About this time fifty-nine years ago. I may have been daydreaming about the approaching Thanksgiving Holiday. More likely, I was daydreaming about a girl. In any event, I wasn’t paying attention to Sister Margaret. Although I always loved her stories about her time in the Bahamas, today was Friday, and the three o’clock bell was more interesting to ponder.
But dismissal was a long way away, and even lunchtime was far in the future. Well, when you’re thirteen, you have a distorted sense of time.
We had Math, then History, and eventually English, and all of a sudden, it was lunchtime. We prayed the Angelus, and then, those of us like me who avoided cafeteria food made our way home for a nice PBJ sandwich. Of course, in 1963, we didn’t refer to it as PBJ but as peanut butter and jelly.
It was Friday which meant bologna was off the menu in Catholic homes.
After lunch, I met Freddy, Mike, John, and Lou at Hoch’s corner candy store, and we made our way back to Blessed Sacrament.
That served as the last few moments of our normal life.
The America that we lived in would end in just a few short hours, but no one saw it coming.
The first announcement came around 2 PM.
“The President had been injured” was all that Sister Irene Mary, our Principal, said.
My classmates and I were perplexed and wondered why that announcement was so important as to interrupt our reading of our Catholic Messenger.
A few minutes later, our confusion was replaced by bewilderment.
“The President has died in Dallas.”
We read about that in our History textbook, not the New York Daily News!
I am not sure any of us ever fully recovered from the shock of those few moments on a previously joyous Friday afternoon.
I know America has never recovered.