The Day The World Stopped (Dedicated To Walter Cronkite)

Kennedy, the Challenger,9/11...
Each ingrained forever in my heart and mind

When, President Kennedy died,
I was sitting
At my Miami Beach
Third grade
Madie Ives Elementary
School desk
Practicing long hand flourishes and slants
My favorite teacher,
Mrs. Rowe teared-up
But ran to help
my baby brother's second grade teacher,
Mrs. Chicquita,
When the news
Caught up with her ears and her heart
Well, SHE simply passed out cold
(President Kennedy had helped
Save her and her family...
Assisting their escape from Cuba
Just before that Bay of Pigs invasion)

The Christian kids
Each taking turns
Led us in prayer
Each school day morning
With a selection from the New Testament
The Jewish ones
Led with a favorite reading from the Old Testament
In the sixties,
We were still allowed to pray…
The Catholic kids
Were seated apart from us all
In the lunch room
So Miss Donnelly
Could be sure they said their blessings right.
There were no black kids
Back then…
Or at least I had never seen or met one…
We all said the Pledge of Allegiance
With our hands placed over hearts
And right after the announcements for the day,
We practiced hiding under our desks
In case a Cuban missile was to attack us.

Newspapers were delivered,
One edition in the morning,
One in the evening and
U.S. Post was delivered the same
Most stores
Were closed on Sunday
And always on holidays
We as children,
Roller-skated round and round the block
After supper
And flew our kites high...
Borrowing our father's fishing poles
To make reeling them in time
For supper a cinch
And when it was 7: 00 pm
We took our baths and
Were sent to read
Our favorite story books
Under the covers
With a flashlight
Purloined from daddy’s utility room

When, President Kennedy died...
The world had stopped
Or so it seemed
In my just turned 8 year mind and heart...
We all stayed home
And, sadly watched
Walter Cronkite
Narrate the evening news
While eating
Our supper
All together
So many came
And prayed
As they filed past
To view
His motionless body
And then they explained,
Yes, he was really dead
Not just play-acting
Like the bad guy actors
Mr. Cartwright
On Bonanza...

(Mountaintop Cottage, Tennessee
July 18,2006)

by Debora Short

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