That Friday morning I caught a ride to school with my good friend Craig Davis; his Dad, Judge W.C. “Bill” Davis drove us in his green Buick. The Judge was a “Yellow Dog” Democrat, which wasn’t surprising because in 1963 only Democrats were electable in Brazos County.
Judge Davis always liked to tease me and so he asked me if I was going to the JFK $100.00 a plate fundraiser that night in Austin. I was much more interested in my first basketball practice that afternoon as a Lamar Bulldog. I was quite pleased about having “made” the seventh (7th) grade team after tryouts a week earlier.
I was probably day dreaming about my glorious future as a hoopster when the loudspeaker announcement came about President Kennedy being shot in Dallas. A few minutes later we were told he was dead. Everyone was stunned and it seemed like a fog of depression enveloped everyone in the school.
There was one of my classmates who was laughing about the killing (his family was virulently anti-Catholic and therefore anti Kennedy) I was too bewildered to respond at the time, but the next week I was able to pick a fight with him in P.E. class.
It seemed like everyone else, even people who hated JFK, were appalled and saddened by this completely unexpected tragedy. While my perspective was no doubt influenced by the concurrent onset of my adolescence; it always seemed to me that November 22, 1963 marked the end of an era of innocence and optimism and that things went downhill rapidly into an era of cynicism and fear. Looking back on the last 50 years of our history I find nothing that changes that perspective.
So let’s say a prayer for JFK and for our Country and hope we can find our way back into the light and optimism that we lost 50 years ago.