11.22.2010

A reminder

I was a 21-year-old secretary eating lunch at “Nick” Nicapopadopalous’ Greek restaurant. Two blocks away in the newsroom of the Clarion-Ledger and Jackson (Miss.) Daily News, bells were going off on the teletype machine to mark a “bulletin” – the newswire service’s designation for its most significant breaking news.

Twenty years later I would be working as an editor in that newsroom.

One day as I left work I spotted in a trash bin a rolled up length of old yellow teletype paper . Fishing it out, I tucked it under my arm. Relaxing after work with a cup of coffee, I reached across my dining table for the 20-foot scroll of paper, unrolled it and began to read:

Bulletin … Bulletin … Bulletin

President shot

Bulletin … Bulletin … Bulletin

President Kennedy shot in Dallas

Bulletin … Bulletin … Bulletin

President Kenndy shot in Dallas motorcade

Words poured forth down the yellow paper in staccato phrases.

I’ve kept the bulletin as a reminder to never forget.

10 comments:

tnlib said...

I think most of us who are old enough to remember that day can probably remember exactly where we were and what we were doing. It was like a huge silence decended on the entire nation.

But even back then people were ugly. I was in Atlanta. Some people in the room where I was sitting openly cheered. The rest of us were appalled - not only at the news that the president had been shot but at the disrespect expressed by some of those in the room.

The next day Ralph McGill wrote in an editorial in the Atlanta Constitution that he was on a plane flying back to Atlanta when the captain made the announcement. He wrote about a fellow sitting next to him who said something to the effect, "thank God for our country."

I called my mom and cried on her long distance shoulder. I remember how devastated she was and then how she said when something so unspeakably awful happens things have a way of improving. She was of course referring to all the civil rights unrest of the time.

I wonder if today she would see many signs of improvement.

Good Southern Man said...

What a piece of history! That is something I would like to see. I have some similar papers from 9-11 when I was working at 911. I haven't read them since then and don't remember what they say.

We do share some DNA, BJ! LOL.

Father Tim Farrell said...

I was five years old and playing with blocks in front of our TV in Shiprock, New Mexico, (on the Navajo Indian Reservation) when Walter Cronkite came on the air with the terrible news. My mother came into the room with a terrified look on her face and I saw the tears in her eyes. I remember Mrs. Kodaseet, my mother's good friend from next door, running in crying. So much pain and so I grew scared as a mere five-year-old. I got into my mother's lap and cried as well. My mother and Mrs. Kodaseet and I all hugged each other and held on in that terrible moment in history.

Lynn said...

I was a senior in high school and sitting in class when the principal made the announcement on the PA system. My best friend and I were sent into the hallway because we couldn't stop talking about it and our teacher wanted to get on with class. Of course there was no school the day of the funeral and we were glued to the TV.

Annelle said...

I was also working as a secretary in Jackson at that time. I was coming back from lunch, heard it on the elevator. Some things you just never forget.

paula said...

Thanks for sharing this, BJ. You might be interested in George Phenix's post today at www.blogofages.net.

Sue said...

BJ that is chilling! I was 8 yrs old and remember coming home to my crying mother. One day in our history we will never forget...

Tiny said...

Tiny was on her way back from the bathroom to her power machine at the Hosiery Mill where she worked for Burlington Industries. The girl at the end of the row where Tiny's machine was told Tiny that President Kennedy had been shot. The news traveled fast through the factory. Talk about shock and awe, along with gut wrenching disbelief and tears!

Tiny and her children (ages 3, 5, and 7) were glued to the TV the day of the funeral. A very sad time in our history.

B.J. said...

At the Greek restaurant, Nick said loudly, “Listen, everyone!” as he turned the radio up. “The president has been shot.” Everyone got up in silence, left their food, paid and left. Back at my office, we learned Kenndy was dead. The boss told us to go home and not come back to work until after the funeral. As with everyone else, the next days were spent in front of the TV. As sad and as tragic as those days were, I wish we could recapture the spirit and the unity and, above all, the respect.

Frodo, half a century behind, said...

As many here know, Frodo was, truly, Bobby Kennedy's paper boy. He delivered the now-defunct Washington Daily News to the House on Hickory Hill.
It was personal, that day.
It rained.