Fifty years. Fifty years.

It was a Friday then too: November 22, 1963.

We used to cross the street to Rowland School,  duck behind the curtain and I’d watch my father complete his ballot. Always pre-dinner back then—polls closed earlier — and I loved it. Just me and my Dad—arguably the Jewish version of Andy and Opie whistling on the way to the fishin’ hole. Father and son. A memory.

They used pencils “in the day”, and this sixth-grader, lapel beaering the JFK button secured on the playground. well understood as his old man marked X for Nixon. Yes, as he’d heard quite often, Sgt. Albert J. Bogart served with Ike in “The Big One”.

It would be our last presidential election shared at the polls. Four years later both the parents’ marriage and John Kennedy were dead and our father, selling ties on the road, voted somewhere for Goldwater. Bank on it.

Does anyone our age not remember where he was, what he felt, or what transpired that weekend? That weekend in ’63…when suddenly the word “Dallas” meant more than an expansion franchise!

Typing class….Mr. Gonz….The PA system sounded….The President was shot—-that’s all we were told…

Go home, they directed.  2pm, give or take. Go straight home.

Walking up the hill—from the school to Green Road—and kids were talking about whether the Russians would attack…

I hold memories.

—As my dad did. He was playing football December 7 when Marv Melamed interrupted at the schoolyard with the news of Pearl Harbor.

—And as my son does, of being new to New York, and on Manhattan streets 9/11.

I hold memories.

Dismissed early. Where was Harold? There was Katie, as I walked in the house—our “cleaning lady” not cleaning but crying—tears falling for a man she then told me was gone.

Grandma Cele called. Was everyone OK?. They’d arrested the killer. “Thank God he wasn’t Jewish!” she said.

We stayed home that Saturday. Weren’t allowed outside, said our mother. (Dad barely out of the house, we still couldn’t play catch on High Holidays. This MUST be big, I figured).

And on Sunday: Well…let’s put things in context. This was the worst weekend of the worst time of our mother’s life—her year of divorce. In an era when people stayed married, she’d opted out. To her family, there sat poor Elaine and her boys. Alone. And so it was that Cousin Sam, ticket-taker at the stadium, suggested we come down for the game. (The NFL, unlike the upstart AFL, had chosen to play that day. The nation may have mourned but the owners chose to market).

I hold memories.

We were on the CTS Special en route to the lakefront when another passenger, radio in hand, started shouting. Someone shot Oswald. (I heard it standing up, my hand clutching a silver pole, somewhere on Mayfield Road).

I recall learning it was a guy named Ruby and how I thought he sounded Jewish and how I figured this would be good because he killed the bad guy.

I recall still that Monday, the day of the funeral and school was cancelled. Three times in my life, (maybe less) I’d been to Myers’ home. But I was there that day, in his den, watching…They were playing Stratego, he and Cohn, but I passed.

And then it was over—the weekend— for me.

Not once, ever, did my mother discuss it. Not once, ever, did my father discuss it. (although Yes, he had harsh words for Mark Lane years later). Perhaps there was nothing to say. After all, our mom was struggling and our Dad was part-time. Hal and I? We were innocent and maybe naïve—but reasonably happy.

I think of this now, all of it, as I have for some weeks. Media replay it; I can’t but relive it….

Both JFK’s death and our family’s demise…

In the eyes of the Bogart boys that year, two pillars had fallen.

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