Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Coming Week: Recalling November 22nd

In a couple of days it will be November 22nd, a significant date in the minds of people of a certain age who will often recall what they were doing on that  particular day in 1963, when they first heard the news that President John F. Kennedy had been shot. In my case, I had stayed home from elementary school that day and was watching As the World Turns (ATWT) with my mother. My mother identified with Lisa, one of the main characters who was a divorcee. At that time, I did not know that my mother would become a divorcee, but I should have surmised this might happen, with all of the arguments that occurred between my mother and father.


Be that as it may, on November 22nd in 1963, my mother and I were watching ATWT,  and listening to the characters, Nancy and Grandpa, discuss their Thanksgiving plans —while my mother fretted about how we'd spend ours. Suddenly the television program was interrupted, with a special report that President John Fitzgerald Kennedy had been shot. From that point on the television would be filled with scenes from the motor-cade in which Kennedy had been riding, the subsequent shooting of his assumed assassin, Harvey Oswald, and of course the funeral. However, when I first heard the news on November 22nd 1963, I wondered what was happening at school. I was one of two students in my class of thirty pupils, whose parents did not support JFK. A few years prior, in 1960,  Kennedy had campaigned heavily in Carpentersville, the town in the Fox River Valley where I went to grade school, so I was well aware of my parents' political beliefs.
Their beliefs were no secret to my classmates or teachers either, mostly due to the fact that my father was president of the school board. The area where we lived was a Northwest suburb of Chicago, and during the years Kennedy was running for office our community's votes were crucial to his winning the presidency. My father had refused to go and see Kennedy at our local shopping center in spite of the fact that people clamored to attend.

Now, hearing the news that John F. Kennedy had been shot, as I sat on a plastic couch with my mother, I was somewhat grateful to be out of school. Often the teachers and other students blamed me for my father's strict views, and I certainly did not want any back-lash on such a sad day for our nation. However, on another level, I felt at a loss sitting there with my mother. I longed to share my grief and fears with others and to also find comfort, but that was not to be because from the moment the ATWT's fictional characters, Nancy and Grandpa, had their conversation interrupted with Walter Cronkite's Special Report, I began to assume the role of my mother's comforter which I eluded to in a previous post. She became my child.


Unfortunately, I spent far too many years looking for someone to fill her role, but thankfully have been long healed of that trauma. I ultimately moved to New York City —and even appeared on ATWT in the role of a cop. I did not enjoy the 'on-camera' experiences of the entertainment industry, as I preferred the behind-the-scenes activities which led me to endeavors in photo-art and writing.


In a book-art course, I had the assignment of taking "an existing book and turning it into a personal statement." This is an assignment I invite my readers to try if they are so inclined. As for me, I chose P.D. Eastman's book, Are You my Mother?; and embedded one of my mother's childhood photographs in the cover, and placed the words "Adventures in Self-Reliance" underneath it  which can be seen in the image posted below:



I now do custom books for others, going over photographs of various clients and finding books to 'match' a 'message' or 'feeling' my client wants to convey. If you would like to order one please leave me a comment (this feature will be enabled on November 23rd 2010), or send me an email via my contact information on my web-site.


My fulfilling an assignment of rendering Eastman's book into "something else" was to depict that time during my childhood years when I experienced many losses: the death of President John F. Kennedy, the loss of having my father move out of the house before the end of the following year, and most of all losing my mother as I knew her, prior to the day she left mentally, on November 22, 1963.

2 comments:

  1. Amazing how your life intertwined with a soap opera on such a memorable day in history. I bet you remember more about that day than the kids who were in school-- wiggling in their seats, wondering what it all meant!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for taking the time to visit my blog, read this post and to comment, Ally. As for that fateful day of J.F.K.'s assassination, since I was a child at the time, I actually felt left out by not being in school! I appreciate your putting a new spin on it for me. (-;

    ReplyDelete

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.