They might have been isolated from world events in their own little school universe, but the children at Pilot Mountain did hear about the assassination of President John F Kennedy before they got on the bus to go home that afternoon. Their teachers told them. There was no public address announcement to the entire school. The teachers spoke personally to their students.
The principal's wife was in the hospital with a new baby watching the news unfold on the tv. She called the school, but the principal wasn't in the office. He was busy teaching his seventh/eighth grade combination class. There was no full time principal in this school, never in all its thirty years of existence. The principal's classroom was across the hall from the office and a dependable eighth grade student would hurry over whenever the phone rang and take a message. On this day, though, I wonder if the wife gave a message to the student. Or did she demand to speak to her husband? I'll need to ask.
I do know that each person has his own very private memories of that moment in history. They remember disbelief. Shock. Blame, mostly blame. Who would do such a horrible deed? What if it were...unspeakable thoughts ran through their minds that day and that memory haunts them as much as the death of the president. What if it were a person from the south, angry about the direction this president was taking the nation in regards to civil rights? There, they said it aloud to me in several interviews. There, forty some years later, spoken fears of the first few hours after the tragedy.