The Day My Teacher Cried
by Mary Jane Dougherty
Our teacher stood up from her desk with tears in her eyes and said,"Excuse me, I need to get a drink of water." We all sat at our desks stunned and scared and remained sitting at our desks. We waited for our teacher to return. What were we to do?
"Up On The Roof"
sung by The Drifters
written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King
"When this old world starts getting you down
and people are just too much for me to face (up on the roof)
I climb way up to the top of the stairs
and all my cares just drift right into space (up on the roof)"
Let me take you back a few moments before our teacher cried. It was morning as we sat at our desks at Denali Elementary School. The day was November 22, 1963 and I was in the sixth grade. All of us excited knowing that "Thanksgiving Day" was coming soon and the room was decorated in all the bright fall colors of orange and brown. Our construction paper turkeys decorated the room.
As our teacher was talking (now, I can't remember her name) but I know she was from Helsinki, Finland. She was older and had a Finnish accent. Sixth grade was fun and exciting because we ruled, being the top grade and all.
I remember sitting at my desk looking at the chalk board while we waited for our assignment of school work to start for the day. When over the loud speaker we all heard, "This is a special announcement from the principal. While riding in a motorcade in Dallas Texas, the President of the United States has been shot." The principal might have said more, but I don't remember. I can still see the speaker on the wall to this very day and how my hands were folded as they were placed on my desk. We sat there and looked around at each other. Either the teacher asked us to pray or we started to pray on our own.
Then sometime later the stunning, unbelievable news was told to us. Over the loud speaker we heard. "This is a special announcement. The President of the United States John Fitzgerald Kennedy has died." I just stared at the loud speaker and then I began to pray. I heard my fellow classmates moan and cry. And that's when we saw our teacher with tears in her eyes leave the class room. That was the day our teacher cried.
We went about our school day, we did our lessons, we went to lunch, we went to recess. I remembered girls crying in the bathroom. This one girl was crying and wanting to go home and be with her dad.
There was no playbook, no rules, no instructions of what we were supposed to do. We just finished out our day and went home for the mourning and grieving of the days to come as the whole world was gripped to their television sets over those many, many sad days.
That's why I wrote those first lyrics from, "Up On The Roof" a song that heals. "I climb way up to the top of the stairs. And all my cares just drift right into space."
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