I confess that my pre-school perspective on the assassination of our first Catholic president will forever be intertwined with memories of the ill-conceived “Fluffernutter” sandwich.
1963, childhood friend Raymond Bauer and I spent the morning playing
at his house. His mother—one of a handful of Protestants in our largely
Catholic and Jewish Long
Island suburb—served peanut butter and marshmallow Fluff for
lunch. Though I really had trouble eating the sticky stuff, I got through it
knowing that obediently eating our lunch would get as a trip to the local J.C.
Penney Store. Pulling out of the driveway in their family station wagon, I was
delighted when Mrs. Bauer turned on the car radio. My dad didn't like car radios so we never had one. A few split-levels away from the Bauer home, Raymond’s mother gasped
and pulled over to listen to a news report. President John F. Kennedy had been shot. She
took me home.
I was met by the very scene I expected. My mom was saying the Rosary in front of the TV as the news reports were coming in. It was comforting. Life as we knew it would not come to an end as long as Mom prayed the Rosary and she sympathized with me about having to eat that
sandwich. There was hope for the Kennedys, the country, and the religious
melting pot of our immediate world.
And so this historic and tragic moment left me with a gift -- one of my clearest, earliest memories of my mother -- and one of my first moments of clarity that I was indeed grateful we were Catholic and had Mary to intercede for us in the worst moments of life.
May President Kennedy rest in peace, along with all the faithful departed.