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 54 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.