There are times when newspapers are “keepers.” The Butler Eagle last week gave us a series of editions to put away for future generations to learn from.
The JFK assassination memories written by fellow Butlerites will be filed away by many readers who held onto editions from those dark days in November 1963.
However, one memory, written by “Shirley” from Middlesex Township I found disturbing. She wrote that she was in the seventh grade at Slippery Rock Junior/Senior High and remembers “some kids cheering” the assassination. I was a senior in Mr. Love’s calculus class at Butler High when the news broke, so there is a five year difference in age between Shirley and me.
It is still vivid in my mind that most Butler students were weeping, especially the girls.
I personally believe this account by Shirley never happened.
For only a second, I will give her the benefit of the doubt. Show a 12 year-old and a 17 year-old the same traumatic event and you can expect to hear two very different stories, especially after five decades.
But, this was 1963 when teachers still had an open hand at controlling what went on in their classrooms.
Cheering the assassination of the President of the United States would have brought teacher’s hands grabbing student’s collars, and said students would be dragged promptly out the front door. They probably would have been told; “Get out of here! We’ll tell you when to come back.” This discipline is something Shirley certainly would have remembered.
But what is really disturbing about Shirley’s writing is when she adds, “I knew we lived in a Republican era ... ,” knowingly or unknowingly connecting the distasteful, never-ending political battles of today to this sad moment in American history.
Does Shirley subscribe to and enjoy adding fire to the “join us or we will destroy you” battles going on every day in polities.