50 years later JFK’s death serves as touchstone event
Staff Reports Claremore Progress
Everyone knows where they were.
Touchstone moments throughout history serve as reference points for our lives.
For the Greatest Generation, the Day that Lives in Infamy revives memories of the call to defend freedom, following the bombing of Pearl Harbor by Japan.
Oklahomans can instantaneously tell you where they were on April 19, 1995 when the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was bombed and hundreds of lives were lost.
So it is for Baby Boomers, the day shots rang out on Dealey Plaza and President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.
For Rogers County residents, JFK’s death serves as a touchtone moment that can never be forgotten.
John David Wolf
“I was in homeroom in sixth-grade at Patrick Henry Elementary School in Tulsa, when they announced over the P.A. system what had happened (the Kennedy assasination). I seem to recall they let us out of school early because of the President being killed,” said John David Wolf, owner/partner, Wolfe Productions A Gallery of the Arts, Claremore. “At the time, I didn’t fully understand the impact of what had happened, but looking back, I realize what a sad day it was for our country.”
Mayor Mickey Perry
“I was in high school and we were walking down the hall between classes when one of the teachers told us. We thought it was a joke, but she said, ‘no, it really happened.’ Me and my buddy ran out to the car and turned on the radio. I remember it was just disbelief. This was before the days of social media, of course, so everyone was trying to figure out what was going on. When we got home, we watched it on TV,” said Claremore Mayor Mickey Perry.
JROTC Commander Murry Estabrook
“I was sitting in ninth-grade shop class working on a cypress lamp at West Junior High School in Muscatine, Iowa, when they announced that President Kennedy had been assassinated over the PA. We were instructed to drill from the bottom of the lamp up through the top, but as I heard the news, I started drillling right through the side,” said Claremore High School Navy JROTC Commander Murry Estabrook. “I was frozen, just staring at the drill. Never again in my life have I heard a school that silent.”
“I was a sophomore at Connors Junior College in Warner, transitioning between classes. As I was moving from one class to another, somebody said President Kennedy had been killed,” said Ed Wisslem, admissions clerk at the Will Rogers Memorial Museum. “I remember everyone standing outside in the hall talking about it. Everyone was in shock, in disbelief. It was hard to imagine a young, vibrant President in the prime of his life, just robbed of it all.”
“I was a senior at Eastern Union Community High School in Afton, Iowa. I was in government class strangely enough, when a teacher came in and announced that Kennedy had been assassinated,” said Dean Dowden-Parrott, treaurer at Claremore First United Methodist Church. “If I recall, we did have a TV in the building where students gathered to watch the news of what happened. The girls were crying and the guys were all stunned.”
“I was in the 6th grade at St. Margaret Mary in Harrisburg, Penn. A sister came in the classroom crying and told us the President was dead,” said Jim Blouch, Rogers County Democratic Chairman. “It was a horrible day. My parents could not believe it.”
“We were on a company business trip in Sherman, TX. at the Air Guard base. We had gone out to eat at a local resturant when we heard the news,” said Don Purkey, Claremore city councilor. “Somebody popped off and made a bad remark about the President at a table next to us, so we left quickly before things got out of hand.”