08 February, 2006

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.


At 5:50 AM, February 09, 2006, Anonymous Bob K said...

Aaaah, the confusion of children. My own confused story from that era was when I was about 5 or 6 and we were going to the zoo on a kindergarten field trip. I asked my mother if it was safe to go there since it said on the news that gorillas were shooting Americans.

At 7:15 AM, February 09, 2006, Blogger Exador said...

Has Oliver Stone heard this theory yet?

I kid, but now that I think about it, what a funny movie that would be.

At 8:06 AM, February 09, 2006, Blogger Cheryl said...

Oh my!! That WOULD be a difficult shot. Your post really made me chuckle. My hometown book depositoy looked the same way!!!

At 3:58 PM, February 09, 2006, Blogger Amy said...

ha ha...thanks for making me laugh out loud :)

At 4:22 PM, February 09, 2006, Blogger Rachel said...

That's hilarious! For my own part, I used to wonder why all those crosswalk signs were in anglicized Chinese (Ped Xing). Ahem. :)

At 6:33 PM, February 09, 2006, Blogger Nashville Knucklehead said...

I was living in Ft. Wayne, Indiana in 1970.

However, I assure you, I am not your father.

At 7:28 PM, February 09, 2006, Blogger Kat Coble said...


Yes, I know you're not my father. But Ft. Wayne? Seriously?

At 8:10 PM, February 09, 2006, Blogger Nashville Knucklehead said...

Yes, seriously. A neighborhood called Pine Valley. I have no idea if it is still there. And they bussed us what seemed like 100 miles for some reason to Arcola Elementary.

And not only that, as soon as I posted that comment, I turned the TV to digital music to make dinner and chose 70s music, which I never do, and American Woman was the next song to play.


At 8:22 PM, February 09, 2006, Blogger Kat Coble said...

It's still there. It's about 5 miles from where my parents live now. It's the new "up and coming" area of town.

The world is full of freaky coincidences.

And bad music.

At 8:33 PM, February 09, 2006, Blogger Nashville Knucklehead said...

I also remember I went to Kindergarten at Carroll High School when it was under construction. We had recess in what was going to be the library, because there was no grass planted outside.

I don't think grass had been invented yet.

And we had to walk uphill in the snow both ways.

At 8:46 PM, February 09, 2006, Blogger Kat Coble said...

Look at it this way...you can tell people you were so advanced that you went to high school when you were 5.

But boy, you must have lived out Northwest before anybody else. Besides the Amish.

We were in Old Brook Farm, where there was no brook, no farm and all the houses were brand new. Go figure.

At 7:59 AM, February 10, 2006, Blogger Jeffrey said...

ah ha ha ha! Wow, thanks to my little over-active imagination I have quite the mental image of a mysterious gunman crammed into a "book depository"!!

Good friday morning laugh.

At 9:04 AM, February 10, 2006, Blogger Nashville Knucklehead said...

One more thing, if you haven't gone back and listened to it as an adult, "American Woman" is a Viet Nam-protest, anti-draft song.

So you're really all about peace, love and Marching on Washington

Yeah, baby, yeah . . .

At 9:41 AM, February 10, 2006, Blogger Kat Coble said...


Yeah, I actually listened to it quite a lot in Jr. High and High School.

I still find it quite grating.

'Eve of Destruction' was more my bag. But my dad hated all of it....


Post a Comment

<< Home