Wednesday, May 22, 2024

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Where Were You? Part 1

Saturday marks the 40th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy one of those historic moments when people always remember where they were when they heard the news.

To mark the event, WestportNow is presenting a series of articles detailing where WestportNow readers were on that fateful Nov. 22, 1963. This is Part 1.

Claire Shumofsky

That momentous Friday 40 years ago, I was a college student at NYU and was walking along sedate Madison Avenue browsing at the lovely shops lining the street.

Suddenly I became aware of the bells of St. Patrick’s Cathedral chiming solemnly and noticed clusters of people at parked cars listening to their radios.

I learned quickly why Madison Avenue had changed and knew that our world had changed as well.

Ira Bloom, Westport Town Attorney

I was sitting in Mrs. Wolf’s fifth grade at Davis Street School in New Haven.  It was sometime in the early afternoon, and Mrs. Wolf was in and out of the classroom talking with people, probably other teachers or the principal.

Eventually, they canceled school and sent us home early, telling us the very sad news.  I next remember sitting in our living room with my mother glued to the television (black and white images, of course). 

My mother, father, brother and I sat there for most of the weekend, viewing the killing of Lee Harvey Oswald on Sunday, and then JFK’s funeral. 

Although I did not realize it at the time, this was the first major television event that I recall, where most of the nation focused nonstop on television coverage of a major national event.

Bill Scheffler, Ann Sheffer

We remember vividly: we were in home room, which was, then as now, room 509, at Staples—home rooms were assigned alphabetically, and Scheffler and Sheffer were together.


We had just gotten our report cards (a more trusting generation gave them to the kids for transport home) and were preparing for the Thanksgiving break.

After the news, lots of walking around on the interior courtyard (where we were allowed to smoke), teachers giving updates and students listening on transistor radios. Slow dispersal home to watch TV for a long, long time.

Very difficult to explain to our CNN-raised youth how utterly astonishing it was to actually see Jack Ruby shoot Oswald a few days later.

You didn’t ask, but we also remember Kennedy’s inauguration on a bitterly cold day when we were home from school on a snow day, Robert Frost assisted by the president—it was a really extraordinary to be able to watch this stuff live, something we now take for granted.

Miggs Burroughs

I was a freshman in the drama department at Carnegie Tech in Pittsburgh (now Carnegie-Mellon University), and I had just returned to my dorm from morning classes.

I sat at my desk and began sketching the face of JFK as he peered down on me from the photo I had taped to my wall when I first arrived in September.

I turned on the radio to KQV, as was my habit, and heard Frank Sinatra singing, “Fairytales can come true, it could happen to you, when you’re young at heart….”

No sooner had I finished sketching the outline of his face, when the song, and the fairytale and the dream and my own youth were all interrupted in one stunning blow by that horrifying news bulletin.

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