50 Years Later: Remembering JFK Assassination

Philipstown residents recall day that changed history

John F. Kennedy

John F. Kennedy

John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States, was assassinated at 1:30 pm EST on Friday, Nov. 22, 1963, near Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas. For Americans of a certain age and for millions of people around the world, the moment in which they learned of the president’s death is permanently and vividly etched in their memory. The Paper asked a small sampling of Philipstown residents what they remember most. Comments have been edited and abbreviated.

John “Jiggum” Merante: I was in seventh grade at Haldane. We had just been dismissed and were coming down from the Annex – now the Mabel Merritt Building. Someone told us. We couldn’t believe it. No one could believe it. It was unbelievable. As 12-year-olds we couldn’t get our heads around it. I guess it was the end of innocence.

Father Norman Boyd: I was raking leaves at a Catholic seminary in Washington, D.C. Augustinians were teaching next door and they walked across and told us JFK was just killed in Dallas. What I remember most was that the seminary was shut down entirely for three days. It was unbelievable.

Cathy Greenough: I was playing volleyball in the gym at Haldane. One of the classrooms had a TV and someone ran in and told us. My most vivid memory was the shock on everyone’s face. I made a whole scrapbook (on Kennedy and the assassination) for a school project. I lost it many years later when our basement flooded. I wish I had it now.

Tom Duncan: I remember it vividly. I was in 12th grade English class at Roosevelt High School in Hyde Park. Two girls came to the door – which had a window in it. They held up a handmade sign to the window. It said “Kennedy has been shot.” Of course that was the end of class. The radio was being broadcast over the school PA system and we stayed to listen to it.

Kathleen O’Connor: I know exactly where I was. I was at home and heard about it either on the radio or television. I walked down Main Street in Cold Spring with my one year-old son. It was like a ghost town. People were stunned.

Helen Smiros: I was on Limnos, a small island in Greece. I was listening to the radio and heard that the president of the United Sates had been killed. It was so sad. I was crying. I only knew him from the newspaper – we had no television.

3 thoughts on “50 Years Later: Remembering JFK Assassination

  1. As a junior in college, I was editor of the yearbook, we went to the coffee shop and walking through the student lounge, many were clustered around the T.V., some yelling, some crying. Yearbook was put away for a week so.

    At the fraternity house one of the guys had his folks V.W. bug to go home for Thanksgiving and just threw out the suggestion, “Anyone want to go to the funeral?” Well, three of us loonies said yeah. And off we went. Got to D.C. just as the receiving line was shutting down, so we went driving over to the cathedral, then Arlington. Did get some photos of the funeral, which I still have in my scrapbook. Thought I got some of the flyover, but not sure and haven’t found any photos. Drove back over night through snow storms in PA, and found out about Oswald’s killing next day.

  2. I still retain a vivid picture of the exact moment I heard of JFK’s assassination. But I find it hard to reconcile the lionized image with the revelations of his womanizing. Moral and ethical behavior is important to me, and the hypocracy of this church-going Catholic does nothing to restore my respect for the man.

  3. I was a sophomore in college rushing to a French seminar. A fellow arrived later than I did and said, in French, that the President had been shot. It was a two-hour class; and, about an hour in, the bells in the bell-tower on campus started to toll. The class continued anyway. I am sure I was not the only one distressed by not knowing what was going on and trying to talk about Manon Lescaut or Balzac. Classes after that closed down, a roommate found a TV (no, we did not have one regularly in our room), and we were glued to it as the news developed.

    The shock of it was that assassination of a President was part of our political life. The process of elections and agreed peaceful transitions, the virtue of our democratic system, was interrupted. Also President Kennedy represented a new generation in the White House for many of us. That was a breath of fresh air. And whatever he was seeking to accomplish was brought to a stop by an assassin.