On the beat

Where were you when you heard the news?

 By Jim Bucher

Photo: John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States

During my parents’ generation, everyone could tell you exactly where they were and what they were doing when news broke about Japan’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, throwing our country into a war we, up to that point, wanted no part of.

December 7, 1941.

For my generation, maybe a little older, it was the same scenario, but the story changed. This time it wasn’t war, but rather a young president, cut down in the prime of life by an assassin’s bullet.

John F. Kennedy murdered in Dallas.

Soon, we all knew places we had never heard of – Dealey Plaza, Love Field, Texas School Book Depository. And maybe those places don’t stick in the mind as well after all these years, but what does is the time and place you heard the news.

Dallas, Texas, November 22, 1963. Fifty years ago.

I was just 3 years old and don’t remember much other than the funeral procession. What was recorded in my young mind was the rider-less horse with the boots backward in the stirrups. It symbolized the fact that the deceased had fallen as a warrior and would ride no more.

Others shared their recollections on my Facebook page. We’re all in agreement that the moment is frozen in time, something you’ll never forget and that is impossible to delete from your memory bank.

Howard wrote, “I was at work at the Troy Sunshade Company and all work stopped with the people just standing there stunned.”

For some, the memory has even more meaning.

Pamela said, “I was in my second grade classroom. They came over the loudspeaker and told us we were being sent home early because the president had been shot. Then, the next month I lost my dad who was the same age as the president.”

Marina added, “I was at my grandparents’ house, off school that Friday because my baby sister was being born. She was delivered at almost the exact time of President Kennedy’s death. I will never forget that day, then watching the funeral.”

Like Pamela, many that responded were in school that day.

Lynn wrote, “I was in the eighth grade at Lincoln Elementary. There was an announcement over the intercom. We were sent home, and when I got home my Mom was crying at the kitchen table. I remember being scared.”

Ella added, “Changing classes at Fairmont West, [we] went from are you kidding to ‘Oh, no!’ and shock!”

Rick remembered, “I had left school early that day to travel with my family to an East Coast vacation. On the New York State Thruway, the news that the president had been shot came across the radio.”

Kathy was home sick from school watching TV: “I couldn’t believe that the president who brought us through the Cuban Missile Crisis and possible nuclear war was killed on our own soil, right before Thanksgiving, and with his wife by his side. It was unfathomable.”

Maria had just turned 2: “I remember looking at the TV and asking my Mommy what was going on. She told me the president had died. It was a solemn time in our house that day.”

Brad wrote, “I was in first grade, but I can’t remember if I found out in school or when I got home. I remember being off school the following Monday and seeing part of the funeral.”

Brenda was in fourth grade music class when Mrs. Longanecker started crying when the intercom announced the news. “That night my Mother and I went to the grocery store, you could have heard a pin drop. People were walking around just totally dumbfounded, I just remember the quietness.”

Joe was a freshman at Chaminade High School: “[I was] in religion class. We were all sent home.”

Michael remembered, “I was getting my tonsils removed.”

Rose was in eighth grade, “I was in the hall when a teacher walked by and simply said, ‘They shot the president, go to your class.’”

Dan added, “It was unbelievable then, and now. My belief remains that it was a government conspiracy.”

Marilynn wanted to watch “Captain Kangaroo,” one of two shows she was allowed to watch as a child. “I couldn’t figure out why there were all of these women crying on TV instead of my show.”

Bryan was 5 years old, at home. “A neighbor was visiting and she and my Mom were watching a soap opera, and both of them got frantic and cried. I didn’t quite understand, but I got that it was a very big deal.”

Ron said, “[I was] in the Maude Mullers restaurant next to Loews.”

Jill remembered, from grade school, “[Her] teacher’s reaction at hearing the news. We still had not been told but knew something bad had happened. I watched the funeral on television with my family.”

Finally, Billie wrote, “I knew the world changed that day, but life would go on.”

Depending on when you grew up, many events are seared in our minds – Pearl Harbor, the Challenger explosion, 9/11. But if you lived during 1963, we lost a part of our innocence that November day in Dallas.

A part we’ll never get back.




For more than 25 years, “Buch” has been a local television icon. Known and loved by thousands in the Miami Valley, his followers describe him as trust-worthy, fun, the guy next door, a friend and a role model. When it comes to promoting your business, Buch has the ability to grab your customer’s attention. Reach DCP freelance writer Jim Bucher at JimBucher@DaytonCityPaper.com.


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For over 25 years, Jim Bucher has been a regionally known and loved local television icon. “Buch’s” followers describe him as trustworthy, fun, the guy next door, a friend and role model. You can promote your business with Buch and grab your customer’s attention! Reach DCP freelance writer Jim Bucher at JimBucher@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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