I was at work in an insurance company office [in Wayne NJ] when the announcement came over the PA that the President had been shot but was alive. Everything came to a halt as people looked at each other in shock. Slowly we all resumed our tasks, only to be interrupted a short time later with the news that Kennedy had died and we were given leave to go home. The shock was too big to absorb, but there were tears in many eyes as we made our way out of the building. Our family spent the weekend glued to the television. I was watching when Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald. It was all so unreal. The funeral procession and services were terribly moving and sad.
I remember all those grainy black and white images of Jackie and the children, Johnson, limousines, crowds, the frequent replay of the shooting event. Black and white - the appropriate way to convey this horrible event. Stark, somber, emotional.
All I can add to the JFK story is that I was taking movies of my daughter when my husband phoned me with the news. He was a radio station manager and the news had just come down the wire. No one will ever forget where they were or what they were doing when they heard that dreadful news.
Retired banker, novelist
Hill Country Mysteries
I was eleven years old in 1963. My father was a pilot in the Air Force, in charge of a squadron of small fighter bombers. His mission, in event of threat/attack, was to fly from the Air Force Base at Lakenheath, England, where we lived, and defend freedom.
Mom junked the TV when we moved to Europe. News came from BBC radio and the Stars and Stripes newspaper, an American publication which delivered U. S. news 'for the military community' a day or two late, or barely mentioned, if the event didn't mesh with military outlook. We didn't know much about the May riots in Alabama or the August march in Washington.
My world was far more local. I knew the Mods and Rockers were on the rise in Britain. And the Rolling Stones, a loud unknown band, performed at our local fair, free admission. BBC news was taken with British tumults of the times. A major scandal broke in June; Minister of Defense Profumo was sleeping with a call girl who simultaneously 'had relations' with a Russian Embassy attaché. Perfect for blanket coverage--sex, infidelity, lies and spies. Then the Great Train Robbery took place in August and the British Isles were captivated by twelve men and loot equivalent to $7,500,000US.
The phone rang in our home in the evening on November 22nd. My mother was distressed, my father grim-faced. I didn't really know what the death of the President meant. I knew it was bad but it was a remote bad, like a scary Halloween movie. We didn't see footage of the motorcade or the following days of nonstop news coverage.
It didn't seem real. I knew more about Winston Churchill than I did about JFK. Everything about America was remote--the weather, the culture, the President. I didn't know that Kennedy was a man who brought hope. Or that the gunshots which ended his life would reverberate many years hence.
I was in a political science class at college, and the prof, very emotional, broke the news to us and then dismissed class (as were all of the campus classes). I drove home slowly, in a bit of a fog, watching the other drivers move in that manner as well. When the news was announced that Kennedy had died, many drivers pulled over to the side of the road and just wept. When I got home, the TV was on, and remained on continuously for the next several days as we all followed the world-changing events. Later, watching Lee Harvey Oswald's assassination was surreal.