22 November 1963

22 Nov

Many people say they can remember exactly where they were when they heard that President Kennedy had been shot. I certainly can – and, yes, I can picture my surroundings precisely.

My first husband, Martin, and I were living in two attics and a landing/kitchen in Maida Vale, London. We had arranged to meet a friend for dinner in South Kensington at 7.30. Strange as it was in those days, neither of us owned a watch nor did we own a clock, so to check the time I turned the radio on: “President Kennedy has been shot in Dallas, Texas”.

That was so incredible I thought it must be a joke. To check, I quickly turned the TV on and, no, it wasn’t a joke. We waited to find out more before we had to leave to meet our friend (whose name, oddly enough, I can’t remember).

We were late. We hurried down the stairs to the basement restaurant, which was quite dark (it probably had candles on the tables) and had red-and-white checked tablecloths. Everyone in the restaurant was asking about the “rumour” that Kennedy had been shot; we were, unfortunately, able to tell them that it was true.

When I visited north Texas in 1980 and was asked what I wanted to see, I said Dealey Plaza in Dallas and the Kennedy Museum. Although my rather right-wing Republican hosts were not enthusiastic, they did agree to take me.

People talk about the 1960s as if they were halcyon days. They really were quite the opposite: it was the height of the cold war – including the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion, the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, the 1967 Arab-Israeli six-day war, and the 1968 Soviet Union invasion of Czechoslovakia – and Jack Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy were assassinated. My memories of those years were that we lived on a knife-edge. Somehow we survived.


One Response to “22 November 1963”


  1. 22 November 1963 | alswordsnpictures - November 22, 2013

    […] 22 November 1963. […]

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