Where were you?
Everyone of a certain age remembers where they were, what they were doing and how they felt in the early afternoon hours of Friday, Nov. 22, 1963, when they first heard that President John F. Kennedy was shot.
Marie Grella, of Amherst, was living in Saugus, Mass., and shopping in a supermarket with her 11?2-year-old daughter when the store announced the news over the loudspeaker.
“I left the groceries in the cart and went home and sobbed for days,” she said.
Her husband, Tom, was at work and heard the news on a transistor radio. He and virtually everyone else went home.
The shock of the news felt almost like it was a member of your own family, he said, and he remembers thinking, “As strong as America was, how could anyone consider killing the president?”
He watched the news on TV, “spellbound” and then watched the televised funeral procession and hearing the respectful silence of the throngs of people who lined the sidewalks.
Kathy Bauer, of Milford, was teaching seventh grade at Bales School, then a junior high, when the school secretary went from classroom to classroom, quietly telling each teacher what happened.
“I told my class President Kennedy had been shot, and I remember two or three girls started crying, and it was very hard for me not to cry. I remember standing by the window and the bell at the Congregational Church started to toll – I was in shock. I thought ‘This can’t be.’ He was the youngest president we’d ever had. He was so young, so vital and to see him cut down. It was just devastating.”
Greg d’Arbonne, of Brookline, was in second grade in a one-room schoolhouse in upstate New York.
“I remember turning to my friend and asking what assassination meant. My friend told me that was what had happened to Lincoln. My grandparents were from Italy and it was devastating to them … It showed me that the whole world loved President Kennedy. He was a breath of fresh air. I remember watching the funeral and seeing Lee Harvey Oswald being shot. It was the first time people saw things happening live on TV.”
Dave Larkin, of Brookline, was a senior in high school in Acton, Mass., and remembers getting ready for band rehearsal in the auditorium when Kennedy’s shooting was announced over the loudspeaker.
“They cancelled school and everybody went home, everything shut down … I remember watching the funeral. The drumbeat of the march was written just for Kennedy’s funeral. It was the first time it was played.”
Pam Arpin, of Hollis, recalled that she was a child and on a bus in New York City.
“The traffic stopped. Everyone just came to a dead stop. I don’t remember if somebody knocked on the door of the bus, or whatever, but the bus just stopped. Everyone knew something had happened.
“My mom tried to explain to me that the president had died,” Arpin said. “We had the news on all the time, but it didn’t really click. I remember my mom was crying and saying, ‘Poor little John-John.’?”
Mary Lou Brindisi, of Bedford, was playing bridge with fellow students at New England College.
“Someone came in and announced what had happened, and it went dead silent in there. We just stayed there for hours listening for more news. We didn’t move until we finally heard he had died.”
Ed Fleming, of Merrimack, was working as a service rep for the Ford Motor Company and was calling upon an auto dealer in the Pittsburgh area.
“They had some televisions in the store windows when I went into town and people were standing on the sidewalk watching the developing news,” Fleming said. “I remember thinking that here’s a young guy – a young president – lost to his family. After I got home, the radio and television were full of the assassination. The country was going into shock at the loss.”