Tonawanda News


November 22, 2013

The black-and-white pentimento


Tonawanda News — All this week the media has treated us to where-are-they-now stories of the players in the 1963 Dallas and Washington weekend. Memories are restored, names we thought we’d forgotten surface and of course we are reminded of theories, of conspiracy and of incompetence and of lunacy.

If you lived through it, you will not forget it and need no reminder, which is why I have avoided these pseudo-news stories all week, the report by someone too young to remember it, featuring the one or more who do. 

If you did not live through it, you will not understand the shock it brought to a relatively complacent nation, since you’re likely inured to regularly seeing video of unfolding tragedies that would reduce previous generations to tears. 

What you will understand, though, is that the Kennedy assassination was America’s first unified rush to turn on the television at the first sign of emergency, to better understand what’s going on. Prior to that weekend the television news industry was rarely praised for doing anything correctly. 

For the record, I had just turned 13 and was in an elementary school assembly, watching a slide show on the topic of opportunities available at Buffalo vocational high schools. The whispering of teachers, walking in and out, got me imagining someone had been hit by a car outside the school; then a thought of a smiling President Kennedy, sitting upright in a hospital bed. 

Then we were taken to our home rooms. Then we were told. Then we were released. Then I went home and had black-and-white images, of Lincoln limousines and pink pillbox hats and hands stifling tears, burned into my brain and imagination, all weekend. They have stayed there, no matter what I layer onto them, like a scar or other souvenir of growing up and getting older.

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