A standard question at cocktail parties used to be, “Do you remember where you were when you heard that John Kennedy was shot?” These days, if you’re going to use a tragedy as a conversation starter, you will have updated; you’re more likely to go with, say, 9/11 or Gabrielle Giffords.
Also, those of us old enough to have been suitably traumatized by the events of that dark day in Dallas are also old enough to have impaired memories. If you can still remember where you were, you might be unsure of how it felt when the world stopped in the middle of a school day and the teachers wept.
But when I went through Dallas this week on a book tour, and drove past the site of JFK’s assassination, much to my surprise, out of my cobwebbed emotional memory bank came something I recognized. The feeling was just an echo of its former, powerful self, but there it was, a half-century later, the same profound sadness and bewilderment I felt on 11/22/63.
I did what any rational person would do to offset the blues. I went to Neiman Marcus for some retail therapy. I felt somewhat cheered when I returned to my hotel with a fancy new lipstick.
The tour took me to San Antonio next. Remember the Alamo? Nope. But the grassy knoll? You bet. Forever.