The Gremlin Who Shot JFK
I was born in 1970, so needless to say I don't remember where I was when John Kennedy was shot. Technically half of me was dormant inside my mom, half of me was somewhere within my dad's genetic code. By the time the two got together, America had pretty much figured out that Kennedy was dead, Viet Nam wasn't going well and music probably wasn't going to get any better. The number one song for the week of my birthday was "American Woman" by the Guess Who. Thank heaven for small favours--it could have been "Horse With No Name". Yet somehow being welcomed into the world with the words "stay away from me" and "I don't wanna see your face no more" just seems wrong.
Having failed to sparkle someone else's eyes, I remained in Northern Indiana--where the single goal of older people appears to be the confusion of their young. I don't know when exactly I first heard about the assassination of Kennedy. I was probably three or four, perhaps five. I remembered being surprised that such things were still done. In my mind assassination met its apex with Lincoln, and at that age I was still certain that Lincoln, Saul of Tarsus, Jesus and Ben Franklin were contemporaries. They were all people we heard about at church and the dinner table. All were equally real and equally distant. I remember my mom's confusion when I asked her why we had pictures of Lincoln but not of the twelve disciples. She apparently hadn't reckoned on my child's concept of time. Clearly I was already confused about the fact that we hadn't moved past shooting presidents, and when I pressed my mother to clarify it got a lot worse.
"Mommy, did John Wilkes Booth shoot Kennedy?"
"No. It was a man named Lee Harvey Oswald."
"Did he shoot him at the movies?" (I hadn't seen any plays yet, so the only things that happened in a theatre were movies. It may or may not be coincidence that soon after we became season ticket holders of the Fort Wayne Youtheatre.. )
"No, he shot him from the Texas School Book Depository."
Okay. There it was. The problem that plagued me for years. It was my own Fermat's Last Theorem. How on earth did anyone shoot a person from the Book Depository? I mean, I could see hiding there because it was obviously perfect for concealment. But you certainly couldn't stand up, and there would be no way you could fit your rifle through the slot.
See, they built the Georgetown Public Library in 1972. It was about six miles from our house and we went there often. Probably because my mom understood that she had to take me to the mothership periodically to recharge my batteries. Either that or it was a way to get a few minutes peace and quiet from her increasingly large and inquisitive brood. We checked out a lot of books, and whenever we brought them back, we put them...in the book depository.
Yep. That's right. For years I assumed that Lee Harvey Oswald hid inside the drop box at a Texas School library. I had an elaborate theory worked out about him being a dwarf just like the guy inside the R2-D2 suit and having a special gun with a periscopic sight. But no. He was just some guy in a tall building.
Life is just never as interesting as it could be.