The day after John F. Kennedy's funeral, Eilene Harkless Moore came home from the hospital.
It had been an arduous five-day stay.
On Friday, Nov. 22, she was in labor at Akron City Hospital with her first child, who was coming about two weeks early. Her husband, Lawrence Moore, was in the Army on the other side of the continent in Fort Lewis, Wash.
In the final stages of labor her mind was on having a baby, but she could tell through the mental haze that something was wrong.
“I was in labor and I kept hearing that the president had been shot, then the president had been killed. I kept asking and wondering, the president of Goodyear? Or the President of France? Or...?”
“The hospital personnel were so solemn, no one was talking, many people were crying,” she said. “It was a surreal thing.”
Lawrence Mitchell Moore, Jr., was born that afternoon.
She called her husband to give him the news. Military across the country was on heightened alert.
“We spoke solemnly about the death of our beloved President,” she said. “I loved President Kennedy. Now he was gone, and all of the hope we had for the future seemed lost.”
She said she had conflicting emotions of sadness and joy.
She said she remembers the woman with whom she shared a hospital room saying that she voted in her first presidential election in 1960, and she voted for Kennedy.
People in the hospital encouraged her to name her son after JFK, but the couple had already decided that their son would be named after her husband.
She watched the funeral from her hospital room.
“It broke my heart to think of his children and what their lives would be like without their father,” she said. “I cried when I saw the salute that John John gave his father when President Kennedy’s casket went by. I still cry today when I think of that salute.”
Moore, now 68, went on to work as a geologist for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and for the U.S. Department of Energy.
Her husband retired from the Akron Fire Department, as did her son, who was the fourth generation in the family to do so.
She wondered recently, exactly what time Lawrence Jr. was born. How close to the assassination.
She pulled the birth certificate, but it showed no time of day. The health department said that in those days, there was no notation of the time.
So, all she knows is, Lawrence Jr. was born that tragic afternoon.
Jim Carney can be reached at 330-996-3576 or firstname.lastname@example.org.