Where Was I…22nd November 1963

It seems so long ago. November 1963.
Could not then comprehend what fifty years even looked like.
I was living in a small house in West Belfast. Parents and a younger sister.
I was 11 years old.
Manchester United had won the FA Cup a few months previously. The bad years were over. The Beatles had become famous. And I was nearly thru the first term at Grammar School, just a short walk from my home.

My father was I suppose a news junkie. An intelligent man, who lost out on education thru lack of finace but who wanted the best for his children. Confraternity man. Liberal Catholic. Trade Unionist.
The first real news I remember…apart from the Munich Air Crash in 1958….was the early years of President Kennedy, George Wallace, Check Point Charlie, Cuban Missisle Crisis and The Profumo Scandal.

There were only two TV channels. The Telstar satellite was a year of so launched and as I recall, we got grainy pictures from across the Atlantic Ocean.
Friday night. 22nd November.
“Take Your Pick” 7pm. A Quiz Show. …with your Quiz Inquisitor Michael Miles.
If you survived a minute without saying YES or NO, you got to pick a key for one of ten boxes. maybe your key would open Box 13….and you might get a washing machine.

About 7.12pm, a news flash interrupted Take Your Pick.
President Kennedy had been shot.
After a while, his death was confirmed. And I ran to tell my father at his workplace.He already knew.

Strange how little that I actually remember about that evening. Did we get the news feed direct from the new tangled satellite bringing us live pictures from New York and Dallas?
Strange that I dont remember that. Were the news feeds from the Dallas Police station….Jack Ruby shooting Lee Harvey Oswald….”live”” or is my memory influenced by archive footage of Walter Cronkite.
I’m pretty sure it was live and that the funeral procession and Irish Army cadets at the Arlington graveside were “live”.

its a lifetime ago. Then I just could not conceive what half a century looked like.
The year 1963 is as close to 1913 as it is to 2013.
The people I knew then….parents, uncles, aunts….just about every adult I knew then is dead.
My wife seems the only link to my past. She knows some of the people and some of the places.
Children. Grandchildren.
Days like 22nd November mean less than other days….21st January, 19th August, 16th December.
Out there ….is a date with our name…or a loved ones name on it.

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2 Responses to Where Was I…22nd November 1963

  1. MPG ..... says:

    Dark thoughts indeed at the end. For some people, when you reach a certain age or decline in health I imagine that our mind is increasingly focused on these matters. I can empathize.
    Coming to terms with the thoughts is a different matter. Come on Mr FJH turn your mind to the task at hand here, refocus and let the scribe juices flow, for all our benefit and entertainment!!

  2. mjh says:

    Please don’t listen to MPG.
    It may be hard to entertain – but it’s so much more difficult to write something so thought provoking, personal, human, true and (astonishingly) different from the volumes of other JFK anniversery pieces.

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