June 3, 2020
Well, what I remember most dramatically, most clearly was the Kennedy assassination. I was a young mother. I had a six year old who they sent the children home from school without notifying the parents, so my six year old came wandering in alone, and he’d never come alone from school before. We were so glued to the TV that my 18 month old wandered out into the street in a diaper in November, and no outfit on, just his little diaper, and shirt, and clutching a bottle. We were on the second floor of a two family house, so he had to get down the stairs to get out. Yeah, but we were just so glued to the TV in utter disbelief…
Then a few days later when Oswald was killed my parents were there because they always came down from Rochester for Thanksgiving, so again, we were glued to the TV, and I don’t think I will ever forget the riderless horse, and the muffled drums, the bagpipes, and the dignity of Jackie Kennedy, and that little boy saluting his father. Just heartbreaking things, absolutely heartbreaking, very vivid. Then of course they repeated it every year on the anniversary, so it was plugged in again, and again, and again. That was the start of so many of the assassinations. That’s what I remember.
The Kennedys were the youngest couple that had ever occupied the White House, vivacious Jackie, beautiful, gorgeous. She went to France, and wowed the French in her gorgeous outfit, wowed any of the world leaders, redecorated the White House in excellent taste, and he was a young, very young President. We’ve learned so much about him that wasn’t great since then. Then he had terrible situations, the Bay of Pigs, the missile crisis with Cuba, a lot of heavy things went on in his very short presidency.
Did he symbolize a more progressive America? I mean, it depends who you would talk to. I think the people who are protesting now would not have found that he was sufficiently committed to civil rights for the black population. I think the assassination did it because Johnson came in, and Martin Luther King really pressed, it was the time he really pressed Johnson, and Johnson had the capacity to get the Senate, and House, because he knew how to work them. He was a consummate politician.
The whole Kennedy family, my God…The father, some felt bought the presidency for him. The older brother was supposed to have been the president, and he died in a plane crash, and it just was such an unusual family at the time. People were fascinated by the whole thing, the whole lore. And the young couple too. They lost a child…
You know I haven’t the faintest idea how I talked to my children about it. Nothing comes back, no. I had six, four, and the 18 month old. We probably talked… Well, they must have said something at school that the President was shot. I don’t know if that meant anything to a six… Well, a six year old should be able to have some capacity for that.