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Friday, 22 November 2013


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7th Grade. We were put on notice that the adults created a hell for us. We watched another murder live on TV in a couple more days. Viet Nam (which flowed from the same cauldron) upped the ante. I learned to read the body politik - sadly many of my generation did not. Past became prologue. We sit here today. Cash is King too.

I remember that day and the following days through something like a fuzzy haze. I was 3 yo, and it must have been the traumatized response of my Mother and others around me that made the images on the TV register - the wagon bearing the coffin, the horses, the somber announcer measuring out the words, describing the procession.

One of the great things about this site is: You are such a good writer that the wonderful information you deliver about the art of photography pales in comparison to your writing craft. Thank you for this post.

I'm about your age - I was dismissed from first grade at the news. I still remember the horses pulling the casket, and the drum sequence that accompanied it along the route as we watched on our black and white TV.

I was driving north on the West Side Highway in NYC and all of a sudden all the traffic slowed down and cars started pulling over onto the shoulder/grass. I had no idea what was happening, so switched the radio on and heard the news. I remember listening for about ten minutes before the import of what was happening sank in.

I was a week old, to the day, so I obviously have no memory (though one of my earliest memories that remains is the night that Bobby was killed.

I learned a few years ago, that I was named to honor the child born to Jack and Jackie on 8/7/63, who died two days later. Few people now remember that personal tragedy they experienced.

But solace I find in the event sort-of tied to my birth is that in response to the news of John''s murder, Mike Love and Brian Wilson went into the studio and wrote my second favorite Beach Boys song, The Warmth of the Sun. Their default emotion was hope, not despair.


I was in grammar school - Catholic, like the president, and in Massachusetts, to boot. The Mother Superior came in, stood at the front of the room and whispered to our teacher, then told us all to stop what we were doing and pray, without telling us why. A while later she came back, and told us all to go home, that the president was dead. My first experience with the surreal.
Where have fifty years gone?

When the announcement over the school's public
address system was heard I was one of many grade 11 students moving desks into the gymnasium in preparation for mid-term examinations the following week. For us in a foreign country it was a shock, as it was for many others, and yet,
as an early rabble rouser who was against a certain foreign country and their destructive
so-called peace efforts, not a surprise.
My destiny lay in protesting war created for peace but in actual fact for energy sources.
This was the end of one era and the start of another,as much as the World Trade Centre
demolition was yet another era changing event.

In 1963 I was in Primary school (Grade School) in NZ. The school had a special assembly and the national flag was ceremonially lowered - in NZ!

I recall being dismissed from school at the first news of Kennedy's assassination, but we didn't yet know if he had died. That news came later.

Being a couple years older than my brother, I was responsible for getting him home which was about a mile's walk from school. The day was gray and windy, and neither of us said much on the walk home.

Later that evening, I sold "Extras" of the local newspaper on a street corner to passing motorists. After dark, I returned home having sold all the copies that had been given to me.

I remember it very well.

I was a sophomore at the University of Minnesota. I walked into my dormitory after morning classes, and taped to the door was a note that President Kennedy had been shot in Dallas. My first reaction was confusion: Dallas? What was he doing in Dallas? I thought he was in Washington. I went to my dorm room, turned on the radio, hoping to hear he had only been wounded, and learned that he had died. I was shocked, saddened, and numbed; it hardly seemed real. For the next three days, local rock 'n roll stations WDGY and KBWB played nothing but classical music, and network radio was almost all news. If there was any discussion in the dorm about the nation or its future, I don't recall it; I think most of the students, like me, were just trying to wrap their brains around what had happened. I remember that a mostly silent group watched the funeral on the black and white TV in the student lounge. I believe it was the first time I ever heard "Hail to the Chief," and it was played like a dirge. Watching the anniversary coverage this past week, hearing that Jackie's scramble to the back of the car was to collect pieces of her husband's head and brains, I had to choke back the tears once again.

I was in Brockton,Mass Mike. Problem child that I was my teacher made me stay after school for something I don't recall. Well the shooting was reported and I was quickly released. Remember well the shock and tears of the adults. I was just young enough not to be able to really fathom what had happened.

I was in elementary school in Montreal and I remember a hastily arranged school assembly where the principal announced the shooting to all the kids. I remember the shock and sadness that went through the assembled school, and having a feeling of the overall senselessness of it all. And in the days afterward, how the murder of an American president felt like a loss to us too, as if he were a Canadian leader. There were no borders, it was a global village.

I am a 57 year old Australian and the clear recollection of hearing the news broadcast that JFK had been assassinated is one that haunts my childhood memories. As usual, my family (just four of us) had gathered around the kitchen bench on stools to eat breakfast and the ABC news bulletin came on with the shocking news from overnight (3am or so, Sydney time). We were stunned and deeply saddened for days. That night the indelible image on the television news was a photograph of the School Book Depository Building with an arrow pointing to the upper right-hand window.

My real sadness over the event was tied up in my understanding, even at age seven, that previous US presidents had been (seemingly) old men, and that the torch had, indeed, been passed to a younger and more vigorous generation. The new dynamic president had brought hope for a better US society and for a safer world for us all. And now, that hope had been extinguished. That forward progression had been stopped dead. It still chills me.

In the last few days I've heard two interviews with JFK's biographer and have been pleased to learn that my childhood memories were not mis-placed, and that JFK was planning to pull 1,000 of the military advisors out of Vietnam within months.

Thanks, Mike, for your reflection.

JFK made a historic visit to Costa Rica in March 1963. His arrival caused the biggest gathering of people in my country's history; even greater than Pope John Paul II visit years later. People just fell in love with Kennedy. Everybody, young and old wanted to see him, to meet him, to cheer him. His speeches gave us great hope and filled our hearts with optimism and joy. We were sure his words were sincere and true.
That tragic day came only a few months later after his visit and memories and feelings were still fresh in most Costa Ricans.
When the terrible news broke everybody was petrified in amazement, many praying, and you could see people crying in the streets.
I was a twenty year old university student at the time. Now I am 70 and throughout all these years I have not been able to overcome the terrible nightmare.

On November 22, 1963, I was in my 9th grade English class, when the principal came in annouced that the Presidient had been shot. An hour or so later he came to another class and made tha annoucement that JFK was dead.

That night watching the news with my parents, the photograph (which was burned into my brain that night) of LBJ being sworn-in on AF1, brought both anger and dread into me.

The rest of the decade was like the pendulum had swung as far the other way from what the beginning had been.

After Eisenhower, HUAC, Berlin and the Rosenbergs, it was as if Bruce Springsteen and Angelina Jolie had suddenly come to live with us every day, and show us all how to be smart and powerful and fabulous. It's almost indescribable what they brought, and equally so what we lost on that horrifying day. We really have been like orphans since then - the older nations of the world must look at us and think "who raised this child?"

I have two comments - where I was when Kennedy was assassinated, and a note about Jacques Lowe.

I was in Grade 12 in a town in Canada very near Buffalo, NY, and it was not too long after our lunch hour. I remember my home room teacher writing "President Kennedy shot in Dallas at (time)" on the blackboard. We were all stunned into near silence; there was little solid information to be had. We were not dismissed for the day, but went on with our classes. The next one was French, taught by a most disagreeable person, a junior football coach who made a stunningly tasteless joke, saying "It must have been Goldwater". That was followed by an English class, where the teacher, a nun, let us all sit quietly until school was dismissed.

As for Jacques Lowe, I agree he was a superior photographer of John Kennedy's. But I don't believe he was the official White House photographer when JFK was president. President Kennedy's photographer was a Navy officer named Cecil Stoughton. One of the recent JFK documentaries cleared up a mystery for me: it seems Joseph Kennedy hired Lowe to be JFK's campaign photographer in 1958, as the family was preparing to get him nominated at the 1960 Democratic Convention.

I believe Stoughton was not omnipresent, the way official White House photographers are now; he was called in from time to time to take pictures. The true, full-time White House photographer position began with Lyndon Johnson. He hired the very talented Yoichi Okamoto, who'd been with the U.S. Information Service, to be his full-time photographer. I think that is the true beginning of the modern White House Photography Department.

By the way, the Oval Office photo you posted is very similar to that of George Tames, the NY Times photographer, whose image is the most widely known. I never realized Lowe took a similar photo.

This obit of Lowe's adds some details about Lowe and how he came to be associated with the Kennedys.


I had a similar experience to you on that day in 1963, when I was six years old. I remember being confused as to my mother's grief about this stranger on TV.

Many years later, now a father myself, my two young sons came crying into our bedroom early one Saturday morning to tell us that "some princess" had died, and it was on all of the channels... instead of their usual fix of cartoons.

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