JFK

kennedy_center_jfk_bust_frontPeople were snapping pictures of Robert Berks’  bust of John F. Kennedy at the Kennedy Center.

I stood in the lobby.  I was there for a concert.  I was not thinking about JFK. I was thinking in a desultory way about opera.  I do not admire this bust.  I would not have photographed it if I’d had my camera.

But today is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of  John F. Kennedy.

A very sad day for our country.

There is a bit of the conspiracy theory paranoia in me, as in many Americans.  The assassination often seemed the beginning of the slow, deliberate destruction of the liberal Kennedy dynasty.  Robert assassinated five years later.  Ted’s reputation wrecked, though he survived to be a champion of social programs. And then John F. Kennedy Jr.’s death in the small plane.  (Count the Democrats killed in small planes and…remember Paul Wellstone?)

Okay, that’s quite enough of that!

Now, understand, I am not Kennedy-obsessed.

But my family was proud of the first Catholic president.  We were sent home from school early on Nov. 22, and we simply could not believe he had been killed.  It was a confusing time of watching black-and-white TV in what seemed to me to be a darkened room.  And then going around the block to my friends’ house to play on the porch with Sugar and Spike paper dolls:  we cut the pictures of Sugar and Spike from our comic books and glued them on cardboard.

And I actually had Jackie and Caroline paper dolls.  (Expensive ones that my mother bought me.)

As children we were fascinated by Jackie and her children.

I never thought John F. Kennedy was handsome.  Sorry.

And honestly?  I don’t remember my memories very well.  I do not feel anything sharp when I think about that day.  I was too young.

I am reading Minae Mizumura’s gorgeous novel, A True Novel, and this paragraph sums up what I feel about these very old memories.

These are my memories, but they just don’t seem like mine.  The sensations remain vivid, as if engraved on me, but…how shall I put it?  I feel my mind has changed so much that they’re no longer part of who I am now.  I can see no link between the world of my childhood and my adult life.

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