Remembering Pearl Harbor,
JFK Assassination

A fine day in Angola, Indiana, December 7, 1941

It must have been a warm December in 1941, because I was just tightening my roller skates with a roller skate key (remember those?) when Mother pulled into the driveway with our 1940 Pontiac. She had been to visit my Aunt Mary in Michigan. I was ready to skate around the block, a favorite pastime of mine! I could hear the radio blaring loudly from where I was sitting on our front steps. Mother excitedly asked where our father was, and of course, he was in his shop. At her urging I went to find him and I heard her say, “The Japs have just bombed Pearl Harbor.” From then on we listened to Lowell Thomas at 6 PM each night, with the doors closed between the kitchen and the dining room. We were not to interrupt nor make noise during this broadcast. My father’s factory became a defense factory where they made the base of a large shell. He agreed to accept this project, “as long as the shells are not directed at Germany.” In the eyes of an 8-9-10 and 11 year old, this war seemed to “last forever.” Would there ever be a time when we could drive out to Crooked Lake to go swimming without worrying about how much gas it would take? Or would there be a time when we could use all the sugar we wanted? Would we ever see a banana again? Little did I know that for many years our lives would be measured by that timeline! “Where were you when Pearl Harbor was bombed?”

One fine day in Farmers Branch (suburb of Dallas, Texas), November 22, 1963

I knew that President John Kennedy and Jackie were to be visiting in Dallas on that day. My husband Ed was working at Texas Instruments, a location close to Love Field where the Kennedys were landing. I called him to make sure that he left the building in order to see the motorcade as it passed T.I. That morning I had been listening to the news and watching the pictures of the Kennedys at breakfast in Fort Worth and of their arrival at Love Field with my friend from across the street. “Do you wish you had gone down town to see the President?” she asked. I replied, “No! I would not want to get caught up in that kind of traffic.” As soon as the motorcade started, the TV stations switched to, “As the World Turns.” I turned the TV off and went to the bedroom to start sorting soiled laundry. I could hear sirens in the distance as I worked, and I thought to myself, “Some fool has gotten themselves in an accident trying to see the President.” A few minutes later my neighbor came running across the street to tell me that her milkman (back then we still had milk delivered to the homes) had just heard on the radio that the President had been shot. The following days in Dallas and Texas were bleak and sad. I sewed a black strip of material to attach in mourning to our flag which we posted outside our front porch. There were few cars on the street and fewer people in the grocery store. Everyone was glued to their TV. If you did not have a job that required your presence for health and or safety, you stayed home or came home as soon as possible. Life came to a standstill in Dallas and surrounding areas that day and many days to come!

Another fine day in Carmel, Indiana, September 11, 2002

I had just finished feeding our grandson, Ian Marshall, breakfast and was helping him dress for pre-school. He was watching one of his favorite TV videos, Thomas the Tank Engine or Theodore the Little Tug Boat. While I was finishing in the kitchen, his mother called to tell me that a plane had hit a skyscraper in New York and another had hit the Pentagon. Ed was still in bed, so I rushed to the upstairs TV to turn on the news where we saw the second plane hit the Twin Towers. Ed said at the time, “Those towers are coming down!” And they did! It was time for Ian to be taken to school, so I left the bedroom and off we went. At the entrance to the school we were always met by the director of the school as she safely helped the children from the cars and up the sidewalk. I remember her saying, “After today his life (Ian’s) will never be the same.” I remember thinking to myself, “It will be a long time before he hears or knows anything about this day from me. I will make sure his life does stay the same!” Since that September we have been in a war that has “lasted forever!” What must it feel like to our children of today?! Sadly, to many, it must seem like just a way of life.

Marilynn Weiss Marshall