Remembering Nov. 22, 1963

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By ABBY SOUZA

Closing in on her lunch break, Janie Stephens heard Dallas city bells playing "Hail to the Chief" outside the Federal Reserve Bank office building where she worked.

That day, President John F. Kennedy's motorcade would drive through the city Stephens called home.

"Everybody was going, it was a really big thing," said Stephens, who now lives in San Andreas.

But Kennedy wouldn't leave Dallas alive.

Forty years ago tomorrow, on Nov. 22, 1963, Kennedy was shot by Lee Harvey Oswald in Dallas during a motorcade tour. Dallas nightclub owner Jack Ruby shot Oswald two days later. Those who lived through the events have called it a time of sorrow and fear of the unknown.

Stephens, then 18, remembers the packed streets and the speed of the motorcade whizzing past her viewing spot on the road only a couple of blocks from Dealey Plaza.

Stephens does not remember exactly how she heard about the assassination, but guessed someone came into the bank offices to tell everyone.

"Everything came to a stop," she said.

Stephens compared the assassination's effect on people to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, except that many of her generation felt a special connection to Kennedy, the youngest president ever elected.

"He was so full of life," Stephens said.

She compared the assassination to having a friend come visit and die in your home.

"I know that's how I felt," she said.

Skip Conley of Jamestown was miles away from the event, but he still remembers the profound sadness he felt after Kennedy's death.

Conley, who lived with his wife, Lona, in Porterville, had that Friday off 40 years ago. The correctional officer was watching television the moment Kennedy was shot.

"I was shocked," Conley said.

Conley said he remained glued to the TV, fascinated by all that the media could provide.

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The Union Democrat
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