When I was sixteen I took the summer off from High School in Paradise, CA and went hitchhiking. I didn’t tell my parents I was leaving so they called the local cops to let them know I was gone. Just a way for my step-dad to cover his ass I suppose, nobody really went looking for me.

It was 1962 and the Soviet nuclear threat hung heavy over our heads with the Cuban missile crisis yet to occur in a few months. I had the attitude that we were all going to die so I might as well see the world first.

One night I was thumbing along the Pacific Coast Highway near Santa Monica and a cabbie who had just finished his shift picked me up. That’s funny because I offer people rides sometimes when I’m out of the bus now. Hey, it’s what we do for a living!

As we drove along the coastline on that warm summer night he pointed to a fancy beach house and said it belonged to some movie star who let President Kennedy use it when he was in town and wanted to get it on with Marilyn. I thought at that moment that I was glad to be there, experiencing life, not just reading about it.

A year later I was back in school sitting in a social studies class when the announcement came over the intercom that the President had been shot. The description of the shooter sounded like my real dad, who was living in Dallas at the time. The teachers were all crying and they told us to leave, school was over. As I walked home that afternoon my brain was swirling. My trust in the government I lived under was dying and it impacted a lot of critical decisions I made later in life.

As details emerged about Oswald I knew it wasn’t my dad, but the pain in my heart never went away. What kind of country was I living in? I had just spent my formative years existing under a Soviet threat of nuclear destruction and my President had the balls to challenge and suppress it, and suddenly he was dead.

As the fifty year anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination approaches, I reflect on the day sadly. I realize now that my life changed at that moment. My step-dad had no advice to me on anything, and I suddenly became anti-everything.

Welcome to the sixties baby, if you were there, you know…

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  1. I was there, in Colorado. My husband was in the military. They wouldn’t let them come home that horrible day that Kennedy told Russia get your missiles out of Cuba or we well blow them out. The only thing he did that hit home with me. You go Kennedy. They moved them out. Sorry it hit you different than it hit me. It made me sad that he was shot, but it didn’t change my life. I still believe he was alive for awhile and that Jackie took him to an Island she bought. She was at that hospital a lot after they said he was dead. I think he was a vegetable but still alive.

  2. I remember the Cuban Crisis. We all watched as three story “golf balls” (fuel containers for Nike Missles) were built on the hill above my High School. As it got to the challenging stage of US vs Russia I was so nervous and frightened I didn’t go to school for two days. I had the Cuban Missle Flu. That was the year I graduated from HS. The next November I awoke getting ready for JC classes when my friend came over crying. I think we spent the day crying and watching Walter Cronkite on TV. As my parents were deaf I had to sign all the news to my folks. The fact that Kennedy and Johnson passed Civil Rights changed my political leanings.

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