Society

LOOK 50 BACK

ROCKDALE ON RECORD: Everyone remembers where they were and what they were doing the day Kennedy was shot.


Compiled by Marie Bakken and Bill Martin Compiled by Marie Bakken and Bill Martin

“I was principal at the elementary school and a teacher heard and came and told me. She said, ‘this is the best thing that can happen to this country.’ I asked her, ‘How can you say that, the president has been shot?’ We didn’t have a PA system so it just spread throughout the school by word of mouth. The teachers immediately went into discussions with the students about what happened.” —Former RISD principal Eldon Ball “I was principal at the elementary school and a teacher heard and came and told me. She said, ‘this is the best thing that can happen to this country.’ I asked her, ‘How can you say that, the president has been shot?’ We didn’t have a PA system so it just spread throughout the school by word of mouth. The teachers immediately went into discussions with the students about what happened.” —Former RISD principal Eldon Ball

“My first thought was, why Texas? Why did it have to happen in Texas? It was a sense of shock. You felt like you were sick and didn’t know what to think. He was everyone’s president. He was such a popular president to everyone, especially to minorities. We were going so far, he did so much for civil rights. There was so much pulling together. There was so much hope in the air and then it was gone.” —Lon Williams, City Code Inspector “My first thought was, why Texas? Why did it have to happen in Texas? It was a sense of shock. You felt like you were sick and didn’t know what to think. He was everyone’s president. He was such a popular president to everyone, especially to minorities. We were going so far, he did so much for civil rights. There was so much pulling together. There was so much hope in the air and then it was gone.” —Lon Williams, City Code Inspector

“Three friends and I were in a car heading home to Jacksonville for the weekend from Tyler Junior College and listening to the radio when they broke in and reported it. I mean, he was “the” president. Everbody was patriotic and it didn’t matter if you were a republican or a democrat. The president had been killed. When we got home and after it sunk in, we thought, ‘could this really be happening?’” —Former RISD Superintendent Walter Pond “Three friends and I were in a car heading home to Jacksonville for the weekend from Tyler Junior College and listening to the radio when they broke in and reported it. I mean, he was “the” president. Everbody was patriotic and it didn’t matter if you were a republican or a democrat. The president had been killed. When we got home and after it sunk in, we thought, ‘could this really be happening?’” —Former RISD Superintendent Walter Pond

“I was in first grade in Mrs. Elsie Pierce’s class in Milano. Mr. Pierce came up to the school & told her that the President had been shot. He had brought her a portable TV and as first graders, we sat for the rest of the day and watched the events unfold. I remember as a kid (six at the time) how sad it was that these kids had lost their dad. Caroline and I are the same age & I remember thinking that she would never see her dad again.” —Lee Ann (Garrison) Eanes “I was in first grade in Mrs. Elsie Pierce’s class in Milano. Mr. Pierce came up to the school & told her that the President had been shot. He had brought her a portable TV and as first graders, we sat for the rest of the day and watched the events unfold. I remember as a kid (six at the time) how sad it was that these kids had lost their dad. Caroline and I are the same age & I remember thinking that she would never see her dad again.” —Lee Ann (Garrison) Eanes

“I was in junior high and people had come back from lunch and said the president had been shot. After class we went to the football field for band practice and Mr. Grusendorf stopped band practice to tell us he had died. There was dead silence. People were saying, ‘This really didn’t happen’. We went back to class in disbelief. The next week, the world stood still. It still makes me cry to this day.” —RISD school board member Wenda Dyer “I was in junior high and people had come back from lunch and said the president had been shot. After class we went to the football field for band practice and Mr. Grusendorf stopped band practice to tell us he had died. There was dead silence. People were saying, ‘This really didn’t happen’. We went back to class in disbelief. The next week, the world stood still. It still makes me cry to this day.” —RISD school board member Wenda Dyer

“I was cooking and cleaning and we had the TV on and the kids were home when they announced it, I couldn’t believe it. Couldn’t believe what were we seeing. I went out in the garage and got my husband John to come inside so he could see it. We were flabbergasted.” —Jo Pruett “I was cooking and cleaning and we had the TV on and the kids were home when they announced it, I couldn’t believe it. Couldn’t believe what were we seeing. I went out in the garage and got my husband John to come inside so he could see it. We were flabbergasted.” —Jo Pruett

“I was attending classes at the University of Minnesota and I was home at my parents, down in the basement reading some history and my grandmother yelled down that ‘the president had been shot and I think it’s fatal.’ They cancelled the Minnesota-Purdue game the next day.” ­ — Bob Wilson “I was attending classes at the University of Minnesota and I was home at my parents, down in the basement reading some history and my grandmother yelled down that ‘the president had been shot and I think it’s fatal.’ They cancelled the Minnesota-Purdue game the next day.” ­ — Bob Wilson

“My seventh grade math class in Wellington, Texas. The principal made the announcement over the PA. We lost our innocence. Television became our main source of information. News moved so fast now, during those days we had to not only hear, we had to see history.” —Jamie Larson “My seventh grade math class in Wellington, Texas. The principal made the announcement over the PA. We lost our innocence. Television became our main source of information. News moved so fast now, during those days we had to not only hear, we had to see history.” —Jamie Larson

“I was a student at the University of Texas and working at the University Co-Op on the drag on Guadalupe. I was working the tobacco counter and some customer came in and told us. There was lots of discussion. It was a real letdown. I liked him myself.” —Charlie Watson “I was a student at the University of Texas and working at the University Co-Op on the drag on Guadalupe. I was working the tobacco counter and some customer came in and told us. There was lots of discussion. It was a real letdown. I liked him myself.” —Charlie Watson

“I was working at Texas Instruments and my boss Bill Spallec was actually in Dallas watching the parade. He was right there. He saw it all happen. As soon as he could get to a phone, he called the office and told everybody. We just clustered up and were talking about it.” —Former mayor, Bill Avertt “I was working at Texas Instruments and my boss Bill Spallec was actually in Dallas watching the parade. He was right there. He saw it all happen. As soon as he could get to a phone, he called the office and told everybody. We just clustered up and were talking about it.” —Former mayor, Bill Avertt

“I was siting rocking Kevin, he was just a few weeks old and Walter Cronkite came on the news. Later that day my mom and dad came from Caldwell. My dad took off work because he was so devastated and upset. We all were gathered in our small living room with the fireplace going and watched my black and white TV the rest of the night. They spent the night.” —Lois Love “I was siting rocking Kevin, he was just a few weeks old and Walter Cronkite came on the news. Later that day my mom and dad came from Caldwell. My dad took off work because he was so devastated and upset. We all were gathered in our small living room with the fireplace going and watched my black and white TV the rest of the night. They spent the night.” —Lois Love

“I was a secretary at Texas A&M when I heard the news. I believe it was on a radio but I can’t remember for sure. There were several people in the building and we just stopped what we were doing for several minutes. Things were already going down hill and still are. It did give the media something to print and talk about for years. So many theories...so few facts.” —Dr. Dee Bonorden “I was a secretary at Texas A&M when I heard the news. I believe it was on a radio but I can’t remember for sure. There were several people in the building and we just stopped what we were doing for several minutes. Things were already going down hill and still are. It did give the media something to print and talk about for years. So many theories...so few facts.” —Dr. Dee Bonorden

“I was in Mr. Bill Hall’s class in the 7th grade at Rockdale Junior High. Someone came to his door and told him and he told us. We were dismissed and went home. It was two days before my 13th birthday.Just like 9/11, it brought our nation together for a time. The entire Kennedy family held a special draw for people.” —Former Milano postmaster Sue Davenport “I was in Mr. Bill Hall’s class in the 7th grade at Rockdale Junior High. Someone came to his door and told him and he told us. We were dismissed and went home. It was two days before my 13th birthday.Just like 9/11, it brought our nation together for a time. The entire Kennedy family held a special draw for people.” —Former Milano postmaster Sue Davenport

“I was in the fifth grade at Pleasant Hill in Austin. They made the announcement over the public address system. We didn’t know how to react. They let school out early and there wasn’t any school the day of the funeral. I remember watching his funeral and the riderless horse going down the street. Who could forget that. It said it all.” ­ — Andy Jackson “I was in the fifth grade at Pleasant Hill in Austin. They made the announcement over the public address system. We didn’t know how to react. They let school out early and there wasn’t any school the day of the funeral. I remember watching his funeral and the riderless horse going down the street. Who could forget that. It said it all.” ­ — Andy Jackson

“I was at Alcoa operating a jib crane in the carbon plant. We found out after work and we didn’t have to report to work the next day. I just felt disbelief. I just remember watching the proceedings at home. When Lee Harvey Oswald got shot later, I happened to be looking right at the TV and saw that whole thing.” –Rev. Dennis Brooks “I was at Alcoa operating a jib crane in the carbon plant. We found out after work and we didn’t have to report to work the next day. I just felt disbelief. I just remember watching the proceedings at home. When Lee Harvey Oswald got shot later, I happened to be looking right at the TV and saw that whole thing.” –Rev. Dennis Brooks

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