Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

News

November 21, 2013

Reliving the tragic, defining moment of our lives

Longtime Andover resident Bob Dennis was living in the South Shore town of Milton when Kennedy’s assassination shook the country. Dennis, a retired investment manager, and his wife, who works at UMass Lowell, now split their time between Andover, where they have had a home since 1986, and their waterfront home in Kennebunkport, Maine.

Here are his recollections of Nov. 22, 1963:

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President John F. Kennedy was loved and revered in our home. He was so young, so handsome, so charismatic, so eloquent, and he was one of us, a Bostonian. The president, with his glamorous first lady and their two little children, infused the White House with a style that we had not seen before and haven’t seen since. Inspired by him, it seemed that a new era of youthful exuberance was at hand. Nevertheless, as Kennedy’s third year in office was ending, he was facing a tough reelection fight in 1964 and so, a political fence-mending trip to Texas was planned.

As I left for school in Milton on the morning of Friday, Nov. 22, 1963, the weather was typical for late November, with temps in the 50s. The school day was uneventful until rumors began to spread in early afternoon that something terrible had happened to the president. Then, while in Miss Nelson’s English class, our last class of the day, our principal announced the news over the loudspeaker, first that the president had been shot and then that he was dead.

Perhaps because I was so shocked and upset, I can’t recall the mood or what was said on the school bus ride home. Upon arriving home, my mother (who had been watching the CBS soap opera “As the World Turns” when it was preempted by Walter Cronkite’s now-famous “Special Bulletin”) and I watched the sad, historic afternoon unfold on the TV. A friend from up the street came over and, although I didn’t really want to, we went outside and, with hardly any words being spoken, threw a football back and forth for a short time.

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