Mewsings from Lowecat (aka Indianacat)

My rants, ravings, and overall 'mewsings' on life, the universe, and everything.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Where Once There Was a Spot ...Known as Camelot

Unless all y'all have had your head buried in the sand, or otherwise haven't been around electronic media or even a newspaper, then y'all know that this past Friday marked 50 years since President John F. Kennedy was murdered in Dallas TX.  Scores of programs were broadcast on teevee and radio about this annivesary, and like the World Trade Center destruction, this event was one of those unforgettable events where you would remember decades later where you were when 'it' happened.

I was just a toddler then, three years old, and had just undergone a series of surgeries for recurring cataracs. The last surgery resulted in the removal of the lenses inside my eyes because the catarac was growin' on the ienses.  I can't recall if this was a Thanksgivin' weekend.  It probably wasn't, since we were home. 

Daddy happened to be home at the time, working in the study on his sermon.  Mother was doin' somethin' in the house.  Possibly ironin' in front of the television.  I remember how sad and scared my family was when 'Uncle Walter' Cronkite came on the screen to announce the news that the President was dead. 

All I knew was that something very scary and life changing had happened, and that there weren't any afternoon cartoons to watch.  Instead, the first of continuous live coverage of the event played out on the television.  I remember being confused when the television showed the President and his wife walking, waving, and smiling.  I asked Daddy somethin' about why everyone was upset about the President when he was right there smiling.

That was how I learned about moving pictures.  He told me that like the pictures we took on vacations and holidays, moving pictures recorded people in their best moments for as the long as the picture lasted.  His voice became rough when he added that pictures can also record unhappy moments, and sometimes in a series that moved like life. 

But the most memorable thing about that four days in November, was the mornin' when Lee H. Oswald was bein' moved from the police department to the jail.  There was a big crowd on the television screen, and I was sitting in front of the television with Daddy and Mother.  Mother suddenly screamed at him to get me away from the television at the same instance that Jack Ruby leaped in front of Oswald and shot him.

There wasn't anything grisly about the shooting.  Unlike television shows of today where you see blood spurting and pooling in all directions, there was no blood seen.  Look at the pictures and clips from that moment.  You see Jack Ruby's back, you see the anger on the tall man's face next to Oswald who wore the light colored suit and the white hat, and you see Oswald's face reflect his pain as he falls to the floor.  Then all you see/hear is utter chaos. 

I guess that Mother thought I'd be traumatized by that scene.  I think that her yellin' and carryin' on was more upsettin'.

What has also stayed in my mind over the last 50 years from that day is how things seemed to change.  The people of my generation were less trusting of the 'Establishment'.  We questioned the people in charge more than ever.  We protested.  We experimented more openly with things that previous generations considered taboo (or just hid real well). 

We seemed to go from the 'Happy Days' facade to the tumult of change.  We evolved, and sometimes I wonder if we evolved for the better.

Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis once referred to JFK's presidency as 'Camelot', because he loved the Broadway soundtrack.  Like the esteem that we all seem to feel for the time of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, we hold great thoughts of compassion for the JFK administration.  He has become Legend. 

Yet, we know that Legend often obscures fact.  JFK had his picadilloes.  That makes him as human as the rest of us.  But at that time of our existence, he was the promise of the future, because he was young.  Because he was hopeful.  Because he was, despite his 'approval rating' at the time, the People's President.  He reached out to us, and we opened our hearts to him.  Let's face it, as the kids say nowadays, he was 'hawt'. 

It's natural when someone of Kennedy's status is killed to think that more than Fate or one lone gunman was involved in the matter.  Look at all the conspiracy theories that erupted after Princess Diana died in France at the hands of an inebriated driver.  It's as if the truth of the matter doesn't live up to the Legend.  But it can happen that way, and sometimes does.

Many wonder, and it's natural to do so, what would the world be like had Kennedy survived?  George Bernau's 'Promises to Keep', published in 1989, takes a stab at this.  So does Jeff Greenfield, who wrote 'If Kennedy Lived'.  Both are available on  I haven't yet read/obtained Mr. Greenfield's book, but I have read Mr. Bernau's a couple of times.  If you're interested in all the what might have been, feel free to check 'em out.

I'd like to think that we might not have spent as long in Vietnam as we did, that the murders of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr., wouldn't have taken place, and that the Civil Rights Bill might've been enacted much sooner than it was.  That perhaps John Jr., wouldn't have died in a plane crash.  That Watergate, Kent State, and other violent occurrances wouldn't have happened.  That we might still have our innocence. 

And so it goes.


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