There once was a place called Camelot. . .
In this place all things were possible. There were jobs, and cars, and washing machines, and TV sets that could receive three channels on a clear day. Walt Disney still had Annette under contract, and she was perfect. And there was this man in the White House.
It took all four Beatles to replace John F. Kennedy. His wife looked like a movie star, and his kids did, too. As a ten year old, I could mimic his Boston accent, and my father’s friends would laugh their heads off at parties. “Aye, John Eeeeef Kennedddddy . . . ” He’d begin with that line, and go on to put the wood to that fat guy in Russia, or that Mexican who was running Cuba, or anybody else who thought they could stand up to America.
I had no idea where Boston was, or what a Democrat was, or even what a communist was, but I KNEW, John F. Kennedy was my president. When we ate supper I would imagine him dropping by, I could just see it, because that was the kind of guy he was in my young mind. It was a grand illusion.
America was slipping into decline, but we were so poor we couldn’t tell. Dimes actually looked bigger if you grew up in Texas. The lights never went off in our house, but the bill was only, like, eight dollars or so. I think water might have been free, I don’t know. But I knew who the president was, and I knew that when I grew up, everything was going to be alright.
There is a fact among people of my generation. We all remember exactly where we were when we heard about the events in Dallas. I had been to,the nurse at Nolan Jr. High, and she sent me back to class. As I rounded the corner by the cafeteria, heading down the west hallway, about three classrooms down, the intercom came on, and America died that day. The grand illusion evaporated like a Penn and Teller magic show. They turned us out, and we all went home. When i got home my parents were acting like Hank Williams just died. I sat at the dinner table that night, and I cried. I still remember. We had liver and onions.
Then came Johnson, and Vietnam, Nixon, Charles Manson, the Twin Towers, and Waco! We all struggle to endure the smell of the rotting corpse America had become. The country didn’t just suddenly run off the rails. That train had been swerving for a long time, but somehow, President Kennedy made us believe that his hand was on the wheel, and it was all gonna be alright.
Last night I was up researching the tragic event in Waco this week. I ended by looking at a picture of a dead biker, resting beside his Harley. He looked so serene, lying there in his Sunday jeans, and his magnificent colors still on. And for some reason President Kennedy came to mind. And again, I cried. I cried for the biker, I cried for President Kennedy, and I cried for America. America is lost, but we in the Texas movement are going to find it again, and we’re going to give it back to you! We owe President Kennedy that much.
There are historians, and political analyists who point out his flaws. I know all about Marilyn Monroe, and Joe Kennedy being a bootlegger, I don’t care! I still can’t erase the image of that hallway at Nolan Jr. High that was burned into my brain on November 22, 1963. As I approached that junction in that hallway that day I was walking in John F. Kennedy’s America. By the time the speaker went silent, I was standing in TEXAS!
There once was a place called Camelot . . .