Memories of John F. Kennedy’s Assassination

by on September 6th, 2012
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Memories of John F. Kennedy’s Assassination: By Englebert Samerdink

My mother never tires of telling this little anecdote.

November 22, 1963:

It was about 8:00 p.m. and a weekday. I remember this because the children (just four of you as two had yet to be born) had school the next morning. We had an early dinner and were gonna go to the movie theatre at the bottom of the hill, about four or five hundred yards away. We were living in a place called Royal Oaks, about seven miles outside of the Spanish capital of Madrid. It was an Air Force base, designed for active duty Air Force families (even though my husband Wilbur was a career Army man).

We didn’t have television, not really. They played black and white reruns of Lawrence Welk and an occasional bullfight (which the children were not allowed to watch). So going to the movies was a normal thing for us. We went almost every night, and often saw the same movie more than once.

That night we walked down the dirt trail to the theatre in the dark. There was never any fear of any kind of violence or trouble although some kids once hid in the bushes and as we made our way in the dark they yelled “Boo!” frightening some of the small ones.

This particular night was incident free (as 99% of them were). We arrived at our destination, paid our twenty-five cents (fifteen cents for children), bought a very large bag of popcorn for ten cents each and went inside (candy bars were five cents).

There was the usual previews, I don’t remember them, nor the cartoon. What I do remember is that this particular night there was a showing of the movie “The Trouble With Charlie” which was the story about some guy who turned up dead outside a small town and the people in the movie were wondering what to do with the body (I’ve since learned that this movie was released some years earlier, and was actually a re-run – the nerve).

Anyways, not too far along into the movie somebody turned on the house lights and stopped the show. This had never happened before. Then, a short haired man in a gray suit and tie (everybody had short hair then) stepped up on the stage and made an announcement:

“I’m sorry ladies and gentlemen but I must inform you that the President of the United States has been shot. Thank you.”

He then walked off the stage. The lights went back down. The movie continued.

We all got up together. Walked back up the dark trail, our heads hanging down. Nobody said a nary a word except I think somebody mumbled something about “maybe he was still alive.”

He wasn’t.

The next day there was no school. It was a crisp, bright, sunny day. All the children stayed home. We adults stood outside, talking to our neighbors about what had happened. Some of the kids stood around listening to our discussions. Everybody was really stunned.

Our neighbor, a Sergeant Paulson, who had always seemed a good sort volunteered that he’d never liked Kennedy and that he deserved to be shot.

I just stared at him. His two towheaded sons also stared at him with upturned, blank faces.

We had been friends. Up ’til that point. After that I never spoke to him again.

It was a sad day. A day, I do believe, that changed America, forever. And I never did see the end of that movie.

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