, Salem, MA

Local News

November 22, 2013

Nov. 22, 1963: Where were you when Kennedy was shot?


As a teacher at Danvers High on a Friday not long before Christmas, I was looking forward to the weekend but, more especially, to the afternoon ahead when I had plans to run to the Northshore Mall to begin my Christmas shopping. An announcement came over the PA system from the principal’s office that President Kennedy had been shot. There were no more details, and after school, I immediately turned on the car radio as I headed for the mall. The news was shocking and my mind full of confusion. Once in the parking area, I realized I had lost all my enthusiasm for shopping, and the tears were obscuring my driving ability. I parked the car but couldn’t get out. I returned to the highway and drove home. For the next three days I sat with my husband as events unfolded on the TV, in shock and grieving for our charismatic, Massachusetts native who had been assassinated, for his family, and for the United States.

Jean Emerson


‘We all cried all the way home’

I was 19 working at Traveler’s Insurance as an insurance rater. ... At exactly 12:35 p.m., our bosses told us to stop working, and all of a sudden there were radios on everywhere, where otherwise all you could hear is the typing of every typewriter. ... Our bosses told all of us to go home, as the president had been shot while in Texas. This was beyond belief! Nothing could ever happen to all of our wonderful lives. Not that we hadn’t struggled growing up, but there just didn’t seem to be any worries, as we all knew everything would be all right.

We all scuttled out the door to go home, not knowing what was going to happen. On the way home, as we all carpooled, as we were in the Callahan Tunnel ... at exactly 12:50 p.m., the news came on the radio that the president had just died. ... We all cried all the way home, just not believing that this was possible. I don’t even know how the girl driving could see through her tears.

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