Friday, November 22, 2013


Like most people, at least people my age and older, I am remembering fifty years ago today, Friday, November 22, 1963. The day our President was killed.

There are many Facebook posts today from people recalling where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news.

I had just graduated from high school and was working as a secretary for a private detective agency on the 8th floor of the Pioneer Building in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota. I had returned from lunch and just settled in to resume my afternoon's work when I heard shouts coming from another floor of the building that the President had been shot.

Anyone who knows the wonderful, old and unique Pioneer Building can appreciate that offices were all designed around an open square, hollow in the middle, wrought iron railings around the open square, and a large clock on the floor that could be easily viewed from all sixteen floors. You could see people walking on the floors below you and across from you. The elevators had glass walls so you could see all the floors as you either ascended or descended.

So when I heard those shouts, they literally echoed through the building. People came out of their offices (outer doors were seldom closed) and radios were turned on loudly so all could hear the news.

I doubt any more work got done that day by anyone. It was such stunning news in what was really an innocent age, the era of Camelot.

The ensuing days were spent glued to the television set in our living room on Lincoln Avenue as Walter Cronkite spoke in hushed tones through the events following. We saw first-hand the drama of Lee Harvey Oswald's arrest and then as he was shot by Jack Ruby, a night club owner. And then the funeral, JFK being carried by horse-drawn caisson, First Lady, Jackie Kennedy, veiled in black, her young children at her side, little John-John saluting as his father's flag-draped coffin passed by.

I doubt that any fiction writer or movie producer could conjure up this dramatic plot; yet here it was, happening live and in our living rooms.

Everyone ruminates about what might have happened had this tragedy not have happened at all. A popular President, JFK would likely have been reelected. His work for civil rights may have been accelerated at a faster pace. Would Nixon have ever been elected; would Watergate have ever happened?

Would our age of innocence have continued?

After fifty years, I do believe we lost more than our beloved President.