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Residents remember Kennedy's assassination (w/video)

By JR Ortega
Nov. 21, 2013 at 5:21 a.m.
Updated Nov. 22, 2013 at 5:22 a.m.


There are moments in history when the American spirit is defined.

There are moments in history when the American spirit is pained.

The day of Nov. 22, 1963, is one of America's such moments.

Traveling slowly, the presidential motorcade made a final march.

Time stopped as shots rang out throughout Dallas' Dealey Plaza.

The 35th President of the United States of America had been shot.

Turmoil gripped the hearts of many while waiting to learn his fate.

Truth finally came - president John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

To many, the exact second of his death will be forever remembered.

These 50 people recall where they were when they heard the news.

Bobby Jacob

Victoria

Age at assassination: 16

Lived: Goliad

"I was in high school with four friends riding around. We had hamburgers and were listening to the radio. There was an interruption in the broadcast to announce what happened.

We hadn't heard of anything like that before. We didn't know what would happen to the country."

Robert E. Clegg

Victoria

Age at assassination: 33

Lived: Port Lavaca

"The Rotary had a luncheon that day at the Shellfish Restaurant in Port Lavaca. The owner stuck his head in the door and announced that Kennedy had just been shot.

We didn't finish the meeting. Everybody wanted to get out and get to their TVs. Everybody just stopped."

Richard Logan

Victoria

Age at assassination: 22

Lived: Victoria

"I was in transit from New York City where I was for an interview for a job. They announced it when we were in the air. We landed at Love Field in Dallas, and I saw all the goings on, the security, a big stir of activity. I was as conservative as I am now. I thought Kennedy was doing a good job."

Jack Morrison

Victoria

Age at assassination: 16

Lived: Victoria

"I heard it on the radio when I was driving home from Victoria High School. I don't remember there being a PSA during the day.

I was in complete shock.

President Kennedy was, as far as I could tell, popular with young people because he was a young president."

Jim McHaney

Victoria

Age at assassination: 30

Lived: Victoria

"I was shocked and alarmed. A lot of people at that time were wondering if it was a conspiracy.

Somebody finished Oswald off and limited the information.

Seeing it on TV hundreds of times, the conspiracy theories. It's so trite now. Maybe that's too critical.

He was our president. Why would anyone harm our president?"

Rose Woodson

Midfield

Age at assassination:31

Lived: Midfield

"I was at Ben Franklin's (store) in Bay City. We heard it over the loudspeaker. They had the radio on. I felt sad because I thought he would make us a dandy president. It was sad that someone would shoot him. It was a shock. He would have been a good president, I think."

Carol Tippins

Victoria

Age at assassination: 7

Lived: Houston

"I remember that. I was going to school in Houston. I remember the teacher coming in just in tears. I remember her saying that the president was dead, and I remember going home early that day. I still see my teacher's face. I do remember that day, now that's something."

Kim Beckham

Victoria

Age at assassination: 7

Lived: Kansas

"I was in second grade when it happened, but that's not my story. When I was teaching fifth-graders in Kansas, I attempted to get across to them the magnitude of President Kennedy's assassination. I told them if they couldn't find someone who could tell them where they were when JFK was assassinated, the whole class would get recess for a week. One year a boy named Brian came running into the room saying his uncle doesn't remember where he was when JFK was shot. He said he was too drunk and couldn't remember which bar he was in. And I said, 'but he was in a bar.' The class didn't need me to tell them that Brian's uncle had proved the point that everyone remembered where they were when President Kennedy was shot."

Kathy Garcia

Victoria

Age at assassination: 35

Lived: Washington

"I couldn't believe it. When it came on over the radio and the announcers were announcing it, it was just unbelievable."

Karen Peterson

Victoria

Age at assassination: 22

Lived: Germany

"We didn't know what was going to happen. We were in Germany; my husband was in the service. It was kind of a scary time. We were afraid they were going to call all the troops up. It was just unbelievable, and I remember all the somber music was playing on all the stations. ... It was scary being so far away from home and not knowing what it meant or what was going to happen next."

Anthony Burns

Inez

Age at assassination: 23

Lived: Houston

"It was pretty shocking, especially since it happened in Texas. It was pretty surprising because back in those days if you had fights it was mostly fist fights and knives, but now they just pull a gun and shoot one another. It was pretty shocking to have a rifle kill him. He was a great president."

Cheryl Maguire

Peoria, Ariz.

Age at assassination: 11

Lived: Compton, Calif.

"I was at lunch, in the cafeteria at Colin P. Kelly Elementary School in Compton, Calif. I was in sixth grade. I think that, because it was an elementary school, some of the children really didn't understand what was going on. But the older children certainly were affected. Going home, we all watched the TV ... as little reports as there were back in those days. I actually saw Jack Ruby shoot Lee Harvey Oswald."

Margaret Rice

Victoria

Age at assassination: 10

Lived: Kenedy

"I was in elementary school, and we were on the playground when some of the teachers got the news. They were crying and had their transistor radios. They were trying to get as much news as they could. As children, we didn't really understand. We got a day off from school on the day of the funeral. I was with my friend playing, I remember, and her mother insisted that we come into the house and watch that funeral service."

Peter McNally

Victoria

Age at assassination: 19

Lived: Kingsville

"I was in a sophomore English literature class at Texas A&I in Kingsville. I remember that day very well and that weekend. It was Thanksgiving weekend. I went home, and most of the nation watched TV for the next 72 hours. I actually saw when (Jack) Ruby shot (Lee Harvey) Oswald. That was on live television. People didn't know where to turn or what to do. It was scary."

Ophelia Sanchez

Victoria

Age at assassination: 15

Lived: Victoria

"I was in school at Patti Welder. They announced over the intercom that President Kennedy had been shot in Dallas, and he had passed away. Everybody was so quiet - the whole school was in shock. I believe he was a very well-liked president, and very young. That makes it even sadder. I believe that changed the world, or at least it changed the United States when he died. What if he had lived?"

Wayne LaCroix

Victoria

Age at assassination: 11

Lived: Sikeston, Mo.

"I was in school - I don't remember which grade - but I remember them bringing a TV into the classroom after it happened. The teachers would explain it to the students. We were still pretty young. We didn't really realize the full impact, you know, of what was going on. We knew enough that there was a death, but we didn't really understand it."

Gen LaCroix

Victoria

Age at assassination: 4

Lived: St. Louis, Mo.

"That was my first memory that I can place a time to - watching the funeral parade. I remember going and asking my mother, 'Mommy, what is this all about?' She said someone died, and I remember thinking, 'This is important. I need to remember this.'"

Dwain Harbers

Yorktown

Age at assassination: 17

Lived: Nordheim

"I was a senior in high school. We were in the gym watching volleyball, and the superintendent came in and told us, those of us that were in the bleachers, that President Kennedy had been shot. ... I was extremely sad, and when school was over, I went home and turned on the TV, and I watched as much as I could. I saw Walter Cronkite, and I watched it on national TV, and I watched him get very emotional."

Dru Bures

Victoria

Age at assassination: 14

Lived: Ganado

"I was in high school. We were actually in science class. ... (I was) shocked."

Sidney Villareal

Victoria

Age at assassination: 6 or 7

Lived: Yoakum

"I was at school at a Catholic school, St. Joseph, in Yoakum. I was in the fourth grade. When we heard the news, our nun, our teacher, took us all to the Catholic church. And then we prayed there for about an hour or hour and a half. ... He was a very good president, and he was just like one of a kind. ... In my own personal opinion, he was the very best. It was very hard to replace him."

Jack Burrows

Edna

Age at assassination: early 20s

Lived: Houston

"I was in the woods of East Texas hunting (deer). ... I wasn't sure if it was all true at the time. It was on the radio."

Billy Mouliere

Victoria

Age at assassination: 24

Lived: Alexandria, La.

"I was at the LSU A's snack bar. It came on TV around 10 something. ... We had a lot of veterans there, and we sat down in the corner and talked about it. ... I don't think it meant the end of an era, but I think it meant the end of a good president. You don't know what effect that would have had on the ones that followed."

Dot Mouliere

Victoria

Age at assassination: 22

Lived: Alexandria, La.

"I was ironing at home in Alexandria, La., standing in front of the TV. I cried. It was sad because it was the beginning of an upheaval in our country, and you knew it immediately that it was going to be. ... If you stop and think of all the turmoil we went through since the assassination ... nothing has ever been settled. It's still up in the air today. ... Anytime you have a president that was assassinated, it lives on for years and years and it does affect the country."

Gayle Harvey

Victoria

Age at assassination: 17

Lived: Victoria

"I had my first-born on that day. That's when he got assassinated. (tears up) ... We were all very sorry. There was a lot of grief because he was a good president, and we thanked God that he carried us through that era. Everybody was grieving; it was devastating ... I'm so glad I have the opportunity to say that yes, I remember that and that my son, Henry Harvey was born on Nov. 22."

Betty Mayorga

Victoria

Age at assassination: 20

Lived: San Salvador

"It was like a bomb, everybody was in shock thinking about what happened to the president - the big man here in the United States. For any reason, we couldn't find any reason why he was assassinated. ... I worked in Central America in a huge bank. ... nobody believed what had happened."

Geri Louden

Shiner

Age at assassination: 20

Lived: Houston

"I was working at Schlumberger at my first job in Houston, and they announced it over our loudspeaker. So we all stopped and started crying. Everybody got upset, then we settled down and got back to work ... We just couldn't believe that anything like that could have happened."

Joe Dahlstrom

Victoria

Age at assassination: 20

Lived: Austin

"At the time of the assassination, I was a student at the University of Texas. It was my sophomore year. We heard the news of the shooting right after a band rehearsal, and I think we were all glued to TV sets for the next several days."

Harold Cade

Victoria

Age at assassination: 37

Lived: Victoria

"I worked at the Victoria Independent School District. I happened to be in a high school classroom at that time. I was a science teacher. We started screamin' and hollerin' of course. They didn't like it, of course, that type of thing."

Henry Guajardo

Victoria

Age at assassination: 9

Lived: Victoria

"I was on the playground at Nazareth Academy when a nun came out screaming that the president had been shot. Of course at 9 years old, I really didn't get the full impact of that and when we did, it was overwhelming for someone that was 9 yearsold, not really understanding but knowing it was a tragic event. I can still remember a lot of my schoolmates crying on the playground. It was a very sad day, one that I'll always remember."

Don Pozzi

Victoria

Age at assassination: 20

Lived: San Antonio

"I had just finished my morning class at St. Mary's University and was walking back to the dorms. I was completely shocked. I don't want to use the word outraged. I was mad, sad, a bunch of emotions. We had lost a great leader, my president. It changed the course of history. ... My mind was racing. What a great loss we had suffered. What a needless tragedy."

Helen Walker

Victoria

Age at assassination: 26

Lived: Victoria

"Within my lifetime, it was the first time anything that disastrous had happened to us. Someone close to us was murdered.

We don't know how many things he would have done. There was such hope and vitality. Everybody was young and idealistic. I think his death made him great. The Civil Rights Act might not have passed if Kennedy hadn't died. Johnson carried on his legacy."

Will Armstrong

Victoria

Age at assassination: 22

Lived: Victoria

"Friday was usually happy because it was payday. There was crying, tears in people's eyes.

It affected me, but our drivers were terribly emotionally aligned with Kennedy. I remember passing out the paychecks and how upset the employees were.

Curtis Price and McKinley Williams, the two oldest, toughest drivers, were the most upset."

Rufus Diggs

Victoria

Age at assassination: 23

Lived: Victoria

"It was a shock. When someone can get to the president, are any of us safe?

The things that were done and sacrifices that were made - slavery that our ancestors went through. ... Our memories are brief, and people forget so easily. We, and I mean America, have got a long way to go.

Ever since Kennedy, you can see that this is a long struggle."

Janey Lack

Victoria

Age at assassination: 23

Lived: Boston

"I was in my second year of graduate school on the Harvard campus. I was breathless, devastated. It was a reality that was so big, so shocking, so hurtful. ... You have your normal life before this event and your life after. You realized nothing is ever going to be quite the same. ...He was charismatic and captivating. Our country was losing that ability to articulate ideas and to dream. ... It was a wave you couldn't come out from underneath. Life had changed at that moment."

Bob Nance

Victoria

Age of assassination: 30

Lived: Victoria

"We were going to be on the road to San Antonio to broadcast a football game between San Antonio St. Gerard and Schulenburg Bishop Forest. ... Six or seven men were trying to decide whether to cancel the game or play on. They kept going back to: John Kennedy was a football fan. John Kennedy was a devout Catholic. The game is a sellout. They decided to dedicate the game to Kennedy.

Tom Schobel, a 16-year-old, was injured in the game and died a month later. They were both tragedies."

Frank Sheppard

Cuero

Age of assassination: 41

Lived: Cuero

"My wife and I were in San Antonio for my birthday and had seen the parade with President Kennedy Thursday. On Friday, we were in Frost Bros. milling around when all of sudden we realized a gathering of people at the electronics department. They told me the president had been shot. ... Sadness is the simple word for it. ... I've come to terms with it. There's nothing else I can do about it. I still feel grief about it. It was one of the worst things that ever happened to the U.S. ... There was so much we expected of him and so much we looked forward to. Then bam."

Bob Turner

Port Lavaca

Age at assassination: 15

Lived: Tyler

"I was in high school. We had just finished lunch, and I was walking to shop class. I know the exact block of concrete I was standing on when friends told me President Kennedy had been shot."

Juanita Benavides

Port Lavaca

Age at assassination: 21

Lived: Port Lavaca

"I worked for Cunningham Pharmacy in the Viking Mall. My husband called to tell me that John F. Kennedy had been killed. All the customers at the pharmacy and snack bar and even the pharmacist in the back heard my reaction. We were all in a state of disbelief. They let us go home because everyone was so emotional. The drugstore closed so we could go home and watch the events on television."

Cleve Calagna

Port Lavaca

Age at assassination: 13

Lived: Houston

"I was in the second-floor hallway of Deady Middle School. When I came out of class, the teachers were in shock. I grabbed one who was crying, and she told me our president had been shot. ... I thought it was terrible, but it caught me off guard. I went home and thought about it all day. ... All the elders were mourning. It was a shame that it happened in Texas. I watched the news as they brought Oswald out, so I saw Ruby shoot him. I saw him pull the trigger. I couldn't believe it was real. It was like a movie."

J.C. Melcher

Port Lavaca

Age at assassination: 18

Lived: Huntsville

"I was a freshman at Sam Houston State. I was walking up the steps of the main building to go to class when someone said the president had been shot. The whole campus knew within five minutes, and we listened to portable radios to learn what happened. It was quite a shock, and everyone was very quiet. Quietness spread over the campus. Later, we watched it all on television."

Amelia Phillips Williams

Port Lavaca

Age at assassination: 29

Lived: Port Lavaca

"I was in the store when I heard the president had been assassinated. I hurried home, and the whole family was crying around the television. Kennedy was our idol. I can't remember another president people respected and loved as much. I've heard of others, but this I witnessed. It was a blow to the world. It was like a member of our family had passed away. Kennedy will never be forgotten. As long as I'm on Earth, I'll think about him, miss him and wonder where we would be if he had lived a little longer."

Robert Foley

Victoria

Age at assassination: 18

Lived: Shiner

"I was working at Shiner Compress when I found out President Kennedy was shot. It looked like the world stopped moving for a second or two. He was going to turn the world around - that's why they assassinated him. I knew the world would be in the jam it's in now. He was a good president, and there hasn't been another like him since he was assassinated."

Sheriff T. Michael O'Connor

Victoria

Age at assassination: 8

Lived: Victoria

"It was two days before my ninth birthday. While some days are not as vivid to me now, I will definitely remember that day. It was very emotional. I was at school, and they made an announcement. At 8 years old, you're not really sure of the magnitude of it, but when I got home and saw it all over the news. It was a very sad day."

Jean Wood

Victoria

Age at assassination: 34

Lived: Victoria

"I didn't agree with his politics. I didn't like him. But he had a charisma that was unreal. My wife and I have a (special needs) child and Kennedy's sister was (special needs). The Kennedys had done so much for (special needs children) that I felt a kinship with him."

Emily Wood

Victoria

Age at assassination: 33

Lived: Victoria

"I was in the family room ironing - I remember my daughter was there with me - when they said he had been killed. I cried like a baby. It was like I had lost my best friend."

Matt Blundell

Dallas

Age at assassination: 26

Lived: Victoria

"I was at work, and I remember a kid from the office came in and told me the president had been shot. He was grinning, and I told him, 'This is nothing to smile about.'"

Carol Blundell

Victoria

Age at assassination: 19

Lived: Dallas

"I was driving around the downtown area of Dallas because the president was there, and I was listening to the radio, and the announcer was saying the barricade is going down, and they were waving at the people. Then all of a sudden it sounded like he dropped his microphone, and papers were crinkling and shuffling, and I was trying to adjust my radio to figure out what was going on. And then all of a sudden he said, 'My God, my God, he's been shot,' and I'm like who? Never thinking it would be the president. Finally, he got his composure and said 'The president's been shot.'"

Janie Hernandez

Victoria

Age at assassination: 7

Lived: San Antonio

"I was 7 years old and remember because I was outside of a little grocery store buying candy, and I heard it over the radio. I remember it clearly. I remember everyone just in shock. I ran home, and I asked my mom, 'Did you hear it? The president was killed.'"

Saundra Giles

Victoria

Age at assassination: 6

Lived: Victoria

"I remember watching it on the news. I could see people so depressed because they had so many hopes and dreams that laid on this president. They felt the hopes and dreams of the minority died when he died. It was just terrible, and it didn't stop there. It continued on when Martin Luther King Jr. got killed. It was one thing after the other. It was just terrible."

Janie Soto

Edna

Age at assassination: 13

Lived: Victoria

"I was in school, Patti Welder Junior High School, in the seventh grade. I was just in school studying, but I always think about it."

Joyce Pambianco

George West

Age at assassination: 25

Lived: Vernon, Calif.

"Someone had a radio in the back warehouse, and they flashed the news on the radio and they had said J.F. Kennedy just got killed. Everyone in that place just felt like it was terrible. We all cried, every one of us, because we all loved Kennedy. I, especially. I voted for him for president. So I really, really thought that was just a terrible, terrible thing. ... Everybody should know he was the best president. ... I never voted for anybody again."

Abel Garcia

Victoria

Age at assassination: 23

Lived: Ernest Harmon Air Force Base, Newfoundland

"Unfortunately, I was stationed in Newfoundland working in the U.S. Air Force Communications building, and we heard the news that came over the radio and, of course, I was saddened by it and shocked. Being from Texas and all - it happened in Dallas - it was quite a shock and traumatic event for me."

Randy Garvel

Victoria

Age at assassination: 7

Lived: Victoria

"I was going to school at Our Lady of Victory Catholic School here in Victoria. And the word came out, if I remember correctly, it was around lunchtime. And I remember all of us kids gathering around the flagpole where the flag was and really being upset and crying and carrying on the fact that there had been a shooting. I don't think when we first found out that it was already confirmed that he had been assassinated. ... I do remember as a kid, watching all the procession with the motorcade and everything with the funeral procession and I thought was that was pretty awesome even though it was a tragic event, I do remember that being something that was something I had never seen before as a kid."

Margie Issacson

Victoria

Age at assassination: 27

Lived: New Orleans

"I was working for an automobile dealership, and the radio was on back in the service department, and we heard it on the radio. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Watching the changes in the expression of the mechanics' faces was amazing. It was quite a shock. My husband was aboard a ship at the time without any means of communication, and he did not know what had happened until the ship was docked where it was going to be repaired."

Herschel Jordan

Victoria

Age at assassination: 32

Lived: Victoria

"I was working at the Ford store, Timberlake Motors, and I had gone home for lunch. My wife didn't have the television on. And when I got back to the office, everyone was gathered around the television, and I thought 'What is going on?' And that's what was going on. I was angry because I liked him."

Marion Carter

Victoria

Age at assassination: 25

Lived: Victoria

"I happened to be ill, and I was in Citizens Medical Center. So my husband called and asked if I had the TV on, and I said 'No,' and he said, 'Well, turn it on. The president has been shot.' Soon after that, they told us the vice president had been harmed, but he wasn't. I think he was a good president."

Ben Carter

Victoria

Age at assassination: 26

Lived: Victoria

"We had our temporary office at Foster Field, and I came home for lunch, and I had the TV on. It said he was killed. I don't care if he was a Democrat, I didn't want him to get killed. He was a good president. It was a good day, except for that. The tone of the day changed because no one wanted to see him get assassinated, especially in Texas. Here he came to Texas, and that's the hospitality we gave him - we killed him. It was one of those days, and I hated to see him go."

Nadine Cattan

Victoria

Age at assassination: 38

Lived: Victoria

"My first reaction was to go to church, Our Lady of Victory, and pray. And that's exactly what I did. I prayed for him to recover. At that time, they did not know if he would survive or not. The church was full. Some people were silent, and other people were crying. It was just a mixture."

Debbie Stastny

Victoria

Age at assassination: 10

Lived: Victoria

"I was in the sixth grade, and I remember our teacher coming in, and she was crying uncontrollably. And she told us what had happened, and it was dead silence. It was very emotional even at that young age. I remember getting home and watching it on TV, and it was just unbelievable."

Sandy Hybner

Victoria

Age at assassination: 11

Lived: Victoria

"The teacher came in and told us the president had been shot, and, of course, everyone was very upset and sad. I went home that day, and my mother was very upset, and we talked about what a sad thing it was for that to happen in Texas because we hosted him. It wasn't long after that that my mother took us to Dallas, my brother and I, and took us on the route the parade went. It was a historical tour, very sad and moving."

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