Monday, September 12, 2005


The comment Cowtown Pattie left on an earlier thread set me to thinking. Pattie mentioned “clairvoyant” dreams, which I don’t have - but that is not to say that I have not had terrible visions that later turned out in some way to be true.

Have you ever had a premonition of a terrible event?

My only experience in this area came 42 years ago, and it was , to use Pattie’s term, a doozy...and one that shares her geography, in a way. It concerns an event that is sharply and clearly remembered by almost everyone who was alive and sentient when it took place.

On November 22, 1963, I was a sixth-grader in Massapequa, New York, on the south shore of Long Island. The day was mostly uneventful, a typical blustery late-November day.

Just before lunch, we were studying American history. As part of whatever the hell it was we were doing, we had been looking at old newspapers, many of which were World War II vintage and older.

I distinctly remember looking at a headline from 1945 that said “FDR DEAD” in huge banner type and thinking, “I can’t even imagine seeing a headline that said, ‘JFK DEAD.’” Perhaps I even said it aloud. It was a peculiar, chilling thought.

Later that afternoon we got on our buses to go home, and as we sat in our seats waiting to leave the school, the first ripples and whispers began. Word spread like fire in a match factory: President Kennedy had been shot! Was it true? Was it a bullshit rumor? Having no access to a radio, not a single Man-Jack of us could tell.

By the time I arrived home half an hour later, it was clear that this was no rumor. News of the President’s death was on the radio.

It was surreal. I had, at the time, developed a morbid fascination with the events surrounding Abraham Lincoln’s assassination (thanks in large measure to the Reader’s Digest condensed version of Jim Bishop’s book The Day Lincoln Was Shot). And now here we were, in the midst of the same sort of event, a realization that was horrifying, yet not without its little frisson of perverse excitement.

It was then that I remembered the thought I had had that morning, looking at the newspaper that announced Roosevelt’s death.


It was more than just a little creepy. Had I had a premonition of this terrible event?

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