November 22, 1963

I had graduated from Queens College in June, spent the first part of the summer traveling in England and Europe, the second half on a USA cross-country trip with my parents and brother, and had celebrated my 21st birthday on October 24th.

I was living at home in Queens and working at the Walter F. Cameron Advertising Agency, a very small retail agency, in Brooklyn. There were five of us: the eponymous Walter; his partner, Lawrence Germain; an ad salesman, Lowell, the graphic designer, Len; and me, the advertising/administrative assistant. With the exception of Len, our desks were in a large front room; his work area was down a long hall in the back. He had a radio which he always listened to as he worked.

It was a Friday (exactly 50 years ago to the day) with unusually balmy weather for November. So much so, that when I went out for lunch, I didn’t wear a coat. After I returned, I was sitting at my desk working and chatting with Walter and Larry. Lowell was out of the office. All of a sudden, Len came running down the hall. I can still hear his voice. “The President’s been shot!” Stunned was followed by shock when we soon heard that JFK was dead.

I don’t remember much of the rest of the afternoon. At 5 o’clock, I drove home taking my usual route along the Belt Parkway. During rush hour, it was always bumper-to-bumper. As we inched along, I clearly recall peering into all the cars around me and seeing the same look of sadness on all the faces.

The next three days were spent in front of the TV.  As the three major networks broadcast JFK’s American flag-draped coffin lying in state in the East Room of the White House, the music played on an endless loop was the funeral march from Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3. Whenever I hear it, even 50 years later, it remains connected to that image.


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