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201207 December 7, 2020


My Personal Impact by President Kennedy's Assassination
Tommy Towery
LHS '64

    "Friday, Nov. 22, 1963 - Had a substitute teacher in Physics and P.G. today. During Plane Geometry I was awaked by a radio coming over the P.A. System. It was the news of President John F. Kennedy being shot. He was shot in Dallas, Texas by Lee Harvey Oswald and died at 1:00 EST. I wrote an editorial about it for the paper. Had to take it back to the press." Written in my 12th Grade English book on that day.

    Last week John Drummond was looking for the reactions of some of his classmates to the assassination of President Kennedy. I am sure most of you remember the event, but probably only remember the class you were in at the time, without much more to add to a significant story.

    I’m going to carry this string of thought in another direction. I can state without question that event probably had a greater impact on my life than it did on any other classmate of mine. I still do things everyday because of that one moment in Dallas when President Kennedy was shot.

    I could write a small book about this, but will instead offer just a few of the highlights of what I am talking about. This is just a Reader's Digest version of the true impact.

    Although I never set any sports records at Lee, I hold the record for not only being the first, but the only editor of any Lee High School newspaper who published an obituary for the death of a seated United States President. But there was a smaller, but greater, impact on my life because of President Kennedy’s death. It was because of his death and my desire to note my feelings on that day which prompted me to start the journal detailing my life for the remaining time at Lee. What started in the margin of my English book was soon replaced by a real journal. In writing the journal, I forced myself to insure each night before I went to sleep to note the day’s happenings in writing. It became an obsession in a way, to make sure I did not let a day pass without writing about it in my journal. In doing so, I developed a discipline I had never before achieved. No matter where I was or what was going on, I still wrote in it every night. The journal I started that night would be continued through the end of 1963 and all of 1964 as well. I started one in 1965 but college studies and my first real job interfered with completing it. 

    The writing process I developed was the foundation of obtaining my college degree in Journalism. Twenty-five years later the journal became the basis of the first book I wrote “A Million Tomorrows…Memories of the Class of ‘64”. Just as I had done 25 years earlier, I worked on the book every night without fail until I completed the reflections on my original writings. Add another 25 years to the calendar and I once again turned to the original journal to reflect on the memories 50 years later when I once again wrote a book “When Our Hearts Were Young.” I have also written over a dozen books based upon my Air Force time spent in B-52 aircraft and its Cold War mission and the Vietnam bombing campaign, again calling upon the discipline developed following President Kennedy’s assassination.

    My revival of the Lee’s Traveller newsletter in 2001 and its weekly publication every week since then could also be attributed to the original love of writing developed from the journal writings. I attribute the completion of every repetitive task I perform today to that moment of time in my high school days when the announcement woke me up. I now see it woke up from more than just dozing in Geometry class. It definitely was the foundation of the path I would take for the rest of my life.

        Memphis, TN - I hope all of you are being smart about this Covid-19 thing and taking care of yourselves. It looks like we are not out of the water yet (can we even see the shore?) so please follow the smart guidelines and lets stay safe.


From Our Mailbox 


Subject:    1960 World Series

John Drummond

LHS '65

    How well I remember the 1960 World Series.  The New York Yankees arguably are the most polarizing team in all of professional sports.  Either 1)  they are your favorite team or 2)  you hate them.  As a loyal National League and St. Louis Cardinals fan, I was, and still am, in the latter group.   But I must admit that the Atlanta Braves have since won my heart and soul.

    To the best of my recollection (did not Google for accuracy)  the deciding seventh game of the 1960 series saw the Yankees going into the ninth inning ahead of the Pirates.  Up to bat, with one or perhaps two runners on base, and maybe even two outs, weak-hitting Pittsburgh second baseman Bill Mazeroski stepped up to the plate, wearing number 9 on his back.  He hit a home run to win the game, the World Series, and astonish the sports world.  The mighty Yankees were, after all, not invincible!


Subject:    Kennedy's Assassination

Janet Holland 

LHS '67

    I have thought about this since last week's discussion. I was sitting in ninth grade English, on the right door aisle, as we heard the intercom speaking too softly to understand with all the commotion going on in the room. When the noise finally subsided, we sat in disbelief. It was a very numbing feeling. Of course, I couldn't vote, but my parents and I have always voted for the man, his values, his policies, and the hope we felt with him. They voted for Kennedy. My father was travelling across the country on that day, and he connected in Dallas at that moment. He arrived home with the newspaper announcement. Since it occurred on a Friday, it was a long, arduous weekend.



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