November 22, 1963

50 years later, South Bay residents remember the moment they first heard that President John F. Kennedy had been shot.


“At about 10 a.m. on Friday, November 22, 1963, I was walking to class at San Diego State; I was just 19 years old. A girl passed me and said Kennedy has been shot, but a classmate said it must be a joke. For some reason, perhaps the way the girl said it, I believed her. Several minutes passed, and more students began to say the same thing. Over the next half-hour, all stopped at State. It was so quiet. About an hour later, thousands of students exited campus barely saying anything; I think we all wanted to get to a television.”

– Larry Murphy


“I got a call from Ed Ferraro, the Torrance city manager (I was covering Torrance at the time). He asked if I had heard anything about President Kennedy being shot. I hadn’t, but I walked over to the one teletype machine, and it was just starting to break. We worked for the next 12 hours or so.”

– Jay Berman


“I had just turned 22 the day before. I was a freshman in medical school in St. Louis, having lunch at a turn-of-the-century pub with three classmates. We were in our white coats, thinking we were truly physicians—when in fact we were only two months into the first year and in anatomy lab that morning. Our hands and clothes smelled like formaldehyde. The four of us sat there mesmerized, watching a small TV screen—and could not believe what we witnessed. The following days class was cancelled, and it seemed the country just stood at a standstill, crying, holding one another and not believing that this young, handsome, loved president was shot and no longer. The funeral was likewise memorable with the children, and his son saluting the casket, and Jackie draped in her black veil and dress.”

– Dr. Ken Miller


“I was in a boarding school in Rolle, Switzerland back in 1963. I was in my room with two other roommates. It was study time in the early evening. I was listening to the U.S. Armed Forces radio out of Germany (a source of decent music in Europe back then) when the news was announced. I can’t remember what I threw at the wall, but I remember the throw. There were about 20 Americans in the school, and we were all pretty shocked, even though the U.S.A. was a long ways away.”

– Kelvin Vanderlip


“I was in grammar school the day Kennedy was shot. Everyone was in shock, but what I remember most was the day of his funeral. The whole world stood still that day.”

– Denise Guzman


“On the walk home, it became even more evident how everything had suddenly stopped. No birds sang. The dogs didn’t bark. The rain had dwindled down to a mist. The sun tried, without much success, to break through. The roads emptied. There were no kids to play with. The entire world stopped and became still. There was the loudest, most deafening silence. I’ll never forget it.” 

– Chris Ridges