We are non-commercial, all volunteer and supported by our readers. Please help sustain the Dew by making a donation.
Remembering the JFK assassination
I recall exactly what I was doing, and what I said. It was unprintable in a family newspaper.
It was right in the middle of noon chow, in my third week of Air Force basic training at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. I was on KP, lugging an of armful of dirty meat pans over to the guys in “pots and pans” for them to wash, when a kid in my flight stopped me and said with equal parts of breathlessness and incredulity:
“Monty! (they called me that even then) President Kennedy’s been shot and he’s not expected to live!”
“Don’t f— with me, Hoover! This ain’t fun,” I said, or something like that. “No, it’s true!” The load of greasy pans in my arms struggled with history for a second or two, until I saw a mess sergeant in his whites, holding a transistor radio to his ear and crying. The sight brought me to reality.
And back to my mission, which must be completed. To some in the large armed force of which I was a newcomer, the mission was to fly at supersonic speed with weapons to incinerate people and their surroundings on command. My mission was to tumble three or four dirty pans into a sink and return for another load. And clean the cooking area and the dining tables after chow.
About two and a half hours later, we took a 10-minute break, allowed to step outside the chowhall, though not too far, to see the Texas sky and grab a smoke, if that was our addiction. Since I’d discovered beer at least four years prior, it wasn’t mine.
As usual, we found the adolescent Mexican newsboys that always clustered there, waiting for us.
I’ll never forget the giant headline of the San Antonio Express, across the page in large red letters: “Kennedy Assassinated, Connally Shot.” You could get that much into a headline in 1963, since the pages were much wider then.
And now that I’d read it in a newspaper, I knew the horrible event was real.
Worthy of Comment
Also on the Dew
At age 5 I told anyone who asked, and lots who didn't, "I want to be a doctor in the daytime and a preacher at night." Likely that was connected to the two people outside my family whom I most admired, our doctor who lived in the big house on the corner of our block, and our preacher who lived in the big house on the corner of the next block over. The preacher and my dad were classmates at college and in the vacant lots behind our house and in front of his they planted a Victory Garden together -- Read on →
Americans anticipating a British driving vacation face two problems: driving on the “wrong” (left) side of the road… and British roundabouts. Britain has more roundabouts as a proportion of roads than any other country. Many get confused at negotiating the roundabout, while driving in a left-side steering car gets a little more comfortable after a while. Americans vacationing in France face only the roundabout problem, as the French drive on the “right” side of the road. Yet there are more roundabouts in France (30,000 as of 2008) than in any other nation. After lunch one Sunday at the intersection of Brown’s Bridge Road and Ge Read on →
Grandpa was a quiet and gentle man. Grandma did most of the talking. He was over six feet tall and she was a little over five feet, feisty and independent. They obviously had agreed that he would make the big decisions and she would make all the small ones. All of the decisions were small. I was four years old when my brother and I were sent to live with Grandma and Grandpa, whom I called Papa, during World War II. My father was away, not at war because he had failed the medical, working on the railroad tracks and bridges. Read on →
“Well, then, ask me your questions. I won’t be around forever.” That’s what Floyd told me a few years ago when I said that just when we get old enough to ask the right questions of our parents and grandparents, they’re all gone. Floyd was true to his word and did not last forever. He is now gone, six months short of his one-hundredth birthday. I was assured he died without pain and without lingering more than just a few days. As a rabbi friend told me once about the way my mother died instantly from a stroke ... she was taken wit Read on →