Only have a minute? Listen instead
Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...
Interrupted by tragedy

It was my first teaching job: I joined Catholic Lay Mission Corps after graduating from St. Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Ind., and was assigned a sixth-grade class at Dolores School south of Austin. The teachers lived in an army barracks across the parking lot from the church and school.

One day a young member of the Texas State Legislature came to the barracks looking for a “date” for the reception for President and Mrs. Kennedy, who were coming to Austin after they left Dallas.

The choice came down to who could fit into his sister’s formal clothes because none of us, with our $25-a-month salary, could afford to buy anything appropriate.

I guess I won, and he brought some formal dresses to the barracks where we lived. I then went to Payless Shoes, which happened to be along the route of the president’s entourage the next day, and bought a pair of “heels” for $5. I was nervous and excited about meeting the president, but I thought I was ready.

The next day, Friday, Nov. 22, 1963, some of us were watching the Dallas procession on our old black-and-white TV after lunch in the barracks. What we have been seeing for the past 60 years is what we saw that day: shots fired, vehicles racing from the scene, staff and security at the hospital, and Walter Cronkite telling us that the president had been shot (and later that he had died).

While we were glued to the TV, Father Baker came in and told us they were taking all the kids into the church to pray for the president. The younger kids really didn’t comprehend what was happening, but my sixth-graders were pretty aware, and most of them were in tears.

Father came into the church a few minutes later to tell us that the president had died. After more prayers, the kids were all sent home early.

I decided to take my shoes back to Payless and get my money back. When I arrived at the store, there were hundreds of people sitting along the parade route who had arrived early and did not know the president had died. Finally, a police car came along and told the crowd.

We all went home and were glued to the TV for many days, and many years, too. I guess we are never really ready for the unexpected.

Diane Shalala Fritel

La Feria

Curb service draws attack

H-E-B, COVID is over! Enough with the curbside service! It’s bad enough having to park at the farthest end of the parking lot because all of the choice parking spaces are taken, but having to walk by the vehicles filled with the people who are lazy, fat (or both) is difficult to stomach.

I can understand those who are disabled using the service; however, those men who are in the prime of their lives? I bet you pay someone to mow your lawn because it makes you feel important. Those that use curbside because they have kids? Don’t steal one of the fondest memories a child has — going to the store with your mom and dad and trying to convince them to buy you candy. H-E-B, do us all a favor and let’s get back to how it was.

Richard Costello


LETTERS — We welcome your letters and commentary. Submissions must include the writer’s full name, address and daytime telephone number for verification. Letters of 200 words or fewer will be given preference. Submissions may be edited for length, grammar and clarity. Letters may be mailed to P.O Box 3267, McAllen, Texas 78502-3267, or emailed to [email protected].