Friday, November 1, 2013

This Month in Rochester History

November 1963 is remembered in Rochester history in much the same way that it is by people across the nation. Fifty years ago this month, Rochester residents were stunned and saddened by the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Under a banner headline that read "Rochester Bows Head in Sorrow for Fallen President," the Rochester Clarion reported in part:
Suddenly, the streets were empty. It was an overcast, partially rainy early afternoon in Rochester when word was flashed by radio and television that President John F. Kennedy had been struck down by an assassin's bullet while riding down a Dallas street.
. . .
In the National Bank of Detroit office here, a radio was turned on. The customers and personnel froze as the death was announced and the National Anthem was played. Businesses suddenly found their stores almost empty.

The article went on to say that a variety of local events were cancelled or postponed over the weekend that followed the president's death. A turkey drawing by downtown merchants, a hootenanny at the high school, and the Illinois-Michigan State football game at East Lansing were among the activities that did not take place.  What did take place were special local church services on the day of the funeral.  The Clarion continued with its description of local observances:
Schools were closed Monday. There was no mail delivery and all federal and local governmental offices closed their doors. A black drape hung over the front entrance of the Municipal Building. Monday night was the regular meeting of the Village Council. A proclamation by Council President was read and the meeting was quietly adjourned until Tuesday night.
. . .
It was a remarkable and most tragic weekend.

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