What I remember about the Kennedy assassination

Tuesday, November 20, 2007 at 21:03 | Posted in History, Personal | 3 Comments

Laurie wrote a comprehensive article about what she remembers about the assassination of US president John F Kennedy. She also has a good coverage of the historical event and its background. I remember, too, how I learned about it.

Due to the time difference caused by Earth’s rotation, at the hour of the shots the time in Helsinki would have been 8.30 p.m. So normally we would have heard about the assassination in the 9 o’clock news in TV. We used to watch those and we had little chance not to: at the time there were only two TV channels in Finland and just to be on the safe side, both of them broadcast the 9 o’clock news simultaneously.

But since we had no idea about what had happened we were apparently not watching TV that evening. Maybe we had guests or something. We frequently had quests on Friday evenings and they had a lot better time playing canasta than watching TV.

Canasta was a big hit in early 1960’ies and I, six years old at the time, would have been likely to stand at the table watching my father’s hand. I learned to play canasta before I went to primary school. I may even have secretly shown my father which card to play. It was his own fault if he did not believe me, I occasionally also peaked at other players’ hands.

Canasta or not, we were sitting at our breakfast table on Saturday morning as my father opened the newspaper. Much to surprise for my mother and myself, daddy shouted out loud. My two kid sisters were too young to be surprised that our father screamed. Both of them were screaming all the time. My third kid sister was not born yet.

Father then ran to our lodgers’ room. We were hiring out a room for two American mormon missionaries. There were hoards of mormon missionaries in Helsinki back then. They were trying to save our souls. We did not let ourselves be saved but we did not mind their rent money. With three kids and a mortgage to pay the family needed every penny we could get.

So father ran to their room without knocking and shouted “Kennedy has been murdered, Kennedy has been murdered”. The mormons were still sleeping and did not first understand a word of dad’s noise.

It took them a while to wake up. As soon as they understood what father was trying to tell them they kept repeating that they did not believe it. Eventually they had to as dad showed them the paper. Due to their missionary activities, both of them were fluent in Finnish, thus able to read the paper.

As we left the mormons to conduct their prayers I would finally get to know what had happened and what it meant. I was much less politically aware at age six than I would be a few years later. Alas, I had no idea who Kennedy was. I knew that USA probably had a president just like most other countries. I thought that even monarchies like Sweden would have one, an error to be corrected soon.

While that Saturday morning was not exactly the end of my childhood, it took away much of my childish innocence. I learned that some people shoot others, even for such a silly reason as politics. It took me many more years to realize that there probably was something more than just politics behind the Kennedy assassination.



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  1. Thanks for the link to my blog, my Estonian friend. I’ve missed your acerbic remarks!! I trust your trip was stellar, yes?

    Details please!!!


  2. I was indisposed due to ill health a few days which is why I have quite a lot of unfinished business piled up. But I’ll get to those details eventually.

  3. […] olen juba pikemalt meenutanud oma ingliskeelses […]

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