It was 2:00 pm EST Friday, November 22. 1963 and I was in class when the PA system interrupted Sr. Eileen Marie scolding me for something; the voice of our Principal was choked up with grief!
BREAKING NEWS! This Nation's 35th President, a Roman Catholic young man had been shot in Dallas, Texas by Lee Harvey Oswald! Within minutes television sets were rolled into our classroom and the venerable Walter Cronkite tearfully gave us an update - PRESIDENT JOHN FITZGERALD KENNEDY has died of two massive bullet wounds to the head. For many years Americans were asked "Where were you when you heard that Kennedy had been shot?
I was in the fourth grade at St. Sebastian's Catholic School in almost all Irish Woodside NY where just about every household had a Crucifix, a picture of the Virgin Mary, Pope Paul VI and Pope John XXIII (just canonized) who died just five months earlier, and among this sacred symposium was a picture of our young first Catholic Irish President John Fitzgerald Kennedy.
Since the Cuban missile crisis a blunder by President Kennedy's assault against the Cuban Dictator Fidel Castro, we were quite accustomed to frequent air raid drills. The Nuns would order us to hide under our open desks which would be impervious to the unsuspecting Russian Commies and if all possible, consume every consecrated wafer, which is the body of Christ, while we get our throats cut and die a martyr which spells an express ride to Heaven!
I remember my school uniform navy blue pants and tie on a starched white shirt which at only 55 lbs whenever a strong wind came by I would extend my arms and fly like a kite! My mother Sylvia collapsed from shock and grief and actually taken to Elmhurst General Hospital by my father Donald Burriesci, a staunch Republican who voted for Richard Milhous Nixon (with a middle name MILHOUS so eloquent, why would anyone fail to include that in lieu of Richard "Tricky Dick" Nixon).
I can not recollect the sounds of air raid drills but I remember the most trusted stoic newsman of all time showing his deep emotion over the air waves announcing that President Kennedy indeed had died.
I was in the St. Sebastian's Boys Brigade under Mr. Edward Fowley and we were called to meet the next day at the church to organize a solemn parade down Roosevelt Avenue marching west through Irish Sunnyside to the Sunnyside Gardens on Bliss Street returning on Roosevelt Avenue (under the el of course) marching east into Jackson Heights predominantly Jewish at the time and coming back west down Woodside Avenue ending at Doughboy Park for a Benediction service by our new Pastor Fr. Edward Lodge Curran (with a name like LODGE we can not be remiss).
Nothing for a week was on TV (alternate TV was not heard of then) just the solemn funeral service of JFK. Even the pagans could not get the tune "Holy God We Praise Thy Name" out of their heads!
President Kennedy was on the verge of being reelected to a second term and he had an agenda. I can speculate based on my knowledge of history two major factors would have made history a bit different had he finished his second term:
1) VIETNAM WAR would have ended so much sooner
2) HUMANS LAND ON MARS! By today deep into the 21st Century we would have already landed on Mars and established a colony on the moon. He was a avid supporter of the Space program. He was a visionary and history has long reminded us time after time again that visionaries die young and often violently
RICHlE, BACK IN WOODSIDE, NY RECALLS THE MURDER OF A PRESIDENT FIFTY YEARS AGO!
RICHIE BURRIESCI the Roving Reporter and Journalist presents
BE THEY BARBARIANS, PLUNDERERS OR MARAUDERS, THE VIKINGS BROUGHT US PANTS!
General Custer and his 7th Cavalry may have died with their boots on but a thousand years earlier the Vikings died with their pants on!
Who would think that Leif Eriksen may have been a better tailor than a seafarer! Indeed buck naked, male or female in our birthday suits all look the same throughout history except Adam and Eve who both had no belly buttons, but costumes have changed. The history of pants owes its origins to horseback riding. It has long been said that "Necessity is the mother of invention". Then one can deduce that more Vikings rode horses than did the Romans who were known to march twenty miles a day, we are talking about the Roman legionaires. Do barbarians put in one leg at a time? Some bad things have been said about the Norsemen but based upon their habit of assimilation then we can assume they did so ergo the universe remains in order. Today, billions and billions of human beings male and female alike wear pants or trousers as non-Americans call them. The first American president #7 to wear pants forgoing the breeches of our founding fathers was Andrew Jackson and forever since they wore pants. J. Edgar Hoover, the first Director of the FBI was known to wear dresses behind closed doors. Scots prefer their kilts and the Eastern world is tending to revert back to tunics such as Jesus Christ wore. Somehow I can not picture Jesus in a zoot suit nor Al Capone in a Roman toga. Although both Washington and Lincoln have been portrayed by artists in legal Roman garb that appears quite prestigious. Yet Lincoln would almost be unrecognizable in anything other than the black suit and white starched shirt and ascot. History should not repeat itself to bring back a fur-paw of the 1970's when I was a teenager. Heaven forbid they ever bring back POLYESTER!