“I was in the bakery,” said Phyllis Shaum, who was working at Strauss’ Bakery in Mishawaka. “We got a small TV and they crowded around and listened to it.”
“I worked at The Associates and a group came around and said what it was and someone tried to find a radio and listen,” is how Clair Motts recalls hearing about the president’s death. “But we didn’t get off of work or anything like that. But it was a shocker.”
Hearing each other talk about how they heard the news brought back details long set aside by the women as life moved on.
“It was my first years of teaching at Shipshewana High School,” Phyllis Frey told the group. “It was exactly 2:30 in the afternoon when I think I heard it on the steps going from the lower floor to the second floor. Someone stopped me and told me what had happened. Yes, what a shock.”
Shipshewana went ahead with its scheduled basketball game that night.
“We had a special tribute and turned all the lights off, and I mean that was some kind of dramatic experience,” Frey said. “But yes, you can always remember the date.”
Joan Gary didn’t recall where she was when the news of the president’s death came, but details of the aftermath and the funeral are still fresh.
“I was watching TV when they brought Oswald and that guy (Jack Ruby) shot him,” Gary said. “Now I can’t remember what I done yesterday, but I can remember that,” she added while sharing a laugh with the other seniors around the table.
Gary was born in Boston and had heard as a young child about “Old Joe,” she said, referring to the president’s father Joe Kennedy.
“I took it all in because of the Kennedy family,” she said. “I talked to my girlfriend in Boston. I was in shock, just horrified I think.”