Stunned by the assassination of President John F. Kennedy
by Ron Swift | Patterson Irrigator
Nov 21, 2013 | 986 views | 0 0 comments | 172 172 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ron Swift
Ron Swift
Nov. 22, 1963 – 50 years ago this week – fell on a Friday. It so happens that this Nov. 22 is also a Friday.

Some of us haven’t forgotten that infamous day when the nation was stunned by the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

If there is a dead day in the community newspaper business, it is Friday. None of the governmental agencies – city council, school board, planning commission, board of supervisors, etc. – meet on Friday, nor do civic organizations. So newspaper reporters sit around on Fridays figuring out ways to avoid the boss and, if lucky, duck out early.

Nov. 22, 1963, started out as just such a day at the Patterson Irrigator. However, our situation was somewhat different. Partner Ed Sternberg and I were the bosses, and we were also the only reporters. Fridays we spent cleaning off our desks, sweeping the floor and taking out the trash. We usually flipped for cleaning the lone restroom.

A little later that morning, the phone started to ring as television reports told of the shocking tragedy unfolding in Dallas. Not having a TV we high-tailed it a couple of doors up North Third Street to Richter’s Radio & TV store. Within a couple of minutes the place had standing room only, and not much left of that.

Owner Marvin Richter turned on multiple sets to accommodate the crowd, allowing us to watch all the national networks as the news events unfolded. Those Pattersonites present watched in eerie silence as the story played out. The announcement of the president’s death, a slain police officer, a suspect arrested in a movie theater.

There was almost no chit-chat. Several times I wandered a few steps back to the Irrigator office, finding no one on the street. Business houses were empty. The downtown was deserted of pedestrians and vehicles, and remained so the entire day. Finally we locked the newspaper door and spent the rest of the day at Richter’s, which never cleared out.

Darkness came and I headed for home. I had missed lunch.


My woes with a shoestring broken three weeks ago have finally ended.

At church last Sunday, I first asked Lorene Moeller if she could help me out. No luck.

Then I proposed renting one from Dave Johnson (last name with an ‘o,’ not an ‘e’). He wasted no time turning me down.

So it was off to Walmart after first getting some advice on what department I might find such a minuscule item. To keep from further embarrassment, I took a cart while wandering around the store, then abandoned it near the checkout counter.

Isn’t it silly that shoestrings come two-a-package when only one breaks at a time. So now I have an extra 6-holer, should anyone have the need. My number’s in the book.


Speaking of names and numbers in the telephone directory, a sizable percentage of Patterson residents are not listed. Maybe they have given up on land-line service and are relying only on their cell phones. (Remember, the latter never work when you really need them.)

I’ve never understood why people have unlisted numbers. Perhaps they don’t want phone calls. That makes their phone a one-way device, in which case they should pay only half-price.

I don’t mind getting phone calls, even from those soliciting money or trying to sell me a walk-in bath tub. I have a solution for the solicitors. I tell them I’ll contribute $20 to their cause if they will send $10 to the Patterson Boy Scouts. To date, the troop has not received a dime.

And about the walk-in tub, I invite them over to inspect the one we have. It’s not a walk-in, but I don’t mention that.


Sylvia Dennis, a longtime Patterson area resident, who was known to many in the community and was a member of our 90-plus list, died last week. She was 94.


Someone obviously philosophical sent me this e-mail:

“In the ‘60s people took acid to make the world weird. Now the world is weird and people take Prozac to make it normal.”

Truth in that.


You tell me … are football offenses getting better and better, or are defenses getting worse?

Last weekend, North Carolina Wesleyan scored an amazing 62 points and lost to Methodist by 7. That’s right, 69-62. Who knows what the score might have been had the game gone into overtime.

And on the high school playoff scene, Manteca got past Central Valley 69-55. Imagine scoring 55 points and losing by two touchdowns.

And in another playoff game, Central Catholic trounced Marysville 75-0, but the Raiders can’t be blamed for pouring it on. They chalked up 62 points in the first half but tallied only 13 after the intermission.

Should Central and unbeaten Hilmar clash for the section title, that game will be a doozy.

College basketball has arrived, and as usual this early in the season, the big schools are padding their records by scheduling small ones. How else would you explain the Illinois women playing Alcorn State? Oh yes, the Illini won 112-28.


Our readers continue to report on the job market.

“I used to be a banker, but then I lost interest.”

But at least someone got work: “I took a job in a bakery because I kneaded dough.”

Another reader writes: “You know those employment applications that ask who to notify in case of an emergency? Just write, ‘A good doctor’.”

Ron Swift is the editor/publisher emeritus of the Patterson Irrigator. He can be reached at

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