As a Dallas native, I have somewhat of a personal connection to the assassination of President Kennedy. I was 17 days old on November 22, 1963, when my mother prepared to watch her favorite soap opera, As the World Turns. She’d become addicted to the show, while on maternity leave that long hot summer. She cradled me in her arms, nursing me, and had just turned on the TV, when she heard a loud cacophony of sirens in the distance. We lived in a 2-bedroom apartment above a garage behind the house belonging to my father’s oldest sister and her husband. If you look out the bathroom window and turn to your right, you can see Harry Hines Boulevard. My mother rushed to that window and caught the tail end of the presidential motorcade. She didn’t know what had happened, but she had a bad feeling. She returned to the TV and watched closely as actress Helen Wagner, in the character of Nancy, spoke to a fellow performer. The show was live back then, broadcast directly from New York. Then, Walter Cronkite broke in to announce that Kennedy had been shot. It’s something my mother will never forget. No one who was old enough back then could possibly forget something like that. Kennedy remains one of my favorite presidents; a true American World War II hero who left a legacy of national service.
Portrait by Aaron Shikler, 1970.