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Selected stories by Dick Whitney

Nov 22, 1963 - A day of loss

As I write this recollection, the 50th Anniversary of JFKs assassination has just come and gone and the memories of that day and the subsequent weekend are fresh in my mind. I was 12 years old and I recall hearing the news while School was still in session at Mary E. Wells Jr. High School.  I recall my teacher saying the Kennedy had been shot, and we were subsequently released from school.

My best friend Jeff McKinstry and I began our walk home, and at that time we were not clear on the condition of the President as we began our 15 minute walk before being able to learn anything more.  When we entered Jeffs house and turned on the TV, soon thereafter we heard of JFKs death. I recall Jeffs reaction was to kick the back of their recliner, thereby putting a large gouge in the back of the fabric of the chair.

We all were stunned a could not turn ourselves away from the television set for that entire weekend.  As has been discussed, I must agree that this Assassination event was the moment that we as a society lost our innocence and led to the cynicism that pervades society since that time. 

That night, I remember watching as the plane landed in DC on its return from Dallas, and watching as the casket was removed from Air Force One.  I also recall watching as Oswald was shot on Live TV and our entire family sitting in disbelief as to what was happening. I subsequently learned that the Husband of a good friend of my mothers, Fred Reinstein, was the NBC Executive who was responsible for airing that Live TV coverage and talking to him about it when we visited him in LA 3 years later.

A few days before the 50th Anniversary of the Assassination, I was asked by a student reporter who was interviewing me about JFK and his visit to Southbridge in 1958, as that image is on my website and I have related info on my website and on display on the Optical Heritage Museum in the Southbridge History display room.


One story which I learned via an American Optical memo given to me a couple years ago pertains to JFKs liking of sample Executive Lenses (bifocals). JFK ordered 3 pair of AO Glass Executive lenses and the order was received at our AO Southbridge Headquarters on the day of his Assassination!!!




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