Today, Thursday, Nov.22 is Thanksgiving. If you are not reading this on Thursday then just keep reading …
It is also the day that 55 years ago President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. On that day I was a second grader who had just returned to my desk after recess at Forks Elementary School.
Mrs. Meisner walked in the room and said, “Our President is dead. He has been shot in Dallas.”
I have always wished she would have said something different. Being 7 years old and a deep thinker, aka worrier, I started to worry … What did this mean? … he was the only President that I knew and I immediately thought anarchy, violence in the streets … I didn’t know that there was a Vice President and things in place so we don’t have anarchy and violence in the streets … so I worried all afternoon until I got home, and then it seemed it still was a sad, terrible event but that things would go on and I would eventually see third grade, etc.
The assassination was on a Friday and the funeral was on Monday, and we watched it on the Canadian television station, which was all we had. The Canadians covered the funeral too, and we stayed home from school.
Fifty-five years later I decided to see how the Forks Forum covered that week following, so to the archives I went … my favorite place to go and I was happy to see that paper was not missing, though many are. Anyway, the front page had a half-page section paying tribute to our late President and sending good wishes to our new President, Lyndon Johnson. There were two messages from Washington’s Governor Albert Rosellini — one wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving, and another paying tribute and proclaiming a period of mourning for Kennedy.
Local churches had organized a special service and Rev. Ward Tanneberg of Forks Assembly of God gave the invocation. Merle Watson sang a song and Rev. Iverson from the First Baptist Church shared a message too; 110 citizens attended.
Forks Forum Editor at the time James Astell wrote: “we live in an infinitely more complicated time …we live in a world so torn with dissension, covering every aspect of human affairs …” I wonder if he was around today what he would think about the current times?!
But life in Forks was going on, even in light of this national tragedy. Fletcher’s had recently completed the Almar Building and they were holding a grand opening for the Fletcher Electric Inc., appliance store. Their ad in the paper featured refrigerators for $199, grand opening specials, door prizes and treats for those that stopped in.
The Busy Beaver 4-H club had met at the home of Linda Munson and did some sewing and learned how to measure dry ingredients.
The TV Club had met, trying to get the community American TV, but they were having trouble getting residents to attend the meeting, no attendance, No TV! was the threat.
Dr. Leibold was out of town attending the Clinical Session of the American Medical Association in Portland and then he was on to the University of Washington for a symposium on obstetrics. Dr. Howell was seeing his patients while he was out of town.
The Senior Ball was coming up and the theme was … “Twilight Time!”
The PTA had met and discussed the topic, “What is Testing?”
At the Antler’s Shake Room Beverly B. Clays was advertised to appear that weekend. Billed as a “Songstress-Comedian” and “The girls with a thousand songs.”
The Bogachiel Garden Club announced it was sponsoring a Christmas lights decoration contest.
Then I saw a headline: “Eight Girls invested in Brownie Troop #4.” I was one of the eight! And somewhere I have a photo of this momentous occasion. We got hats and pins. Our troop leaders were Mrs. Jim Bolin and Mrs. Glenn Demorest.
So 55 years later, some things are strangely the same and some things are oh so different. Many times I wonder how different it really would have been if Mrs. Meisner would never have spoken those words and the events in Dallas on that sad day would never have happened.