Fifty years ago today I was a first-grader in Ridgeway Elementary School in White Plains, New York. Even though I was only five, and my brother Fred just seven, we walked by ourselves to and home from school. It was about half-a-mile from our little cookie-cutter homestead built on a treeless lot.
We had in that cookie-cutter home a single black-and-white (there were no color sets in 1963) TV set. It had maybe a 13-inch diagonal screen which was built into a big wooden case. You could close the screen off with wooden doors. This set sat in the livingroom of my parents' house.
There was a long hill between my parents' house and Ridgeway that was always a little scary. The rumor was that a pizza delivery kid had been screaming down the hill on his bike in the rain. The pizza slipped off the bike and the kid veered to retrieve it and was killed by a car. We always shuddered a bit at the thought. I'll admit, I still do.
In those pre-carbon days, Novembers were cold. We bundled up when we went out, with warm coats, gloves and hats. We had rubbers for the rain and fat-buckled galoshes for the snow. We were much less cavalier about the weather it seems, maybe because the weather seemed so severe.
Of course, like today, we were all looking forward to Thanksgiving. I'm sure in my first-grade class we studied the Pilgrims, made turkey drawings and thought Squanto got a raw deal.
The next day, John Kennedy was killed.
All the leaves were off the trees.