50 years ago today: Peninsula residents past and present recall the day JFK was assassinated
Click here to zoom...
Gary and Judy Gleaton of Agnew celebrate their 50th anniversary today. The wedding on Nov. 22, 1963, “was not as happy as it should have been.” -- Photo by Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Click here to zoom...
The front page of the Port Angeles Evening News was hastily remade to report the Kennedy assassination 50 years ago today. The PAEN is a predecessor newspaper to the PDN.
Click here to zoom...
Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News
Bob Sokol of Port Townsend celebrated his 27th birthday on Nov. 22, 1963, at an Air Force base where he was a first lieutenant.
Click here to zoom...
Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
John Miller of Port Angeles was a Navyman aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ticonderoga, which steamed toward the Panama Canal
Click here to zoom...
Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
An image of JFK created by United Press International teletype and received by radio KNOP in 1963 is held by former station receptionist Janet Poths. Typewriter-like ews copy from wire services once were transmitted by telephone lines to newspapers and radio stations at a rate of 60 words per minute.
Click here to zoom...
Andy Anderson of Port Angeles turned 19 on that day. He's 69 today.
Click here to zoom...
Dobie Lyons was 5 and suffered an injury in his grandparents' garage at Neah Bay that day.
Click here to zoom...
Vicci Ruden was teaching eighth-grade American history students in California.
Click here to zoom...
Stephen Murphy of Port Townsend was playing soccer in school when a teacher came out and stopped the game.
Click here to zoom...
Judy "JP" Persall of Sequim was living outside of Washington, D.C., and attended the funeral procession.

By Leah Leach
Peninsula Daily News

print Print This | Email This

Most Popular this week

Want more top stories? Sign up here for daily or weekly newsletters with our top news.

The day President John F. Kennedy was shot is indelibly engraved in the memories of those who lived through the shock and horror of what was then almost unthinkable.

Fifty years later, those memories remain vivid.

For some, the date Nov. 22, 1963, is an anniversary in more ways than one.

Gary and Judy Gleaton of Agnew were married that day.

“The wedding at Redondo Beach, Calif., was not as happy as it should have been,” the couple wrote in response to a request from the Peninsula Daily News to North Olympic Peninsula residents for memories of the day JFK was shot.

“Everyone was so sad that JFK had died,” they said. “Some people were too upset to come to the wedding.

“We went to Las Vegas for a short honeymoon and we had never seen that place so desolate.”

The date was a birthday for four people who responded.

Karen McCormick, the retired president and CEO of First Federal, at first thought her teacher in Mountain View, Calif., was wishing her a happy birthday “but she was crying as she wordlessly hugged me.

“My mother tried to make my ninth birthday special despite the canceled party and her own grief, but there was no celebrating that day,” said McCormick, now 59 and living in Port Angeles.




12:40 P.M. (Central Standard Time)


Former Port Townsend City Councilman and Port of Port Townsend Commissioner Robert H. “Bob” Sokol was marking his 27th birthday that day.

“I was an Air Force first lieutenant stationed at James Connolly AFB, Texas, 90 miles south of Dallas,” he said.

“I was home for lunch and went into the living room to turn on 'As the World Turns' for my wife and Walter Cronkite was just coming on to announce the president had just been shot.

“The rest of the weekend was spent glued to the television.”




12:57 P.M.


Andy Anderson, 69, of Port Angeles turned 19 on that day and was looking forward to graduating from U.S. Coast Guard boot camp in Alameda, Calif.

The ceremony was canceled. The president had been shot.

“We were all very bewildered and in complete shock,” he said.

“There really wasn't anything to say. We just looked at each other.”

Said Stella Williams of Joyce: “For the last 50 years, I wake up on my birthday and say to myself, President Kennedy was assassinated on my 15th birthday.

Williams was in biology class when she heard the news.

Later, “on a 12-inch, black-and-white TV, our family witnessed a nation mourning the loss of their president.”

Williams said that “oddly enough,” Robert Kennedy was shot and killed on her sister's birthday, June 5, 1968.

Reasons for remembering that day are always personal.

Victoria Feitner of Port Townsend said that JFK and her father grew up together and that John F. Kennedy's mother “was a dear, dear friend of my grandmother's. . . .

“Mostly my memories are of my grandmother's friendship with Rose . . . These women were THE greatest generation if not the backbone for their men.

“I miss the depth and quiet of these people in my life. They fought a hell of a war and then came home to build a great country.

“Then Robert was taken.

“We still have Ethel!!!!”




1:11 P.M.


So great was the outpouring of responses to the PDN's request that not all can be published in print.

Those not seen here can be viewed online at the PDN's website at www.peninsuladailynews.com.

Here is sample — many are excerpts — of what you told us:

■   Melinda E. Griffith, Sequim

My husband and I were in the Peace Corps, stationed in Kawit, Medellin, Cebu, five 5 hours north of Cebu City by bus. Our distant barrio had no electricity and we rarely used our battery radio.

On a Saturday morning, a stranger told us the news. We didn't believe him.

■   Jim Jones Jr., 60, Port Angeles, Clallam County administrator

I was in the fourth grade at Tachikawa AFB Elementary School in Japan. It was Saturday morning, the base was locked down and our fathers were called to full alert . . . in anticipation of World War III soon to be starting.

Everyone was crying. There was no school on Monday or Tuesday. We were all scared, and didn't see our fathers for five days.




1:27 P.M.


■   Steven Miller, 71, Sequim

I was a student at Southern Methodist University and had a job in a men's wear store in downtown Dallas.

I went to the parade route and watched the motorcade pass by. This was about 10 blocks east of Dealey Plaza.

We heard the news shortly after I got to work, and the store owners immediately closed for the day.

■   Andy Romano, Sequim and Santa Barbara

In between acting jobs in movies and TV, when I was starting out, to earn extra money, I worked at trimming trees and yard cleanup in Beverly Hills for celebrities that I met or worked with at the studios.

I was trimming Jayne Mansfield and Micky Hargitay's trees at their home on Sunset Boulevard [30 feet up a tree above a balcony].

Jayne came out screaming, very emotional, “Andy, Andy, they shot the President.”

She had absolutely nothing on.

■   Kristen Larson, Port Angeles

When Walter Cronkite announced that he had indeed died, many of us [at Pasadena High School] cried out loud. I was devastated. I had worked in his campaign . . .

Our football team had been very successful that fall, and the whole band was excused from our last two classes, because we were scheduled to play in Santa Barbara (a long bus ride away) for a playoff game. . .

We decided not to cancel our show. However we decided to play the music, but the very flashy drum cadences with twirling symbols and mallets would be replaced with a single snare-drum beat. We performed without a flaw.

■   John Austin, 73, Port Ludlow, Jefferson County commissioner

U.S. Army Northern Warfare Training Center (USANWTC), Fort Greeley, Alaska. In a classroom of soldiers learning how to build fortifications from dirt and ice, we see an officer approach the instructor. He takes the podium and announces: “The commander-in-chief has been shot.”

There is stunned silence. The sadness is profound.

■   Debbie Jahnke, 62, Port Townsend

We'd moved back to Boise, Idaho, from Alaska. . . .

The assassination was announced after lunch. We stood at our hall lockers, shedding seventh-grade tears with little understanding of the real significance.

■   Adrienne Pereira, 56, Port Angeles

I was 6 years old and living in Albany, Calif. I can only remember my mother weeping.

■   Mark Schildknecht, 68, Sequim, who served in the Marines from 1963-67

Our drill instructor [for Platoon 170, 1st Battalion at boot camp at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego] told us that the president had been shot. Later we were told that the president had died.

For the first time since arriving at MCRD, all was quiet aboard the base.





1:32 P.M.


■   Robin Coppo

I was in Mrs. Quasts' fifth-grade class at Jefferson Elementary when the announcement came over the intercom. The class was making soap carvings.

It was my last week at Jefferson Elementary [Port Angeles], as my family was moving.”

■   Christi Baron, Forks, Forks Forum editor

I was in second grade, Forks Elementary School, and recess had just got over.

As the bell rang we all returned to our desks and our teacher Mrs. Meisner slowly walked to the front of the classroom. She looked at us and said, “Our President is dead, he has been shot.”

. . . I immediately thought, “Oh no, we have no leader. Anarchy is at our doorstep.”

I have always wished she would have explained things a little bit more. . . . I had no idea there was a vice president. For me, as a child, it was extremely scary.

■   Ruth Messing, Sequim

I've always wanted to ask Regis Philbin, “Where were you when President Kennedy was shot?” The reason is that I know where he was immediately after.

He was in the First National Bank on Federal Way in San Diego, Calif., where I worked, cashing his paycheck.

Regis worked at the nearby KOGO TV station, and when he came into the bank, he told us the president had been shot.

. . . At age 22, this was the first major event in my memory other than the moon landing.




The Associated Press

1:37 P.M.


■   John Miller, 69, Port Angeles

I was on the aircraft carrier USS Ticonderoga when the news of the president's death reached us.

We went into the San Diego port, where a squad of Marines were waiting with carts of covered bombs. (We later found out they were nuclear bombs.)

We then steamed toward the Panama Canal. We were called back several days later.

■   KD Tangedahl, 59, Port Angeles

The day Kennedy was assassinated, I was at Hahn AFB in southern Germany. I was 9.

Armed Forces Television and Radio stopped normal broadcasts, reporting only the assassination. Broadcasts with humor and cartoons were suspended, preempted by two weeks of sober broadcasts.

It was difficult for us so young.

■   Judith Kitchen, 72, Port Townsend

I was in a movie theater in Edinburgh, Scotland, when shaky letters scratched onto the film appeared: “President Kennedy assassinated in US.”

. . . We emerged to an outpouring of flags at half-mast streaming from every building. . .

Our family has a second anecdote: My mother wanted my grandmother to rest while she was away, so she asked her to take notes on a particular soap opera.

Later, she found a page pinned to my grandmother's apron: “Sam visited Ellen, President Kennedy shot, Dorothy meets Janice for lunch.” No distinction between fact and fiction.”

■   Bill Saunders, 83, Port Townsend

At the time I was living in Joliet, Ill., working as a meat cutter, so the time would have been 12:30 p.m. local time. I was standing at our cutting block doing my work when someone came to the meat department and told me what occurred.

I stopped in my tracks, put my knife down, and a feeling of deep sadness came over me.

The looks on everybody's faces I'll always remember.”

■   Katy Deutermann, Port Angeles

My high school class was taking the National Merit Scholarship exam that day.

The sisters decided not to interrupt us and so did not make the announcement until after the exam time expired. They knew the news would ruin any chances of completing the exam and possibly being awarded a scholarship.

There were, in fact, two scholarships awarded to classmates.

■   Linda Boyd, 61, Port Angeles

I was a sixth-grade student at Lincoln Elementary School in Port Angeles. We were in class on the second floor of the school when an announcement came over the intercom.

Then the radio broadcast was piped over the intercom until it was confirmed that President John F. Kennedy has died.

I remember sitting stunned at my desk in total disbelief. As a 12-year-old, I was aware of politics and that my parents had voted for him. I knew he was much beloved in our household, and I felt very sad but tears did not fall. . . .

As I looked around the classroom, I saw other sad and stunned faces. It was a very quiet day for us.

“The other reason I remember his assassination so well is that the next day, I came down with the mumps and had to stay in my room for Thanksgiving and could not watch the events that followed his assassination or hear what the adults were saying.”

When I visited the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas a few years ago, the same feeling came over me as I had in that classroom as I walked through the exhibit.

This time I shed tears which did not come back in sixth grade.

■   Marsha Gillespie, 60, Forks

At school in rural Illinois, the library intercom announced to us that the president had been wounded in a motorcade. Later it announced, “The president of the United States is now dead.”

It was difficult celebrating a surprise birthday party for our fifth-grade teacher that afternoon.

■   Monty Sampson, Sequim

I was a student at the University of Montana, working my part-time job in the dish machine room during lunch hour at the school cafeteria. A tray came in on the conveyor belt with a message written on a napkin in large block letters:


■   James Jacobsen, Seattle and Port Angeles

I was in third grade at Queen of Angels. A nun came to the door, and our teacher spoke with her. I overheard, “They think that there were three people involved.”

Our teacher turned to the class and told us President Kennedy had been shot. She was crying.

Shortly thereafter, the entire school marched to the church, where we all prayed for the president. We were all shocked and horrified. I will never forget that day.

■   Dana Church Cordrey, 71, Port Angeles

On Nov. 21, 1963, I left Southampton, England, as a member of a boat delivery crew headed for English Harbour, Antigua. At 0600 GMT, we happened to listen to the BBC Overseas News Service broadcast; the assassination was the lead story and 12 hours after the fact.

There was little discussion of it on board as there were only two Americans in the crew. The impact on America did not hit me until I returned home in February 1964.

■   Vernita Katchatag Herdman, Sequim

That day, I was an eighth-grader in my home village of Unalakleet, Alaska. Western Alaska, four hours behind Seattle, was dark.

When the school secretary knocked on the classroom door our teacher, a young man named Mr. Kracher, spoke with her, then walked slowly to the windows. He stared at the ice on Norton Sound for a long couple of minutes, then announced the news.

■   Donna Corey, 57, Port Townsend

I was in the second grade. Our teacher was just about to dismiss us for recess. Back then we had these intercom/speakers in each classroom.

The principal came on and announced that President Kennedy had just been shot and killed. My teacher started to cry. I'll never forget that.

■   Jon Wendt, 67, Sequim

The sound of Walter Cronkite's voice patched into the high school PA system greeted us upon returning from lunch break. When it was over, we were dismissed early.

We boarded the buses, surprised to be out early, but in respectful silence. It was as if the funeral had already begun.

■   Joan Ritchie, 76, Sequim

I was listening to the TV and looking out my kitchen window with a baby straight from the bath in my arms [when I heard the news].

A chill ran down my spine, I found it hard to believe.

■   Rita Sayer, 86, Chimacum

I was ironing and watching TV when the announcement came. Then phone rang and somebody from work was calling to ask what size turkey we wanted for Thanksgiving.

It didn't seem to register with him what I told him about Kennedy, so I told him what size turkey and hung up.

■   Diana Walter Lopez, 71, Sequim

I was a political science major at [University of California] at Berkeley attending a class on 'The American Presidency.'

Word spread like wildfire, classes were canceled and students — most of them crying — gathered all over campus in shock, fear and confusion.

It felt as if the world was about to end.

■   George Randels, 70, Port Townsend, former Port Townsend deputy mayor

Riding with two college buddies in downtown Rochester, N.Y. Roy, a notorious cutup, points at the radio.

“The president's been shot,” he says.

“Yeah, sure, Roy — can't you come up with something better than that?” we respond, only to discover soon thereafter that for once, Roy wasn't joking.

■   Chuck Boyd, 66, Bainbridge Island

I graduated in '65. I remember being in Mrs. Middleton's history class. Mr. Driscoll came over the PA and said our president had just been shot. Within a few moments he came back on and said he had just died.

All the girls were crying, and I was just shocked and stunned. We all were older and much sadder than ever before that day.

■   Sandy (Sharp) Frankfurth, 67, Sequim

This poem was published in my high school annual and later appeared on the program of our 30-year reunion.

I was 17 years old when I wrote this poem as a student at Connell High School in Connell, Wash.:

In Memory of President Kennedy

Friday, November 22, 1963

Started out to be a normal day for me;

When suddenly through the halls a rumor did spread--

The President has been shot and feared to by dead!'

We entered our classrooms; the intercom on

And listened for news of our good friend John.

The radio announcer's voice would break

As we all prayed his life God wouldn't take.

At eleven o'clock the tragic new s came,

As the announcer sadly said his famous name.

A smile on his face and a wave for a friend

Is how John Fitzgerald Kennedy's life did end.

As he rode through Dallas in a motorcade

Through a sixth story window the fatal shots were made!

Some let out a scream, other a cry

As we thought to ourselves, “I wonder why?”

A son, a daughter, and a wife he did leave

And millions of people through out the world to grieve.

Foreign dignitaries from all over the land

Came to pay their respect to this loved man.

After you've looked in his eye, or have shaken his hand

You thought of him as a friend, not only a leader of the land. (land should be at the end of the above line).

A man to which words are hard to express,

Was one of the men our country loved best.

■   Dobie Lyons

I remember Nov. 22, 1963, like it was yesterday. I was 5 years old and I was playing in my gram and grampa's garage in Neah Bay.

I was swinging on the rafters, and I came back and slammed my back into the wall. There was a nail sticking out and it stabbed into my back and I jumped down and the nail ripped my skin about four inches.

I went running into the house, screaming bloody murder and bleeding to death, and I rush in the door to tell my mom, gram and grampa what had happened. They all yell at me to “shut up, the president just got shot.”

I got so mad, I quit crying and slammed the door, and was thinking to myself: I'm sitting here bleeding to death and nobody even cares, and some guy gets shot and they don't even know him and they care about him more then they care about me.”

■   Kimball Shelley, 66, Sequim

I was sitting in my U.S. history class in Southern California as a 10th-grader when I heard a voice in the back of the room say, “Kennedy has been shot.”

My classmate was listening to sports on a transistor radio. There was momentary silence until the teacher told us to stay put. He ran out of the classroom, returning shortly with his own radio. We all went up to his desk and listened as the news reports came in.

There was a lot of confusion in the radio announcements, but it was clear that the president had been shot. We joined in prayer and then classes were suspended for the remainder of the day.

■   Judy “JP” Persall, 60, Sequim

I lived outside of Washington, D.C., and was in the fifth grade when the teacher told us we could all go home as the president has been shot and killed. There were tears in all the teacher's eyes as we left school. . .

As the president lay in state beneath the rotunda of the Capitol building . . we got in an extremely long and eerily silent line for eight hours in the freezing cold to view our slain president. . . we were told it would be another six hours before we would get there. Our feet felt like blocks of ice, and we were shivering so we sadly went home.

On the day of his funeral procession, my older brother exclaimed, “This is history,” so we piled into our family car, drove to D.C. and stood in a huge crowd.

My oldest brother placed me on his shoulders so I could see, and I remember seeing the backward facing black boots in the horse's stirrup and Mrs. Kennedy leading her two small children up the Capitol steps.

■   Brian Coughenour, 63, Port Angeles

Eighth-grade choir rehearsal was interrupted by a school-wide intercom radio announcement: “The President of the United States . . . (I feared a nuclear attack was the subject) . . . has been killed in Dallas.”

The girls screamed, the guys were shocked and the choir director collapsed in tears before the classroom of teenagers.

■   Mary Bell, Sequim

I was teaching in the first grade at Littlerock School in Littlerock, Wash., when the eighth-grade teacher shouted over the intercom speaker that, “The president has been shot.”

I walked over to the office to confirm when I thought I had heard, and learned it had happened.

I went back to my room, and the children were on their tasks, seemingly not aware of what had been said, so I sat down.

I thought, “What more can I do?” I was nine months pregnant.

So we finished up our day and went to our homes.

■   Fred Fallon, Sequim

I was in the U.S. Air Force stationed in Bitburg, Germany. I was having dinner at a restaurant when a friend came in and said that the president had been shot.

We left the restaurant and went back to the base to listen to the news from the Armed Forces Network. The base immediately went on alert. It was a day I will never forget.

■   Camille Wynn, 57, Port Angeles

I was 7 years old, home sick from school that day, watching TV when the program was interrupted.

My dad was out working in the garage; my mom at work at the local bank . . .

I immediately went to the phone and called the bank, which was how everyone there learned of the assassination.

Overall, I think it was a huge shock because such things as murder and assassination seemed much, much further away from day-to-day life than they are now.

■   Harvey Martin, 87, Sequim

I was a 37-year-old electrician working in Jamestown, N.Y. I had just parked my service truck and gotten out of it when several church bells began ringing, and I wondered why, when a passer-by said President Kennedy has just been shot.

■   Susan Phillips Blevins, 64, Port Angeles

I was a freshman attending Roosevelt Junior High School, which was then located at Chase and Fourth streets in Port Angeles. Just before lunchtime, word of the assassination spread.

Shocked students and tearful teachers crowded around Roosevelt's handful of televisions. Then (as I remember it), following lunch, classes resumed on schedule.

■   Sandy Heinrich, Forks

I was in the sixth grade at Greenwood Elementary School in Seattle. One of my assigned “jobs” was to cover the secretary's desk while she was at lunch.

There must have been at least 50 calls asking about an open house being canceled that evening.

My teacher was devastated, and that was the first time I ever had to stay after school because I came back to class talking about all the phone calls. He didn't want to hear it.

It was a horrible day.

■   Vicci Rudin, 77, Port Angeles

I was in a California classroom with my eighth grade American history students. The principal came to the door, told me the news and brought a television into the room.

I watched the news unfold with my students, reassuring them that our nation and government would endure despite the tragedy they were witnessing.

■   Stephen D. Murphy, 60, Port Townsend

We were in school playing a game of soccer when a teacher ended the game and announced that the president had been shot.

We had difficulty believing him. Even for us fifth-graders, a somber atmosphere prevailed in the locker room, and we wondered if it was a joke.

■   Adrienne Pereira, 56, Port Angeles

I was 6 years old and living in Albany, Calif. I can only remember my mother weeping.

■   Barbara Ralph, 75, Sequim

I was working for the state of California in Los Angeles. I was in the ladies' restroom when a woman came in and said the president had just been shot.

I went back to my office and told my co-workers. Then all the telephones began to ring. Everyone was sent home.

■   Ellie Schmidt, 71, Sequim

I was at work at Virginia Mason Clinic in Seattle. I was sitting at my desk translating from the dictaphone using my electric typewriter. (How things have changed.)

A co-worker came running down the hallway crying, “Pray, pray, everyone pray. The president has been shot.”

I can remember tears streaming down her face as she made the sign of the cross over and over. My first thought was that he would be fine.

I didn't know for sure he had died until I saw Walter Cronkite on the news later.

■   Greg Madsen, 70, Sequim

I was typing a paper in my dorm room at the University of Exeter (England) when I heard a commotion in the hall, then frantic knocking.

“Your president's dead! And there are missiles heading over the North Pole toward America!”

True and false, of course. Unable to contact my parents, I spent some frantic hours trying to discover if I still had a home.

■   Donna Huswick, 70, Sequim

I was 20 years old at work. Mostly Hispanic women sat sewing as tear-stained faces watched a small TV showing over and over the horror of our president being shot.

Moaning and sobbing punctuated unbelievable announcement that JFK was dead. The next few days were very grim.

■   Linda Corrie Galle, Port Angeles

Bing bong. The light chime was the precursor to an announcement in our tiny Catholic school: “Teachers and children, please assemble in the church, our president has been assassinated.”

I was born and raised in an Irish Catholic family, proud of our heritage and in 1963 extremely proud of our president.

In my home, Camelot was forever gone, and Johnny boy was going home.

■   Greg Norton, Port Angeles

I was a freshman in the Corps of Cadets at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, sitting at my desk studying during call-to-quarters — doors had to be open.

Someone came shouting through the hall that John Kennedy had been shot. We all wondered into the halls in total shock and disbelief.

■   Peggy M. Norris, 73, Port Angeles

I was attending graduate school at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, when President John Kennedy was shot.

I am from the United States and my classmates — Canadian, British, Australian — knew how much I admired him. Many came to me to express their condolences.

Were they sorry because Kennedy had been killed? A few were, but most of them came to me with their concerns about having Lyndon B. Johnson as president.

■   Harlan Paddock, 82, Nordland

I was driving truck for Carl's Building Supply in Seattle. I just left the waterfront, going to Ballard to make a pickup.

Arriving at the will-call, there was nobody to be seen at the warehouse. There was an office on the mezzanine floor, so I went to see why we weren't getting service, and I was told the president had been shot. It was shocking.

■   Patty Spohn

That infamous day, I was a sophomore at Lakes High School and in biology class.

The principal announced over the PA that the president had been assassinated.

First, you could have heard a pin drop, and then only the sounds of sobbing!

■   Karen (Liles) Spoelstra, 59

I was a third-grader attending school in Irving, Texas. An announcement came over the intercom, letting us know the president had been shot and that we would be dismissed early.

I remember the confusion that followed as teachers were crying and rushing around. My mom and dad were at work in Dallas and heard the sirens.

■   Eleanor Tschimperle, 94, Port Angeles, a 2006 Clallam County Community Service Award winner

I was standing behind the prescription counter at Angeles Pharmacy when the news of President Kennedy's assassination was broadcast by KONP.

I cried, the pharmacist was speechless and a young man in the store said, 'Oh, no! The United States will never be the same again.'

Sadly, how true those words have become.

■   Joseph Urquia, 66, Sequim

I was in my last-period Latin class at Gonzaga High School in Washington, D.C.

The PA announced the news that President Kennedy had been shot, but we weren't informed as to his condition.

Our teacher, Bartlett Jones, who resembled a blanched out version of Ichabod Crane, a stork-like man with no sense of humor, took little notice and ordered us to return to our class routine.

Raising my hand, I asked him, “Mr. Jones, the president of the United States has just been shot, and you want us to study Latin?'”

“Of course, he answered, why shouldn't we?”

I sat down, incensed and uttered a mild expletive while coughing, a typical adolescent ploy of that time.

He glared at me and told me to go to jug, the Jesuit term for detention, and so, while the rest of the world was hanging on every word coming from their radios and TV's, I sat, writing inanities a hundred times and ruing the day I met Bartlett Jones. . . .

■   Peg Bright, Michigan, formerly of Port Angeles

I was 5 years old. . . . I was watching the parade on TV, and all of a sudden my grandmother dropped the vacuum hose and her hands flew to her face as she sobbed, “Oh dear Lord, they've shot the president.”

When we went by Peoples department store on Front Street in Port Angeles, people were gathered watching the TVs in the window, and everyone was crying.

My grandfather worked at PenPly, and when he came home to the farm at Dry Creek, he was crying, too. It was one of the few times I ever saw him cry.

I remember it was cloudy in Port Angeles that day, too, but I mostly remember that everywhere we went, people were crying.

■   Georgia Fraker, Port Angeles

I was in Coos Bay, Ore., where my daughter, Sherry, had a new son, Shawn. Her husband was in the Coast Guard and was on a month's tour and I was taking them to Forks.

We heard the news over the radio and we had a very long, sad trip.

Shawn Seelye is now 50 years old and I am 90.

■   Gary W. Kennedy, 74, Port Townsend

I was in the stadium at Fort Campbell, Ky., awaiting the kickoff in a football game between Fort Campbell and Fort Benning, Ga. The assassination of our Commander in Chief was announced over the public address system. Stunned silence followed by pandemonium!

It was then announced that due to JFK's love of football, the game would proceed as a memorial to him.

■   MaryAnne Thulin, Port Angeles

The autoclave had three minutes to go and I was standing there waiting for the timer to go off. My bored gaze drifted to the window — and then down to the city street below. It was the busiest intersection in Waterbury, Conn., but all the cars were stopped. People were clustered around the vehicles and I could hear the car radios blaring. No music — just voices.

Just then another dentist came running into our office, crying “Oh, my God. Oh, my God.” Almost immediately, both dentists closed their offices and sent waiting patients home.

I too, went home and watched television for the next mind-numbing four days.

■   Francesca Keep Knowles

Sister Agnes of The Cross wept uncontrollably when giving us fifth-grade Catholics the news that “our” president, elected despite very virulent anti-Catholic campaign rhetoric, had been murdered in Texas. That iron lady's tears remain my most vivid recollection of that terrible day.

■   Janet Poths, 68, Port Angeles

I was working as a receptionist at KONP radio station. . . . A bulletin came over the ticker tape and I clearly remember the shocking headline that President Kennedy had been shot in Dallas.

All the details kept coming until the words “JOHN F. KENNEDY IS DEAD: THE AMERICAN PEOPLE MOURN!!!” Followed by a silhouette of President Kennedy on ticker tape paper.

The rest of the day we were all feeling shock and sadness for this horrific event.

Last modified: November 24. 2013 1:04AM
Reader Comments
Local Business
Friends to Follow

To register a complaint about a comment, email moderator@peninsuladailynews.com and refer to the article and offending comment, or click here: REPORT ABUSE.

Peninsuladailynews.com comments are subject to the Peninsuladailynews.com User Policy.

From the PDN:

All materials Copyright © 2017 Black Press Ltd./Sound Publishing Inc. • Terms of UsePrivacy PolicyAssociated Press Privacy PolicyAssociated Press Terms of UseContact Us