Remembering Nov. 22, 1963 in Rappahannock

‘The darkness that fell’

I was a junior at Rappahannock County High then. I first got the news at the end of school when I heard a classmate talking about it as we were at our lockers getting ready to go home. But not until I got home and saw the TV did I really grasp what had happened.

I remember something else from that day so vividly. There was a school assembly where some students with musical talents entertained with a “hootenanny.” Most of all I remember Alletta Beebe singing the Gale Garnett hit, the cheerful, bouncy “I’ll Sing in the Sunshine.” What a contrast with the darkness that fell later.

Rumor had it later that the school administration knew earlier but chose not to release the information to the student body. No cell phones or laptops back then!

The weekend was spent glued to the TV watching the course of events. School was closed on Monday for the funeral. At Reynolds Memorial Baptist Church, Rev. Clyde F. Melton read the Walt Whitman poem “O Captain My Captain,” which Whitman wrote after another assassination, that of Abraham Lincoln.

— Patrick Alther

‘World’ interrupted 

Thank you for this opportunity for Rappahannock residents to share memories of that tragic day. I was still nearly a year away from starting the first grade in November of 1963, but was well aware of who the President was because my mother and father were big supporters of John F. Kennedy. I recall seeing the Special Bulletin announcement on the black-and-white Zenith television and being told the tragic news by Mrs. Janie Jackson, who worked for my parents and who had been watching “As the World Turns” while doing the ironing when the terrible story broke. I also distinctly remember seeing Lee Harvey Oswald shot by Jack Ruby in the Dallas Police station on live TV the following Sunday morning. The sound of Ruby’s Colt .38 seemed as loud as a cannon. Sadly, there would be many more Special Bulletins before the 1960s were over.

— Fred Schaefer

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