A link completed and a look back on Elm Street

An asphalt tank had overfilled. The night shift operator had been busy filling out papers and talking with the driver. A few gallons ran on the ground. When we arrived for day shift, we knew what our first assignment was without the boss going into any details. In fact, it wasn’t a good morning to be around the boss. Grabbing our shovels, we went to work. The brisk November morning made the ground crusty and the asphalt hard, so removal was easier than on a hot summer day.

The brisk wind of that autumn morning stilled. We came out of our jackets. It was time for lunch when the boss appeared. We were not about to take lunch without his approval after his morning mood.

His face was somber. I thought I saw tears.

“Our President has been shot. I think he’s going to die.”

Three young men leaned on their shovels. Too much to grasp in one statement.

“He was so young.”

“What did he ever do to anybody?”

“Did they get the guy?”

We all gathered around the open car door and spent the rest of the afternoon listening.

“He won’t die; the best doctors in the world will be there.”

“Read about Lincoln but that was so long ago. These kinds of things don’t happen.”

They announced his death. Unashamedly, tears streamed down our faces.

Like so many people that day, the events that occurred are indelibly etched in my memory. Almost 40 years after the assassination of President Kennedy, I was in Dallas on business. Driving through town, we stopped a young man on the street for directions to the site of the assassination.

“Don’t know,” was his response.

A young lady a few blocks later would point in a general direction toward downtown Dallas. “Heard some people talk about it, but don’t know exactly.”

Both in their twenties, I just assumed they knew. A few wrong turns, another inquiry, and I was there.

The winds blew brisk down Elm Street. Looking up beneath the sixth floor window, I visualized the coward in waiting. Elm Street touches the School Book Depository building. The grassy knoll is right there.

Television made it larger than life. It could be any old building in any old town but it wasn’t.

Oswald was referred to as a marksman. Not by my standards. Our President didn’t have a chance. Why enhance the image of this coward with the title of marksman?

A guide would point the spot where his car was when he was hit.

Leaving town, I stopped to gas up. He was probably sixty-five. The conversation was right on top of the President, I said.

“Like shooting jackrabbit in an open field,” he answered.

“Yea, I remember where I was that morning. Earl and I were working on the highway just down the road. Hard to believe that was 40 years ago.”

I looked back at the skyline of Dallas as I headed east. We all knew where we were that day and now I know where our President was.

It seemed like a link had been completed as I walked along Elm Street that cold winter day.