Nov. 22. 1963...........What a day it was.

I’ve talked about that day before.       It was a day that shocked the nation.         We lost a president.         Most people remember exactly where they were, when they heard the news.        Me, I was eating breakfast, on the North Shore (across from Kammie’s market) when the news came over the radio.     After about 30 minutes, and realizing we were helpless to do anything else, we went surfing.     The swell was too north, and not hitting Sunset properly.      So we headed south to Laniakea.      It was truely epic!      15 foot, freight train rights, with Bud Brown filming from across Kam’ Hiway, and a gentle offshore breeze.      It just doesn’t get much better than that.       I think that day was the fastest I’ve ever gone, on a surfboard.       I’d remember that day, for the quality of the surf alone.       The loss of JFK, simply burned it deeper in my memory.       A strange mix, of a great day and a terrible day, all at the same time.     Do you remember that day, and what you were doing, when the news hit you?

I was in 8th grade English class when someone came in the classroom and whispered to our teacher, Mr Walker. He then announced the news to us.

I actually met JFK when I was quite young. An uncle on my father’s side was a major player in the Democratic party in MA. He hosted a cookout for JFK during his Senate campaign and our whole family attended. Kennedy was going around shaking hands with everyone, even us little guys. This would have been 1958,  I believe.


I was 11 years old and living in Brooklyn, NY at the time.   For some reason not related to the topic we had a half day of school.  My oldest brother picked me up and we went to get lunch at a deli.  The assignation must have happened between the time he picked me up and by the time we arrived at the deli.  The guy behind the counter informed us of the incident.

No memory…just crawling out of the womb…

In 1963 I was finishing up my Phd primate research from MIT,  with a Rhodes Schlorship from Oxford. November 22nd I just got done training nine gorillas from infancy to be intelligent super stars; I formed them into a baseball team that tour’d the world. This story is something of a mess. Its biggest problems: my gorillas were treated like villains, out to conquer the world from humans; and there story is a serious tone and lacks comedy…or even bananas. Why is it that we fear primates so much?  It is hard for me to even discuss this tale, and it is hard to enjoy a story which treats gorillas as bad guys. Gorillas are intelligent, we usually  treat them sympathetically, which is why I started the journey of baseball playing apes in the first place…But alas, they couldn’t  hit the curve ball, and was a failed project from the beginning.

What were you doing in 1963?


Ironically, I was in class at Radford High School in Honolulu studying Problems in Democracy when the announcement came over the intercom that President JFK had been assasinated, I didn’t get to go surfing

I was four years old and thought the then VFL Hawthorn football coach had been assassinated. I learned what assassinated means and I learned it was the US president, not John Kennedy the football coach…


who is jfk anyhew? like you foseils are so fricking old. And what is lanieakeyia a resturent?

:slight_smile: That’s pretty classic Wildy.

In a strange twist of fate though, a few months back an AFL (which is what used to be the VFL) football coach actually was assassinated… by his own son.

I wasn’t around for the JFK thing.

The ones that I was around for and which made enough of impression on me that I can remember where I was and what I was doing when I first heard about it were:

  • when Princess Di snuffed it.

  • and 9/11.

So it’s been quite a few years since an event made enough of an impression to make me remember in indelible detail the exact circumstances in which I first heard about it… until recently.

And no, I’m not talking about the Paris bombings.

It was the U.S. destroyer being sailed past one of the artificial islands (that China has been building in the South China Sea) a couple of days after it was completed.

When I first saw and heard that on the TV, my blood ran cold. It was that 9/11 feeling all over again.

Don’t get me wrong, the Paris bombings is a big deal, and the rise of ISIS and what’s going on in the Middle East is important stuff.

But it’s small potatoes compared with the consequences of what these territorial disputes in the South China Sea could escalate into.

What bothers me is how much coverage is being given by the media to (and by extension how much of the public’s attention is focused on) the terrorist problems in Europe, other Western nations and the Middle East, so that public attention is being distracted away from the potentially much bigger issue of an armed conflict involving China.

Do you older guys remember where you were and what you were doing during the Cuban Missile Crisis? Did that stick in your memory?

There’s a few parallels with that and what’s going on with those artificial islands now.

I guess the good news is that the Cuban Missile Crisis blew over.

Fingers crossed that’s what happens here.

I remember that day well. I was a 6 yr old kid who had been out playing in the mud in his good shoes. I was terrified of going in and being found out so I just hung out outside in the cold and would sneak peeks through the sliding glass doors while hiding around the side of my house. I remember seeing my parents basically being glued to the TV. Sucked for me cause there was no way to go in and get by them without being found out. Yeah I know. Lots of different ways I could have figured out a path to freedom…if I hadn’t been 6. Interesting the way you remember things.

My Professor asked the class today what was historically significant about today’s date.  The only reason I knew the answer, JFK’s assasination, was because I read this post beforehand.  What luck! Thanks Bill Thrailkill.  You not only help me build surfboards, but you help with my school too lol.