Remembering President Kennedy…

mike-staton

Post written by Mike Staton.

A week ago I posted some comments and a photo of President John F. Kennedy’s casket and his widow and children kneeling in front of it. It was November 22, and 53 years before Lee Harvey Oswald ended the young President’s life in Dallas, Texas.

The post elicited six comments from people living back in 1963, most in elementary school, junior high or high schools. They had distinct memories of how they felt when they heard the news.

A high school classmate of mine wrote: “My first real glimpse of hatred and despair in the world.”

kennedys-use

President Kennedy and Jackie in a motorcade.

A cousin said: “I never thought an assassination of a President could ever happen in modern times.”

Two of my reviewers on the Online Writers Workshop of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror had similar thoughts. One wrote: “When the principal made the announcement over the P.A., my first thought was, ‘I hope the Russians don’t nuke us.’” The other: “I thought the world was coming to an end.”

My memories are not as vivid.

I do remember being called to my elementary school cafeteria to be told the awful news. I do remember sitting in the den through the next few days and seeing the ‘live’ news coverage of the murder of the alleged assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, by Jack Ruby, and the Kennedy’s funeral. And I do remember the decades that followed filled with news documentaries on the Warren Report and the various conspiracy theories surrounding the assassination.

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My dad, Louis Staton, at the B.F. Goodrich missile plant where he worked in the early 1960s.

Back then I was in the sixth grade, one of the kings of Meyers Elementary School in Rialto, California. Soon, though, I’d be just a seventh-grade peon at Norco Junior High in nearby Corona. Dad worked at a solid-rocket testing and manufacturing facility in the desert outside Rialto and Fontana. Soon, though, the facility would be closed, and he’d move onto another aerospace job in Newport Beach. That was our life out there – dependent on the military contracts of the federal government in the Cold War era.

But all things come to an end. In the fall of 1965, as the Vietnam War heated up, dad and mom decided to return the family to Ohio to be closer to aging relatives. He accepted a job at B.F. Goodrich, but not in aerospace. Instead, he chose to join a new venture – experimenting with an artificial shoe leather called Aztran. I even got to wear a pair of test shoes after we moved back to Wadsworth, Ohio.

As an adult, I’ve worked my share of jobs in three states as a newspaper reporter and technical writer. Now retired, I’m back living in the West – in Henderson, just outside Las Vegas, surrounded by Mojave Desert terrain, just like when I was a kid in Rialto and Corona.

# # #

mike-with-sub-use

This is me in sixth grade in Rialto, Calif., at about a month after Kennedy’s assassination.

I like to write novels. I have a published fantasy series to my credit. I call it the Larenia’s Sword trilogy. Check them out on the websites of Barnes & Noble and Amazon. See the jazzy covers for ‘The Emperor’s Mistress,’ ‘Thief’s Coin,’ and ‘Assassins’ Lair.’ They’re topnotch artwork by Wings ePress’s artist Richard Stroud.

I’m currently working on a Civil War romance novel. I’ve titled it ‘Blessed Shadows Dark & Deep.’ It’s been written and is now being edited. I hope to submit it to the publisher of my fantasy novels sometime early in 2017.

I have an Author’s Page on Facebook where you can keep up with my writing efforts. Sometimes I post short stories on the page as well as updates on the Civil War novel. Type in ‘Michael Staton’ in Facebook’s search field to find the page. It’s the only one with a book cover as a profile photo. No one wants to see my face, right?

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20 Responses to Remembering President Kennedy…

  1. I was a freshman in high school the day Kennedy died. Since my father was involved in his presidential run (on a county level) we were staunch fans of the president and his lovely wife and children. When the news came over the school loudspeaker I remember being in shock. One girl started crying uncontrollably, but most of us just stared at each other with looks of sadness and fear on our faces. It was something we never thought could happen. The world was never quite the same after that, as we slid into the Vietnam War, protests by Martin Luther King, and riots at Kent State. Our world was in turmoil and for kids who were just coming into their own, it was the most devastating occurrence in our lives.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mike Staton says:

      I love these reminiscing comments. I see that both you and Kate were in high school in 1963. So many people were like you back then, thinking that assassinating a president was something that belong in an earlier era… McKinley, Garfield and Lincoln. The 1960s were crazy times… reminds me of the 2010s and the Trump era. Definitely two turbulent times.

      Like

  2. katewyland says:

    I was working on a Homecoming float when the news came. Needless to say Homecoming was canceled. Spent lots of time watching the TV coverage. Since I had worked to get Kennedy elected (even though too young to vote), I was particularly devastated.

    Like

    • Mike Staton says:

      The constant news coverage in the days after the assassination was a lot like we see today. Only the three networks, but the news coverage was on whenever you turned on the TV. In documentaries, I’ve seen Walter Cronkite full of frustration, yelling out for fellow CBS journalists to get their information out accurately. Apparently, he’d just reported something that proved inaccurate. Nowadays, no one on the news networks vet anything… they just broadcast as soon as they get it, and worry about correcting inaccuracies later. Frustrating for me, a former daily newspaper reporter from the 1970s and 1980s. I was only in 6th grade in 1963. I couldn’t vote until 1972, but I was a huge supporter of Bobby Kennedy in 1963 and was devastated when he was assassinated in June 1968.

      Like

  3. Nancy Jardine says:

    I remember watching the TV footage sometime after going home from school and being shocked. I was 11 years old and we had not long had a TV, a black and white one. Even though I lived so far away in Scotland, there were interruptions to the scheduled programmes with special bulletins. It seemed a momentous thing to happen and it caused a lot of disquiet and rumours since many people thought there were more ramifications to the story than Lee Harvey Oswald being a lone assasin.

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  4. It’s interesting that you should mention John F. UennedyS assasination today. The Writers Almanac featured a poem about this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mike Staton says:

      Interesting, indeed. He was so young and romantic in his appearance, even for a 12-year-old kid from Rialto, California. And he had a beautiful wife and those two sweet kids. One can understand why the era was called Camelot.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Neva Bodin says:

    That was definitely a momentous happening. Sits in my memory like the Cuban crisis and the Challenger space shuttle disaster. Memories burned permanently into my brain matter.

    Like

    • Mike Staton says:

      Me too, Neva. The Cuban missile crisis had been only a year earlier. I didn’t quite get the seriousness of it at the time. But I do remember the school ran some alert tests at the time, and I knew they were preparing us in case there was war. Mom and dad piled up bottled water and canned good along the hallway wall. I guess that could have kept us going for a couple of weeks, unless the nearby USAF bases were nuked.

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  6. Doris says:

    Memories of that time are still strong. Haveng grown up in ‘Forgotonia’, life was filled with riding bikes after dark, going for long walks alone and watching the cornfields grow. The adults talked much about what was happening in the world and local events. We kids just did our best to enjoy life. Doris

    Like

    • Mike Staton says:

      Same in my life as well, Doris. Loved riding my bike — not in cornfields, but on neighborhood streets, and when I felt really adventuresome, across buys streets like Route 66 to visit a firehouse and the Little League Park where I played baseball. Never did venture down to the WigWam Hotel, though; it was just three blocks from where I lived. Did go to the Orange Bowl and bowl a few games… cheap back then.

      Like

  7. Wranglers says:

    Mike, I have the same memories as everyone else. Violence and disaster were taken seriously back then. The whole country mourned together, as we did on 9-11. I just watched a show on Nova about the bullet projectory and new forensic proof that there was only one shooter, and that the same bullet that hit Kennedy, hit the John Connally in front of him. Interesting, loved the photos. Cher’ley

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mike Staton says:

      Conspiracy theories sell books. That’s why the theories hang around decade after decade — the Lincoln and Kennedy Assassinations, the Bermuda Triangle, and the pyramid on the moon. I do love hearing everybody’s memories about the early 1960s.

      Like

  8. I was still too young, but hearing about it is interesting. I can imagination the feeling of what everyone must have felt. Thanks for sharing.

    Like

  9. Anonymous says:

    I was much to young in 1963 to realize what was going on in the world. I do remember even into my teenage years my parents and grandmother still felt the loss and pondered what the world would be like if the assassination had never happened.

    Like

  10. The JFK assassination is such a huge moment in history – it’s fascinating to hear your take on it and how it affected you as a child. I vaguely remember when Reagan was shot and it was shocking and everyone was on edge and scared. For me, the biggest moment I’ll never forget is of course, 9/11. After that, I’d have to say the LA Riots in ’92 followed by the Northridge quake in ’94. These affected me personally so obviously I’ll never forget them. Thanks for the thoughtful post, Mike.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mike Staton says:

      I was in my early 30s when Reagan was shot. My memories of Kennedy’s assassination are the memories of a child. Reagan’s attempted kill is seen through the eyes of an adult — but I find the details fascinating as well. Among them, Hinckley’s obsession with Jodie Foster.

      Like

  11. Gayle Irwin says:

    Thanks for this wonderful post, Mike. I was only a few years old when this event happened, so I have no memory of it. But, my husband certainly does, and it still moves him deeply to recall that fateful day. You may remember my friend Kari, whom you and Sharon met last year — she taught at a school in Rialto for several years; now she teaches closer to her home in San Bernardino (though I believe it’s still considered the Rialto School District). Thanks again for sharing this great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Mike Staton says:

    Yep, I remember Kari. And she did indeed teach at my very elementary school. I remember her telling me that as we all ate at South Point. I wonder how many of the teachers at Meyers Elementary when I was there are still living. They’d be in their 80s.

    Like

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