Letters From Home

Life looks at infmom / infmom looks at life




I was not quite 13 years old and in the 8th grade in Fairfield, Iowa. Since our house was only two blocks from the school, I almost always went home for lunch rather than eating in the cafeteria.

I had just started making a sandwich when I heard my mother say “Oh my God!” She was not a daytime TV viewer, so I’m guessing she heard the news on the radio, but I just don’t remember for sure.

My parents didn’t allow a TV in the living room–in this house, it was in their bedroom. I joined my mother in the bedroom and we stared at the TV in disbelief.

Then I ran back to the kitchen, threw my sandwich away and raced back to school. A group of my friends was standing around outside the front door and they (quite naturally) did not believe me when I blurted out the news.

Our homeroom classroom was one of only a few that had a TV in it (so we could take conversational Spanish lessons on KTVO, Kirksville-Ottumwa) so I insisted that we break the rules and go to the classroom and turn on the TV. On any other day, doing that would have landed us all in a boatload of trouble… but not that day.

The teacher, Mrs. Adrian, kept the TV on and we watched in stunned silence. KTVO was an independent station that got its feeds from several sources. It was Walter Cronkite who gave us the final news. Not long afterwards, the principal, Mr. Carter, came on the PA system to anounce it to the rest of the school.

I remember that day as being dark and grey, but whether that was the weather or the news coloring my memory, I do not know.

I was watching TV in my parents’ bedroom on Sunday. My mom told me to turn it off because enough was enough, but I wanted to watch them move Oswald. There was a bang and a tussle, and I thought he’d tried to escape. Then they announced he’d been shot as well. I don’t remember which news feed I was watching, but it wasn’t the one that’s endlessly replayed when that day is talked about. I’ve only seen the images I saw that day once since then and I didn’t think to make a note of where it came from. I have what’s commonly called a photographic memory and I remember images quite clearly, so I do know what it was I saw.

I wonder if we’ll ever find out what really happened? Between the true believers and the conspiracy theorists, the waters have been muddied so much that I doubt anyone will ever find the facts.

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