Kennedy

If you were born in 1955, you remember watching a full weekend of coverage in the wake of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

You can tell what age group people are in by the things they remember – if they admit it. If you were:

BORN in 1995

You recall the bombing of the government building in Oklahoma City, where 168 people were killed. And a strange computer gimmick called AuctionWeb went live on the Web. (Much later it changed its name to eBay.)

BORN in 1985

You saw a new kind of record called a compact disc, and something called Windows on computers. You watched on television when a Philadelphia police helicopter dropped an explosive on the headquarters of that peculiar MOVE organization, and 53 houses burned down.

BORN in 1975

A letter needed a 10-cent stamp, and the Roxborough Post Office was on Green Lane. People called the place where you got on the train a railroad station, not a train station. Television came through the air, and telephones needed wires.

BORN in 1965

Philadelphia’s population was more than two million. Your PTC bus fare to school was two rides for 15 cents, but your parents paid 70 cents for three trips. Postage for a letter was a nickel.

Basketball player Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points in one game while you were a kid. You were used to the Phillies usually being in seventh or eighth place. Ulysses S. Grant’s cabin was still in Fairmount Park.

BORN in 1955

You watched the events around President Kennedy’s assassination on television, and also the first flights to the moon.

You remember when the Liberty Bell was displayed inside Independence Hall. Most phone numbers started with two letters. You needed Postal Zone numbers to address a letter. (Zip Codes hadn’t yet been invented.) Postage for a letter was three cents.

People were worried about the A-bomb and some built fallout shelters, and kids then were drilled on how to duck under desks at school if necessary.

BORN in 1945

You were born shortly after World War II ended if you remember when the Fire Department’s training school was on Cinnaminson Street, just off the Ridge.

You could go out to The Arena at 46th and Market to see ice hockey and the touring ice shows, and other events, including rodeos. A cowgirl bronco rider died in a Roy Rogers rodeo in 1946, and her funeral was held here, with Roy and the Sons of the Pioneers singing.

A kind of music called Rock and Roll became popular. You heard the 1956 grain elevator explosion at 30th and Market. (It was heard for 50 miles around.)

BORN in 1935

You remember first hearing radio news reports of a bombing on a December Sunday afternoon, and wondering where Pearl Harbor is.

Soon, volunteer air raid wardens in the neighborhood were advising everyone what to do in case of an air raid, and there were blackouts, with parents hanging drapes over the windows. Meat, sugar, gasoline, shoes and other things were rationed. Toothpaste tubes were metal, and an empty one had to be turned in to buy a new one.

On Labor Day weekend when you were 10, you listened to the radio to hear the ceremony as the Japanese surrendered to Gen. Douglas MacArthur.

These are just bits and pieces of memories, but they’re the kind of memories that would give away what generation the rememberer is from.

Visit columnist Jim Smart’s web site at jamessmartsphiladelphia.com.

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