Today in History: Nov. 22

I do not know if my family home was more or less Kennedy-saturated than the homes of other American families that were begun in the 1960s like ours: we had three JFK-memorial books and one LP recording of the late President delivering his speeches that had a glossy full-color portrait on the front of the sleeve and his inaugural address printed as a liner note on the back.

There were November 1963 issues of Life magazine boxed up—Life was the newsweekly that people kept and preserved and re-visited as if events had not happened until confirmed on the giant pages of that publication. (The media preferences I was exposed to when I was young stayed with me into adulthood: Life, not Look; Time, not Newsweek, NBC news, not CBS. To younger ears, I suppose all of that is akin to preferring Safari to Chrome.)

In all of those publications—memorial books and Life magazine alike—color is introduced with photos of the president’s inaugural and then re-visited in photos taken on the morning of November 22, 1963. Those photos remain almost painfully colorful—the bright silver of Air Force One at Love Field, the almost-cloudless blue sky, Mrs. Kennedy’s pink pillbox hat, even the president’s flesh tones—but black and white is re-introduced with the photos taken later that sad day.

My memories of these items are from the early 1970s, as I was born in 1968. The fact that John F. Kennedy was killed on this date in 1963 was the reason for each book’s existence and the reason for each magazine’s careful preservation, so some of the first history lessons I was exposed to were pretty fatalistic. One book’s title, Triumph and Tragedy, from 1968, sums up the nature of these books. It was about the history of the entire Kennedy family, and it ended on a note of optimism about the young U.S. Senator from New York. Its conclusion dated from before his conclusion. Triumph and Tragedy, and triumph and tragedy.

* * * *
Boléro, a single movement piece for orchestra by Maurice Ravel, was performed at the Paris Opéra (now the Palais Garnier) on this date in 1928. Legend has it that a woman in the audience yelled out “Rubbish!” and Ravel said to a companion: “She understands!” Daniel Barenboim conducts Boléro:

* * * *
Cathy, the comic strip created by Cathy Guisewite, debuted in American newspapers 40 years ago today. Guisewite retired the strip in 2010.

* * * *
Angela Merkel became Chancellor of Germany 11 years ago today.

* * * *
Jack London died 100 years ago today. Aldous Huxley died on this date in 1963. C. S. Lewis died on this date in 1963. Mae West died in 1980 on this date. Michael Hutchence died on this date in 1997.

* * * *
Rodney Dangerfield was born on this date in 1921. The late Arthur Hiller was born on this date in 1923. (He died in August.) The late Robert Vaughn was born on this date in 1932. (He died on November 11.)

* * * *
Terry Gilliam is 76 today. Here is some of his early work:

Billie Jean King is 73 today. Greg Luzinski is 66. Steven Van Zandt is 66. Tina Weymouth is 66. Richard Kind is 60. Jamie Lee Curtis is 58. Boris Becker is 49. Mark Ruffalo is 49. Scarlett Johansson is 32 today.

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  1. Southern by Design · November 22, 2016

    I have always been enthralled with the Kennedys as has many Americans. They just have a draw about them. Perhaps because their stories end in tragedy so often? Great piece!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. loisajay · November 22, 2016

    Bolero–one of my all-time favorite pieces of music, along with An American in Paris. I am saving this to play very LOUDLY when I return home from work. That is the best way to listen to it. Thanks so much, Mark.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Relax... · November 22, 2016

    Ah, Johnny, we hardly knew ye.. but we knew ye well enough that ye became the yardstick — so far, the very last one.

    Liked by 1 person

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