Friday, November 22, 2013

The Day the Basketball Teams Cried

One minute you can be a grade eight student
playing in a basketball tournament,
and in the next minute,
your world can change forever.

Wolfville High School Girls' Basketball Team
Photo from the Glooscap Yearbook, June 1964

My team was playing somewhere in a basketball tournament.
My memory says we played at East Kings District High School,
but I can find no record of such a school on line.

The school I remember did look a lot like
West Kings District High School.
And perhaps it was.
The current event of the day overwhelmed my memories.

West Kings District High School
Source: School Website

Truly I can't remember much of that fateful day
except young girls from all over the Annapolis Valley
crowded into a classroom,
looking at a tiny black and white television,
and crying ~ sobbing in disbelief and grief.
I was one of those players, and 
I remember the news reports
that rocked my world. 

The first JFK assassination bulletin
Source:  You Tube ~  King Daevid MacKenzie

We were not Americans.
We were Canadians.

We were not adults.
We were young teenagers.

It did not matter.
We cared deeply.

President Kennedy was someone 
who touched our hearts,
and we couldn't believe his light
was gone from our world.

President and Mrs. Kennedy
Main Street Dallas
Just Minutes Before the Assassination
Source:  Wikipedia

The tournament continued.
Nobody wanted to play.
Girls, teams, came in and went out of the classroom.

I remember nothing of the competition,
just the crying in the darkening room
as the day crawled into night
and my heart ached.


I won't presume to speak for my fellow players,
I can only report their stunned and grief-filled reactions.
But for me the world darkened.

People remember JFK for many reasons, but
I remember him for hope and optimism.
I remember him for bringing us back
from the brink of nuclear war.

President Kennedy challenged us 
to ask what we could do for our country
to reach for the moon, 
and to stand for freedom and justice for all.

Nuclear disarmament, service, space, and civil rights
captured my imagination because of JKF 
and have inspired many things I have done in my life.   

I remember when he was elected.

John F. Kennedy, White House color photo portrait.jpg VP-Nixon.png
                       Kennedy                                                          Nixon


Presidential election results map. 
Blue denotes states won by Kennedy/Johnson, 
Red denotes those won by Nixon/Lodge. 
Orange denotes the electoral votes for Harry F. Byrd 
Numbers indicate the number of electoral votes allotted to each state.
Source:  Wikipedia

I remember President Kennedy's Inauguration 
when he said,

“And so, my fellow Americans: 
ask not what your country can do for you--
ask what you can do for your country.”

All Americans would do well to remember his words today,
especially our leaders.

Chief Justice Earl Warren
Administers the Oath of Office
to the 35th President of the United States of America.
Source:  Wikipedia

I remember when President Kennedy 
launched the Moon Race in September 1962
and committed the USA 
to reaching the moon by the end of the decade.

"We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.

It is for these reasons that I regard the decision last year to shift our efforts in space from low to high gear as among the most important decisions that will be made during my incumbency in the office of the Presidency."

John F. Kennedy,
Speech at Rice University, Houston, 12 September 1962
Source:  Wikipedia

Earthrise from Apollo 10
Source:  Wikimedia

I remember the tense, tense days 
of the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962,
and the day I came home from school
and my mother said,

"President Kennedy saved us from nuclear war today."

Soviet submarine B-59, 
forced to the surface by U.S. Naval forces 
in the Caribbean near Cuba. U.S.
October 28-29, 1962 
Source:  Wikipedia

I remember the traumatic Civil Rights Era
and President Kennedy's Civil Rights Address
on June 11, 1963 when he proposed
what became the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Kennedy called on Americans to recognize civil rights 
as a moral cause and not a legal issue:

"We are confronted primarily with a moral issue.... It is as old as the scriptures and is as clear as the American Constitution.... One hundred years of delay have passed since President Lincoln freed the slaves, yet their heirs... are not fully free. They are not yet freed from the bonds of injustice... this Nation... will not be fully free until all its citizens are free.... Now the time has come for this Nation to fulfill its promise."

Source:  Wikipedia

President Kennedy Delivers His Civil Rights Address
Source:  Wikipedia

I remember Camelot.

The Kennedy's at Hyannisport, August 1963
Source:  Wikipedia

The Kennedy years in my young life
were a time of hope and optimism
when anything seemed possible.

It was incomprehensible that President Kennedy
could be gone in a heartbeat,
that the world could feel colder, darker, 
and more dangerous
in a moment.

I did not understand then what 
the assassination of President Kennedy meant 
politically, economically, socially,
or in terms of national security and foreign affairs.

I only knew that someone who inspired me
more than anyone else at that time was gone
and that if President Kennedy 
could be shot down in a Dallas street
then anything could happen to anyone, 
anywhere, anytime.

Source:  You Tube ~ antdavisonNZ

Source:  You Tube ~ WSJDigitalNetwork

Heroes die,
and it's left to us 
to live fuller and more meaningful lives
for having known them.

Thank you, JFK, for empowering my life.


  1. Last honest president they had, he sure left a great legacy across the world

    1. Hi Pat!
      Kennedy did leave a great legacy. I have stood at his grave in Arlington and remembered who he was and thought about who he might have become. But most of all, I think about his family who loved him and what was taken from them. When it is all said and done, it is only love that counts. I hug Terry every day before he leaves because life is fragile and gone in a heartbeat. Wishing you love.

  2. I was a senior in high school in Alaska - we heard the news in a radio broadcast over the school loudspeaker (no tv in Alaska back then) - stunned - disheartened - broken - we cried. And became better people because of President Kennedy.

    1. Hi JoAnn! Thanks for sharing you memory with me. It was a very disheartening time. Imagine! No TV! LOL! We had just moved from the North back to Nova Scotia where the schools had at least one TV. We watched the entire funeral on another little black and white TV with 3 or 4 classes crammed into one classroom to see. Some things you never, ever forget. Have a good one!

  3. My parents were staunch Republicans... but Kennedy's assassination stunned everyone, regardless of their political leanings. My mom was sobbing when I got off the bus, early, on that fateful day.
    On a side note... are you at all interested in seeing "Catching Fire"? Hubby doesn't want to go... maybe we could actually meet in person and have a fun time at the movies!!

    1. Hey Dreaming! I would love to see "Catching Fire" with you. The only glitch is that I'm going to be out of town or have appointments/visitors through December 5th. The only open spot I have is Monday afternoon on Nov. 25th. Let me know if that would work or if we could do Fri. Dec. 6th or later (It would probably still be playing). It's that crazy holiday time! Take care!

  4. I think some day historians will look back and identify Nov 22, 1963 as the beginning of the end for the United States. The start of the downhill slope.

    1. I think you're right, Debra. Everything was different after that. I keep hoping the US will turn it around, but it just seems more and more difficult every day. I hope that you are enjoying a good weekend. My sister Barb got a kick out of you Wolverine post which I sent her a link too!

  5. Remarkable, Louise!

    I was saying to Jim yesterday ~~ I wonder what Caroline is doing today? All of her immediate family gone. The stories remain, the memories remain slightly faint but I just wonder about her thoughts. Such a sad story but with some hope.

    Now Miss 1963-64 WHS BB team assistant(?) ~~~ everyone looks so mature. Isn't it funny when you look back and see yourself 50 years later. At the time we all looked so immature and willing to learn, now from the other side of life I see 'young ladies' eager and wanting to grow up and experience the world.

    Unfortunately, on this particular day, they grew up in a full jump, like BB and throwing the ball at the hoop.

    I hope your w/e is a great one because 50 years ago it wasn't so much.

    Ron ~~ who was at the ice rink that day 50 years ago and walked up Main St to Mitchell's furniture store to look in the windows at the TV's. Oh yes, I do remember!

    1. Thanks, Ron!
      One of these days I'm going to be ahead and have the post written early so I can just pop it up on the day of whatever! I do wonder about Caroline and what she feels too. And whenever I see that photo of John John saluting I think of that plane and how he died. So tragic ~ that whole family.

      I was not the BB team assistant ~ more like I probably forgot to bring my gym clothes for the photo! It is fun to look back at all the old photos!

      Nowadays it's hard to find a spot where we can escape TVs! It's fascinating to read people's memories of that day. About ten years ago I got to view the Texas School Book Depository (which is now the Sixth Floor Museum) and see the exact spot where Lee Harvey Oswald shot Kennedy from. They have boxes piled up exactly like they were when LHO hid behind them to shoot. Going to that museum and seeing that spot was one of the most powerful emotional experiences I ever had. When I find my photos, I'll do another post on LHO's sniper's nest. Gotta run ~ Take care!

  6. I admired JFK for his courage and vision. It was this vision that scared the people that are responsible for his death, I feel......and I never thought about till I read Debra's comment above......that day changed everything for most of the 'western world'......for the worse. I think Obama is the first president since Kennedy to have the courage to try and bring forth very unpopular laws. And we see the opposition to what he is attempting to do for millions of Americans in need of good and safe we have had in Canada for decades. Hey, and we seem to be OK!

    1. Very thoughtful comment, Jim! JFK did have courage and vision. And I think he was killed for those very things. I tried to be very true to my 13-year old self and highlight those things about JFK that had impacted me at that time. I knew Kennedy was behind the Peace Corp too, but the whole Civil Rights fight really fired me up. I'm still fired up, although now I'm standing up for Gay Rights. As for "Obamacare", it all makes me so angry! I keep hoping Obama will pull it out because he is being attacked from every angle. I knew a lot about insurance issues in our district, being on the Exec. board of our union. The costs of everything related to insurance was spiraling out of control. We struggled to find a/one company to insure district employees ~ but because we were largely female, and because we had a number of people with cancer it was outrageously expensive. We couldn't even get companies to bid in the end. The whole situation is obscene, and lots of partial or wrong information is being thrown about. And Canada's system is vilified by those in opposition to Obamacare. It's been a sixty year fight, and it could get killed before it has a chance to succeed. Then no one will have the courage to try again for a long time. We shall see! I hope you are having a great Saturday!

  7. What a good blogpost today of all your memories. We can't forget where we wee when we heard the news..I was in a college class. Your post is a great tribute..thank you. Peggy from pa

    1. Hi Peggy! Thank you for your kind words. Some things are impossible to forget. Kennedy's assassination hit me the most, but I will also never forget the Challenger disaster and 9/11. I hope that you are having an enjoyable weekend! Bring on the holidays!

  8. I really enjoyed your post, Louise!!! I wasn't around back then but I do really enjoy hearing stories from those who were....and their thoughts on JFK. I think of Caroline often....and wonder how she must be doing....missing her entire family.

  9. Hi Audrey! And thank you! It's shocking to me that I am in my sixth decade. I was reading about Kennedy's assassination in the newspaper, and the paper referred to it as "that now distant time past." Yikes, it seems like yesterday to me! But in 1963, when I looked back 50 years, it would have been 1913 and to me then that was ancient history! LOL! I can't imagine how Caroline deals with it ~ but, of course, the living have no choice but to get on with their lives somehow. You can give up, or you can choose to make a good life. I hope that you are having a good weekend. This week Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday of the year. Terry wants me to make an apple pie, among all the other things I'm baking. I was thrilled to find a huge mound of MacIntosh apples at Sprouts yesterday. Macs are hard to find in Colorado, but they are my favorite pie apple, so I am thrilled! Take care!

  10. Very thoughtful post.
    I mentioned a book about JFK, "Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye". If you ever get the chance, read that book. You would like it, I am sure.
    Thanks again for this respectful post about a president who, through no fault of his own, was taken from us.

    1. Hi Kay! Thank you! I've been busy with Thanksgiving preparations ~ It is my favorite holiday of the year. It so great to get together with family and friends. I would like to read that book about JFK. I was just a young girl in Canada, but President Kennedy really had an impact on me. Oops! Gotta help Noreen brine the turkey!

    2. I hope that you and your family have an enjoyable holiday tomorrow! Take care!


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