November 22, 1963 (Part II)

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Miss Bromley’s floor was swept and clean, the school week was over and it was time to go home, a daily trip that involved walking a couple of blocks to the corner of Livingston and Smith, where I caught the Flatbush Avenue bus to the corner of Flatbush and Farragut, where I transferred to the Ocean Avenue bus, which took me to Avenue N, around the corner from my home.

And the president of the United States was dead.

It was a long daily commute, and this being Brooklyn, the only daily constant was noise. But on this afternoon, the silence was deafening.

Streets normally filled with honking horns, buses normally jammed with yakking passengers and unruly school kids — everything was eerily silent. Five years later, when Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy would be killed, you would hear cries for violence, and you would see faces that reflected shame and anger. Thirty-eight years later, on September 11, you would hear cries for revenge, and you would see faces that reflected fear and rage.

But on November 22, 1963, the only thing you heard was nothing, and the only face you saw was one of sorrow. You could break down and cry, or you could hold it in. Either way, you felt empty inside. And, even at 13, I knew for sure that the world would never be the same. You had Pearl Harbor, Dad. I had this. Continue reading

November 22, 1963 (Part I)

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I was in Miss Bromley’s art class, which was simultaneously the best and worst 45 minutes of the school week. The best because it was the last period of the week, and the weekend began as soon as the bell rang. The worst because . . . well, because Miss Bromley. If there was a kid in the school who enjoyed the company of Miss Bromley, I’m still waiting for a hand to go up.

Miss Bromley had some sort of handicap. She dragged a leg while she walked, and we all enjoyed making fun of her because what’s the point of being 13 years old if you can’t act like an insensitive jerk? As I recall, Haynes and Ruby did the best Miss Bromley impression. The rest of us laughed. We all knew it was wrong and cruel, but hell . . . we were 13. And besides, it was Miss Bromley. Continue reading