They were attending schools and working in factories, caring for babies or talking with friends. They can see the faces and voices that broke the horrific news. They remember the tears and the prayers as families converged around televisions and radios waiting for answers.
It was a day the soul of America of was shattered into tiny pieces.
Today, 50 years after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, residents in the Merrimack Valley and Southern New Hampshire easily recollect the events of Nov. 22, 1963.
“I was shocked. A wave of sadness came over me,” said Ellie Faulkner, who was 21 and working at a chemical factory in Andover when she heard JFK had been shot.
“I don’t think the country could understand how this could happen. Everyone loved him so much,” Faulkner recalled.
Students all sent home
On Nov. 22,1963, Mark DiSalvo was in the fourth grade at St. Michael School. Around 1:30 p.m., the mother superior who ran the school announced over the public address system that the president had been shot.
“Please go directly home to your parents,” the she urged, before leading students in the Our Father.
DiSalvo said he misheard the principal, thinking the president had been “shocked.”
“My grandfather has them (shocks) all the time,” he recalled saying to a nearby classmate. The classmate corrected him, explaining that the president had been shot.
DiSalvo’s teacher, Sister Mary Walter, knelt down while leading her class in the Our Father, he said.
At that time, DiSalvo and his family lived in a three-level tenement. His grandparents were on the top floor; his family had the second floor and his cousins occupied the first floor.
“There was one TV,” DiSalvo recalled. For the next few days, he and his extended family spent most of their waking hours clustered around that TV set.