It was 52-years ago today in a two-room schoolhouse in Glasgow, Pennsylvania just after lunch, and when an indoor recess ended. There was a telephone on the wall in what we called the, "cloak room," at the back of the room. It was for hanging up your coats, and putting your arctics, or rubbers, as they called your boots that slipped over your shoes. None of us wore cloaks, as this was Pennsylvania, not Transylvania, and arctics were a little out of reach for me. Rubbers took on a whole new meaning later on, so people quit referring to boots as rubbers. It created too much snickering when someone would say, "Hey, don't forget your rubbers."
I can't remember if it was the practicing of addition or penmanship that day, or if it was time to break out the Dick and Jane readers. We were busy enough doing something though that it was quiet enough that when the phone rang, which was rare, every eye in the class room followed our teacher's walk as she went to answer it. She disappeared through the doorway of the cloakroom, and her voice was muffled. It was a short call.
She returned and stood in front of the class, and adjusted her silvery, horn rimmed, glasses. Her finger moved to wipe a tear from the corner of her eye, and then she spoke. "Children, John F. Kennedy was assassinated."
Someone asked her what that meant, and she said, he had been shot. My twin sister sat behind me and the girl across the aisle from her began crying. My sister looked at her and asked her, "Was that your Dad?" My sister wasn't big on current events.
There was great discussion about what would they do to the man when they caught him, and a lot of questions you'd expect to hear from a classroom of first, second, and third graders all crammed in one room. We got an early dismissal that day in the hills. It brought the country together for a few days. We felt united in our sorrow in the United States of America. It lasted awhile. Maybe too long. So, they gave us the Warren Report to straighten things out and get to the bottom of it all. It really didn't unite anyone, either. So they gave us a war, in a place called Vietnam.
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