November 22nd is, of course, the anniversary of the assassination of US President John F. Kennedy.
I was in Miss Bilton’s 5th grade class at Connaught School in Calgary, when the news came over the school PA system. Miss Bilton, an older lady, shrieked then began to cry when, out of the box on the wall came “The President of the United States has been assassinated”.
I didn’t quite understand what that meant. I looked out the classroom window, to Spy Hill, in the far distance and wondered if that meant somebody had said something bad to him, insulted him. Then I thought it must be worse than that if it made Miss Bilton cry in front of us.
At lunch time, I did my school patrol duty at a crosswalk near the school then walked home for lunch. The TV was on when I arrived and a black and white Walter Cronkite announced “The President of the United States is dead”‘ and then he removed his glasses and he cried too.
I asked my mother what happened and she told me about the shooting. I asked why someone would shoot him and she said she didn’t know. When I returned to school after lunch, Miss Bilton was not the same, she just sat at her desk, with her head down and was quiet for the rest of the day. After class I returned to my school patrol corner, did my duty as a Junior School Patrol. Junior because only the 6th graders could be full fledged school patrols, allowed to march to the center of the road, wielding their hand held Stop sign, forcing oncoming cars to obey their command to stop. Such power. The Juniors had to remain on the curb. At least we got to hold our arms outstretched sideways to prevent younger students from stepping in front of a speeding car and being squished or turned into roadkill. So I guess that’s something.
When I returned home after school, Walter Cronkite was still on the TV, but he had stopped crying.
Today is the 55th anniversary of that of horrible, history changing event. I was in Miss Bilton’s 5th grade class, where were you?
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