Color TV, JFK and Loss of Innocence

I bought my first color television set, a 27 inch floor model, from Sears.  It was delivered to my house  on Tuesday, November 19, 1963.  It worked fine until Wednesday evening; then just died – no picture, no sound.  I called Sears service department the next morning and a service call was scheduled for the afternoon on Friday, the 22nd.

How and why on Earth would I remember such details after almost 47 years?  Well, John F. Kennedy was assassinated on that Friday, the 22nd of November, and the service appointment was canceled – as was virtually everything else.  The entire country came to a halt for the horrifying days that followed – until after the President was buried on Monday,  the 25th.  Later that week my TV was fixed – it had just been a short.  The set performed beautifully for more than a decade thereafter.

I remember that Friday afternoon as if it were yesterday, and not just for the shock of the assassination.  That afternoon I was exposed to a dark side of America that I not known existed.  In a sense I lost my innocence that day.

Early in the afternoon I was alone in my office in the Federal Building (now the City Hall), the other three I shared the office with were out for a late lunch, when a friend from another office came into the room looking quite shaken. He told me that he had just heard on the radio that President Kennedy had been shot in Dallas, and that it was believed that the wound might be fatal.  While he was telling me what details he knew, it suddenly became apparent what the ending was – mournful music from a loudspeaker began echoing throughout the building.  It was an eerie sound — magnifying as it bounced off all the many surfaces of the large atrium outside my door.  My office was on the 2nd floor to the left of this photo.

A few minutes later I got a call from the front office – the President is dead – all federal offices are closed immediately – go home.

I didn’t feel like going home right away.  I decided instead to go to the small diner on the corner to discuss what had happened over a cup of coffee.  The diner was one of my favorite places, not only for the great food but also for great conversation.  It was a hotbed for political discourse – the owner, his wife and daughter were extreme right wingers and a majority of their customers were lawyers and politicians of similar views who worked in the area.  I loved the challenge of debating them.  Because of their smiling good nature I never took seriously the mean spirited and personal things they uttered.  I thought it was just exaggeration for shock value.

I never believed that they really hated the President and all Democrats or that they truly believed they were all communists and socialists who were plotting the Government’s takeover of private industry; who planned on taking away guns from the people so they couldn’t resist when they created a dictatorship; who wanted to redistribute the wealth of the nation, taking it away from the people who earned it and giving it to lazy minorities, etc., etc.  -the very same arguments we hear from the right wing today.

But I learned the truth the moment I stepped through the door of the diner, and my political naivete was gone forever.  It was as if this were London, and England had just won the World Cup.  The diner was packed with my former debate opponents who were rejoicing over Kennedy’s murder.  It was party time! I was stunned!

I can remember saying something to someone like: “Hey,the President’s been murdered.  How can you be laughing about that?”  The response was that it was wonderful. It was only a shame that they didn’t get Johnson, too.  The masks were off – I realized that these people actually believed every vile, hateful thing they’d uttered. I left.

Ever since, I take seriously the madness I hear from the far right. I take seriously the madness I hear from the far left, also. They are the dangerous ones in our midst. And, I have never been more fearful for the future of this country than I am today. Just read the newspaper and watch television news and it will become obvious why.

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2 Comments

Filed under Reminiscences

2 responses to “Color TV, JFK and Loss of Innocence

  1. I cant believe there were no comments for this post. I admit I am right conservative. Not far right but right nonetheless. I cant see treating the situation that way. It almost supports my theory that the corruption in this country started growing like a fungus years and years ago. It took so long to weave the cloth–how can we expect to remove the sheet covering the eyes of america overnight? People act like it started with Obama or something

    • Ed

      I really appreciate your comment. Heehee…. it is no mystery that my posts get few or no comments – hardly anybody reads them. Still, I enjoy venting, so I carry on.

      If you read my posts that touch on politics it should be obvious that I lean left, although I do have some views that would definitely be considered ‘right’. Thus, I consider myself more a center-left. I have never registered with or contributed to a political party.

      I do believe in Government. I believe there are things that only Government can do, things that Government does well, and things that it is desirable that Government do. I believe that when we, the people, through our elected representatives have decided what Government should do, we must be willing to pay for it, and not leave it to subsequent generations. And (an unpopular view) I firmly believe that we Americans are under taxed – that our politicians in both parties know it but are afraid to acknowledge it for fear of losing their jobs – and as a result the future of our nation is in jeopardy. We, the people, center right and left, have become selfish and irresponsible – unwilling to accept the responsibilities of citizenship.

      I have lived through the period when the extreme left gained control of the Democratic party and thus do not claim that the kind of madness in the political arena today only comes about when the extreme right gains ascendency. It is a result of extremism not specific ideology. I am saddened when I see otherwise intelligent, knowledgeable and competent individuals feel compelled to defend and espouse outright lies and absurd positions in order to proved their ideological purity to whackos pulling the strings in their own party.

      This country is facing monumental problems and we desperately need reasonable people to work together in an environment of respect to address those problems. The essence of good government is compromise, especially in a nation as diverse as ours. If I could be absolute dictator and impose my will in all things there would be but one satisfied person in all the land, however good and wonderful my will. People have to feel that their concerns are recognized and that they are a part of the resolution of problems. People have to recognize the concerns of others. Almost every major accomplishment our country has achieved is a result of give and take – I’m not all that excited about ‘A’, but I know it is important to you, and if you are willing to accept ‘B’ which is very important to me, I’m willing to go along with it. That’s how it is supposed to work.

      Right now we have no serious political discourse in this country. We have one side spewing hatred against the other, claiming to be true Americans and that the other is not – naturally eliciting a response in kind. But in truth each side is right about the other and wrong about itself. In the meantime, the rest of us, clustered around the center, the “Silent Majority”, wring our hands in despair wondering how we ever came to such a state, unwilling to acknowledge the truth – it is because we have failed to become involved. Thus we have the Government we deserve.

      Wow! I’m sorry about the sermon. Some things just get my juices flowing!

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