Friday, November 22

My First Real Memory - 22 November 1963

I have maintained all my life the firm conviction that the first clear, specifically dateable memory that I have is of Walter Cronkite cutting in during the CBS soap opera As the World Turns and announcing the death of President John F. Kennedy.  I was two years and four days old, playing in the living room while my mother folded clothes and watched television.  I remember it in great detail.  I do, of course, have scattered flashes of memory from probably before and after that event, but this is, as I said above, my "first clear, specifically dateable memory."  In any case, my grandmother always insisted that there would be no way that I could possibly remember something that clearly from that early in my life.  My mother always corroborated the context and the details, however.  

Today, I decided to see what I could confirm given the ready-at-hand resources of the Internet.  Here's what I found (all times Central Standard because that's where Dallas is, and that's where we lived in Monroe, Louisiana):
  • Approx. 12:30 pm:  JFK is shot [link].
  • 12:30-1:00 pm:  CBS time-slot for As the World Turns [link].
  • 12:48 pm:  CBS interrupts As the World Turns for Walter Cronkite to announce that the President has been shot [link to video].
  • Approx. 1:00 pm:  JFK is pronounced dead [link].
  • (1:00-1:30 pm:  CBS time-slot for Password [link].)
  • (1:30-2:00 pm:  CBS time-slot for Art Linkletter's House Party [link].)
  • 1:33 pm:  Official announcement of JFK's death [link].
  • 1:38 pm:  Walter Cronkite announces JFK's death "President Kennedy died at one p.m. Central Standard Time, two o'clock Eastern Standard Time, some 38 minutes ago" [link to video].
An excellent short compilation of excerpts from CBS's coverage of the unfolding events is [link]ed through KTHV-CBS 11 Little Rock, Arkansas [link], from which I also swiped the picture above.  The video contains a little over five minutes of excerpts from coverage that would have begun some time after the event and doubtless would have continued uninterrupted from that point for the next fifty minutes until the announcement of the President's death.  In the memory of a child it would all be conflated into one event, especially given the shock that certainly would have been my mother's reaction, along with the rest of the nation, during those minutes.  Even that young, I had to know that this was Something Important.

And so I continue to maintain that the JFK Assassination is, indeed, my "first clear, specifically dateable memory."

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