7 Dec

by Andrea Kelton

Friday, November 22, 1963 dragged on.  I couldn’t wait for the school day to end.So I could hurry home to get all prettied up for my first high school dance.

Around 2:45 that afternoon, the loudspeaker crackled and squawked.  Sister Lenore’s tearful voice gently announced that classes were over for the day.  We were to go immediately to church.  President Kennedy was dead and we had to pray.

My 14 year old brain strained to make sense of the situation.  Assassination was the stuff of history books, not my life.  My 14 year old desires collided with sorrow.  The world was falling apart and all I wanted to do was go to the dance.

Our student population had never been as solemn and silent as we were filing into the church pews.  Father Crowley led us in prayer for the president and his family.  We prayed for the country.  We prayed for peace.  We were dismissed into a world populated by zombiesdrifting through life in shock.

While I waited to hear the dance’s fate, Jacquelyn Kennedy flew back to Washington, D.C., accompanying her dead husband’s coffin.  As I primped my hair and chose an outfit, Mrs. Kennedy planned a state funeral.  Later, as I danced and hung out with friends, Jackie wrote dozens of personal notes and organized her family’s move out of the White House.

On Friday, November 22, 1963, a collective American dream died.  That night, I attended my first high school dance.  I have vivid memories of each excited anticipatory moment. The burning need to attend that dance.  Today, forty nine years later, I can’t remember one single moment of that dance.  However, I still feel the loss of a dream.

Andrea Kelton was diagnosed with uveitis in 1974.  Today she lives in Chicago and teaches Adult Basic Education at Literacy Chicago.  She attends a weekly memoir writing class, “Me, Myself and I” taught by author Beth Finke.


4 Responses to “Perspective”

  1. Mary Ann December 7, 2012 at 9:25 AM #

    Like you, I remember that day well. I was a senior in college working on my B.S. in nursing, and readying for my wedding on December 28, 1963. Your well written words bring back the hours vividly.

  2. Alisa Andree December 8, 2012 at 6:19 AM #

    Poignant. You have come a long way in your writing skills, Andrea. Loved it.

    • Mary G. December 9, 2012 at 12:45 PM #

      Nice! See you at our house for christmas?

  3. Barb February 7, 2013 at 10:55 AM #

    I LOVE that phrase how your 14 year old desires collided with sorrow. That is so descriptive I can feel it. Well done Andrea. A significant memory. I also appreciate the way you described the zombies out there. I remember it that way too.

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