November 17, 2013 in Features

The Slice: A 1963 day that tested our limits

By The Spokesman-Review
 

I was in the third grade in fall 1963, and here’s what I remember.

My friend Rob Campbell and I were geeked about an upcoming TV show called “The Outer Limits.”

But the first episode scared me. I had to stop watching. Of course, I could not admit that to Rob the next day. So I tried to discuss it as if I had soaked up every second.

Looking back, I suspect he found my day-after review a tad vague.

Though I remember several of my elementary school teachers, I cannot clearly recall the woman in charge of my third-grade class. She had brown hair and wore clothes.

I can picture the ground-floor classroom a little. Seems like the walls were some shade of dark green. And I think we learned the names of the different kinds of clouds.

One day, the teacher asked the class to name the four food groups. Hands were raised. Correct answers were given. Then this little pixie of a girl named Jamie offered “game.”

I lost it.

For reasons that escape me now, I thought that was the funniest thing I had ever heard. Could not stop laughing.

I was still struggling to regain my composure when we moved on from the health unit to another subject. We were taking turns reading aloud from a textbook. When it was my turn, I thought of “game” and erupted in guffaws again.

Can’t recall if I had to go stand out in the hall or what. I seem to remember weakly apologizing to Jamie with some version of “It’s not you, it’s me.”

In the fall of 1963, the Beatles were just beyond the horizon. Navy quarterback Roger Staubach was a big deal. My family had a good dog named Lady.

That’s about all I remember.

Except for this one Friday in November.

Something was wrong with our teacher and the other adults at my school. People were scurrying in and out of the classroom. Whispering and crying. There was a message from the principal over the intercom that did not make any sense.

School was going to be dismissed early. Our parents would be picking us up. They would talk to us.

The walkway leading from East Elementary to the curbside parking always seemed like it went on forever. That day, I guess it did.

Today’s Slice question: Where were you on Nov. 22, 1963?

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