Saginaw: A Very Difficult Year, 1963-1964

Chapter One

Martha was eating her lunch in the cafeteria with her friends, Joan and Jane. They were at St. Mary Cathedral High School in Saginaw, Michigan. Miss Floeter, the head cook at the school, made their favorite cherry cobbler for dessert. They were eating it as they were making plans to go downtown, after school. They each wanted to buy a new outfit to wear to the YMCA dance the next day. The girls loved going downtown after school, it was only a few blocks from their homes. They always enjoyed window shopping, but today they could actually shop to buy!

Biology class was right after lunch and today they were going to dissect a grasshopper. When they filed into the classroom, everyone sat at their assigned lab desks. Martha was lab partner with John, a member of the basketball team. Yesterday he told everyone that he wasn't touching the grasshopper. Mr. Kraemer walked into the classroom and yelled, "Hey John, catch!" The basketball star had very fast reactions. He threw his hand up in the air and caught the grasshopper that Mr. Kraemer threw to him. His classmates burst out laughing, knowing their favorite teacher had put one over on the unsuspecting star. John was a good sport about the trick played on him and he laughed, too. As he dropped the insect into the tray he told Martha, "You're still dissecting the bug."

Suddenly, there was an announcement made by Sr. Agatha on the public address system. "Attention, this announcement is to ask the teachers to turn on the televisions in each classroom." The principal continued, "There is sad news from Dallas, Texas. President Kennedy has been shot!" There were gasps and many students started to cry. The principal asked everyone to pray for the President and for the United States of America.

Televisions around the world were turned on.  It was the first time in history that the news would be broadcast for a straight twenty four hours. It was the first time, that for days, everyone would be riveted to their televisions. The same footage was played over and over as everyone relived the horror of that moment. It was the first time that Martha, and her friends, felt uncertain and nervous about something outside of the realm of their neighborhood. The world was forever changed, and even though she didn't know it, this was just the beginning of a very bad year for Martha.

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