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.
Great post. I was with mom in her store, Riviera, when I heard her suddenly start screaming on the phone upon being informed of the assassination. It was so traumatic and unforgettable. At age 12 I felt a death of innocence and idealism, only to feel it even worse at age 17 with the assassinations of MLK and RFK.
One last point: In July 1962 JFK and Jackie made a trip to Mexico City during which they made an appearance at the American School’s annual 4th of July celebration. Our brother and I were in the Boy Scouts, and he was near where JFK was and got to shake his hand. Mom’s cousin, Roberto Quittner, who with his father Arpad had left Cuba after the Castro takeover, upon hearing of JFK shaking our brother’s hand, also shook our brother’s hand and then said that he would never wash his hand again.
Gar, thanks so much for sharing these priceless thoughts and memories.
Thanks for reminiscing. I was also allowed to walk the streets of my neighborhood in LA along and play in the school yard. A car drove by and with an urgent voice told the children to go home, so we ran home and listened to the radio of the news. Very sad day.
Kathy, thank you for reading and contributing your thoughts and memories, they enrich us all.
I heard it on the radio. I would like to think that children acquire their sensitivities also from the parents joys.
Yes, of course I agree.
As a Law student at UNAM, and living in Polanco, I often ate at Konditori when feeling a bit homesick or nostalgic, and as I left Mexico in Oct, for the USA, I arrived just before JFK’s assassination…so this blog brings back memories on two fronts…….
David, thank you so much for sharing these meaningful thoughts.
I am so thankful for you words – Susan