|Kennedy assassination: Local residents recall ‘tragic day’|
|Wednesday, November 20, 2013 10:07 AM|
By NANCY WHITAKER • Progress Staff Writer
Anyone who was around in 1963 will recall the date Nov. 22. That cold, gray November day was when the 35th president of the United States, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, was assassinated. This week marks the 50th anniversary of his death.
JFK was shot and killed while riding in a motorcade in Dallas, Texas, with his wife Jackie at his side.
His untimely death at the hands of accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald sent shockwaves through the United States. Daily routines were interrupted as citizens were riveted to their television screens watching the tragic news being reported.
Who can forget the details of the President’s death or the chaos that followed? Who can forget Oswald being shot by Jack Ruby on that Sunday on live TV?
The history and events of that day are still being investigated and many theories have come to light during the past 50 years. Did Oswald act alone? Was there another shooter? What was the motive? We may never know all the answers.
Can you remember what were you doing and where you were at when you heard the news of JFK’s death on Nov. 22, 1963?
Clara Youtsey of Latty recalls, “I know where I was. I was getting ready to go to work in Van Wert. I was shocked to hear it and when I got to work, we shut down the machines for a while. I remember watching the funeral and could not believe it.”
Rose Sweet of Paulding said, “I was 16 years old and living in Akron, Ohio. I was taking care of six little children and three of the younger ones were down for a nap when the news came on TV.
“It was hard to comprehend how a man so important and well known could be killed like that,” Sweet added. “One thing that still stands out in my mind is seeing newsman Walter Cronkite almost break down and lose it. I do think that day made me feel like a grown up.”
Daisy Farley said, “I was in school in West Virginia. When we heard the news, they let us out of school the rest of the week to watch all of the news including the funeral.”
Dave Jordan of Payne notes that he was just tying up at the pier at Oakland Naval Shipyard. He had been gone for approximately two months on the USNS Barrett TAP 196, transporting servicemen to the far east.
He said that they tied down the ship after learning the news of the President being shot and spent the rest of the evening watching it on the news.
Darlene Jordan said that she was going to school in Toledo and the students were all told to get on their knees and pray.
Ann Pease said, “I sure remember that day. I was a senior in high school and was in Mr. Pennell’s class when he got a knock on the classroom door.
“After closing the door, he came back into the classroom and his face was ashen. He told us then that President Kennedy had just been assassinated.
“When I got home from school, Mom always met us when we got off the bus. I asked her, ‘Mom wasn’t it terrible about the President getting shot?’
“She said, ‘That’s not funny to say something like that.’
“Dad and Mom had not had the TV on so they hadn’t heard about the President being killed. Once they found out, we watched TV all weekend and watched it all on TV. We were all shocked and sad.”
Jerry Scarbrough of Grover Hill recalls, “I was 23 years old and was just learning to be a mechanic at Gauvey Motor Co. in Grover Hill. I was getting someone’s new 1964 Ford car ready for delivery and I had a radio real close when the news came over the air. Every time I hear something about that tragic day, it takes me back to those memories.”
Linda Scarbrough, also of Grover Hill said, “I was 22 years old when President Kennedy was shot. I was at work when I heard the news. I was so upset I left work and went home.
“I watched TV every day and night, not missing a single picture of this tragic event. I watched Mrs. Kennedy kiss the coffin, John-John salute his dad’s coffin, and watched Mrs. Kennedy and her brothers-in-law walk behind the coffin to the cemetery.
“Caroline and John-John wore matching coats. Mrs. Kennedy wore everything black. You could barely see her face through the very black veil. She talked to no one, just hung on to Bobby’s arm.
“Everything was so very sad. The day after the funeral, I finally went back to work. I then wondered if my life would ever be the same. It took many weeks before I felt ‘safe’ again. Every year I still have the same question go over and over in my mind. Why wouldn’t President Kennedy let the secret service put the ‘bubble’ on his car?”
Kylee Baumle of Haviland recalls, “I was 6 years old and what I remember most was how upset my mother was. I still have an image of her sitting in her black stirrup pants, watching the funeral on TV, crying.
“And I remember her explaining to me why there was a riderless horse with a with a pair of boots placed backwards in the stirrups, in the funeral procession.”
Alice Gerber, formerly of Paulding noted, “I was in fourth grade. One of my classmate’s dad came to take him home or maybe church. Our teacher asked why he was picking up his son, to which he answered that President Kennedy had been shot.
“I could not comprehend why he would have been shot/killed. What purpose would it have had? Needless to say, nothing else was taught that last hour in class. The rest of that day was so sad.”
More reader memories
Where were you and what were you doing when you heard that President Kennedy had been shot? What do you remember most about that day/weekend? More memories submitted by our readers via email and Facebook:
Tom Krick, Paulding: “I was in Mrs. Gallagher’s overflow study hall.”
Cindy Stuart, Paulding: “I was in seventh period science class with Mr. Allensworth. It was my freshman year. The halls were silent as I walked to band the eighth period.”
Becky Jeffery Mayer of Paulding: “I was in Mrs. Eddy’s fifth grade classroom that year when she told us. It felt unreal.”
Sue Gunderman: “When President Kennedy was killed, my feelings felt so familiar because Nancy Eagleson was killed only 3 years and 9 days prior. It was a combination of being horrified and astonished at the same time, seeking and absorbing every bit of information surrounding both events and trying to make sense of the senseless. It seems that when Kennedy was killed, regular TV programming was suspended from Friday afternoon until Tuesday. Friday was all about the assassination, and swearing in of Johnson. Saturday’s added news was the arrest of Oswald. On Sunday we watched the live broadcast of Oswald’s murder, and of Kennedy lying in state. On Monday, school was canceled and I was again glued to the TV watching the funeral. Just as Nancy’s death changed Paulding forever, the President’s death changed our country.”
Faith Sprunger Senyo: “I was attending St. John’s Catholic School in Payne. I remember one of the nuns coming to our classroom door and telling us. We all went to the church and prayed. I remember my mom crying... she was ironing, and watching the funeral on TV.”
Lou Ann Martin: “I was in third grade at Paulding in Miss Geyer’s class. They reported that he had been shot and very shortly after school was out. My dad, Bob Gorman, closed his insurance agency as did most of the other businesses in town. Mostly remember my dad being so upset. I couldn't understand why he was upset cause I said, ‘He was a Democrat.’ My dad said, ‘No, he was our President.’ I remember being out of school and watching everything on TV in black and white and how restless the riderless horse was through the whole parade.”
Dave Kilgus: “Recovering from being shot!”
Mary VanAtta: “I was a senior at Erie, Pa., had just got off the city bus to walk home the mile home had a portable radio and I almost fell to my knees it was so shocking. Even when I got home it still seemed like a nightmare. What a sad day in history. It still seems like a dream. God rest his soul.”
Linda Shipman: “Sitting in study hall!”
Christy Wilson” “Mr. Rebber’s freshman English class at PHS.”
RaeAnn Keck Pieper: “Mr. Rebber’s freshman English class at PHS also.”
Dave Smith: “There were a whole bunch of us in Mr. Rebber’s class.”
Joe Potter: “I was a fourth grader at Edgewood Elementary School in Fort Myers, Fla. I remember it well. It was a sad time.”
Cheryl Hamilton: “I was in Mrs. Gruber’s third grade in the elementary school. I remember getting on the school bus and worrying that my mom was okay, because she was a Kennedy fanatic. We moved into our new house that day, and when I got off the bus I was at our new house. Remember John John saluting his dad during the funeral, and Jack Ruby killing Oswald on TV.”
Jo Dunstan-Schmidt: “I was in the third grade at Blue Creek. Teacher, Mrs. Pond, came in from the hall to tell us that the President had been killed. What I remember most is it being on television, what seemed like 24/7 and the flags flying at half staff. I remember watching as Oswald was shot and the funeral with the flag-draped caisson and the horse with the boots backward in the stirrups.”
Jeannette Blanchard Goodman: “I was in kindergarten. I remember walking into our farmhouse and seeing my dad and grandpa watching TV. That is how we watched the funeral also.”
Becky Jeffery Mayer: “Mrs. Eddy’s fifth grade classroom. We did the funeral day off from school if I remember correctly.”
Susan Hill Pieper, Paulding: “I remember sitting cross-legged in front of our television watching the coverage. I was 5 years old. I felt so sorry for Caroline Kennedy. I drew red hearts in crayon all over a piece of construction paper. My Mom sent it to ‘The White House, Washington DC.’ It was a few weeks later, and our mailman rang the doorbell. Without speaking, he held out a white envelope (he did not put it in our mailbox). It was addressed to me, Susie Hill. The return address had three words, ‘The White House.’ The world seemed to stop while the postman, my mama and I stared at this small, bright white envelope. Mama took the envelope from the postman and handed it to me. I carefully opened it and pulled out another envelope. Inside of this one was a card expressing the Kennedy family’s appreciation for my expression of sympathy and condolences. It said they were ‘grateful.’ I still have that card somewhere, I will have to try to find it.”
For more information
For more information about our 35th President, please visit one of these websites:
John F. Kennedy - The White House
JFK assassination records - National Archives
JFK assassination anniversary - Dallas News
John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum