With this year being the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination, it came to mind the big things in the world that I have been around when they occurred. President Kennedy was the one that I really did open mouth and put both feet in all the way up to the knee. At the time I was working at the Sears store in Omaha, Neb., and had recently finished the Executive Development course for new college graduates. I was assigned to my first real retail job, assistant manager of the toy department starting the week before Thanksgiving. I had been in the schooling for several months and had managed to make some friends in the area of the toy department.
One of those friends was a devout Kennedy disciple. And as we all are prone to do, I would do my best at times to aggravate her and rouse her Kennedy feelings. She and I liked each other and she did the same to me when the opportunity presented itself. I was walking toward the toy department when she ran me down, tears in her eyes, which should have told me something, and told me the President had been killed. My first and very wrong reaction was so what else is good news? She broke down and ran off crying and cussing me in particular. When I finally realized that the President had indeed been killed, I ran her down apologized profusely and asked for and received forgiveness. It was one of those things that pop out of our mouths without thinking and I learned a hard lesson from that episode.
The first huge event that I was around to remember was Dec. 7, 1941. My brother Gene was a freshman at Indiana University and had pledged Delta Upsilon Fraternity. The fraternity was having a parent’s weekend to show the new pledge parents all about the fraternity and to show them that they would take good care of their young ones. That Sunday we left Rushville for Bloomington early and got there around noon, about the time of the announcement of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Of course all the radio stations in the country had nothing but the attack on and then, as now, it was repeated over and over again all day. No one knew actually much about what had gone on other than it was a surprise attack and many young Americans had been killed and wounded. It would be several days before any one would have much of an idea about what it actually entailed.