August 31, 1997.  Visiting friends the night before I left for college.

July 16, 1999.  Awakened by my mom who told me the news.

September 11, 2001.  Watching the Today Show in my mom's room.


Those are the days that I remember where I was.  Days that have been marked in history as significant days.  Important days.  Days to remember.

Days like November 22, 1963.

Like all days, they all started as just another date on the calendar.  Just an ordinary, run of the mill day to get through.

On November 22, 1963, my mom was 17 years old.  She was a senior at Bishop McDevitt High School in Wyncote, Pennsylvania.  She was an innocent girl living an ordinary life.  But she was also so much more.  She was a girl on the cusp of new beginnings.  She was a girl with big dreams.  She was a girl with an unwritten future.

In many ways, I think she was a lot like the United States was on that day in 1963 - standing on the precipice of change.

But no one ever thinks about those things until time has moved on and it's time to look back.

On November 22, 1963, when Margaret Mary Schellhardt woke up in her room on Montgomery Avenue, it was a relatively ordinary day.  Except for one special event.  See, that day was Yearbook Photo Day.

After her graduation portrait was taken, she went to Religion class.  It was taught by a Mercy nun in the habit of wearing habits; her name was Sister Rosamond but Margaret Mary called her Peahead because "her head looked like a pea."  The November afternoon was unseasonably warm so the classroom windows were open.  The sounds of a car radio wafted up to the classrooms.  It sounded mournful, like "Taps" or a requiem.  Soon after, she would learn that indeed it was a requiem.  A requiem for the slain President.  They made the announcement over the loud speaker.  The President had been assassinated.   The students were dismissed early.  That evening's dance was canceled.  She went home.  Later that afternoon, she had to pick up her best friend - so distraught about the news, she missed her stop in Oreland  so Margaret had to drive over to Ardsley to get her.  "I was so scared."

Innocence shattered.  New beginnings ended.  Dreams dashed.  A future changed.

November 22, 1963 was an ordinary day that turned extraordinary.

It was a day that would be remembered.


Where were you on November 22, 1963?

(P.S.  I owe you a photograph from that day.  50 years on, yearbooks tend to get misplaced!)


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