the live events of the aftermath non-stop, oh, except for an hour set aside for the Thanksgiving dinner.

We were all glued to the set when Lee Harvey Oswald was gunned down on live television as the entire nation watched.

Where were you when Kennedy was shot? No Baby Boomer can ever forget.


  1. parrillaturi on November 24, 2016 at 12:40 am

    I happened to be stationed in Germany, when the news came over the radio. We were stunned, and immediately went into red alert status. Our first thought was that the commies had assassinated him. We were ready for them. A sad day, when our beloved Commander-in-Chief was murdered. We were enraged to say the least, but itching to wipe these commies off the face of the earth. Glad level heads prevailed.

    • quinersdiner on November 24, 2016 at 2:33 pm

      What a unique perspective you have. Thanks for sharing.

  2. d. knapp on November 24, 2016 at 7:07 pm

    I was the distant thought of a young girl of the Baby Boom generation. The JFK assassination was recently on the cover of a tabloid paper at the check out. I was so devastated at the photo of the murdered president and hated to have to explain it to my 12 yo as the result of an avowed communist, but that we still just dont know how it all happened. Now my girl worries about Trump. I did not like ANY aspect of the Obama terms and would say he just did not speak for me really at all, but I certainly would not want him murdered. Such things always have outcomes the perpetrator never expects. The reconstruction was so much worse than Lincoln intended but the last starring act of Booth sentenced the South to the reconstruction in all its brutality (very ironic as he was a hard core southern sympathizer). The assassination of Kennedy gave us Johnson and the problems of that for Vietnam. If Reagan had died, who knows if the the USSR would have fallen. Reagan was considered a whacko to try to end the cold war w/ the end of the USSR. I doubt the VP Bush would have gone that rout. May such an act never again be carried out against the democratically elected leaders of the world. So much of the world has no voice. It’s especially horrific that those who have a vote can deny the voices of others w/ bullet or blade.

  3. bluebird of bitterness on November 24, 2016 at 9:02 pm

    I was in fourth grade. Our school had no public address system, so someone had to go around the building to each classroom whenever there were messages to be delivered. The principal, Miss Ross, came to the door of our classroom and told us that the president had been shot. Our teacher, Miss Haglund, accepted this news with what in retrospect seems like remarkable equanimity. She didn’t even interrupt what she was doing, but just carried on as if nothing had occurred. Not long afterward Miss Ross was back again. She popped her head in the door, said “The president is dead,” then left immediately to go to the next classroom. Some of the girls started crying, but stoic Miss Haglund soldiered on, refusing to let lessons be neglected for any reason. School was not dismissed early. We all just sat through the rest of the day, then went home as usual. I don’t really remember anything that happened after that. I just remember that moment Miss Ross looked into our room and said in a flat, expressionless voice, “The president is dead.”

    • quinersdiner on November 25, 2016 at 2:11 pm

      Thanks for sharing the memory. I was a year older than you and remember a little more of the dramatic weekend the ensued.

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