2008-11-22

another november

If you make the turn off of Main Street in Clarkesville and climb the hill that winds gently to the left, all you'll see today when you reach the crest are the shards of glass still clinging to the window frames of what was, once upon a time, "The Band Room," home of the pride of half of Habersham County, the North Habersham High School Bobcat Band, under the direction of Miss Ann Alford.

The band room and the rest of the building have been diminished by vandals and neglect and nature and, for one middle-aged alumnus, by a life lived, that makes all too ordinary the things that seemed so grand to a youthful eye.

The two parallel hallways of the high school, eternally quiet now, were abustle during class changes in the fall of 1963 when I was a nearly new ninth-grader. An atonal symphony of chatter and clanging lockers accompanied a swirl of movement not unlike a walk down Fifth Avenue.

It was during the change from Fifth Period to Sixth Period, I think, that I heard the news. I can't remember now whether it came to me and to the rest of the school via an announcement from the principal's office or whether it was a rumor that washed over me on its way around the hallways. But it must have been confirmed by our Sixth Period teacher. English, I think. Ms. Allred. President Kennedy had been shot.

I don't remember going to school again until after the funeral. Maybe we did. But the assassination came on a Friday afternoon, and the next week was Thanksgiving week. Maybe we went to school on Monday and Tuesday. I remember the continuous coverage from Frank McGee and NBC. I remember rushing from the front yard of our duplex into the living room to watch the immediate aftermath of Jack Ruby's murder of Lee Harvey Oswald. And I remember the muffled cadence of the drums and the black horse of the funeral procession. -- Bob Brussack

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