Now that the media hyperbole surrounding the fiftieth anniversary of the slaying of President John Kennedy has subsided I have had time to recollect myself as much as I can about that violent and bloody event. But as I was seven years old at the time the memories are blurred to say the least. The primary questions that those of age have been asking themselves are: Where was I, or, where were you? Well I have sat and thought and thought some more and to be candid I have no idea whatsoever where I was at 6:30 pm in Worcester, England, on Friday the twenty-second of November 1963. Presumably eating an early supper as that was the family routine. And I cannot remember anything involving watching the television news (brief children’s programming having ceased at 5:45) or my parents reacting in any way – or even discussing the event. Odd, perhaps, but that’s my honest recollection. Or lack of.
My vivid memory is of the following morning, Saturday, when, at St Alban’s Preparatory School, we were all gathered in the small chapel for assembly. And “Wilf” Thomas, the Housemaster, strode to the front swishing his chalk-streaked academic gown as he always did, and we fell silent. He told us that last evening the President of the United States had been assassinated (or words to that effect) and that we were now all going to kneel and say the Lord’s Prayer, remembering the people of America. And this we dutifully did, flanked by other teachers, some of whom I recall stared up at the ceiling during these proceedings. But this was English public school (American readers may understand this as “private” school) and more than one master and well-heeled pupil would sneer at God and talk about the coming Communist salvation. Just a passing phase, you understand. And then we stood, and I was dispatched, as duty pumper, to the chapel organ where the bellows filled and we sang O God our help in ages past. Followed by double geography.