Friday, November 22, 2013
I was in first grade at the Sacred Heart School in Scranton, PA on November 22, 1963. It was a Friday. Pizza Day. And I had an earache.
The pain was so bad that the school nurse made the decision to send me home early, with my square slice of Proferra's pizza wrapped in wax paper and a napkin. I lived just 2 blocks away from my school, and my mother, 8 months pregnant with my brother, and with my 3-year old sister in tow, met me halfway, and we walked the block back to our apartment, where she put my sister down for a nap, put some drops into my pained ear and had me nap on the living room sofa.
I woke up to the sound of Walter Cronkite reporting about a shooting in Dallas, TX, and the possibility that someone took a shot at the President of the United States. I woke up immediately and began watching the unfolding drama and tragedy. I was wrapped in a blanket, and shivered uncontrollably as I watched the unimaginable.
The rest of that day was a blur, but I do recall eating dinner that night on TV trays in the living room, riveted to the marathon of news coverage that blanketed every channel on our TV that day. It was a sad weekend and on Sunday, after going to a somber mass at our church, we returned to watch the live coverage of Lee Harvey Oswald being brought out of a building and being shot by a man wearing a fedora. Right in front of our eyes. I remember thinking that the world was going crazy.
It was a quiet return to school on Monday, but something had changed. I was just 6 years old, but I felt different; stunned, confused and sadder than I had ever been before.
That is how I remember that day, 50 years ago.