JFK: Remembering Nov. 22, 1963

JFKThe assassination of John F. Kennedy 50 years ago is still a vivid memory for those who lived through it. We invite the UNH community and alumni to share recollections of that day using the comment form below.

To read more recollections, visit The College Letter.

7 Responses to JFK: Remembering Nov. 22, 1963

  1. Carrie Sherman says:

    In the fall of 1963, my father wanted to watch the World Series. This meant he had to lug the television set down from the attic of our rambling old house on East Main St, in Conway, N.H. My parents had relegated the TV to the attic because they wanted my older sister and me to read books. And we did. I read fairy tales and myths and Cherry Ames books. We also sang along to the musical soundtracks of the Sound of Music and Camelot.

    The World Series came and went, but the TV with its rabbit ears remained perched on the kitchen counter overlooking the dinner table. This was fine with me. I was eleven and it meant I could watch cartoons and silly TV shows when I came home from school.

    On Friday, November 22, when the president was assassinated, I don’t remember what I was told or by whom. The day was so short and darkness fell abruptly. That’s what I remember. It was as if my father’s younger brother had been killed. After all, my father played football in the backyard with friends the same way JFK played with his brothers. JFK loved the beach on Cape Cod, the same way we loved Jones Beach on Long Island. His children were the same age as our cousins. And, in Conway, everyone participated in parades.

    That night, we were glued to the television. We heard Walter Cronkite make the announcement. I was so frightened. Later that night my sister lit a candle and put it in the window. When I asked her why, she said someone on TV had suggested it. When I looked across the street, I saw that amazingly our neighbors had lit candles as well. It was comforting.

    Two days later, on Sunday, Jack Ruby shot and killed Lee Harvey Oswald. My mother, sister, and I watched it happen on television. My mother’s face was so contorted. She wanted to protect us from it, but at the same time, she couldn’t stop watching.

    On the Monday, the 25th, we watched the president’s funeral and that made sense.

    The television never went back up into the attic. But after that time my mother always referred to it as the “terror vision.”

    As I think about this, I was a child before everything happened and, in just a few days, along with everyone else, I had become much older.

  2. Lynn Beaver says:

    When I was in the 3rd grade, I was leaving school after a Brownie meeting. I remember it was dusk and my friend and I climbed into the backseat of her mother’s big white car. The radio was on and all news was about the assassination of the President. Although I was young at the time, I remember being very upset. Many children at that time, myself included, found themselves more interested in his presidency because he was so young and handsome.

  3. Matty Leighton says:

    I am not old enough to remember the assassination, but I vividly remember my parents talking about it years later. My father was a professor at UNH and on his first sabbatical, and we were living in Spain (I was 3 years old). He came home from work and my mother had heard the news and was hysterical and crying. It was a very difficult experience for both of them because they were in a strange country, with few American friends or acquaintances, and of course there was suspicion about who was behind the attack and whether other attacks on additional targets would follow. Was our country facing a threat to its very existence? They felt isolated and frightened, and they didn’t have the collective experience of national grief that many people who lived through this period describe.

    Matty Leighton
    UNH ’82, ’84, ’13G

  4. Mary E. Bourgault says:

    I was a UNH junior in Nov. 1963 studying abroad in Switzerland for the school year. I was with some German friends when the news broke that Kennedy had been assassinated, but I didn’t speak German so I remember feeling upset that I didn’t know what was really happening back home in the States. A few days later, all of the American students at the school got together and we held our own candlelit ceremony of remembrance and solidarity. It was a great comfort to us during a very sad time.

  5. Patricia McNamara Urban says:

    I was a freshman at UNH in 1963. I was on my way to my calculus I class that afternoon when I heard that the President had been shot. When class began, the Professor let us all talk for several minutes about what we had heard. At that point, a definite announcement of the death had not been made. After a while, he continued on with the calculus lecture. When I got back to Randall Hall, everyone was gathered around the TV in the dorm mother’s room where we learned of the death of President Kennedy. I remember many of us crying. In our lifetimes, we had not witnessed anything that made us feel as we did that day. Every year, on the anniversary, I think about my experience at UNH that day.

  6. Carole Berry says:

    I was in first grade when President Kennedy was assassinated. I recall the principal of our school coming over the loud speaker announcing that the President had been shot and killed. He then played the radio coverage of the event so we could all hear. School was let out early that afternoon and I remember seeing several sixth grade girls in tears waiting in the bus line.

    In the days that followed, I recall watching the coverage on TV with my parents who were the same age as JFK. It’s the first time I remember seeing my Dad cry.

  7. Ellen Spencer says:

    Fifty years ago today I was a sophomore at UNH, and waiting in the Student Union for my father to pick me up and take me home to NJ for Thanksgiving vacation. Suddenly a news flash came onto the TV screen. We all know the rest: the shock, the horror, the disbelief, as our nation went into morning for our young President, the one who had brought us so much hope for the future. I’ll never forget that moment or where I was. But what came next was really amazing.
    After being glued to our TV over the next day or two, my boyfriend Charlie and I asked our parents if we could go down to Washington DC to be at the funeral. To our surprise, they said,”Yes”. Remember it was 1963 and we had never been away together.
    So at midnight, the night before President Kennedy was put to rest, Charlie, his sister Carole, her boyfriend Jack and I packed up a big bag of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, homemade banana bread, and thermoses of hot coffee, and we took off in Jack’s green Rambler for DC. We arrived at around 4 am. It was my first time there, and what I’ll never forget is watching the sunrise over this beautiful city that I felt somehow would never be the same. It was eery. People were walking around in what looked like a big daze. No one talked. You could hear a pin drop.
    Later that morning, we stood on the side of the road with throngs of other people, watching the caisson pass with President Kennedy’s flag draped coffin on it, followed by a riderless horse, and then Jackie with Bobbie and Ted, and all the world dignitaries who had come to pay respects, walking so slowly behind. It was so quiet, too quiet, and oh so surreal. A day and a time I will never forget and never regret I was there.

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