I was in my first-grade class at Laguna Honda in San Francisco when a teacher opened the door and announced that the president was dead. We were told to walk outside to the boys' playground, where we lined up along the benches facing the flagpole. We placed our hands over our hearts and said the Pledge of Allegiance. Then we sang 'My Country, 'Tis of Thee.' The principal said, "The president is dead, and you're going to hear a lot of sad things, but your teachers and your parents are here for you, and you will be safe." School was cancelled for the day, so I walked home.

<i>— Ken Hutchins, Jr., Santa Rosa</i>

I was in London on a business trip. It was about mid-afternoon, and the only good place you could buy an American martini was at the Connaught Hotel. I sat in the bar and ordered. The waiter who delivered it was crying. He said the president had been shot. I asked him, "Which president? The president of your company?" He said, "The president of the United States." I took a gulp, and in a few minutes the waiter was back. He said the president was dead. That called for another martini.

<i>— Wayne "Mike" Micheel, Santa Rosa</i>

I was a 16-year-old Congressional page. When Congress was not in session, as was the case on Fridays, one page was assigned to stick around. I was in the lobby outside the U.S. House of Representatives chambers, near the speaker's office, doing my homework. As part of my responsibilities, I monitored the teletype machine, which fed news from AP and UPI. When the sheet got five or six-feet long, you'd rip it off and post it so that members could read it. The machine started to ding, which meant important news. I got up and looked at it, and it said that President John F. Kennedy had been shot in Dallas. My first thought was about LBJ. I wondered if he had been shot, too. I had met LBJ several times and my roommate was friends with his youngest daughter. I ripped off the ticker and brought it to Speaker John McCormack's office and showed it to one of his staff. We were all in shock.

<i>— Doug Bosco, Santa Rosa </i>

I was in second grade; we were all out on the playground for morning recess. The whistle blew and we were called off of the playground. Someone shouted that the president had been shot. Everyone ran toward the school in a frightened panic. It was confusing and some of us, including me, felt that we would be next to be shot. We got onto the school bus and went home. My mother had the TV on and she was crying softly while watching news of the event. I felt scared, confused and sad.

<i>— Julie Caruso</i>

I was in Mrs. Thorn's second-grade classroom during lunch hour at Village Elementary when Mrs. Miller, the school secretary, came on the intercom and announced that the president was dead. She was very upset. I went out to the schoolyard to spread the word, even though I am not sure I really knew what it meant at 7 years old. I walked home after we were let out of school. My mother and younger brother, who were always there, were gone. I turned on the TV and watched what was going on. I was worried about what happened to my family, thinking that maybe there was a connection. I was greatly relieved when my parents returned. My Dad had taken my brother and Mom out to lunch that day.

<i>— Scott Bartley, Santa Rosa mayor</i>

You can reach Staff Writer Derek Moore at 521-5336 or derek.moore@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @deadlinederek.