You were not mourning alone, but I rather felt the same way at the time.
I was a first-year English teacher at Oxford High in the fall of 1963. I had hung a small picture of President Kennedy on the rear wall of my homeroom. I did not think of it as a political statement; I thought of it as something that was a fitting decoration. What would be more fitting in a classroom than our president’s picture? Yes, I thought of him as a person whose direct gaze would encourage and inspire me, the beginning teacher. Now I realize that I was, indeed, making a political statement.
During lunch one day, the word got around the school that the president had been shot. When I went into my fifth-period, 9th-grade class, somebody had drawn a nice, big, black mustache on the face of the fallen president. An answering political statement.
That simple, sneering reaction marked me more tellingly than the time next year when one of my 11th-grade students pushed another teacher’s car out of the parking lot and off over an embankment.
I believe that I never again felt fully at home in my hometown of Anniston or my home state of Alabama — although moving to Kentucky in 1973 wasn’t much of an improvement, particularly since Mitch McConnell took hold of the state. (At least I’m in Louisville, which may be the hotbed of the Democrats in the South.)
In an aside, a few minutes ago, I took down a similar picture of President Kennedy from my bedroom wall to wash off its dusty white frame. The old dime-store picture is about 6 inches by 8 inches with a white, plastic frame sporting decorative curly-cues. As a comment on the passage of time, there is still a faded sticker on the back of the picture — 17 cents.
Lynda Ann Miller