Coming Friday

The Post and Courier’s coverage of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy:

Readers recall the day and how it affected their lives.

A Citadel grad led the elite guard at the burial.

National coverage.

Fifty years ago today on Page 12-A of The News and Courier: “Kennedy Starts Texas Campaign”

Fifty years ago tomorrow on Page 2-A of The News and Courier: “Warm Welcome Given Kennedy In Texas”

Fifty years ago Saturday on Page 1-A of The News and Courier: “Kennedy murdered; Marxist Is Charged”

That grim, looming anniversary renews debate about John F. Kennedy’s presidency and his assassination’s consequences. It reminds those of us old enough to remember where we were — and what we and others were thinking at the time — about that epochal event. It reignites conspiracy theories.

And in today’s Post and Courier, Dr. Edward M. Gilbreth (on this page) and George Will (on Page A11) offer intriguing JFK insights.

This column, though, will focus — mostly — on setting the local scene with snippets of what The News and Courier (The Post and Courier’s ancestor) reported a half century ago today and tomorrow.

From Page 1-A of The News and Courier of Thursday, Nov. 21, 1963: “U.S. Fears Cambodia’s Next Move,” under the smaller head, “Preparing To Dismantle Aid Projects”

Page 1-B: “Civic Auditorium Need To Be Stressed Friday,” with this opening paragraph: “A new civic auditorium, and anti-slum enforcement, and relocating the county courthouse will be matters brought before a meeting of the Charleston County Legislative Delegation Friday. All these matters are to be brought up by Joseph P. Riley, real estate and insurance executive, who said yesterday he will appear before the delegation as a private citizen.”

No, that wasn’t our future longtime — and still — mayor.

That was his namesake dad.

Page 6-B: “Dillon Woman Masters Negro Dropout Problem”

Page 7-B: “U.S. Studies Problems In Viet Nam”

That Thursday, Nov. 21, 1963 paper, unlike this Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013 paper, had ads for oranges at Winn-Dixie (49 cents for a five-pound bag), bacon at Red & White (39 cents a pound) and turkey at A&P (35 cents a pound).

The Russians are going

From The News and Courier of Friday, Nov. 22, 1963:

Page 1-A: “100 Soviet Diplomats Tossed Out of Congo, Russian Mission Members Accused Of Subversion” ... “Naval Shipyard May Get Contract To Build Warship”

Page 1-B: “Reassessment’s Fate Is In Judge’s Hands”

Page 4-A featured this challenging North 52 Drive-In ad — “Nervo-Rama, How Much SHOCK Can You Stand?” — aimed at drawing a crowd for the double feature of “Werewolf in a Girls’ Dormitory” and “Corridor of Blood.”

Page 1-D: “Carolina-Clemson Fever, Fans Interrupt Gamecock Drill,” over this dispatch from Columbia: “The University of South Carolina football squad practice was interrupted Thursday as 3,000 students and fans staged an unscheduled pep rally march on the Gamecock practice field.” Among the participants — “the USC band, the Naval ROTC color guard and a fire truck.”

The Tigers-Gamecocks showdown scheduled for Saturday was postponed until the following Thursday — Thanksgiving. Clemson won in Columbia, 24-20, to finish 5-4-1 on a five-game winning streak under coach Frank Howard. USC ended 1-8-1 on a five-game losing streak under coach Marvin Bass.

Unlike the NFL, which played its full schedule on Sunday, Nov. 24, 1963, the Clemson and USC folks in charge knew it would inappropriate to play so soon after the killing of our president.

But The Citadel, under coach Eddie Teague, did finish on Saturday with a 37-12 loss at Southern Mississippi to close at 4-6 on a five-game skid of its own.

The ugly truth hurts

The cheering at St. Andrews Elementary School on Nov. 22, 1963, had nothing to do with football — and was way worse than inappropriate.

Some bad boys, including this then-10-year-old, weren’t just expressing joy about getting out of school early.

We were celebrating why we were getting out early.

JFK was for integration.

We weren’t.

We had a lot to learn.

So did plenty of adults.

When I got home, my mom, who had a far more enlightened racial perspective than most white folks in these parts, put an immediate end to my grotesquely misplaced glee.

That stern lesson endures.

So does the realization that sudden death is an ever-present risk — and not just for presidents.

What if the killers of President Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy had missed? What if assassination attempts on Franklin D. Roosevelt, Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan had succeeded?

What if we knew now what we would be ashamed to admit about 2013 in 2063?

So don’t assume that you know what changes will come sooner or later.

And don’t assume that your mind doesn’t need changing.

Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is wooten@postandcourier.com.