The year was 1963 and there I was, sitting at my desk in Miss Simbonis’ third grade class, wondering if I would be able to get to the next SRA level. SRA [by Science Research Associates, a division of McGraw-Hill Education] was a reading series made up of large cards with a story on one side and questions on the other. Each card had a bright color across the top, a different color for each level. I just loved the aqua color. It was the same color as the washer and dryer we had at home. 

It was a few minutes after 1 p.m. and we were just back from lunch. In those days kids went home for lunch. Every day at noon I raced out of Greenacres School and was home on Montrose Road by maybe 12:07 p.m. Lunch was waiting on the table on the porch where we sat on the green couch and ate our sandwiches watching TV. Inevitably, Mom asked, “Where’s your sister?” I didn’t know. My sister was a dawdler. I sort of pictured her smelling flowers on the way home but really I had no idea. Eventually she showed up. And together we ate our lunch while watching “The Donna Reed Show” at 12 p.m. and “Father Knows Best” at 12:30 p.m.

So there I was, at a little after 1 p.m. in Miss Simbonis’ class, kind of waiting for something to happen, and another teacher opened the door and came in. She whispered something into Miss Simbonis’ ear and Miss Simbonis got a very serious look on her face. The other teacher left.

Then Miss Simbonis looked at the class and said, “Boys and girls, I’m afraid the president has been shot. We are sending everyone home.”

WHAT? How can this happen? I couldn’t believe it. Once again I raced out the door and ran home. When I got there, Mom was sitting on the floor on the porch right in front of the TV. I really don’t remember when my sister arrived. But I do remember sitting in front of the TV with Mom for the rest of the afternoon.

Back then, if you were a kid, the president was the most important person in the whole world. Well, maybe after your Mom. I wonder if it’s the same for kids today?

Linda R. Sittenfeld

SHS class of 1973

Larchmont Acres West, Larchmont

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