Friday, November 22, 2013

Since Kennedy

Those of a certain age have one of these.  Here’s mine:

A sunny midday in November, 350 miles west of Dallas on the hardscrabble turf of Lubbock, Texas, noontime recess.  A spirited schoolyard football game and a bloody knee interrupted by the skinny Cajun kid newly enrolled at Christ the King running breathless onto the field with the declaration the President had been shot.

The Sisters of St. Joseph still wore habits then.  Even the tough ones were tearful, no makeup to soak up the flow of water dripping onto those stiff white boards that spread from collar to bosom.

Not that we wouldn’t smile again.  The Beatles would appear soon, landing at the recently renamed JFK, nee Idlewild, and the Sixties took off, taking us with them.

For John Kennedy, cold warrior, the United States was called upon to bear the burden of a “long twilight struggle.”  To men and women of a certain age — at least to this certain-aged man — the years since 1963 have been a twilight time all their own, always shivering with a frisson of melancholy for the world we lost and the one that might have been.

Why, indeed, did Rice play Texas?

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