Where were you 50 years ago today?

If you are as old as I am you probably remember exactly where you were fifty years ago when you heard the news that President Johnkennedy-color Kennedy was shot.  I’ll never forget it. I was working at my first real job as a technical editor for a company called Space Technology Laboratories that became TRW and many years later bought out by Northrop Grumman. I started work there in July 1963 when I was twenty-three years old. At that time, I was still married to my first husband, and we both took the news of President Kennedy’s death very hard. We were glued to the television all weekend. We couldn’t get enough of the story.

Kennedy arriving in Dallas

Kennedy arriving in Dallas

Some years later I wrote the following poem, when asked to write in the style of a favorite poet. I chose Frank O’Hara and his poem, The Day Lady Died, about the death of the jazz singer, Billie Holiday.

I’ve posted this poem here before. But, on this fiftieth anniversary of President Kennedy’s death I think it’s appropriate to post it again. He’s been forever in my heart.




The Day JFK Died

It is late morning in El Segundo, a Friday
five days before Thanksgiving, yes
it is 1963 and I am sitting in my office
not working, just filing my fingernails.
It is a slow day.

I stand around my boss’ office
with the others
and listen to the news on the radio,
smoking another Marlboro
and sobbing into an
already worn out piece of Kleenex.
I leave work early
with the hordes of others.
By 3 pm the parking lot is empty.
The heat of the day hits me
as I walk over the black asphalt.
I start my Lady Bug, light a cigarette,
and begin the drive up the Coast.

The surfers, still out there without wetsuits,
paddle their boards to catch the next waves.
The children play quietly
with their pails and shovels in the sand.
I wait at the light at Culver Boulevard, and already
the Shack patio is full.
I pull into the Sand Dune lot and
go in to buy some Chivis
and a bottle of merlot something
to keep us company
while we watch the news tonight.

My husband is already home. He greets me
with a hug. I lean on him
and we don’t say a word.
What more could we say about this day?

Speak Your Mind