Friday, November 22, 2013

November 22

The Inauguration

My first semester in college I went to University of Tennessee in Knoxville before I transferred to Tulane in New Orleans.  The word of the shooting came to all of us at the start of Engineering Chemistry.  We were a big class of over fifty of the best and brightest.  The Professor, Dr. Bowman curtly stated,  "It is sad, but there's nothing we can do so let's begin..."  Science was everything to Bowman.  He put out the cigarette and began his lecture on atomic weights.  

Bowman was a brilliant teacher.  Everyone thought he was an angry character because the school didn't choose his book as the official text for Chemistry 101.  Bowman always wore red ties and brown leather Wellington boots, and he chain smoked unfiltered Chesterfield cigarettes.   

After class I walked alone slowly through the main hall.  A young black man in a nice jacket and tie trudged past me crying openly swaying clenched fists as if to ask why.  The blonde woman who taught me freshman english leaned against a doorway and held her face in her hands to hide her tears.  A girl I knew from math class sat on the stairs shaking her head.  

As I walked back home to my dorm, I recalled the year before as I waited with my friend Marbut Gaston on the roadside near Vanderbilt University in Nashville.  We heard the president was speaking at the stadium there and his motorcade was going by soon.  For those days in small-town Nashville we always knew what was going on... always.  

Soon the motorcycles came by and then a couple of dark cars with very important people.  Then the black convertible slowly came over the rise to almost a stop.  The handsome sandy haired man looked directly into my eyes and smiled.  He saluted me and my friend as he spoke.  

"Hello boys you're looking good,"  said President John Fitzgerald Kennedy to me and my friend.  

"He's just like us!  What a good guy,"  I thought.  

What an incredible guy he was.