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home : opinion : columns May 1, 2016

6/23/2013 6:00:00 AM
Column: Where were you a half-century ago?
John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy

Rich Thurlow

It was an out of the ordinary Friday for the fourth-grader at Nance Elementary. His dad had come to the school shortly before class was dismissed the day before, taking the boy and his brother and sister out of class early.

Before the fourth-grader left, Mrs. Diehl asked if anything was wrong. "I think I'm getting cowboy boots," the boy replied.

In the car they found out different. Grandma had died earlier in the day.

All three were back in school that Friday. But there would be no school for them on Monday, when the funeral was scheduled.

As it turned out, there was no school for anyone on Monday.

The class was getting into the after lunch and recess routine when the intercom system buzzed to life. Mr. Cunningham, the principal, had disturbing news: The president had been shot. He was still alive.

The fourth-grader imagined seeing the president on TV later that day, sitting behind his desk, arm in a sling. Cowboys in movies got shot in the arm all the time and got along just fine. Surely the president could do the same.

The students bowed their heads as Mrs. Diehl led a prayer for the president. Phonics was about to resume when Mr. Cunningham's voice crackled through the intercom again, this time to announce that John F. Kennedy had died.

School was dismissed for the day a few minutes later. The mild late-November weather in Clinton, Oklahoma was perfect for playing and school was getting out early, but the kids filing away from Nance Elementary were in a somber mood. It was a quiet parade of students who drifted through the neighborhoods.

The fourth-grader found his older sister and younger brother. Rather than go home, they walked downtown to where Dad worked at Thurlow Music Company on Frisco, the main drag back then even though Route 66 was just a block over.

He greeted us with a sad smile.

"What happens now, Daddy?" the fourth-grader asked.

"I don't know, Rick," he replied. "I just don't know."

Fifty years later, the fourth-grader in that story has a writing assignment for you - if you're up to the challenge and old enough. Tell us what you recall of that day a half-century ago when JFK was assassinated.

The Miner is soliciting your input for this project, which we plan to include in the Nov. 24 edition, a Sunday. We'd love it if you can keep it at 350 words or less, and depending on the response, we'll probably edit in favor of brevity if you don't do it first.

Or you may submit a magical bit of verbiage that we feel like we have to keep intact, even if it's 700 words or more.

A glance at the calendar tells you there is time to complete this homework assignment. We ask that you include your name, a recent photo and contact information with your essay, sending them to life@kdminer.com.

Use "JFK" as the title.

Or you can do it the old-fashioned way, sending your typed, double-spaced story and recent photo to:

Rich Thurlow

Kingman Daily Miner

3015 Stockton Hill Road

Kingman AZ 86401

And if you want to save on postage, you can drop that envelope off at our office on Stockton Hill Road.


I gave you a story from 1963, now I'll offer one from 1965.

The best team in the 11-and-under baseball league was Safeway. By now I was living in Enid, Okla., and starting the first of three straight years of organized baseball on teams sponsored by Coca-Cola.

And Safeway just crushed us the first time we played. I think the final score was something like 24-4.

I was reminded of that on Thursday when I read of the Kingman North Little League team losing 39-8 to Blythe, Calif. North had "one bad night," as their coach, Shawn Stinson, told the Miner's Rodney Haas.

And we had the same sort of night against Safeway. We fell behind, started making errors and mental mistakes and Jerry, our pitcher, couldn't find the strike zone.

In one inning, a whole lot of Safeway players batted twice.

We played Safeway again a month later and won, 4-2. I remember the score, I remember doubling and driving in a run, and I remember Safeway's last at-bats. I don't think they could believe what was happening, and I know I was holding my breath that last inning, not believing myself, but desperately wanting to win.

And then it was over. It seemed like we had done the impossible.

That story is probably small consolation to the North boys on the wrong end of the 39-8 game, but I'm sure Coach Stinson has a similar memory from his playing days.

It's one of the reasons why you play the game.


I don't know how Donna feels about being in the paper, so I'll leave her last name out. But her idea is worth sharing.

Donna writes: It would be nice if you would let local readers submit book reviews of current and older books that are a must read for someone who enjoys a good book. There are numerous readers in Kingman and I think it would be fun to read a good review (not paid for) before purchasing a book.

So there it is. If you've read a book worthy of recommending to all your pals, widen that circle of friends to include the readership of the Miner.

It could be a new book, or one from a few years back. Please make sure, if it is older, that it's still in print.

Short reviews are more likely to be printed, so keep that in mind if you feel a review coming on.

Email your review to rthurlow@kdminer.com, with "Book Review" as the title.

By the way, I used an entire column some months back to gush about Justin Cronin's "The Passage." It's wonderful storytelling of the present and the future after an Army project to develop almost indestructible soldiers turns into a saga that would make Bram Stoker proud.


A few weeks back I touched on the utility company's new practice of letting customers know how they stacked up to their neighbors in terms of energy consumption.

Without any digging, I have surmised that Unisource and its parent company are following orders on some federal mandate. Certainly I can't believe a company would write letters to scold customers for buying too much of the product it sells.

In this case, my knuckles were being rapped for cooling my home and lighting it up brighter than 92 of my 100 nearest neighbors.

Since that time I've fielded several calls, met with a man who came to the Miner, and read emails from people with their own thoughts on the energy consumption letters.

All had good points, especially the one woman who lives with six other people in a home with lots of TVs and computers and a thermostat that sits at 77. Compare me with similar households, she told the power company (and I'm paraphrasing liberally here), not with the retirees next door who are spending the summer in Oregon.

What I think this is eventually leading up to - barring a political upheaval - was best expressed by one visitor. The utility company, he said, is going to turn off your power when you've hit the point where, according to Washington, consumption has gone beyond your "fair share."

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Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, July 11, 2013
Article comment by: Capt. Nice

I remember the day well and it also upset me, but being a Republican I can honestly say that Mr. Kennedy is probably rolling in his grave.
A lot of the old time Democrats are probably rolling in their graves after seeing what the present president has done and is going to do.

Posted: Saturday, July 6, 2013
Article comment by: Amaryllis Smith

I was a sophomore at Cortez High in Phoenix and had gone to the home of a friend along with another friend. We had turned on the TV and it was announced. We got back to the school and went to our next class and informed our teacher. He told that was nothing to be joking around about and as he was scolding us the announcement began over the intercom. He apologized and the rest of the day was a solemn one. We had lost one of the greatest presidents of time. I too remember the 3year old John Kennedy saluting as his father's body passed.

Posted: Thursday, June 27, 2013
Article comment by: Bush George (part) II ....that WAS my last name, wasn t it? Aw,.shucks.

I was young and still a half decade away from rampant cocaine and alcohol abuse. Everyone knows how I avoided Nam (the only rice paddies I saw were around the Gulf coast and they didn't let me bomb them, although my pal and fellow DUI specialist Dick Cheney kept telling me there's money in it). Eventually - as everyone also knows - I became President, and all those religious fundamentalists who thought they were getting a Hero Of The Faith misunderestimated what Skull & Bones were all about.

Posted: Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Article comment by: biker randy

@Pat Jones, there is no comparison other than being a President between Jack Kennedy and Barack Obama, other than the fact they are both Democrats.

At the time Kennedy was alive, compared to the liberal Democrat party today, Kennedy looks like a conservative. I didn't vote for Kennedy, but I was still stunned that an American President could be assassinated when it happened.

If you believe Obama isn't doing as he said he would, CHANGE this USA from what it was when he got in control, you are blind. Change is a generic word. Too many voters gave Obama a blank check not once, but twice.

If and when a non-Democrat president comes into office, they will spend their every hour trying to dismantle the crapola Obama/Democrat Party has foist on this country.

If this USA doesn't see the light and go back to the values it used to have, I'm glad my years alive are numbered.

Posted: Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Article comment by: Bush George .....

I was in Dallas at the time, on the phone with the FBI as a matter of fact. I won't disclose details here, but will tell you some other things..... My Zapata Oil Company - the same oil company for which the Bay of Pigs operation was code-named, and on whose platforms tons of cocaine were stashed on its way to America's future criminal justice victims) bought out Hinckley Oil Co. (which was losing millions on their dead wells), and before you know it, they were making millions! Oh, that kid of theirs did shoot Ronald Reagan, but we're talking about John Kennedy here, so yáll shut up now. Oh, wait a minute, it's my son who talks like that, since I'm from Kennebunkport way up there in Maine. Well, all you need to know is that Lee Harvey Oswald lost his marbles one day and took out JFK, the Vietnam War was for your freedoms, and the moon is made out of mozzarella cheese.

Posted: Monday, June 24, 2013
Article comment by: anonymous anonymous

There are many suspects of who really was behind Kennedy assassination, guess many are deceased now and awaiting judgment, was Kennedy a saint, no man is, but he was warned to stay out of Texas, since someone suspected a plot was afoot to take his life or do him harm! Doubt the truth will ever come out who was behind his murder, the alleged assassin was killed in police custody by a Mafia soldier dying of cancer, many witnesses died under mysterious circumstances, one thing for sure no one escapes Gods judgment!

Posted: Monday, June 24, 2013
Article comment by: V Stokes

"Wasn't G. W. Bush head of the CIA in those days?"

Only missed it by about 14 yrs. Btw..that was George H. W. Bush.

Posted: Monday, June 24, 2013
Article comment by: Pat Jones

I was in college when Kennedy was assassinated. It was a very sad day for this country. I just find it sad that if this happened today, the people of Mohave County would be in the streets dancing to the news Obama was assassinated. What has become of our country that people would celebrate the shooting death of the President. You people talk about love of country. If you ask me, you would be no better then Edward Snowden.

Posted: Monday, June 24, 2013
Article comment by: biker randy

I was in a classroom @ Orange Coast College when another student came by and told us the President had been shot. I was stunned. This is 1 of the few things in my past I can vividly remember.

Posted: Monday, June 24, 2013
Article comment by: A SHOCKING Day End of innocence.

We were in high school, here in Kingman, and had just left campus for lunch at the old A&W Drive In when Jimmy Carl Duncan drove up and asked if we knew the President had been shot. We were stunned. When we went back to school classes were quiet and there were many sad faces. Thus began a week of being glued to our black and white TV's and all the chaos that the murder of a President entails. That was the beginning of the loss of innocence for those of us born in the 1940's and it is clearly engrained on my brain after all these years.

Posted: Monday, June 24, 2013
Article comment by: Jerry Fletcher

@ anonymous anonymous

People believe it because it's true.

Wasn't G. W. Bush head of the CIA in those days?

Posted: Monday, June 24, 2013
Article comment by: A tad to early

In 63 I was in my crib fast on my way to becoming a fat little baby boy. As I sucked my bottles and filled daipers. I had no clue the world changed somewhere between my last nap and my next bottle.

Of course now I know more about Kennedy's death than I want to. We will never know who did it or for what reason. Its been boiled down to a point that if you read long enough Any story starts to make sence.

The world is a better place due to J.F.K. Its a shame he never saw any of his work come to fruition. I felt the same when I watched Bobby Kennedy bleed to death in a hot kitchen. He too never saw the results of his work.

They share that with Lincoln...Robbed of seeing the results his life was taken for to achieve.

Even missing J.F.K's asassination lead me to learn how he effected my life from nearly day one. Bobby effected all our lives without having to be the President.

Posted: Sunday, June 23, 2013
Article comment by: Frances Perkins

It's a scary thought, Rich, that you and I are the same age. I was in a catholic school, Fourth grade, when a nun came to the door of the classroom after lunch. She whisperd to our nun, and both started crying. The kids did not know why. Then our teacher told us. We went next door to the 5th grade classroom that had a TV, and the news was on. About 10 minutes later the announcement came over the PA system that we were dismissed early, in ten minutes. Walked home and every TV was on with news.

Posted: Sunday, June 23, 2013
Article comment by: Moderately Independent

@ AN

"We lost much more than a President on that Friday in Dallas."

No truer words were ever written concerning this man...but I'm afraid your comment may be lost on some misguided souls.

I was also young, 10 years old, when Kennedy was assassinated, but I remember watching him and Nixon when the Presidential debates were conducted and was amazed by his "cool" factor...no not an idol worship type cool, but the guarded self confidence that he had.

After he was elected I felt we were a nation that could do anything...and for awhile we did in many respects. His leadership was an inspiration to me and I wish some of our present day "leaders" would take a page from his playbook.

Posted: Sunday, June 23, 2013
Article comment by: V Stokes

"One boy, who probably wasn't motivated by anything really ideological, said loudly out in the quad area, "Good! They got Kennedy!" One of my teachers, a tall man with bad breath, grabbed the boy and slammed him into the lockers and shouted something like, "You won't talk about the President like that!""

Of course that happened...because 13 y/o boys are so very involved in politics, right?

You have to stop this stuff...it makes my chest hurt from laughing....

Posted: Sunday, June 23, 2013
Article comment by: David Gaither

Anson's Nephew wrote:

"We lost much more than a President on that Friday in Dallas."

Yes we did! We actually lost one of the last patriotic Democrats, the likes of which have not appeared since!

Posted: Sunday, June 23, 2013
Article comment by: Linda Athens

I remember very vividly that day. I was in the living room vacuuming a striped brown carpet, had the TV on and had a toddler daughter sitting on the floor and a 3 month old son in a bassinett in the room with me.

It was on Maple Street in Kingman, a little house we had rented from my aunt. As I vacuumed, glancing up at my daugher and the screen every few minutes, I heard Walter Kronkite's voice come on. Turning the vacuum off, I stopped to listen and he made the announcement Kennedy had been shot.

I believe he had just a long sleeved shirt on, no jacket. I remember the look on his face. I was just stunned, called my Mother immediately at work and then sat down on the floor with the kids and started watching for a very long time.

My recollection is that there had been a Johnny Carson quiz show on, "Who Do You Trust?" maybe that they interrupted. Tennessee Earnie Ford also had a daily show and it was my practice to watch both of them as I cleaned and took care of these two kids.

My family were all JFK devotees so they were very grieved. I watched it non stop, remember many details including the shooting of Lee Harvey Oswald. Etched in my memory is the funeral with little John John saluting.

Posted: Sunday, June 23, 2013
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

I was posted to the Embassy in Berlin when we received the news in the early evening. It was a tense few days as the world waited to see what the United States was going to do. The reaction of Berliner’s was astounding going from tears when they spoke to us to not allowing an American to buy a meal in a restaurant.

That weekend the BBC’s show “That Was the Week That Was” did an amazing, heartfelt tribute to Kennedy – something I still have in my audio library.

We lost much more than a President on that Friday in Dallas.

Posted: Sunday, June 23, 2013
Article comment by: pl .....

I was 13 and in 7th grade when the news reached campus. One boy, who probably wasn't motivated by anything really ideological, said loudly out in the quad area, "Good! They got Kennedy!" One of my teachers, a tall man with bad breath, grabbed the boy and slammed him into the lockers and shouted something like, "You won't talk about the President like that!" He even began stuttering with anger (and he did not normally stutter), and was never fired afterwards.

Posted: Sunday, June 23, 2013
Article comment by: anonymous anonymous

I remember watching this on a television, in fact one of them old ones that first come out, black and white, with the tiny screen, was young but bewildered why my mother was crying a democrat, my dad was not crying but seemed shocked, did not say much, other than how terrible his assassination was for America! Maybe one day someone will figure out how his assassin was shot in police custody, why so many to this day think the CIA and Mafia and others unknown to this day were all involved! Many to this day believe it was America's first violent coup!

Posted: Sunday, June 23, 2013
Article comment by: Lost In America on the right wing

"What I think this is eventually leading up to - barring a political upheaval - was best expressed by one visitor. The utility company, he said, is going to turn off your power when you've hit the point where, according to Washington, consumption has gone beyond your "fair share.""

And all was said over a bowl of Cocoa Puffs.

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