A day that begged for rain

JFKA quaint thing happened this week.

People came together to commemorate an event that happened before Facebook. It was heartening to see people engaged in meaningful and substantive conversation about November 22, 1963; even if- like me- their only memory of that time comes from stories passed down and news reels with hair on them. Fifty years later, it still matters.

To paraphrase Joyce Carol Oates, everything John F. Kennedy stood for is consigned to posterity. Camelot may have been a beautiful illusion, but his place in this country and the world is very real. There were myriad crimes perpetuated in Dealey Plaza on that Friday afternoon, not the least of which was the theft of work unfinished by a man who introduced us to hope, long before it became a commercial property.

My mother had been the product of a Republican household, but it was her Catholic faith that steered her into pulling the lever for the handsome young man from Massachusetts. It was her first time voting. Smartly, she kept the details of that curtained decision to herself but in her heart, she knew she had made the right choice.

She was working as a secretary in New York City when someone walked into her office, crying out that the President had been shot. The initial reaction was anger at the messenger of this news. They thought he was pulling a prank and they let him know it wasn’t funny in some very specific language. “He was the office comedian, and we were pissed. Until we saw his face and realized this wasn’t a joke.”

She gathered around a transistor radio with her co-workers and listened to the slow march of updates gather and form into a horrible conclusion. There was no more business to be had, no more plans for the weekend to be talked about. All that was left after the flash out of Dallas was a collective daze full of soul numbing disbelief.

It was interesting to see how much the day still matters to many Americans, fifty years later. The aching void of a Friday afternoon when a political king lost his life and a country lost its way, it still matters. As it should, still matter.

If only it would have rained that day.

 

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15 thoughts on “A day that begged for rain

  1. Thanks for the reflection through your mother’s reaction. I was a junior in college and that day ended the hope we all shared that our country would be shining example of human endeavor the world would want to follow. Instead, a gang of thieves stumbled and bumbled and ended the hope. We should all remember the years before the 22nd and try to get back what was taken. Unfortunately as time goes on, it looks impossible. Great post.

  2. Although you didn’t live it, cheers to your mother for sharing the day with you … which obviously had an impact on you. The video with so many photos is well done and an excellent finish to your post …. and there was a good possibility of rain that day.

    PS: If you ever get a chance, visit the plaza and museum.

  3. Dude, you can write. Brilliant post, brilliant words.

    (PS– I’m all caught up on Walking Dead, I guess that’s it for a few months. Wow, just wow. Makes The Exorcist seem like Sesame Street.)

    • I gotta say, it’s really, really hard for me to take compliments. But for when they come from people who know what it’s all about. Thank you, truly.
      As for the Walking Dead? Man…. I miss Herschel already. Not to mention the Governor. Yeah…I know, you gotta be a “Dead” fan to understand that statement.

      • They should have at least let Hershel become Hershel Walker.

        And for the guv’nor, he’s like a cockroach. Nobody checked to make sure he was really dead.

        “Why are my daughters different?”
        “Because they’re not mine.”

        He was loco, but he was honest.

        And yes, you’re welcome. 😉

        • Hershel Walker? I’ve GOT to text my boy on this thought, awesome. And come on, I think you’re being kinda tough on the Gov. He was simply the living definition of the meek inheriting the earth, being as how he was a middling personality in the pre-zombie world who gained his power on the dark side of things.
          You’re right about the ‘kill shot’, of course. I never thought about that one. Maybe she just gave him a Van Gogh. Hmmmmm.

  4. This. This is wonderful beyond words. At least my ability to say anything beyond what other’s have said. It is brilliant. And sad. And true. I agree with Hook, the title and the last sentence. Powerful.

    God bless your mother. For many reasons. . . .

    • Mom always loved the Kennedy’s and so, I’ve always been a fool for Camelot myself. She will never forget where she was on November 22, and I will never forget where I was on July 16, when John’s plane disappeared. It was my wedding anniversary. My then wife and me ended up on the back porch with a bottle of wine, crying and thinking on what might have been.

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