Gary Glaser, Paramus
Mr. Glaser was only 8 years old. He was in third grade at PS 64 in the Bronx.
“We were in the auditorium for an assembly,” he said. “I remember all of the teachers started to cry. I heard someone say that the president had been killed. You have a different perspective as a child, but I do remember watching it all on TV. You could never forget what happened.”
Marietta Kalin, Hackensack
Ms. Kalin was coming home from Englewood Hospital from her obstetrician’s office with wonderful news of her pregnancy when she arrived at the busy intersection of Palisade Avenue and Dean Street. She saw other drivers, some with mouths agape, others crying.
Ms. Kalin turned on her radio, and when she first heard that President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated, she didn’t believe it. She thought for a moment it was a “War of the Worlds”-type radio prank.
“I thought this can’t be,” she said. “The looks on the faces of the people around me, I just immediately thought of Orson Welles.”
But when she changed the station on her car radio, the news was just as difficult.
“I went from a feeling of elation to utter disbelief,” she said.
Since then, she still has a vivid image of then Vice President Lyndon Johnson being sworn in “with Jackie Kennedy standing next to him. I was stunned, stricken and shaken, and I was really angry about it.”
She said she had been looking forward to Kennedy’s presidency.
“I’ll never forget that car trip,” she said. “I just wanted to get through that intersection.”
Her son Steven will be 50. “I always think of him and JFK,” she said.
Bobby Shor, Hillsdale
Mr. Shor was a 7-year-old second grader at Edison School in Fairlawn when Kennedy’s death was announced via loud speaker in his classroom.
“When I went home we watched it on TV, but we only had like two channels,” he said.
To make it worse, Mr. Shor broke out in chickenpox. There were no cartoons for a child home sick with chickenpox to watch, only Kennedy-related news.
He said that if something like this happened today, every kid would know about it right away, because of the technology available.
Gloria Moskowitz, Mahwah
Ms. Moskowitz was doing the ironing that midmorning, as she had done many times before. She was in front of the TV, watching a soap opera, when a news bulletin interrupted the show. Like the rest of America, she learned the bad news.
“I was devastated,” she said. “I remember my kids were in school. JFK was like the shining light of the world. I didn’t know how I was going to tell my kids. We were so into the Kennedys, their lives and their kids. I remember I had to tell my children in a nice way. I didn’t want to break down.”
But Ms. Moskowitz had even more to deal with. JFK was killed on a Friday and he was buried on Monday, November25. She had a family wedding to attend on Sunday, November 24.
“Everyone wore black at that wedding,” she said. “Everyone looked sad.”
She remembers picking her children, then 8 and 5, up from school. “They kept asking me why it happened.”
“I remember that it messed up that wedding pretty bad,” she said.
But the news for Moskowitz got yet worse when she and her husband returned home from the wedding to learn that her brother-in-law had died suddenly.
Edward Zizmor, Teaneck
Edward Zizmor was 16. He was a junior at Yonkers High School, getting ready to take a Spanish test.
“It was two in the afternoon, and they announced over the loud speaker that the president had been shot,” he said. “Half an hour later, everyone was told to go home. I spoke to my English teacher, who told me that Kennedy was dead.”
It was shocking, Mr. Zizmor added. “You didn’t expect this sort of thing with government.”
Zizmor then was a member of the Young Republicans and an ardent Barry Goldwater supporter. The assassination changed the political landscape, he said.
“Goldwater was running close to Kennedy in the polls,” but after the assassination “Kennedy became like this god,” he said.
Eric Weis, Wayne
“I was in my fifth grade homeroom,” Mr. Weis said. “It was a science lab, a very crude science lab with a big black and white TV in the corner that was used once in a blue moon in those days.”
He said he remembers the teacher turning on the TV set, because it was unusual, “and we saw the news, what had happened.”
Weis added that his school was closed immediately. He still has that visual image of the black and white TV screen in that science classroom.”
Weis grew up in Pittsburgh, Pa. He remembers learning that suspected assassin Lee Harvey Oswald was shot dead, “another horrible thing.
“The United States was falling apart and what are we going to do now?,” he remembers thinking.
Rochelle Lazarus, Tenafly
She was only 5 and in kindergarten when the news came to her school in Ridgefield. A teary-eyed teacher dismissed the class, and she started walking home.
What she noticed – what was branded in her memory – were the crossing guards.
“Each crossing guard was weeping,” she said. “I’ll never forget it.”
The adults – the teachers and crossing guards – told the children to ask their parents what had happened. “We learned as little children about something terrible that occurred outside of regular life,” Ms. Lazarus said.
Sam Davis, Englewood
“I was coming out of the Elisabeth Morrow School in Englewood and was walking up this hill,” Mr. Davis said. “It was a sunny day and the sky was a bright blue, and I was 11. I was in the fifth grade.
Everything seemed normal until he and his classmates got to the top of the hill. That’s where they ran into the waiting arms of their parents.
“My mother was wearing this big black dress and she was crying,” he remembered. “I think that was the first time I had ever seen my mother cry. It was kind of surreal. It was like, ‘oh my God, we’ve just lost someone.'”