By Maria Rocha-Buschel
With the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination coming up, seniors at the Stein Center took a moment earlier this week to tell Town & Village what they were doing when they found out about the historical shooting.
Rose Ackrish had a unique experience to recount of the day’s events. She said that she was walking by a bank that was on the corner of East 17th Street near Union Square Park and it was in the process of getting robbed. She said she then went back to her office to tell her coworkers about the incident.
“I got back and I said, ‘You’ll never believe what just happened,’ and everyone said, ‘We already know,’” she said. “I just thought, how could they know about the robbery? But then someone said that the president had been shot. I never did find out what happened with that bank robbery.”
Neither Rose Montalvo nor Jakob Wasi were in the United States at the time but both said they found out when it happened and everyone around them was in shock. Wasi was attending university in Morocco and had just left a concert when he walked into a grocery store and found out. “None of us were Americans but we were all crying,” he said.
Montalvo was in the Philippines and she said that she remembered seeing it on local newscasts the day it happened. “I always admired JFK and his principles,” she said. “So many people admired him and his family. He was one of the most admired presidents.”
Gloria Otto and Mary Solano recalled that everyone started crying after hearing the news. Otto was eating lunch with her roommates at her apartment in the city with the television on. “We stopped eating (when he was shot) and when it was announced that he died, we were all crying,” she said. “You can’t help it and you just cry and cry.”
Solano said that she was working on the 42nd floor for Seatrain Lines Shipping and the company got the news through the teletype. “They didn’t have computers in those days,” she said. “Everybody was crying after we heard and nobody could talk about it. It was very sad.”
Those who were in New York at the time recalled that the atmosphere in the city changed after the shooting. “The city was so quiet that day,” one senior remembered. “It was like everyone stopped talking.”
Gilbert Weinstein was in Somerville, New Jersey at the time and was in a state of shock after he heard. He was a store manager and after he found out that the president had been shot, rushed home to his wife who was taking care of their two small children.
“My wife was just sitting in the rocking chair, mesmerized and glued to the television,” he said. “Everyone was in shock. The world was in a calamitous state after that.”