In 1963, our family owned several retail stores in the Zona Rosa of Mexico City. I was 10, and had been given permission to walk by myself from one store to the other, as long as I didn’t need to cross the street. The names of our stores were, Riviera S.A., Martha Sastre, Marlen, May Boutique, Sabra, and Susan Kay. The stores were all located within about a one mile radius of each other.
On the afternoon of November 22nd, I set out from Martha Sastre my mother’s store, to May Boutique, and Sabra, my grandmother’s and my Uncle Mundo’s stores. As I stepped out and turned left, I paused one door down, to look at the beautiful European pastry display in Konditori, a very fancy, (I thought), restaurant . I happily continued my stroll down Genova Street, looking at all of the store-front displays as I went. When I reached the corner and turned left at Hamburgo Street, I suddenly heard a commotion.
Alarmed grown-ups were shouting up and down the street, “Mataron a Kennedy, Mataron a Kennedy”… “They’ve killed Kennedy, They’ve killed Kennedy”. At 10 years of age, never having been outside of Mexico, I knew who Kennedy was, because my parents spoke a lot about him at home. As young as I was, they had made me and my brothers understand that Kennedy was a hero, that he was the hope of the world…the hope for freedom, equality and justice.
So many sad days followed. My mother didn’t go to work. I cried because my mom cried. She almost never cried so when she did, it deeply affected me. She sat on that nest shaped chair, legs folded into fetal position, black ballet flats tucked under her. I watched her watch the funeral at Arlington Cemetery.
Children learn sensitivity from watching their parents’ sadness and heartache.