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The Lost Weekend

One of my favorite classes in high school was German. I really did want to learn German, as my early childhood had been spent in a kindly German neighborhood in Queens, NY. And it was alive, unlike the Latin I also studied. I liked the teacher, Herr Still, who took us all to a German restaurant for dinner at the end of the year. And one of my best friends was in that class, and, to be honest, we messed around a lot with stupid movie Nazi stuff. But, after all, we were only 16.

At 16, my viewpoint of the world changed completely one afternoon in that class. On Wednesday, November 22, 1953, my friend Ray entered the classroom just after me and announced, "President Kennedy has been shot. I think he's dead."

He was, and with that death died the promise we Baby Boomers often thought we had been born for. Kennedy was not a perfect president, but compared to most of those who followed, he was, truly, a prince among men. Remember, though, that princes are not necessarily perfect. His widow was perfect, or as close as it gets. If there is a better tutorial in how to be bereaved and beautiful, bereaved and full of sadness, bereaved and taking care of the family, bereaved and taking care of one's duty to the nation, I don't know whose it would be. Jackie Kennedy was perfect throughout that endless rehashing in black and white of the funeral on the weekend subsequent to JFK's death. And it was endless. I was glued to it, until my father insisted we all go out for a drive to the November beach and stop for ice cream on the way back. Still, he was right. I, at least, needed a break. What he didn't know then, but I did, was that the assassinatin of John F. Kennedy had put an end not only to the putative Camelot the Kennedy's brought to Washington, DC, but also to my hopes that the world would be malleable, able to accommodate such as I, a smartish girl from a working class family who had aspirations. Suddenly, I wondered what would happen. Would there be scholarships? Would the "race thing" explode? Vietnam? Not yet on our radar. I had tumbled from safety in an upwardly mobile, fairly decent society to a shoot-em-up homeland that would become less and less safe, even until now. What was on my radar at least, and I think my friend Ray's, was that our world would never be the same. Did we expect Martin Luther King to be murdered? Possibly; he was of a population, the black population, that had been murdered right through my youth and teen years. Did we expect Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to be murdered? No. Not at all. He was our "great white hope," the man who had put away murderous mafiosi and execrable killers of freedom riders. That murder knocked me to my knees, almost literally. I was just over 20 at the time, recently married to another student, and we were driving from Long Island to Manhattan the evening after RFK Jr. died to dine with his aunt. RFK's body was being brought home to NY and we burned out our clutch crawling up through the Manhattan traffic of gawkers to the return of RFK Jr's body in the oppressive heat. Dining with Aunt Minnie was good, though. She was Cable Desk Chief at Time-Life, Inc., and of course knew everything. Although it had to be a short dinner; she was working until the sad work was done. I am still sad. Sad about JFK, and sad about RFK Jr.--and on my knees day after day for RFK Jr.'s safety. I would love him to win the presidency; it would be a ray of hope, not for a Camelot, but at least for a cessation of the globalist agenda his uncle had known about and rejected. Rich the Kennedy's may be, but greedy and inhumane most of them are not. I think that's what we have to hope for these strange days. There is nothing else.

Photo from Time-Life, Inc. archives, begging permission.

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