Letters, Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

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Memories of when Kennedy was shot

ANYONE who was alive in 1963 will remember where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news of President Kennedy’s assassination. The recent TV series The Kennedys brought it all back to me.

It was Friday, November 22. I was at home in Millfield with my family watching Tonight on BBC TV. It was coming to an end at 7.30pm when Cliff Michelmore announced they’d had a report that shots had been fired at the President in Dallas. He said there’d be more news later.

Then the Harry Worth Show started. Most people won’t know this comic actor now, but older people should remember the beginning of his show where he fooled about with his reflection in a shop window.

About 7.45 the BBC cut into the programme and a stand-in announcer gave us more details. A phone rang on his desk and he listened to it for ages. My Dad said: “That’s it. He must be dead.” The announcer put the phone down and said: “We regret to announce the death of President Kennedy.” We were all stunned.

Incredibly, the BBC continued with the rest of Harry Worth’s show. Later we got a longer news bulletin from Robert Dougall, the senior newsreader.

Even though Kennedy’s reputation has been tarnished over the years, the shock everyone felt at the time was enormous. He looked so strong, so vigorous, with the hopes of the free world on his shoulders.

The following morning we learned the assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, had been captured. We cheered up that afternoon when Sunderland won 2-1 at Swansea with goals from Charlie Hurley and Nick Sharkey. Then at teatime came the first episode of a new children’s serial, Doctor Who.

The famous satirical show That Was The Week That Was came on later. There were no jokes and no laughs that night. It was a brilliant but sombre programme which David Frost and the rest of the cast put together in only a few hours. I remember Millicent Martin singing a marvellous song about the assassination which had been hurriedly written for her minutes before the programme started.

William Crane, Langley Close, Washington

Airgun incident

I REFER to Leslie Scott’s letter (Echo, July 7) in which he criticises my earlier letter on an air weapon incident in Middle Herrington Park.

He seems to think I was not treating the incident as serious. I think Leslie should read my letter again.

My letter merely pointed out that the police, not I, stated that the report was wrong to claim that “dog walkers were being shot at”.

Leslie goes on to claim that readers were informed “they were only shooting at tin cans”. This is simply not true. I never used the word only. In my letter I wrote “the police reported that the targets were tin cans and regrettably some birds”.

There is a clear and slightly shameful attempt to suggest a contrast in my views between this occurrence and the shooting of birds at Silksworth Lake. Leslie tries to reinforce this with his comment that “this is a park used by children”.

Like any right-minded person I abhor the use of air weapons in any public area, whatever the target. I thought I made this clear when I stated in my letter, “air weapons being used in parks must be stopped”.

It is factual that we were advised that sensationalist reporting could bring out copycats. A sensible warning to give, I thought.

I would also reiterate that it was nearby residents who said this incorrect report “did damage to the area”.

As for shooting myself in the foot, perhaps it’s Leslie’s rush to associate himself with what was, according to the police, incorrect information that is a real example of shooting oneself in the foot?

Coun Alan Wright, Conservative, St Chad’s Ward

Great event

CONGRATULATIONS must be expressed to the National Trust and the volunteers of Washington Old Hall on the July 4 Independence Day celebrations.

In good weather, and with free admission to the Old Hall for city schools, and with the North East Concert Band, this was the best event yet.

The Mayor, Councillor Norma Wright, had a photograph with Stan Bone, one of the town’s oldest residents.

Bill Craddock, Donvale Road, Washington

Close the city

WE have had a good idea. Why not cordon off Sunderland city and tell everyone its closed down and to go elsewhere, eg Newcastle or the MetroCentre, both of which have excellent shopping facilities.

Holmeside is in despair, Joplings has gone and the future of the Seaburn Centre and Crowtree hangs in the balance. What hope for us who wish to support our rapidly declining city?

L. Storey and S. Duncanson