Untotaled: Stepping 2 (December 22nd, 1963) … February 15, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

I(2151)

(Transcript)

It had been exactly one month since the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

I didn’t care.

The reason for my indifference was that my parents were antagonistic against the now-deceased President. Mom and Dad were staunch Republicans, always voting “a straight Party ticket.” Perhaps worse, their political leanings often came with a nasty side order of insults and insinuations.

Two of their favorite words when referring to “that other Party” were queer and Communist.

I was twelve years old–I didn’t know what either word meant. But I surmised that “Communist” meant attempting to overthrow all the good things in our society, including candy and ice cream, and “queer” had something to do with Hollywood stars hanging around the JFK/Camelot White House.

So when the announcer from CBS came on to give a report about what had transpired since the Dallas shooting, I realized that my parents were in the room and it was a great opportunity for me to make some brownie points with them. Christmas was coming up and I had asked for a transistor radio. I was at that awkward age when I wasn’t sure if Christmas gifts came from Father Christmas or Father Cring. I thought I might please Mom and Dad by making a derogatory comment about the late President when the report commemorating his death took a commercial break.

So when the announcer said that the President was killed just a month ago, I clapped my hands in glee and shouted, “Nice shot!”

I turned, smiling, expecting approval from my overseers. But instead, for some reason they frowned, gasped–and my dad walked over, slapped me in the head and ordered me to my room. I lodged a few half-sentence objections, but he was trailing behind me, literally pushing me toward my destination.

Once imprisoned in my bedroom, I sat in a chair, confused.

What had happened? Wasn’t I just repeating what they had said all the previous weeks? Didn’t I hear them point out that he had brought this on himself? That he was the cause of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Bay of Pigs and the rising cost of hamburger? What did I do wrong?

You see, what I was not privy to was the fact that my parents, over that thirty-day period, had repented of their narrow-mindedness and realized that a very interesting but flawed man had been brutally murdered in a country where such foolishness should be forbidden.

They had changed their minds about some things without telling me.

So when my dad struck out at me, he was really attacking his own prejudices, which were now speaking back at him, taunting him for his nasty opinions.

I was the victim of his own repentance.

But what really bothered me was whether this would jeopardize my transistor radio at Christmas. I was so relieved three days later when it was under the tree and I was given access to the rest of the world that existed beyond Letts Avenue.

Yes, my tiny radio became my “ear to the queer.” All the things I had not been allowed to listen to, consider or wonder about were suddenly being piped to me through a little speaker.

As I look back at it I feel shame–not because I was a stupid kid saying something ridiculous, but because it took me too many years after that irresponsible day to finally learn how to think for myself.

It was too long before I comprehended what really happened in Dallas on that horrible afternoon. It had nothing to do with politics. It was stupidity, arrogance and prejudice … given a gun.

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. as pastor of the College Avenue United Methodist church in Manhattan, Kansas, I was in the Kansas State Univ. gym working out with several of the coaches…word came from up in the balcony somewhere, “the president has been shot!!”…one of the co;aches said, “good, somebody got the bastard!”…my shock at the announcement was doubled by the cruel remark…it was Friday, so I had to completely redo my sermon for Sunday…I learned that some pastors never mentioned it…mercy

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