The Charles Joseph Larkin

Family Memory

His granddaughter Kathi wrote this to her dad

President John F. Kennedy's Assassination Defines my Generation

By Kathi Larkin, October 23, 2011

Hi Dad,

I see the Kennedy assassination as the defining moment of my generation -- I mean, you ask anyone my age what they were doing when Kennedy died and they will usually be able to give you a vivid description.

Here's mine....

I was seven years old and in 2nd grade at Fleischmann's Elementary School in the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York. Mrs. Menzies, our teacher, was a pretty young widow with a young baby girl and an aged mother at home. She was devoted to us and was a bright and glorious flower on that gloomy day. 

We were making little log cabins out of popsicle sticks and glue...and I was gazing out the window at the gray day...the early snowfall was dropping huge fluffy flakes on the playground dotted with dark elm was so dark that the lights were on in the classroom and I could also see my reflection in the glass...a little red-headed girl with tight braids and missing front teeth.

The train set on the window sill, made of cardboard, had each of our 19 names written on a separate boxcar. Our reward: a piece of penny candy for every A on a spelling test. I was pleased to see my boxcar was already full, and there were still weeks to go until Christmas and we would get our prizes.

Suddenly, the loudspeaker began to crackle with static and then the principal Mr. Miller's voice came through clearly but weak and wavering. "Everyone...I want you to put your heads on your desks and pray...the President has been assassinated." 

Mrs. Menzies burst out crying and put her head on the desk...we stared at each other for a moment, each mouthing...what is assassination?

And then realizing that if our teacher was crying, whatever it was bad...and we bowed our heads, too. 

And the world changed that day.