100 Things About Me #122

Continued From: "100 Things About Me #121," part of the "Back to School" sequence

That Day.
That Question.
Following lunch, Friday, November 22, 1963, I returned to this sixth grade classroom to proceed on a very personal, never-ending quixotic quest for knowledge, so eager to learn how to expand my repertoire of comedy burps.

Mike Durrett revisits his 6th grade classroom at Fernbank School
All was calm, when a teacher rushed in, somewhat disoriented, to announce, "President Kennedy has been shot."

Her voice quavered. There was silence. No one knew how to react.

Word passed rapidly through Fernbank School, amid a flutter of activity, as everyone, children and adults, asked unsettling questions of each other to help digest the traumatic news.

Only a few televisions resided in the building, but throngs of neighbor students, ignoring fire codes of capacity, filed into our room to sit on the floor under the talking head of Walter Cronkite.

It was a surreal afternoon, destined to prevail and permeate the sad and violent events unfolding in the weekend ahead. Classes never resumed and rumors spread we would be dismissed early, as soon as parents and busses arrived to carry us homeward.

Meanwhile, the adults vanished, apparently to converse among themselves. Hundreds of children were left unattended.

I began to roam aimlessly throughout the halls, upstairs and down, a firm no-no under normal circumstances.

I made my way to the boys' restroom -- without a mandatory paper permission slip or a chaperone -- simply because I could.

Joined by my pals, we shuffled through other groups of meandering kids to points unknown. We could have exited the grounds without challenge. Supervision was nil. We were like zombies in limbo.

Across the intervening decades, the iconic question I've been asked more than any other is: "Do you remember where you were when Kennedy was killed?"

That's my story--

Well, second most asked.

The top question also occurred at Fernbank, over seven years, weekly, in this room, the cafetorium:

Fernbank School lunchroom
"Can I have your fish sticks?"

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