On the eve of the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, several Santa Clarita community members share their stories of that moment in history.
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“The entire nation was in shock,” said Carl Goldman, co-owner of KHTS.
Goldman was 10 years old at the time of the assassination, but vividly remembers packing into the only classroom with a television at the school to catch a glimpse of the news coverage.
“Back then, all our news came from the radio and seven television stations,” Goldman added. “All of it went with nonstop coverage of the assassination,” he said. “You had an entire nation glued to the tragedy.”
On Nov. 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was part of a motorcade in Texas, where he was shot and killed by a sniper rifle in front of hundreds of people.
Kennedy and his wife were en route to the Dallas Trade Mart, where he was to deliver a speech.
Santa Clarita Residents Remember JFK Assassination
Barbara Cochran, co-host of the KHTS Senior Hour, was cooking dinner when she heard the about the shooting on the radio.
She remembered rushing to turn the television on and watching the news coverage as the president was rushed to the hospital and later pronounced dead.
“I was stunned,” Cochran said. “The world lost an incredible person and the country lost an incredible leader. I feel that he didn’t reach his fullest potential.”
At 43 years old when he was elected to office, Kennedy was the second youngest president of the United States after Theodore Roosevelt.
Kennedy had been preparing to run for president again in 1964, and was on the campaign trail when he was shot.
During his presidency, Kennedy dealt with the Cuban Missile crisis, the American Civil Rights Movement and the early stages of the Vietnam War.
“I remember walking home from middle school feeling safe because he was standing up to Cuba,” said Carole Cliffe, a local children’s author and retired school teacher.
Cliffe was 15 when Kennedy was assassinated. She recalled seeing the news coverage while in the waiting room of a hospital where her sister was receiving surgery.
“We saw coups happening in Vietnam, South America, and other parts of the world,” Cliffe said, explaining her reaction to the assassination. “I thought, how could this happen in America? To see this happen in our country was a total shock.”
“A lot of people said America lost our innocence that day,” said Linda Potter, another retired school teacher.
She had just celebrated her 13th birthday abroad in Spain as she and her family received the news of the tragedy.
“At home, everyone was glued to the news,” Potter added.”We didn’t have access to it. It was really hard being away from friends and family and our country when this was happening.”
KHTS Senior Hour co-host Dr. Gene Dorio, remembers being in class in when he heard about the assassination over the school loudspeaker.
“We had just learned about the assassination of Abe Lincoln,” said Dorio, who was in the seventh grade at the time. “My first thought was ‘Oh my gosh, assassinations still occur?’ That’s how naive I was.”
“Soon after, we lost Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy,” Dorio added. “The reality checks continued for me.”
Jim Ventress, CPO of the Santa Clarita Boys and Girls Club, was a high school freshman at the time of Kennedy’s death.
He described an eerie feeling after learning that the president had been shot and seeing his father cry for the second time in his memory.
“Growing up at the time, I saw the president, his brother and [Martin Luther] King get assassinated within a few years of each other,” Ventress said. “They were all fighting for civil rights. As a minority person, I admired all three gentlemen because they had the guts to do what was right, and they paid for it with their lives.”
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Source: Santa Clarita News