My husband was a gradate student in Boston in November 1963, and I was teaching kindergarten near Brookline, Mass., where the senior Kennedys had lived and where JFK was raised.
As kindergarten ended, and within minutes of the children leaving the classroom, the custodian came into the room crying. He was bent over and sobbing uncontrollably with tears rolling down his face. He called out: "They have killed him; they have killed him. He was one of our own. He lived right here in Boston." He kept repeating how the president lived nearby and the family had such deep roots in Boston and in Hyannis Port. "How could it be? How could it be? He is so young."
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There were no TVs in the school, and the only radio was in the office. The principal used the intercom to call all the staff to the office. As we gathered around the radio, we learned the news of the assassination of President Kennedy in Dallas earlier in the afternoon.
Many more parents came to school that day to pick up their children. Everyone was quiet as they claimed their students. Parents, grandparents, baby sitters, aunts and uncles were crying. Disbelief and shock was evident on their faces. They hugged their children in a protective manner as the school quietly emptied for the weekend.
Before we left the American flag was lowered outside the building. School was canceled for the following Monday. All weekend long, Boston radio stations played funeral dirge music as the days of mourning were put in place for a national time of grief.
I can still feel the stir of emotions, as even now, I sadly look back 50 years ago on that dreadful day.