Monday, November 4, 2013
Just about everybody remembers where they were on November 22, 1963. Lee Harvey Oswald squeezed a trigger and killed John Fitzgerald Kennedy 50 years ago. America lost more than our president, as traumatic as that was. What was now gone, and what we have never since regained, was a sense of beauty and promise beyond the ordinary. Call it “Camelot” or whatever you like. We knew what it was then and we miss it today.
On that November day, I was at Warner Brothers in California. Standing in front of the studio where Al Jolson made the first “talkie”, I was talking with John “Johnny” Beradino, the former baseball player who was then starring in a television soap called “General Hospital”. A man ran through the main gate screaming and waving to us. He was too far away to hear what he was saying. We assumed he was just extending a long distance greeting to Beradino. John waved back, and not knowing what else to do, I waved as well. Some minutes later another man rushed by to say that President Kennedy had been shot in Dallas. Beradino and I immediately went into the studio reception area where a TV news bulletin was in the midst of telling the world that JFK had been assassinated. You probably felt then as I did – stunned, speechless. So was everyone else. Everything stopped.
Later that day en route to the airport for a return flight to New York the conversation in the car, what there was of it, had to do with the wounds the president had suffered. I remember telling another passenger that my medic training preached “you could survive any wound to the body except a direct hit in the heart.” At the same time your chances of making it through without severe disability after taking a deep gunshot or shrapnel wound to the head were very slim because “there is so much sophisticated wiring up there in the skull.”
We lost John Kennedy that day but the mystique he created remains and grows even stronger with the passing years. If you want to gain valuable insight into the hard-driving Kennedy clan, especially JFK the man, politician and president, I suggest you read “The Patriarch” by David Nasaw.
Yes, time does indeed march on for all of us. Nevertheless, going to California since that fateful November 22 has always depressed me.