Lions Caldwell remembers Nov. 22, 1963, the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated

Lions coach was 8 years old

ALLEN PARK — Jim Caldwell remembers the day President John F. Kennedy was shot, 54 years ago today.

It was the afternoon of Nov. 22, 1963. The Lions coach was 8-years-old.

I was in my classroom, I remember exactly what happened because I was sitting in the classroom and actually our teacher walks out. Our principal was in the hallway, and our teacher comes back in and she was crying. And we all had to stop what we were doing and then the principal made an announcement on the loud sets, when they had those big speakers in your room back in those days, some of you guys remember those. And he announced that our president had been shot, so they dismissed school, and we went home,’’ Caldwell said. “I just remember that my mother made certain that all three of us sat in front of the television and watched the entire broadcast, you know, Walter Cronkite and the rest.

“So, I remember precisely where I was, time period, walking home from school, sitting down in front of that television in the living room and just — it didn’t impact us the same, because we didn’t quite know, we were so young. But we knew something was horribly wrong because it was a great sadness in our community and all across the county, so yeah, I remember exactly. That was one that leaves an indelible imprint in your mind. It was tragic,’’ Caldwell added.

Even to an 8-year-old it was a time of great sadness.

I can only tell you from a vantage point where I grew up that everybody was affected greatly by it within our community, within the area. We lived next door to my aunt and her family, and just everybody was just completely crushed. You knew something was different, you know,’’ Caldwell said. “As a kid even, you just knew the impact that he had had on the country and with his death was really a tough day. Matter of fact, it went on for a while, I can recall that. It was not a real happy time in your churches, in your community, at your schools. It was different.”


Author: Paula Pasche

Paula Pasche, a veteran sports writer, covers the Detroit Lions for her Lions Lowdown blog. She has written two books, "Game of My Life Detroit Lions" and "100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die" which are available at bookstores and on She won first place for column writing from the Society of Professional Journalists in Detroit (Class B) in 2011, 2012 and 2013 and was The Oakland Press 2010 Staffer of the Year.

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