the world I grew up in: 317/365

On November 22, 1963, I was 6 years old. I would have said I was in kindergarten, but it was first grade. When the phone rang, I answered it in the small sitting room off the kitchen. I wasn’t much taller than the phone stand. After my great-aunt gave me the news, I stepped into the hall holding the receiver attached by a cord to the rotary-dial phone, and I looked up and down the hall for a grown-up. All that space above me.

Four and a half years later, I was 11 and downstairs by myself watching TV in the playroom when the show was interrupted with the news that Martin Luther King Jr. had been assassinated. I would have said it was a Sunday evening, but it was a Thursday. The Kings lived in Atlanta. Their children went to the same school I did–Spring Street School. Marty was in my grade. We collected money to send flowers.

Two months later, on June 6, 1968, my father woke me up by sitting on the side of my bed–my room was at the front of the house at the time–to tell me about Bobby Kennedy.

Unlike some of the other things I’ve written about this year, I have written about these events before, but not during this year of true things.


 365 true things about me
why this daily practice

4 thoughts on “the world I grew up in: 317/365

  1. I remember seeing Dr. and Mrs. King standing on the front steps of the school. My parents would see them at PTA meetings. Spring Street School, now the Center for Puppetry Arts, was located in what is now considered midtown.


  2. I remember too. When Marty’s dad was murdered, I was stunned, confused, horrified, more than when President Kennedy was shot. What eleven year old understands a parent’s death any other way, especially that of a classmate’s dad? Several years later I was given a topic in college English to defend or support that our generation was the ‘Me’ Generation. As small children, we saw the man viewed as the father of our country, the president, gunned down. We saw two more shot, one a father of civil rights (along with our more personal connection, Cynthia), and another who was willing to take on the same responsibility as his brother. Then, we were betrayed by a fourth in that office, Nixon. I had to think that through, understand that if my own father acted so, I would be forced to convict him. My heart broke. Our father figures were murdered or betrayed us. Perhaps it made us stronger, more independent, but it definitely squeezed out some innocence early – and turned me inward.

    Beautiful writing, Cynthia; glad to find it. Thanks for sharing.


  3. Naomi, it’s so nice to reconnect after all these years and to hear from someone in my class at Spring Street. As I wrote this post, I was also thinking of the world the children now are growing up in–where anyone, not just public figures, might be gunned down. I’m wondering what sort of long-term effect growing up in this kind of world is going to have. I really appreciate your sharing your thoughts here.


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