Monday, November 22, 2004

November 22

November 22 is my mother's birthday. She's not around to enjoy it anymore, and the truth is that she didn't enjoy it for quite a few years after 1963 because of what happened that day and what the day came to represent to the whole world. She got tired of seeing the newspaper headlines every year on her brithday, and I don't much blame her.

As I mentioned in another post, I was talking about Huckleberry Finn to my fourth period junior English class at Corsicana High School on November 22, 1963, when the school secretary came by and called me to the door. She said that John F. Kennedy had been shot in Dallas. She didn't have any other details, so I went back and finished up the class without saying anything to them about it.

The next period I had to conduct the study hall. This was held in a very large room with, as I recall, nearly 90 desks. By the time I got there, just about every student in the school had heard the news. If it wasn't the quietest study hall I ever had, it was certainly the most solemn. A student had one of those little transistor radios that were so popular at that time. He put it in the window (to improve the reception) and turned it on. We all listened to the reports coming out of Dallas. Nobody talked. A girl named Janis Glenn cried for most of the hour.

I don't remember anything at all about my sixth period class. I'm not even sure I met it. Maybe the principal dismissed classes after fifth period.

Later I saw Jack Ruby shoot Lee Harvey Oswald live on TV in black and white. I saw the funeral procession in black and white as well.

Like everyone else who lived through that time, I'll never forget it. And I'm sad that my memories of my mother on her birthday are tangled up with memories of those terrible days.

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