Where were you on Nov.22, 1963? The world changes for a 16-year-old in a small town.

Where were you on the afternoon of Nov. 22, 1963?
Here is a chronology of Friday, Nov. 22, 1963 (all times Eastern Standard Time)

12:39 am Air Force One arrives in Dallas
12:55 am Motorcade begins, the Kennedys and the Connallys are in the second car
1:29 pm Presidential limousine enters Dealey Plaza
1:30 pm Witnesses report three shots fired
1:36 pm ABC reports three shots fired
1:37 pm NBC radio bulletin, sniper fired three shots fired
1:39 pm Radio bulletin on Dallas KLIF: shots fired
1:40 pm CBS bulletin by Walter Cronkite: President has been shot, wounds could be fatal
1:45 pm United Press reports President Kennedy and Gov. Connally shot
1:45 pm NBC TV breaks into regular programming to report Kennedy had been shot
1:57 pm NBC begins continuous broadcasting
2:00 pm CBS, ABC join continuous radio, TV coverage
All regular programming and commercials canceled for the next four days
2:00 pm President Kennedy pronounced dead at Parkland Hospital
2:10 pm Dallas police officer JD Tippit fatally shot
2:22 pm CBS reports that President Kennedy died of wounds from assassin’s bullets
2:33 pm President Kennedy’s death announced. “He died of a gunshot wound to the brain.”
2:50 pm Lee Harvey Oswald arrested at the Texas Theatre

Sunday, Nov 24
12:21 pm Lee Harvey Oswald shot and killed at Dallas Police HQ by Jack Ruby on live TV

I was coming back from one of the practice rooms in my high school music department when the first announcement from our school principal came over the loudspeaker: “President Kennedy has been shot in Dallas. We don’t know anything more at this point.”
I was alone in what had been a locker room off the below-ground gymnasium in the old high school on Main Street in East Aurora, New York. I sat down, alto saxophone in hand, stunned, saying something like “Oh my God.” I don’t remember talking to anyone, or even seeing anyone, although I’m sure instrumental instructor and band leader Charlie Gange was around. I was alone with my thoughts of the young President. I slowly put the saxophone into its case. If I had another class that day I don’t remember what it was. I am sure I didn’t go to it. I sat and waited for Mr. McPherson to make the next announcement. The only radio was in the office. There was no TV in the school. Portable radios were still the size of lunch boxes, and were not allowed in school. I remember praying a little, hoping for some good news.
About 20 minutes later, there was a second announcement over the loudspeaker. This time I was sitting on a folding chair in the cavernous rehearsal room, the old school’s World War I-era gymnasium, when Mr. McPherson’s voice echoed off the high ceiling: “CBS is reporting that President Kennedy is dead.” If the principal said anything after that, from a thoughtful prayer for our nation or even an announcement that school was out early, I don’t remember. My memory of that fateful half hour on a Friday afternoon in my junior year of high school is so intensely clear. My memory of the next nearly 48 hours is practically non-existent, consisting of flickering images on my family’s black-and-white console TV, repeating over and over. I don’t remember walking home (I lived across the street from the school), talking to my parents or friends, the headlines in the morning and evening Buffalo newspapers that landed in our driveway twice daily or the words said at the Sunday morning service at the First Baptist Church. Nothing. Just those TV images. The motorcade. The crowds. The waving president. Jackie. Until Sunday after church.
We had just arrived home from church, and I immediately went downstairs to our basement family room where the TV was located. I turned it on just in time to see the accused assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, escorted down a hallway, then suddenly shot – on live TV – by a guy later identified as strip club owner Jack Ruby. I remember yelling to my parents in the kitchen upstairs, sitting on the rug in front of the TV wearing my tie and sport coat, watching the chaos in Dallas continue to unfold. The memories end there.
It had been a year of inspiration. An astronaut spent an entire day circling the earth in a tiny Mercury capsule. Martin Luther King gave the famous “I have a dream” speech at the March on Washington. I had decided to become a doctor, to spend my life helping people. The world seemed to have bounced back from a real threat of annihilation in October 1962, and, despite wars in Asia and Africa and walls in Berlin, all had seemed optimistic and purposeful, symbolized for me by a youthful, brilliant, eloquent, handsome president. Now, with the death of that president, a whole new world lay before me: a decade of riots, wars and more assassinations, and a lot of growing up.

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About mountain barry

Born in Buffalo, N.Y., I grew up in a beautiful small town, where I could bicycle to the local golf course and to the Buffalo Bills training camp. My dad was from Kentucky and was a Naval officer in WW II. My mom was from a similar small town and could beat my dad at golf. I started my first publication, a weekly newspaper, in 9th grade, and have been at it ever since: college newspaper, graduate school, college press service, daily newspapers in New York, North Carolina and Kansas, business journals in Kansas and California; also corporate communications/p.r. in Kansas and the SF Bay Area. I have two beautiful children, one extraordinary grandson, three remarkable stepchildren and a patient, loving wife who also happens to be an eBay trading assistant. My dogs, cat, gardens and the basketball goal in the driveway round out the picture of my home in a small town in the redwoods in the Santa Cruz Mountains, where mornings are foggy and afternoons are sunny.
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5 Responses to Where were you on Nov.22, 1963? The world changes for a 16-year-old in a small town.

  1. Pete Miller says:

    I remember that long ago afternoon as if it were yesterday. I was in chemistry class when the announcement came over the loudspeaker. School was dismissed early. Lots of emotional kids walking around as if in a trance. Though I lived only a block from school I headed for my usual afternoon hangout, the Boys Club. Think that there was a pay telephone outside. I called home. My Mom told me to come home right away. What happened in the following days I cannot really remember except for the images on the television that I’m sure no one of our generation will ever forget.

  2. It shattered reality for me. I was eight. I couldn’t believe it, then I would have to, then I couldn’t, then I had to, maybe ten or fifteen times in a row in the first minute when I heard he was killed.
    Later at home, my baby brother Rene, who was three, suddenly shouted from the living room, “He’s alive, he’s alive!” and we all ran in, to see a tape of President Kennedy on the TV. Rene was too young to understand that it was just a tape on the TV, and we had to explain to him, so sorry, he really is dead.

  3. Linda Joplin says:

    I was in first grade at St. Margaret Mary Catholic School. I remember going to the church to pray for President Kennedy. School let out early and I when I got home, my mom had waxed the kitchen floor and the table & chairs were in the living room. She was on the couch watching TV. I don’t think the table & chairs went back into the kitchen until the next day. We were all in shock!

  4. Linda Lowman says:

    At EAHS, a junior. I was at lunch or study hall when the announcement of shooting came and we were told to proceed directly to our next class. Mr. Boniface, I believe, Algebra. I remember him crying. That was odd because rarely did we see adults cry in that era, especially a teacher. We were sent home shortly after that.

    I also remember returning from church on Sunday and immediately turning on the tv for news. My dad was fidgeting with the antenna when we saw Jack Ruby step out of the shadows to shoot Oswald. There was no rewind. This was live. We stood there wondering if we had really seen what we thought we had seen.

    Nothing was the same after that day. Gone was Camelot and the age of innocence.

  5. I was 21 at the time, living with my fraternity brothers in our house in Greeley, Colorado. The news came over the television, first about the shooting, then about his death. I sat glued to the TV for the next few days feeling dazed and horrified. Something in the nation changed that day. Our country was never to be the same again.

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