About an hour had passed, and the graduate assistant who had been in charge of the exam came back into the room. I don't remember his name, but I sure remember what he looked like. He seemed a little bit uneasy and I was wondering why. After a few minutes, he said to the class ( I remember the words exactly) "I don't know if this will upset anyone, but the President has just been shot". Clearly, it upset everyone. Some of us (for some unknown reason) got up and went over to the window. It was a beautiful day, but it was obvious that something was wrong. Cars had stopped in the street and people were standing in little groups, listening to the car radios.
After a little while, it became obvious that it would be impossible to resume the exam. The Professor came into the room and told everyone that they could go home. I went downstairs and walked out into the street. It was the most amazing thing that I have ever seen. It was almost like everything was frozen in time. Groups of people were gathered around whatever radios were available, listening to the news broadcasts.
I decided to head home and I walked to the subway and took the train uptown to Penn Station, to catch the LIRR. It was sometime around 1 p.m and I was in the main hall where there was a large message board and hundreds of people were gathered around watching. When the announcement came over the public address system that President Kennedy had died, the reaction was unforgettable. For a moment, there was just stunned silence. You could literally hear a pin drop. Then some people began to cry and moan. It's a lot different hearing news like that when you're alone. But when you're in a large mass of people, there's a collective angst that sweeps across you like a wave.
The ride home was eerie. There wasn't a sound in the car. People were sitting, just staring foward, like zombies. When I got home, I turned on the television to watch Walter Cronkite. My strongest recollection is hearing the reports that the shots had come from the grassy knoll in front of the motorcade. Everything we saw seemed to point to that conclusion. Then we heard that a policeman had been shot and later that a suspect had been arrested in a Dallas movie theater. The one other thing that I remember clearly was thinking that this all just didn't seem to make sense. I was a believer from the very first moments that the information we were getting was not accurate. I remember hearing that the rifle had been recovered and it was a German Mauser. Later it became an italian rifle. First reports said that, Kennedy was shot from the front, later, the shots came from the rear, from the book depository building.
Often people will ask me who I think killed Kennedy. Well, I've heard most of the theories, seen much of the evidence and I can tell you that I honestly don't know. What I am mostly sure of, however, is that lee Harvey Oswald was not a lone assassin. And I doubt very much if the entire truth will come out any time in the near future. After all, look how long it took for the truth to come out about the Lincoln assassination.
A few years ago, the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. had an exhibit on the 4th floor and among the display items was an old T.V. set from the 60's and on the T.V. set they were playing a tape of Walter Cronkite announcing the death of President Kennedy. I looked around me at the tiny group of people that were standing there watching and I felt the exact same stunned silence that I had observed in 1963. When I looked closer, I could easily tell that there were tears in some of their eyes.