Fifty years ago to this very day, I was a 4th grade student at St. Benedict The Moor Catholic School near the intersection of 12th Street & Hattie Avenue in Winston-Salem. The building still stands but is no longer a school. Sr. Christopher Mary, a very kind and beautiful woman, was our teacher. And yes, I had a “crush”…didn’t we all!!
That morning, I did not know the President was going to be in Dallas. Unlike today, with “breaking news” headlines almost every second, the only TV channels were NBC, CBS and ABC. And news was twice a day…morning and evening. There were no cell phones, no internet, no Twitter nor e-mail. Heck, fax machines were not around either.
The cost of living…well, it was like this: $1 then felt like $7 today. If you want to know more, click on this link later
I recall being sent out of the room by Sr. Christopher Mary for being disruptive to the class. Can you believe it…me being disruptive. Essentially, my best friend, Robert McCree got me in trouble. He was a comic and I always got caught laughing. Of course, he never did. And, by the way, it is now Fr. McCree and he still has that sense of humor. If I were still Catholic and going to confession, I would have had a difficult time keeping a straight face if Robert was to have been the priest hearing confession that day
Anyway, I was standing in the hallway outside our room. There were only eight classrooms with one for each grade. The floor was green and red tile throughout and it had that “Pine-Sol” smell all the time…The floors were always clean.
I had been standing in the hall for about 20 minutes. Normally, it was a lot longer ( yes, this was not the first time I had been sent out of the class…it is a wonder I got promoted). To my surprise, the door opened and one of my classmates waved me back in. Sr. had a small portable radio…You know the kind that was silver and black with a red/orange bar to indicate what station you were on. Of course, I was confused…Why was I let back into the class so soon and why was the radio on?
I finally noticed that Sister’s eyes were full of tears as were most of my classmates. Sister turned off the radio and said “Children, we need to pray for our president and his family”. We bowed our heads as Sister prayed. After prayer, she turned on the radio and we listened to a reporter giving updates from Dallas. Finally, the word came that President Kennedy had died…it was about 2:10p.Tears began to flow from my eyes…mostly because I knew my parents would be hurt…They admired the president…We were sent home.
And fifty years later I tear up because this nation lost something that day…An innocence of spirit and an innocence of truth. I can only hope that my daughter Kelli and her family will tear up fifty years from today because America came back to being the protector of innocence and the protector of truth once more.
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Contributing Author: Melvin J. Scales