John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assassinated on this day, 22 November, 1963.
I was seven years old. Iain Hoffmann was coming up for his fifth birthday. Anne Hoffmann would have been two.
We heard the news while the family was waiting in our sitting room at 6/2 Oxgangs Avenue for the number 16 bus.
The television was on in the background and the story dominated the headlines.
I may have been young, but I understood this was something significant.
And, because of the extraordinary advances in technology and communications over the century we were hearing the news live as it happened.
|Waiting for the number 16 bus (Peter Hoffmann, 2008)|
So, no cold, wet or draughty bus stops for us.
We could see directly across the back field toward the top of Oxgangs Road North.
We must have had very keen eyes back in the day, not to mention being quick on our pins. But, I the Blades family at 6/6 and the Hoggs up above us at 6/4 also did the same - they would have needed to be even quicker to get to the bus stop in time.
Whenever a bus appeared on the horizon, there was great excitement - 'Is it the16 or is it a 4 or a 27?'
If it was the 16, then it was all hands to the pump. 'Right, switch the television off-lets go!' If it was the 4 or the 2- temporary deflation, until the next Edinburgh Corporation bus appeared.
We were pushing our luck slightly because we had to leave the house and then cross the road to the bus stop which was opposite 8 Oxgangs Avenue.
We also depended on the bus stopping outside the dentist and doctors' surgeries. This was usually always the case because it was the busiest bus stop in Oxgangs.
Our hit rate must have been 99% plus - I can only recall ever missing a bus once or twice. That must have occurred when a driver thought he was Jim Clark and there had been no one at the surgeries' bus stop. Can you picture our faces - the Hoffmanns gaily traipsing or stepping out and the bus flying past!
But just imagine being able to watch television whilst waiting for a bus. And more surreal still, watching and listening to the dreadful news that an American President had been assassinated and then walking across Oxgangs Avenue to get on a number 16 bus. An extraordinary juxtaposition; one of the major moments in the 20th century - a moment in history which will never be forgotten and all the while in our small world at The Stair, life carrying on as normal - or at least seemingly so, because for each and every one of us of a certain age, we can recall the moment when they heard the news - even someone as young as seven years of age.
A gunshot that was heard throughout the world - even in Oxgangs. Life would never be quite the same again either at a universal level or at a local level.
Life and death in Oxgangs; and in Dallas.