November 22, 2003
Is there anyone left in the U.S. who hasn’t told where they were forty years ago? What a snapshot of the country. Millions of us pinpointing our exact location on Friday morning, November 22, 1963.
The Exits were going to have a dance in the evening (I think there was a football game scheduled) and bandmate Charlie Waters and I drove up to my parent’s house on Ricca Drive to pick up my drums. It was lunchtime and we had to get permission from Mr. Williams to leave the Mohave County Union High School campus. On the way up the hill (we lived on Hilltop) Charlie and I talked about various girls we were interested in and the odds of us scoring with them after the dance. I can’t remember why but I decided to pull into my dad’s Phillips 66 service station at the top of El Trovatore Hill. As we pulled up my dad came out to the car and said, “The president’s been shot.” I remember thinking he was probably wounded in the arm, like a superficial flesh wound (all those Westerns I had grown up on). I couldn’t imagine a modern president being mortally wounded. That was something that happened in ancient times, like Lincoln at the end of the Civil War.
When Charlie and I got to my house, we started loading out my Montgomery Ward’s King drum set to the car (we still had no idea of the magnitude of the tragedy). I turned on the tv and there was Walter Cronkite, which even seemed odd, because nobody in my memory had ever interrupted daytime soaps. Walter seemed overly somber. And then he said the unthinkable: the president is dead.
We finished loading the drums and went back to school. Washington and even Dallas, Texas seemed a long way from Kingman, Arizona and I was shocked when Mr. Williams said there would be no school, no game and no dance. Girls were crying on the steps of the school and sitting in cars in the parking lot weeping. Us guys were too cool for that. One of my jock friends actually said, “What do you mean the dance is cancelled, it’s just the president.”
On Sunday my mother and I went to Grace Lutheran Church for services and when we got home my dad said, “Now they’ve shot Oswald.” Once again, it was too bizarre to even believe.
In the seventies I got swept up in the conspiracy theories and attended a multi-media travelling conspiracy show at Grady Gammage on the ASU campus. The highlight of the presentation was actually getting to see the Zapruder film (in spite of many Baby Boomer’s faulty memories, the Zapruder film had never been shown publicly and in fact the Life magazine photo spread, deleted the third shot head wound as too graphic for the American people to see).. Of course, we all believed the CIA and others (Nixon was in Dallas!) were behind it. I’ve since calmed down and today I’m much more pragmatic:
”I believe one of the Lee Harvey Oswalds acted alone.”
—Bob Boze Bell
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