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BBHQ Boomer Essays:

November 22, 1963: We Remember

Our Boomer-In-Charge at BBHQ, Hershel Chicowitz, writes about boomer memories and current events... from a boomer’s perspective. He is sometimes funny, sometimes provocative, some-
times a little of each. We hope you get a kick out of our Boomer Essays.

I look back on November 22, 1963 mostly with great sadness. It was an isolated, freak occurrence. Though many boomers look at it much more personally. They saw John Kennedy as their president. Their president had been taken from them. I suspect it is those people who are more likely to embrace one of the conspiracy theories. And because of their personal feeling about it, they will never be convinced otherwise. “They” say that the Kennedy assassination marked the end of our innocence. I donno; maybe so. But it sure changed things. I believe that the Kennedy assassination, and a thousand small events that followed it, made us less willing to deal with facts, and more eager to embrace feelings. It is that sad shortcoming that explains so many of our social and personal problems today.


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We asked subscribers to our newsletter to tell us what they were doing on November 22, 1963, when they heard that President Kennedy had been assassinated. We received the largest number of responses to any inquiry we have ever made. That is particularly surprising, since nearly half the boomers — those born after 1957 — are too young to have any recollection of that day. Yes, we do remember... vividly!

I was a 9th-grader at Byron Junior High School in Shaker Heights, Ohio. It was a Friday afternoon; there was a carnival scheduled for that evening. As a member of the booster club, I was in the girls’ gym during study hall, helping to decorate the gym. I was standing on a ladder, hanging crepe paper, when one of the sponsoring teachers, Mr. Woodell, walked in and said, very stoically, “The carnival has been canceled; the president has been assassinated.” I can still see him, standing at the entrance to the gym, talking to a stunned group of kids.

I donno why, but I immediately went to the school’s broadcasting booth, where the morning announcements originated. I was a P.A. announcer and engineer. I guess I thought I might be able to listen to the radio there. I arrived just as Mr. Garner, the vice principal, flipped on the microphone and announced the tragedy to the school.

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