Golden Tiger Alums 1961-1964


Our third Words of Wisdom Golden Tiger survey targeted alums from 1961 – 1964 – those who were students, either at CHHS or college.  Those years were characterized by significant world events such as the Cuban Missile Crisis, NASA sending men into space, and of course, the assassination of a US president beloved by many.  As in the previous queries, questions sought to illicit recollections of interrupted school experiences due to world events and interest in offering relevant advice to Tiger Nation families coping with uncertainty and urge to get to the “other side” of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thank you to our Golden Tigers for sharing these powerful memories and providing meaningful advice to Tiger Nation.



Memories: I was a sophomore at Kent State University and I was walking to a class when I saw a group of students standing around  a window of a first-floor dorm room. Someone had put a radio in the window and everyone was paying close attention. That was when I heard that JFK had been shot in Dallas, TX. I remember how sad I felt because I thought we had a President that would make a difference in my life. I was living on campus at the time and really had no idea how family members felt about the assassination. I wasn’t happy to see a Texan become POTUS. One of my good friends joined the Navy just before the Cuban Missile Crisis. As luck would have it, he was stationed on a battleship off the coast of Cuba making sure no cargo ships reached Port. He lived in fear for many weeks that he would be in the middle of a war. What a relief when Khrushchev backed down from the threat. [Image credit Getty 25th Anniversary] 

Advice: This virus is something no one alive has ever experienced. Personally, I wear a mask and gloves when I go for groceries. I see people that don’t believe protection is necessary. I see an America that is destined for change. Who will go to a movie? Who will go to a baseball game and sit next to thousands of people? A large number of people will work from home and commercial real estate will diminish. Even students will learn from reality methods and may not go to a building for years. I’m not about gloom and doom, however, the smart kids will figure out a way to make this country better. I’ve always said there are so many ways to make a good living in America. Have faith and get a good education. 


 Memories: When JFK was assassinated, I was at Purdue University getting ready to go to French class. I recall (CBS broadcaster) Walter Cronkite crying and saying President Kennedy was dead. (My) parents (were) doubtful of Johnson’s abilities. Everyone felt his wife was the power behind the man. The Peace Corps (was most impactful) as my college roommate and her husband went to Micronesia and had diverse experiences. [Walter Cronkite image credit: NPR] 

Advice: This, too, shall pass. 


Memories: I was in German class at Ohio University. After class, I went back to my dormitory. A large group of students were gathered around the TV. That was my first definite knowledge of the assassination. I was at Ohio University during the civil rights protests. It was an exciting and optimistic time. I also remember the Bay of Pigs fiasco and the Cuban missile crisis. Some students left school to join the Navy, thinking that they would be sent directly to the Caribbean. 

Advice: Always do the right thing, even when it’s difficult. And be sure to vote. We know how the last election turned out because people didn’t. 


Memories: (I remember being) at the well deck of a Navy ship when heard about JFK. My brother was with me on the ship, but there was no politics, just business. (Many of the events of the 60s were impactful) but being on station for the Cuban Blockade was the most significant. 

Advice: We are seeing 50 years of social/political posturing coming to a head. All these new platforms promote any person’s ability to promote their agenda for good or ill. Sad. 


 Memories: I was (in an) advanced calculus class at Lafayette College. Someone came into the room and mentioned (JFK had been shot). After a short while, Dr. Jones finished the class. I was on my way to dinner in downtown Easton when I heard about the missile crisis. I was scared sh*%less. [Image: Getty 25th Anniversary] 

Advice: I don’t know whether it will help, but everything related to us is finite, so we can only do what’s right in the time we have. Care for others, and don’t take out your fears and frustrations on others. Don’t scream about your rights, and flaunt the fact you are lower risk. Focus on your good fortune, and heed the advice of those who are truly knowledgeable. This will not end quickly, and life will change some. But most generations experienced change. The generation before mine experienced the horror of the (Fuhrer). That changed everyone’s life – everyone in the world. My generation (experienced) air raid drills and Vietnam. So, as for the changes now…learn to deal with them…without becoming a lemming. 


Memories: I was waiting for my private piano lesson at the Cleveland Institute of Music when the instructor game out with the news that the president had been shot. We were both too stunned to continue and listened to the radio reports of the happenings in Dallas. From news reports, I recall that his death wasn’t announced until after a while had passed and the doctors held a press conference. I believe the Cuban Missile Crisis was the event which brought us closest to the possibility of a nuclear war than any previous conflict. [Image: Getty 25th Anniversary] 

Advice: The impeachment hearings of Nixon created for many people one of the worst crises in our democracy. What I always thought that gave me comfort, was that our constitution has a flywheel effect. It carries us through the rough spots. 


Memories: I recall being shocked from news reports and (feeling) impacted by NASA. 

Advice: This too will pass. 


Memories: Yes, I remember. I graduated in June 1961. I was at Miami University, just coming out of chemistry lab and walking across the quad when another student yelled that the president had been shot. I didn’t believe him. Then got back to the dorm and learned that it was true. (sigh) So, I wasn’t in class and am not aware that the university had any public broadcasts. But the news traveled very fast. By that evening, the TV room in the dorm was filled with girls watching and crying. I sat in that TV room for four days watching. It is all a blur now, but the thing that stands out the most was when Oswald was shot and the funeral itself. I was not with my family until we all went home for Thanksgiving. It was a hard time because my father had recently died and we were still in mourning for him so this added mourning was hard on everyone. There was a lot of crying. The things that stand out for me most (from that era) are the Cuban Missile crisis and the astronauts going into space. The first was really scary. We didn’t know what was going to happen and whether we would all be blown up. The second brought on an amazing sense of pride in our country. It seemed to be the beginning of a new age of science. For me the most difficult times were later. Specifically, 1968 when Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King were both assassinated. I really thought that the country was falling apart. When the Kent State shooting occurred, I was 8 months pregnant. I told my husband that I didn’t want to bring any children into a world in which such a thing could happen. He told me it was too late – I was going to have a baby. [Image, Alan Shepard in a space capsule. Credit: Getty 25th Anniversary] 

Advice: It is really hard to give any advice to members of the Tiger Nation. This is so different than anything that I experienced before (both the pandemic and the state of our national politics). The most that I can say is to be kind to others. It is hard right now and many people are struggling but it will not do any individual any good to be angry or mean. We will get through this. We will be different, but we will get through this. 


Memories: I was walking by the cafeteria in my dorm, when I heard an announcement that (JFK) had been shot. As a first semester sophomore, I was more caught up in school related issues rather than national and international issues.  However, because of the Bay of Pigs and Cuban Missile crisis, one of my school mates (a cadet in Naval ROTC) was sent to Cuba for part of that time.  When he returned, he was unable to go home for Thanksgiving, and he came to our house for the holiday.

Advice: I really have no sage (or rosemary or thyme) advise to pass on.  I can only think of the phrase that is attributed to Lincoln: “This too shall pass.”  However, the passing in this case may take quite some time.


Memories: I was on campus in my car when heard that JFK was assassinated. I had the radio on and the news was shattering. I pulled over stunned. I recall my parents were very concerned. The Cuban Missile Crisis left me wondering about how far into uncharted waters, and to what level of risk, the egos of leaders would take countries. [Image:Map. Credit: Getty 25th Anniversary] 

Advice: Be resilient. Although these are disruptive and uncharted times, they too will pass. We will learn and hopefully improve from our experiences. In the end, we will travel on many journeys in our lifetime. Our inner strength and wisdom will help us navigate these to a successful end. 


Memories: I had come out of class at the University of Chicago, onto the mall. It was a gray dreary day, drizzling, as Cleveland often does (around 11 a.m.) My professor was standing stock still, not near anyone. He said to me, “Did you hear?” I said, “What?” He replied, “The President has been shot.” I hurried back to my dorm to listen to the news broadcasts. (Following an) announcement of the Cuban missile crisis (1st semester freshman year), my floor in the dorm hung out a banner from the 2d floor window that read “We support JFK.” [Image & Credit:] 

Comment: I have noticed that folks now routinely say good-bye with a new farewell, “Stay safe.” 



Memories: Yes, I was on the lawn of the campus of Columbia University in NYC. We then marched down Broadway in protest. The freedom ride and the church bombings upset me and led to my joining protest marches. 


Memories: I was walking down Sheridan Avenue in Evanston, Illinois (Northwestern University). After hearing (that JFK had been shot) on the street, I’d just walked into class. Someone had a transistor radio (remember those?) and (an) official announcement was made. No  one said a word but everyone closed their books, and we all just got up and left. (Later,) I became a Freedom Rider. [Image: Freedom Riders stage a sit-in at a Montgomery, AL waiting room reserved for White customers. Credit: Getty 25th Anniversary] 

Advice: Listen to the experts, not the politicians, political pundits or so-called news stations. Unfortunately, almost all news today is biased in one direction or the other. We mostly got news (making our decisions easier) rather than opinion or ignorant ranting. 


Memories: I was in organic chemistry lab making a Grignard reagent. My lab instructor came in and said ” I don’t think I should tell you this, but Kennedy has been shot”. I poured my chemicals down the sink and went to the closest TV set in a snack bar on campus. I then went home and sat in front of the TV watching all the events of the next few days, which included the funeral and Lee Harvey Oswald assassination by Jack Ruby. (My family felt that) the president before Kennedy (Eisenhower) was not a good speaker. He was a hero of a war we didn’t live through. He was an old man and boring to listen to. Along came young, handsome, dynamic Kennedy. He gave us a new outlook of going forward to an exciting new world with endless possibilities for improving our country and the world. I remember going out at night to watch the Russian Sputnik pass overhead. Then we got our own satellites and manned space programs. The death of Kennedy was depressing. It made no sense. The fact that Johnson was able to get the social programs passed was just not the same as having our leader. I think the civil rights movement, the desegregation of public schools and universities affected my view of the future in the United States. I felt that with equal opportunities and education we would become a more united population working towards a common good. Obviously, my crystal ball was a little foggy. Without going into specifics, we still have a lot of work to do. [Image credit: NPR] 

Advice: Set high standards and long-term goals. Find a partner who has similar goals that you can work toward together over time. Stay well. 


Memories: I was at Harvard at the time (and remember) a student in the next entry screaming “they shot the President!” The student’s father was a US Senator, so it had to be true. After that, students gathered at radios and televisions to find out what was going on. The “Cuban Missile Crisis” was the subject of my senior honors thesis (I was an International government major). With superb help from a senior professor in International Government, I wrote a thesis analyzing the event, and was awarded highest honors. In a way, this work allowed me to relive the fear of those terrible days in October, 1962, and understand what had transpired. [Image: JFK speaking before reporters during a televised speech to nation about the Cuban blockage. Credit: Getty & The Atlantic] 

Advice: Our world has endured terrible pandemics in the past (think of the bubonic plague which devastated much of Europe and Asia — “the Black Death” — in the 14th century). This, too, shall pass. 


Memories: I was in the US Army stationed in Pleiku, Vietnam during the early advisor phase of the war. Being in Vietnam, JFK’s assassination seemed “distant” to us. Plus, it happened only three weeks after Vietnam President Diem’s assassination. (And), being in the Vietnam “boonies” we had no TV. What little “outside” news we got was sparse, via shortwave radio. Only after I came back from Vietnam did I learn the full impact JFK’s death had on Americans at home. While I recall The Bay of Pigs (during) high school, the Cuban Missile Crisis stands out the most for me. I was in the Army, training at Ft. Ord, CA. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, Ft. Ord and the entire US military was placed on full high alert worldwide. We were taken out of training and assigned to base (armed) guard duty around the clock for the duration of the crisis. Only a couple months later, I was sent to Vietnam. [Image: Ft. Ord, a basic training center from 1947-1975. Credit:] 

Advice: “Think positive. We will get through this”. We have survived many crises in our lives. Including WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Polio, childhood diseases, the Cold War, blizzards, tornadoes, the 60s riots, recession, and other crises. And we will survive this pandemic crisis too. 


Memories: Yes, I was a Freshman at OSU, between classes, having a soda at Campus Neil. Suddenly it got quiet, people started

whispering and then the sobbing began. My parents were heartbroken. (We) feared that war would break out over the Bay of Pigs fiasco and the missile crisis, (and felt) immense pride when we landed on the moon and even more when the astronauts were safely returned to earth! [Image: Earth rising. Credit: Getty 25th Anniversary] 

Advice: We all recover through different means, but regardless of how, we do recover. Having lived through 9/11 here in New York, I am often amazed that life goes on. 



Memories: I was eating a late lunch in my fraternity house by myself when I heard that (JFK) had been shot. (I recall) the early space flights (and feeling) impacted most by them. 

Advice: Do what you love. 


Memories: I remember being in a freshman English class at the College of Wooster and family members (feeling) sorrowful about Kennedy and scared about Johnson. Both the Bay of Pigs and the Missile Crisis served as lessons about what can go wrong when we have bad leadership. 

Advice: Be confident. The US is very strong… Vote for very strong leadership. 


Memories: (The news about JFK) was broadcast on the TV in the lobby of my dorm on the campus of Ohio University. It was shocking to everyone watching or hearing about it and everyone was sad and some were crying. They were showing the motorcade and Kennedy being shot on TV. There was speculation as to the motive and who was responsible at first. When JFK was reported as having died, they showed the swearing in of Lyndon B. Johnson. I was not with family members at that time but remember that everyone was sad that our President was assassinated. I did not agree with a lot of what Kennedy did in the White House. However, the Peace Corps, NASA’s space program, and Nuclear Test Ban treaty, and support for religious and racial equality were positive things. [Image: Peace Corps. Credit: Getty 25th Anniversary] 

Advice: Don’t be driven by fear. Learn to listen to different sides of an issue before deciding how you feel about it. We all have our own prejudices/biases/opinions. That doesn’t mean others are wrong and you are right. Sometimes there is more than one good answer or solution. It is becoming more difficult to tell the difference between fact and fiction today. It seems like every issue is slanted by partisan politics, money, greed and/or special interests. Learn to think for yourself and form your own opinions. Cleveland Heights High School always provided an excellent education to enable students to do just that. Things will get better. They always do! 


Memories: It was my freshman year at Ohio State and three Cleveland friends came down for the weekend. They had gone to great pains to ‘cut’ high school on Friday. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, everything was closed down at OSU–sort of like Covid-19. (I believe we) watched news broadcasts in the dorm lobby. During the Bay of Pigs invasion, we worried (that) my uncle, in the reserves, would be called up. The day of the “moon landing” was my second date with the fellow who would turn out to be my husband. I had exhausted all my ‘A’ material during our first dinner date, so I was relieved to be able to just watch TV for our second date. [Image: Astronaut footprint on moon. Credit: Getty 25th Anniversary] 

Advice: It seems things pass. Sometimes not without great loss and sorrow, but life continues. 


 Memories: I was working when JFK shot. I remember canceled classes. I watched the news reports after I came home early from work. (We were all) saddened by the event. It was an unsettling time. The events in Vietnam left those of us that were of draft age concerned that we may be called up to fight. [Image: Mourning at Parkland Hospital. Credit: Getty 25th Anniversary] 

Advice: History will prove that this will pass. We should follow the advice from our leaders to be vigilant until there is a resolution. 


Memories: I was walking on the street at Miami University (when I heard that Kennedy was shot). (I recall) my family (being) very upset. I thought the Peace Corps was a great idea, was very excited about NASA, yet concerned over what the Freedom Riders had to deal with. Advice: Learn all you can about current happenings. Let your beliefs guide you toward getting involved where you can help. 


Memories: I was in my dorm room during my first year at the University of Chicago when the news came that Kennedy had been shot. I huddled on my bed, not quite believing what I was hearing. The moment seemed to go on forever as the news kept updating. I was sure Kennedy would survive. When he died, I thought the world was tipping side-ways. I was terrified. I was also furious. In subsequent days, I heard or read that Lyndon Johnson had a role in killing Kennedy and I believed it. I hated Johnson. I thought he was ignorant and boorish and evil. I knew he would escalate the war in Vietnam and he did. 

I was fairly oblivious to world events during Kennedy’s presidency. It was his death that woke me up politically. I protested the Vietnam War, participated at the sit-in at the University of Chicago administration building, and was chased by the Chicago cops in Grant Park during the 1968 Democratic Convention. I became enthralled by the women’s liberation, gay liberation and civil rights movements. I advocated the legalization of marijuana and psychedelic drugs. [Image: 1968 DNC. Credit: Chicago Tribune] 

Fast forward 50 years. Lyndon Johnson was outdone in evil by subsequent holders of the POTUS title. We the people ended the Vietnam War but the US has been at war constantly since then in different parts of the world. The women’s and gay liberation movements have made great strides. Civil rights have improved but still have a long way to go. Marijuana is legal in many states including the one I live in (California). Other psychedelics are finding medicinal uses and will probably be legalized soon. And the Chicago cops, along with cops everywhere, are still behaving badly. 

Advice: Human history has always been a mixture of progress and regress. My mother worked for progressive causes all her life. I asked her towards the end of her life why she kept fighting when the world seemed to get worse every time it looked like it was getting better. She said you just have to keep trying. How else can you live? 


Memories: I was in class in a room facing the courtyard. I saw someone lower the American flag to half-staff just before the PA announcement about JFK’s death. We were all in stunned silence until several students began to weep. [Image: American flag at half mast. Credit: Getty 25th Anniversary] 




Memories: I was in physics class taking a test. (I remember news reports indicating) that Kennedy had been shot and later that he’d died. My dad was a John Birch republican, never voted for a Democrat in his life. He didn’t like Kennedy and he sure didn’t like Johnson. I remember meeting with a number of students who had gone or were going to march in Birmingham. They introduced me to tactics to use in a demonstration when police were on horseback. Specifically, that you lit a cigarette and stuck it in the horse’s nose, as the animals were terrified of fire, would rear, and ruin the aim of the policeman and his nightstick. Need I say, my parents wouldn’t let me go? [Image: Birmingham riots. Credit: NPR] 

Advice: Keep up your connections with each other, and find a way to help someone else! 



Memories: I had left school for lunch (and) I hitch-hiked back to school after lunch. The lady driving said the President was just shot. I thought she was crazy. I made her stop the car and ran the rest of the way to school. When I arrived at school, I went to the office and asked if they heard anything. I was told no. Upon checking with the radio, we learned that President Kennedy was assassinated. What a sad a time this was for our Country and all of us. 

Advice: The United States is strong and so are its people. We will recover. 


Memories: I was in the choir room. Mr. Strickling never came in. We just sat there and a radio came on. When we realized what was being said, it was like being buried in an avalanche of bricks. I was stunned senseless, overwhelmingly sad, spooked, afraid and incredulous. When the bell rang, we all just left. I recall news reports (saying) JFK was shot and eventually pronounced dead. My parents were very quiet and pretty much planted in front of the TV. So much of what was going on (in the early ‘60s) was exciting and hopeful, (however) the Cuban missile crisis scared me badly. 

Advice: Get big and be present. 


Memories: I was in gym class and of course could not quite comprehend what I had just heard, and comprehend what I was hearing. My family, as can be expected, everyone was in a state of shock. How could something like this happen? Since I was in high school, (I am) not  sure my parents needed to explain to me what had happened, like they would have had to do, had I been younger. I remember thinking the Peace Corp was an interesting concept, helping others less fortunate. I also think it was a way for young people to be engaged, especially if they had no clear path for their future. Some spent time in the Peace Corps and then decided if college was right for them, or perhaps getting a job to (put) the skills they learn in the Peace Corps to good use. [Image: Stanford University students discuss Peace Corps. Credit: Getty 25 th Anniversary] 

Comment: I am having a very hard time wrapping my head around what life has become. And I’m not looking forward to things that I have grown to enjoy and expect to no longer be an option. 


Memories: I was in a social studies class with Mr. Johnson. Our room faced the courtyard. Actually, there was an announcement on the loud speaker telling us the President was killed. We saw the flag go down and the teacher sent me to the office to find out what happened. Our class knew before the announcement. My family was very upset. President Kennedy was loved. I was married in 1967 and my late husband was in the Navy. I was proud of his service. It was a time when people were mean to service members serving our country. [Image: Kennedy campaign button. Credit: Getty 25th Anniversary] 

Advice: You have to be grateful for what you have and hopeful for a healthy and happy future. 


Memories: Yes, was in the middle of a chemistry exam in Mr. Presser’s class. Our exam was interrupted with news of the JFK shooting. (A)s I changed classes, there were many people crying in the hallway. Luckily, my next class was social studies and our teacher spent the entire class explaining the US Constitution and the laws of succession. My parents were mostly shocked and saddened 

Advice: Although we have never experienced anything like this virus and the death it has caused, hopefully this will be another terrible world event that we can look back on in the future as a difficult but short event. This too hopefully will pass… 


Memories: I was in art class. As I recall, over the PA came the first announcement: the tree-planting ceremony scheduled for the afternoon has been cancelled. Then came the second announcement: President Kennedy has been shot. We were all stunned but thought, at that time, that he was just wounded. [Image: JFK Dallas motorcade. Credit: Getty 25th Anniversary] 




Memories: Yes, was economics with Mr. Henry Bertodato. Believes hearing about news as a school announcement. 

Advice: “Hang tough.” Discuss (difficult) issues with parents or counselors at the school. 


Memories: I was in a class, and heard (the news) over the school speaker. My reaction (was) total shock and great sadness. It was just so unbelievable! As far as LBJ, thoughts of him and the horror of his involvement in the Vietnam War today did not register at the time! I had so much faith in JFK and trusted whatever he did with the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban missile crisis. The US space endeavors were very exciting. I was so sad and disgusted with the Birmingham Church bombing and all of the other events in the South that were racially motivated. The Berlin wall was also very upsetting and another divide against world peace. I was impressed with the Peace Corps and the volunteers that served in it. [Image credit: Getty 25th Anniversary] 

Advice: Stay strong and committed to fulfilling your goals 


Memories: I was in homeroom (In Mr. Winter’s English class) when the principal announced Kennedy had died. We all were stunned and trying not to cry. I remember watching TV news with family, but not how they responded. My neighbor and I were practicing dance steps when her father told us to stop because it was disrespectful during the Cuban Missile Crises. I think we felt removed from the fear. I do remember wanting to join the Peace Corps, the horror of the church bombings, but also pride in our country, science and our intentions to respect people’s rights. [Image: Peace Corps Director Sargent Shriver watching Turkish student nurses. Credit: Getty 25th Anniversary] 

Advice: Pay attention to science, have faith that smart people will find a way forward, try to find pleasure in each moment and love your family and friends. 


Memories: I was in Max Presser’s chemistry class and remember the announcement that President Kennedy was shot in Texas. The events of the early ‘60s all impacted our lives, but with different degrees of intensity. 

Advice: Don’t be impatient to get back to normalcy, because we will have a new normalcy, and no one is quite sure what it will end up being. 


Memories: I was sitting in a classroom at HHS when the announcement came over the P.A. My family was astounded…we all gathered around the television to get updated. (Among the significant incidents of the early 1960s), the Cuban Missile Crisis had a major impact on me because the country was at the very brink of war with the Soviet Union. [Image: Cuban Missile Crisis: Credit: Getty 25th Anniversary] 

Advice: Although we’re all anxious to return to some semblance of normalcy, those of us who want to spend more time with our grandchildren in the coming years will listen to the medical professionals and continue to shelter-in-place until we’ve got either a workable vaccine or a cure for COVID-19. Not a great scenario, but it sure beats the alternative! 

AMONG RESPONDENTS who replied via the online survey: 

  • 97 % remembered where they were when they first heard that JFK was assassinated 
  • 54 % recall class instruction (either at CHHS or their college) being interrupted to listen to national broadcast news about the shooting and death of President Kennedy in Dallas 

Cover Image: American flag on moon. Credit: Getty 25th Anniversary / Front Image: The Plain Dealer November 23, 1963. Credit: