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November 22, 2019

A Friday: "Johnny we hardly knew ye..."

Today marks the 56th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's assassination in downtown Dallas, Texas. Kennedy was 46 years old. He was born May 29, 1917. He died on November 22, 1963. A Friday.

Sure, a Friday. When we first heard I was in a grade school science class of about 25 students in Cincinnati, Ohio where my family had moved from Chicago eighteen months before. I was sitting next to my best friend Chip Conway in the farthest lab table in the back row. The class for us was the first after lunch period. The teacher was the popular and hardworking Robert Terwilliger, or Mr. "T". Half-way through it the principal broke into our class over the loud speaker system. In just a few sentences she slowly but solemnly told us that the president had just been murdered in Dallas during his visit there. School was let out early. Few students lived close enough to school to walk home. So we all headed immediately to the Indian Middle School's two dozen yellow buses.

I don't remember one thing anyone said to one another. Or even if anyone did say anything. There was not much noise. The 600 or so 4th, 5th and 6th graders moving in the halls and stairs of the sprawling two-story building (that during the 1950s had served as the community's high school) and on the walkways leading to the buses that were already dutifully pulling up to the long curb three hours early were earnest and quiet.

I don't remember anything about the two-mile bus ride home. I just know it took me to our house on Miami Road in front of the big beautiful old stone water tower.

Below is my favorite photograph of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, taken in late 1942. He was then 25.

A stick in me hand and a tear in me eye
A doleful damsel I heard cry,
Johnny I hardly knew ye.

--from "Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye", popular Irish anti-war song written in early 1800s.

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Posted by JD Hull at November 22, 2019 04:45 PM

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