This year, on Thanksgiving Day, if you are as old as I, more or a little less, there’s a pretty good chance, I would bet, that you will recall with exceptional clarity several of the moments of your life on the day that occurred precisely fifty-five years before.
You go first. If you are willing, tell me what you remember of November 22, 1963.
I myself was here in Wisconsin, a freshman at Rio High School, a brick building constructed in 1911. I was heading to, must have been, sixth-hour study hall. I was trudging up the steep, wide, wooden stairs that led to the big, oak-floored, high-ceilinged, drafty room with its multitude of much-initialed, wrought-iron-and-wood, flip-top desks, each with a trough on its top to hold a pen or pencil and with a stained hole in which an open ink bottle had once rested. A framed reproduction of Gilbert Stuart’s unfinished portrait of George Washington, tilted slightly downward so the great man could watch while we worked (or didn’t), was centered above the dulled black chalkboard that spanned the front of the room.
As I went up, a herd of older students, that November Friday afternoon, was thundering down the study hall stairs, but my pal Jimmy Porter, going down, suddenly stopped and reached across to grab my shirt sleeve, pulled me to him, and said, “Bud, Did you hear? President Kennedy got shot!”
“Uh, ohhh-kay, Jimmy,” I said. “And what’s the punch line?”
“No, no, I’m serious,” Jim said. “President Kennedy really got shot. Somebody shot him. In Texas.”
“Is he dead?”
“I don’t know. It just happened. It’s on the radio. Meyer told us.”
All right. You go again, dear reader. Tell me, if you are willing, what else you recall, wherever you may have been. And then, if you want to hear what else I ... Well, maybe, no, maybe that is enough, what I have said for now, about that one, bitterly cold, snowy Wisconsin afternoon and its rapidly deepening gloom. Still, if you want to tell more, I will listen.