Me in the Middle of an Ordinary Day

** Note:  This is my story.  My memory of where I was when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated is something I wanted to write about.  This is my attempt at telling it in third person POV and I’ve since written it in first person POV.  **

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John Kennedy Family, Jacqueline

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~ An Ordinary Day ~

It was November and an ordinary week day with not much planned except for household chores and getting ready for the upcoming holidays.  Nora’s husband had left for work leaving her with a pile of ironing to do.  She liked to set up the ironing board in the living room, facing the large bay window, so she could look out on the neighborhood.  It had been a quiet morning where she took things easy considering her pregnancy was drawing to an end and she was slowed down quite a bit.

Waiting wasn’t easy!  Over the past year she had had two miscarriages and this was her 3rd pregnancy.  All seemed to be progressing well and 22-year-old Nora could feel the lively kicks and bumps in this last stage before birth.  Her doctor wasn’t sure of an exact delivery date.  He told her to have her bag packed and ready for a trip to the hospital sometime during the holidays.

Her mind was preoccupied with these thoughts when her attention was abruptly drawn to the TV in the corner of the room.  The monotonous conversations of the scheduled show were suddenly interrupted by a brief, alarming announcement. 

“Here is a bulletin from CBS News.  In Dallas, Texas three shots were fired at President Kennedy’s motorcade in downtown Dallas.  The first reports say that President Kennedy has been seriously wounded by this shooting.”

The announcement came and went so quickly that it almost seemed inconceivable that what Nora heard really happened.  She continued with the ironing and reflected on the memories she had of JFK over the past three years.  Her first stirrings of political awareness showed up when she went to a campaign rally at the Teaneck Armory in NJ for John F. Kennedy, who was running for President against Richard M. Nixon.  Standing outside in the massive crowd waiting for him to arrive, she and her sister came up with a chant; “Jack be nimble. Jack be quick.  Jack’s the one who’s gonna beat Dick.”  Her family was proud of the Democratic Party that was working towards electing the first Catholic President.

Both JFK and his wife, Jackie, were an inspiration for her and both gave her hope.  She felt like she knew Jackie Kennedy personally when they each went through the heartaches of miscarriages and loss.   Jackie gave her hope that one day she too would become a mother, just as her husband gave her hope that we as a country could overcome our divisions and adversities, and become greater still.

Did she really hear what she thought she heard?  The report said ‘seriously wounded’.  A feeling of dread washed over her as she thought of the possibility that the president would die.  And then it came up on the screen:

“From Dallas, Texas ~ The flash apparently official ~ President Kennedy died at 1 pm Central Standard Time (2 o’clock Eastern Standard Time), some 28 minutes ago.”

There it was!  There was no denying the finality of those words.  She felt a bolt of shock pulse through her as the seriousness of what it meant sunk in.  Suddenly she felt very fearful and very much alone.  She needed to reach out to someone and dropped everything she was doing.  Nora hurried down the stairs of their 2nd floor apartment to the landlady’s apartment below.  She was relieved that she found her at home and, as soon as the door opened, she began to tremble and cry.  For the first time she said the words that she couldn’t believe:

“President Kennedy’s dead!  He was shot!”

Her landlady, who was expecting her third child, was an experienced mom who always had everything under control.  She tried to calm Nora down.  “You’ve got to think of your baby right now.  It’s important that you stay calm.”  She counseled her.  They both stood there silently and continued to watch the startling news reports as more information trickled in.

It was two days later that she watched a live report of the Dallas Police bringing Lee Harvey Oswald, the alleged assassin of President John F. Kennedy, through the garage of the police station on the way to a more secure county facility.  There was a lot of confusion and shouting as they walked through the crowd of reporters.  She saw a man quickly approach Oswald and immediately saw a pained expression appear on Oswald’s face.  It happened so quickly there was no way to prevent it.  Nora was watching real life unfold, realizing that it was the first time she was witnessing a man being murdered.   Another urgent announcement followed that Oswald had been shot and killed by a local business man in Texas, Jack Ruby. 

Life changed for America on November 22nd, 1963 and when she stood in stunned silence watching more news unfold over the following days, Nora saw images of Jackie Kennedy, her daughter Caroline and her small son, John-John, standing by the roadside as the fallen president’s casket passed by.  An ordinary day became a tragedy and the whole world mourned the death of our president.

The weeks passed by and the country began to take steps to bring order and safety as more information was released.  The grieving and healing would begin across the country and the world. 

So too, the weeks passed by for Nora with no sign of the beginnings of labor indicating the arrival of their first born.  Christmas 1963 and New Year’s Day 1964 came and went.  The doctor reassured her that all was well and not to worry.  The previous miscarriage had made it impossible to pinpoint a due date, and the baby’s weight and progress were on target for an imminent birth.  They continued to wait ~ one day at a time ~ and then on January 22nd, 1964, exactly two months to the day of JFK’s assassination, a baby boy arrived healthy and welcomed into the family.  An ordinary day in the lives of so many others yet a cherished one for Nora.

And now, years have passed by filled with historic moments that have impacted the people of America in so many ways.  That one ordinary day, 54 years ago, continues to haunt Nora  as a reminder of  vulnerability that always lies beneath the surface.  Just as 9/11 sliced into the heart and soul of the country, so to 11/22/63 will remain a reminder that the perfect idealism of ‘Camelot’ can be shattered within one ordinary day.

11-22-63 

Sketch and writing © Mary Lou

Photo image from Pixabay.com

 

 

 

Me in the Middle of an Ordinary Day (Critiqued and Revised)

This Fall I’ve been taking another OLLI  (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UVA) class ~ Creative Writing for Dabblers.  There are twelve of us and we read our work to each other and offer critique.  This is the first time I’ve done this and I’m getting a lot of value out of it.

On November 10th I posted what I wrote for reading to the class and this week I’m posting the changes I’ve made based on what the other writers in the group suggested.  This is the link to the original post ~ An Ordinary Day ~ JFK

John Kennedy Family, Jacqueline

The new post, with the changes I made since last Friday, is below:

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~ An Ordinary Day ~

It was November and an ordinary week day with not much planned except for household chores and getting ready for the upcoming holidays.  Nora’s husband had left for work leaving her with a pile of ironing to do.  She liked to set up the ironing board in the living room, facing the large bay window, so she could look out on the neighborhood.  It had been a quiet morning where she took things easy considering her pregnancy was drawing to an end and she was slowed down quite a bit.

Waiting wasn’t easy!  Over the past year she had had two miscarriages and this was her 3rd pregnancy.  All seemed to be progressing well and 22-year-old Nora could feel the lively kicks and bumps in this last stage before birth.  Her doctor wasn’t sure of an exact delivery date.  He told her to have her bag packed and ready for a trip to the hospital sometime during the holidays.

Her mind was preoccupied with these thoughts when her attention was abruptly drawn to the TV in the corner of the room.  The monotonous conversations of the scheduled show were suddenly interrupted by a brief, alarming announcement. 

“Here is a bulletin from CBS News.  In Dallas, Texas three shots were fired at President Kennedy’s motorcade in downtown Dallas.  The first reports say that President Kennedy has been seriously wounded by this shooting.”

The announcement came and went so quickly that it almost seemed inconceivable that what Nora heard really happened.  She continued with the ironing and reflected on the memories she had of JFK over the past three years.  Her first stirrings of political awareness showed up when she went to a campaign rally at the Teaneck Armory in NJ for John F. Kennedy, who was running for President against Richard M. Nixon.  Standing outside in the massive crowd waiting for him to arrive, she and her sister came up with a chant; “Jack be nimble. Jack be quick.  Jack’s the one who’s gonna beat Dick.”  Her family was proud of the Democratic Party that was working towards electing the first Catholic President.

Both JFK and his wife, Jackie, were an inspiration for her and both gave her hope.  She felt like she knew Jackie Kennedy personally when they each went through the heartaches of miscarriages and loss.   Jackie gave her hope that one day she too would become a mother, just as her husband gave her hope that we as a country could overcome our divisions and adversities, and become greater still.

Did she really hear what she thought she heard?  The report said ‘seriously wounded’.  A feeling of dread washed over her as she thought of the possibility that the president would die.  And then it came up on the screen:

“From Dallas, Texas ~ The flash apparently official ~ President Kennedy died at 1 pm Central Standard Time (2 o’clock Eastern Standard Time), some 28 minutes ago.”

There it was!  There was no denying the finality of those words.  She felt a bolt of shock pulse through her as the seriousness of what it meant sunk in.  Suddenly she felt very fearful and very much alone.  She needed to reach out to someone and dropped everything she was doing.  Nora hurried down the stairs of their 2nd floor apartment to the landlady’s apartment below.  She was relieved that she found her at home and, as soon as the door opened, she began to tremble and cry.  For the first time she said the words that she couldn’t believe:

“President Kennedy’s dead!  He was shot!”

Her landlady, who was expecting her third child, was a veteran mom who always had everything under control.  She tried to calm Nora down.  “You’ve got to think of your baby right now.  It’s important that you stay calm.”  She counseled her.  They both stood there silently and continued to watch the startling news reports as more information trickled in.

It was two days later that she watched a live report of the Dallas Police bringing Lee Harvey Oswald, the alleged assassin of President John F. Kennedy, through the garage of the police station on the way to a more secure county facility.  There was a lot of confusion and shouting as they walked through the crowd of reporters.  She saw a man quickly approach Oswald and immediately saw a pained expression appear on Oswald’s face.  It happened so quickly there was no way to prevent it.  Nora was watching real life unfold, realizing that it was the first time she was witnessing a man being murdered.   Another urgent announcement followed that Oswald had been shot and killed by a local business man in Texas, Jack Ruby. 

Life changed for America on November 22nd, 1963 and when she stood in stunned silence watching more news unfold over the following days, Nora saw images of Jackie Kennedy, her daughter Caroline and her small son, John-John, standing by the roadside as the fallen president’s casket passed by.  An ordinary day became a tragedy and the whole world mourned the death of our president.

The weeks passed by and the country began to take steps to bring order and safety as more information was released.  The grieving and healing would begin across the country and the world. 

So too, the weeks passed by for Nora with no sign of the beginnings of labor indicating the arrival of their first born.  Christmas 1963 and New Year’s Day 1964 came and went.  The doctor reassured her that all was well and not to worry.  The previous miscarriage had made it impossible to pinpoint a due date, and the baby’s weight and progress were on target for an imminent birth.  They continued to wait ~ one day at a time ~ and then on January 22nd, 1964, exactly two months to the day of JFK’s assassination, a baby boy arrived healthy and welcomed into the family.  An ordinary day in the lives of so many others yet a cherished one for Nora.

And now, years have passed by filled with historic moments that have impacted the people of America in so many ways.  That one ordinary day, 54 years ago, continues to haunt Nora  as a reminder of  vulnerability that always lies beneath the surface.  Just as 9/11 sliced into the heart and soul of the country, so to 11/22/63 will remain a reminder that the perfect idealism of ‘Camelot’ can be shattered within one ordinary day.

11-22-63 

Sketch and writing © Mary Lou

Photo image from Pixabay.com

 

 

 

Me in the Middle of An Ordinary Day ~ JFK

An Ordinary Day ~ JFK

~ Creative Writing 3rd Person ~

It was November and an ordinary week day with not much planned except for household chores and planning for the upcoming holidays.  Nora’s husband had left for work leaving her with a pile of ironing to do.  She liked to set up the ironing board in the living room, facing the large bay window, so she could look out on the neighborhood.  It had been a quiet morning where she took things easy considering her pregnancy was drawing to an end and she was slowed down quite a bit.

Waiting wasn’t easy!  Over the past year she had had two miscarriages and this was her 3rd pregnancy.  All seemed to be progressing well and 22-year-old Nora could feel the lively kicks and bumps in this last stage before birth.  Her doctor wasn’t sure of an exact delivery date.  He told her to have her bag packed and ready for a trip to the hospital sometime during the holidays.

Her mind was preoccupied with these thoughts when her attention was abruptly drawn to the TV in the corner of the room.  The monotonous conversations of the scheduled show were suddenly interrupted by a brief, alarming announcement. 

“Here is a bulletin from CBS News.  In Dallas, Texas three shots were fired at President Kennedy’s motorcade in downtown Dallas.  The first reports say that President Kennedy has been seriously wounded by this shooting.”

The announcement came and went so quickly that it almost seemed inconceivable that what Nora heard really happened.  She continued with the ironing and reflected on the memories she had of JFK over the past three years.  Her first stirrings of political awareness showed up when she went to a campaign rally at the Teaneck Armory in NJ for John F. Kennedy, who was running for President against Richard M. Nixon.  Standing outside in the massive crowd waiting for him to arrive, she and her sister came up with a chant:   “Jack be nimble. Jack be quick.  Jack’s the one who’s gonna beat Dick.”  Her family was proud of the Democratic Party that was going to work towards electing the first Catholic President.

She felt like she knew Jackie Kennedy personally when they both went through the heartaches of miscarriages and loss.  Jackie was her inspiration and JFK gave her hope.  Jackie gave her hope that one day she too would become a mother, just as her husband gave her hope that we as a country could overcome our divisions and adversities, and become greater still.

Did she really hear what she thought she heard?  The report said seriously wounded’ A feeling of dread washed over her as she thought of the possibility that the president would die.  And then it came up on the screen:

“From Dallas, Texas ~ The flash apparently official ~ President Kennedy died at 1 pm Central Standard Time (2 o’clock Eastern Standard Time), some 28 minutes ago.”

Suddenly she felt very much alone and needed to reach out to someone.  Nora hurried down the stairs of their 2nd floor apartment to the landlady’s apartment below.  Relieved that she found her at home, she began to cry and, for the first time, said the words she couldn’t believe. ~

“President Kennedy’s dead!  He was shot!”

Her landlady, who was expecting her third child, tried to calm her down.  “You’ve got to think of your baby right now.  It’s important that you stay calm.”  She counseled her.  This brought Nora’s thoughts back to where she was in this moment and what she had to do next.

Two days later, she watched a live report of the Dallas Police bringing Lee Harvey Oswald, the alleged assassin of President John F. Kennedy, through the garage of the police station on the way to a more secure county facility.  There was a lot of confusion and shouting as they walked through the crowd of reporters.  Suddenly she saw a man quickly approach Oswald and immediately saw a pained expression appear on Oswald’s face.  It happened so quickly there was no way to prevent it.  Nora was watching real life unfold realizing that she was watching the murder of a man for the first time.  Another urgent announcement followed that Oswald had been shot and killed by a local business man in Texas, Jack Ruby. 

Life changed for many in America on November 22nd, 1963 and when she stood in stunned silence watching the news unfold over the following days, Nora saw images of Jackie Kennedy, her daughter Caroline and her small son, John-John, standing by the roadside as the fallen president’s casket passed by.  An ordinary day became a tragedy.  The whole world mourned the death of our president.

The weeks passed by and the country began to take steps to bring order and safety as more information was released.  The grieving and healing would begin across the country and the world. 

So too, the weeks passed by with no sign of the beginnings of labor indicating the arrival of their first born.  Christmas 1963 and New Year’s Day 1964 came and went.  The doctor reassured her that all was well and not to worry.  The previous miscarriage had made it impossible to pinpoint a due date, and the baby’s weight and progress were on target for an eminent birth.  They continued to wait ~ one day at a time ~.  And then on January 22nd, 1964, exactly two months to the day of JFK’s assassination, a baby boy arrived healthy and welcomed into the family.  An ordinary day in the lives of so many others yet a cherished one for Nora.

And now, years have passed by filled with historic moments that have impacted the people of America in many ways.  That one ordinary day, 54 years ago, continues to haunt us as a reminder of our vulnerability.  Just as 9/11 sliced into the heart and soul of the country, so to 11/22/63 will remain a reminder that the perfect idealism of ‘Camelot’ can be shattered within one ordinary day.  

11-22-63 (4)

Creative writing and art image © Mary Lou

Me in the Middle of a JFK Revisit

One-Inch Picture Frame (1)

JFK Revisit

While looking for a new inspiration in my posts, I picked up Anne Lamott’s book ~ Bird by Bird ~ “Some Instructions on Writing and Life”.  One idea she had was to write short assignments ~ about as much as you can see through a One-Inch Picture Frame

My second short assignment was writing for five minutes about as much as I can see looking through a one-inch picture frame of revisiting  John F. Kennedy’s Assassination.

On November 22, 1963, two months to the day before our first child was born, I was standing in the living room ironing my husband’s shirts while watching television.  The screen suddenly was filled with the news that President Kennedy had been shot in Texas.  Life changed from that point on for all of us in America.  As I stood in stunned silence watching the news unfold over the following days, I saw images of Jackie Kennedy and her small son, John, standing by the roadside as the fallen president’s casket passed by.  I felt like I knew Jackie personally, as we had both experienced miscarriages and heartaches in our lost pregnancies.  She gave me hope that I too would be a mother one day, just as her husband gave us hope that we, as a country, could overcome our adversities and become greater still.

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And now, over fifty  years later, “The documents—441 files that had previously been withheld entirely, along with 3,369 other documents that had been previously released only in part—were made public under terms of a 1992 law that requires the unsealing of all JFK assassination-related documents by October, the law’s 25-year deadline.”  And the interesting part of all this is that our current president has the power to block the unsealing of some controversial documents regarding the CIA and the FBI.  It’s possible that he will be asked to block some that are being released by the October deadline. “It does not reflect well on the legacy of either the CIA or the commission that, half a century after those gunshots rang out in Dealey Plaza, the newly released documents suggest that at least some of those conspiracy theories might be true.”

~ Stay tuned for the unfolding of the Real Camelot ~

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How the CIA Came to Doubt the Official Story of JFK’s Murder

What we know about the newly released JFK assassination records—and those yet to come

11-22-63 #3

Sketch by Mary Lou

Me in the Middle Hurting for My Country

…… The vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black people in this country want to live together – want to improve the quality of our life – and want justice for all human beings that abide in our Land

Robert F. Kennedy

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Almost Fifty Years ago, I sat in my living room with my newborn son in my arms and listened to this announcement by Robert F. Kennedy on the day that Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed.  The Sixties were a time of much unrest.  Two months later on June 6, 1968, Robert Kennedy was assassinated while greeting supporters after a presidential primary win in California.

RFK was a man who walked the talk …….. and he also knew the risks he was taking when he spoke out in such a powerful way during a very tumultuous time in our history.  The Sixties brought us the “End of Camelot” with the assassination of his brother, John F. Kennedy, on November 22, 1963.  It was at that time, when I was seven months pregnant with my first son, that I watched the images and horror unfold on television before me.  Life changed from that point on for all of us in America.  As I stood in stunned silence watching the news unfold over the following days, I saw images of Jackie Kennedy and her small son, John, standing by the roadside as his casket was passing by.

11-22-63 (2)

Black Ink and Watercolor Sketch on the 50th Memorial Anniversary by MLQ

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RFK saw sorrow in his life and was able to empathize with the sorrow that American citizens were feeling when violence struck and silenced MLK.  He saw a vision of where change needed to happen and wasn’t afraid to voice that vision even though he, too, might become the target of those who resist change to the point of violence.

How I long for a pivotal figure like this to come into our current American crisis fifty years later!  It’s so sad to watch the same sequence of events unfold over and over again, only to devolve into the same ugly unfolding with both sides feverishly digging up the most damaging speculation and/or facts about the current individuals who are involved in a violent altercation.  The blame game begins with the blowhards on both sides looking for a scapegoat. I’m so weary of the know-it-alls with all the answers.

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The victim is demonized as somehow deserving of the fate that came upon him and the quest to find solutions is interpreted as being disloyal to our law enforcement.   We can embrace the victim and at the same time recognize the realities and stresses that have created this distrust and fear in the minds and hearts of both sides.  We can recognize that the job of law enforcement has become more complicated by the distrust and fear created by these incidents.  A fear and distrust that has been intensified now by the presence of guns, both licensed and not, added to the mix.

Law enforcement, in most cases, do face unbelievable risks every time they walk out their door.  Yet we all know there is a need to better address  the  inevitable trauma effects of what their jobs require of them by giving them a way to process this and restore their sense of well being.  And, then again, there are some personalities who just don’t belong in law enforcement and who might seek out wearing the uniform and the badge for all the wrong reasons.  Let’s look at these issues and work towards making those changes without taking offense or seeing these moves as an act of disloyalty against those who are there to protect us.

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Robert Kennedy #2

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Most of us are heartbroken by what’s happening in our country.  Most of us want to work together to find solutions so that we can live together and improve the quality of our lives.   There will always be those on either side of these conflicts that will not want to see that happen and will continue to stir up division through violence.  Here’s to all the communities that keep coming together to try to make this a better world. Don’t give up!

 robert-f-ellsworths-quotes-4