The bell summoning us back to our classrooms from lunch recess rang early. We only just had time to finish our sandwiches and milk, then head to the playground for a climb on the monkey bars or a game of four-square. A self-absorbed sixth grader, I groused to friends about the unfairness of our shortened lunch break.
Still grumbling, I sulked into Room 9 at Burkhalter Elementary School in Oakland, California and spotted my teacher, Mrs. Gregg, leaning close to the radio on her desk, adjusting the dial. Her red-rimmed eyes revealed her emotions.
The broadcast crackled. “…We repeat, the president has been shot. He is being taken to…”
I had never before seen a teacher cry. I slid into my seat, unsure what to do next. The voice from the radio repeated the horrifying words again and again.
“…The president has been shot. President Kennedy has been shot. The motorcade is now heading down…”
At some point, Mrs. Gregg must have dismissed class. The next thing I remember is walking up Greenly Drive toward home, hoping I was in a dream from which I would soon awaken.
I don’t remember how many days I stayed home from school. But my desire to wake from the dream lingered for weeks, as our country mourned.
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