On this, the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy, the internet is abuzz with recollections of where people were and what they were doing when they learned the awful news.  Here are mine.

I was an 18 year old freshman at the University of Oregon in Eugene.  On my way to a morning literature class (Shakespeare) in the cold Oregon drizzle, I saw people with their transistor radios clasped to their ears with stricken looks on their faces.  As we listened to  elderly professor, you could see knots of students assembling at the student union building across the street gathering and obviously emotional.  Somebody fainted and others screamed.

The office of the student newspaper was next door to the classroom, and I simply walked out of the class to see what was going on.  The Associated Press teletype machine at the Oregonian office was equipped with a bell that announced important news; five bells was the penultimate, and I heard five bells at least three separate times.  The last time the editor ripped the news flash out of the machine and held it up over the crowd for everyone to see the two words:


When I returned to the class and told them what was going on, the professor dismissed us with the words of Edward Grey:  “The lamps are going out all over Europe and we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.”