Friday, November 22, 2013

1963 memories

John F. Kennedy
U.S. President from January 20, 1961 – November 22, 1963

We pause today to remember this great leader of our country. We are reminded of his legacy, hearing his speeches quoted once again, "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country." 

We are transported back in time to that fateful day in 1963 when he was shot. The black and white images run through our minds from the hours and days of sitting in front of the television, the assassination, the funeral. We remember the exact time and place we were when we heard the news. Where were you? 

In 1963 we were living in North Carolina, when my Dad came home from a 13 month assignment in Korea and announced we were moving to LA (lower Alabama, that is - flat land, cotton fields, peanut farms).
We moved into Army housing, and as it turned out, this was my most favorite place to live. It had all the things a kid wants - warm weather, paved streets and sidewalks for riding bikes, lots of neighborhood kids to play with, and the beach just over an hour away.
I got a new bike for my 9th birthday, it was beautiful, big and blue. I rode it every chance I got, I rode with no hands, I put playing cards on the spokes for that 'clickety-clack' noise. The houses on the street behind our house were on a little hill (if there are any hills in LA), so we would ride around the block and cut through between the houses on that next street and race down the hill into our back yard, out through the carport to the front and back around again.

Sometimes on Saturday we would load up the station wagon and head to the beach at Panama City, Florida. You could just stop anywhere off the road and walk over to the beach, with nothing in sight either way but sand. Good luck doing that now, you cannot even see the beach for the condos and hotels. We would play all day and sleep all the way home in the back of the station wagon, sunburned, covered in sand, and when we got home you could just follow the trail of sand into the house all the way to the shower.

I was in the 4th grade at the elementary school on the base, which was located in one of the housing areas. We would walk (single file in a line of course) down the sidewalk to the nearby playground for recess. Once a week we would walk to the swimming pool and swim during recess. It was on the way back to the school from one of these walks that a lady ran out of her house and told the teacher about the assassination of President Kennedy. When we got back to the classroom, all the teachers were in the halls talking about it, and in our class I remember some of the boys saying that since we now have no president, the Russians would be taking over the world. Boys!

I will never forget that year at Christmas my brother and I were 9 and 14, and no longer believed in Santa Claus, but on Christmas Eve my mother was feelin' good and insisted on us going to our rooms so she could play Santa Claus. We rolled our eyes and went back to wait, but my brother had a great idea. We climbed out his window and walked around to the sliding glass door to the living room and watched her carefully setting everything up. When it looked like she was almost finished, we hurriedly climbed back in the window, waited for the call, and came out looking very surprised!

The house we were in had all the modern conveniences - dishwasher, disposal, washer/dryer (this was the 60s - your tax dollars at work, I guess). My brother and I no longer had to take turns washing and drying the dishes, but just load up the dishwasher! We were enjoying all the advantages of living there until my dad decided to retire from the Army. This resulted in our move to the mountains, and what a change that was. No paved roads, no sidewalks to ride bikes, no neighbors to play with, cold weather, no dishwasher, no washer/dryer, no bathroom - What? no bathroom? Whoa! Yes it was back to nature and big-time culture shock, but that is another story.

"Moving to LA" (originally posted March 9, 2006)

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