Monday, November 22, 2010

"You'll Always Remember Where You Were"

November is such a full month of birthdays in our families. It is a bit of a whirlwind of celebrating and remembering to send cards. So this morning when I woke up, it was with a big sigh - all the birthdays were over. Now just Thanksgiving and then I can start thinking about Christmas.
Yet there was a niggling - November 22 - I was forgetting something. Oh! November 22, 1963. Forty-seven years ago. Then the memories return - where I was; what I was doing.
I was driving my 1957 Plymouth Belvedere two-door hardtop. I had just gone around the curve past the Omar Bakery southeast of Corning on old Hwy 34. I was driving to Creston. The radio was on. The program was interrupted with a news bulletin - President Kennedy had been shot while riding in a motorcade in Dallas, Texas.
Like so many young people, I was a huge fan of our youthful president. It was such a difference to have a family with little children in the White House. I could identify with them. My little boy was less than two years younger than John-John. For the first time, I was really interested in politics.
There was so much confusion about what was going on in Dallas. The news was that our president was in surgery. There was still no word about how serious his injuries were. I was on my way to Creston to put on a Tupperware Party. I had become a Tupperware dealer that year as a means of earning some money while still being a stay-at-home Mom.
When I got to the home where the party was to be, the hostess and a couple of early arrivals were in front of the t.v. I was at a loss for how to proceed. Should I go ahead and set up my display? Should we cancel and reschedule?
As it turned out, I didn't do much demonstrating of the Tupperware 'burp' that afternoon. We all remained glued to the t.v. even after Walter Cronkite announced the death of our President. We watched Jackie Kennedy in her blood-spattered clothes observe Lyndon B. Johnson being sworn in as the new President. I packed up my display Tupperware and headed home. I had just turned twenty years old four days before. I felt as though the world I knew had come to an end. JFK was the same age as my Dad.

Ten and a half years later, May, 1974, a strange and unforgettable occurrence happened in my life. I was in Washington, D.C. for the first time. Visiting Arlington National Cemetery and JFK and RFK's grave sites was very important to me.
A friend and I had been there a short time when some black limousines pulled up. Men got out of the first car and told us to move away, which we did. We were some distance away before the back door of the second limousine was opened but still close enough to tell that the woman getting out and approaching the grave site was Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy Onassis.
Jackie had not visited the grave very often after her marriage to Onassis in 1968. What were the odds that I would be there on my first visit to Arlington the same afternoon as one of her rare visits?
"Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's future. And we are all mortal." JFK

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