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Friday, November 22, 2013

When Kennedy was Killed

I was two weeks short of eleven years old.  School was out and I was at my sixth grade post of traffic boy at the intersection of Rockaway and Hollingsworth Streets, outside of the Highland school in Lynn, Massachusetts.

  As I motioned a couple of kids to cross the street, Bobby O'Leary, the traffic Boy covering the opposite intersection yelled over to me.  "Hey Nestor, did you hear what happened?  Kennedy got croaked."
I didn't understand.  "What did you say? " I asked.  "He's dead. Kennedy was shot." came the reply.
I remember just feeling confused, and when the crossing shift was over, I ran the quarter mile down Hollingsworth street to my house.
when I went in the front door, sitting at the kitchen table was my Mother and Father... just sitting silently.   I said, "Bobby O' Leary just told me that Kennedy got croaked."  My father just kept sitting there, and my Mother said "Well, he must be a Protestant."  She was taking offence at the glibness of the remark.    Back then, we as Irish Catholic Democrats, were keenly aware that Kennedy was the first Catholic President.... and the Camelot legacy was not pronounced like it is now.  Kennedy was still proving himself.

My father remained silent and it started to feel ackward, so I broke the silence by saying, "Well it must of been his time to go."   That brought the rise from Dad who said, "It's not your time to go if you are murdered."  Then more silence.

I went into the living room, leaving them sitting silently at the kitchen table.   Sitting on the couch was a Life Magazine picture article about Kenndy, playing with his kids and with John John crawling under the desk in the Oval Office..  I stared at that magazine for a long time.

That was fifty years ago.  I remember it as clearly as yesterday.

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