Thursday, November 21, 2013

I remember where I was that day…

It was November 22, 1963. I can smell the room, the paste, and paper, and crayons and us sweaty kids… the sun streaming thru the big windows, with the coastal range in back.

I was in 3rd grade, in Steindorf School in San Jose, and my teacher was Miss Riggs, a new teacher, who was really, really beautiful, at least from the point of view of an 8 year old 3rd grader. Now that I look back, she was having a tough time keeping us all in line. Not that it was all that easy, I think I was one amongst others who might now be called "borderline hyperactive" and at very least full of tow-headed suburban boy energy.

I remember that I liked school with Miss Riggs. That she had great ideas, one of which was to put on a production of some sort using the song “Puff the Magic Dragon", tho at some point in our practice sessions, she lost control of us, and decided to cancel it all. But we loved her, even though we had a hard time behaving. I liked her, and her worksheets that smelled of mimeograph fluid, and remember her showing me how to color and shade things like I had never done before with crayons.

You see, it had been a rough few months, duck and cover drills, and other things that really scared the shit out of little kids and their parents who lived in California suburbs ringed by military bases. 

My second grade teacher who I can now see was gifted, during one of the drills, when all the little girls were crying, told us that the school had installed special “antiblast” windows and that we would be OK because the curtains we had to pull were lead lined and would protect us (from what no one knew). I remember drawing “antiblast” windows on everything I drew for a week after, and having my Dad cut antiblast windows in refrigerator boxes he used to bring home so I could make forts in.

Once, my best friend Oscar and I got in trouble during one duck and cover drill because we could see the underwear of one girl sitting in front of us, and Oscar and I got to laughing uncontrollably. Which was cool, because he had a way of seeing that I was getting nervous and worried like the rest of the kids, and he said from under his desk next to me, “Spisst, Danny, look” and pointed ahead of him with his finger. And I looked, ahead of me and there was Dianne’s butt in flowery glory staring right at me. 

She hated me and Oscar until I moved to Oregon at the beginning of 6th grade.

Like I said, I was at the water fountain, when the principal made the announcement over the intercom to the effect that the president had been shot and killed and that we were all to go home. Miss Riggs burst into tears, and we all got ready and lined up. For once we were well behaved, and she hugged each of us as we left... 

In those days, kids walked to and from school, and so I remember the line of kids, mostly silent, big and little walking down Foxworthy Avenue to their homes exiting both left and right on the suburban track home side streets, mine on Kilo Avenue. I can’t remember if we went to the neighbors, or if my little sister was with me… I just remember the line of kids, mostly silent, and later not really understanding why there were no cartoons on the TV for the rest of a week.

At any rate, that is my story about a moment that changed the whole world. 

I hope you are well Miss Riggs, and Oscar... 

and then there is this astonishing moment in Boston :

Hear The Moment This Audience In Boston Found Out JFK Had Been Shot

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