Grandma Says..

Observations and views from a different set of eyes

The Day We All Remember


Fifty years ago and yet, I remember it as clearly as if it was yesterday.  I was sitting in history class when the classroom door opened and the Principal of our school beckoned our teacher out into the hallway.  A few moments later, the two returned with grief stricken faces and announced to the class that our President had been shot. Tears streamed down our teacher’s face as he announced we were to pack up our things…school was cancelled for the rest of the day.

We filed out of the school and headed home.  I was only thirteen but I felt the loss of our nation’s leader along with the rest of my classmates.

Students walked home slowly with solemn faces.  When my sister and I arrived home, our parents met us with the news that our President had died.

For three days, the nation stopped and we watched.  The days were spent in front of the television as the details of the assassination of John F. Kennedy were played out and history unfolded itself in front of our eyes.  Television cameras recorded the grief of a nation; the shooting of Oswald and the final goodbye to our president.

Over the years, I have never met anyone who doesn’t remember where they were and what they were doing when they heard of President Kennedy’s death.  We all remember and we all feel sad every year on the anniversary of the assassination of our President.

But, the picture that stands so clearly in my mind is not one of the vivid recordings of the shooting of the President, or the shocking scene of Lee Harvey Oswald’s death, or the long funeral procession.

The picture I associate with the overwhelming sadness and the grief we all experienced, as one nation, over those three days is the picture of a three year old son saluting his father…saying Goodbye.


I imagine that as my generation passes on that the memories and stories of where we were and what we were doing will become lost and forgotten.  There will be no one left to describe the pain and the sorrow the nation felt on that awful day we lost our President.

But I remember. Yes, it was fifty years ago…but I remember.



Valentine’s Day – Not Just Another Hallmark Moment


Valentine’s Day is here!  Little one’s are bringing their valentines for their teachers and classmates; woman are wondering what their lovers have in store for them and men are storming the stores to get the perfect gift for their girl.  Romantic dinners will abound, jewelry will be presented with the long-awaited question of “Will you?” and chocolates presented in velvet red boxes will be consumed by the tons.  Oh, yes, love is in the air!

But, who started this festival of love?  Well, against popular belief, it wasn’t Hallmark.  Valentines Day traditions started centuries ago and are celebrated in many countries.

The most popular legend of how Valentine’s Day started dates back to around 270 A.D., with a priest named Valentinus.  Now, the priest was imprisoned for thumbing his nose at the Roman Empires laws regarding soldiers marrying and he also had the nerve to give aid and comfort to Christians.  This was a big no-no in that day and age.  While he was in prison, he cured his jailer’s daughter, Julia, of her blindness.  Before he was executed, he sent a letter of farewell to her and signed it, “From your Valentine.”  After his death, Julia planted an almond tree in his honor.  And, so it began.  He was later proclaimed a saint and now Valentine’s Day is known as “The Feast of St. Valentine.”

Now, Chaucer was the first to write about this day of love in 1392 in his poem, “Parlement of Foules” where he wrote “For this was on St. Valentine’s Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate.”  It’s been argued that February is too soon for birds to be mating; if you were born in November or you know someone who was, count back the months.  Someone was feeling the love in February!

In the 1700’s a publisher issued a book titled “The Young Man’s Valentine Writer” for those guys that couldn’t think up their own Valentine greetings for their gals.  Printers had started printing a few cards and verses known as “mechanical valentines.”  This started the card industry as we know it today.  Over the years, paper and lace cards were replaced with mass produced Valentines and now we have e-cards flooding cyberspace.

In the second half of the 20th century, cards were no longer enough.  The practice of giving candy, flowers and other gifts became the norm.  The 1980’s ushered in the jewelry industry pushing their diamonds as a must have for women with serious lovers.

So, guys, when you’re putting a dent in that charge card, you can blame St. Valentine.  And, ladies, while you’re flashing your diamonds; you can look to the heavens and thank the man who started it all with a simple “From your Valentine.”


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