Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Public Family

It might seem entirely odd, or even presumptuous, to equate the passing of Eunice Kennedy Shriver with losing another link to my parents' past. But it's true. Not because we knew the Kennedys. Far from it. The closest any of us ever got to them was to be have Kennedy half-dollars in our pockets when such coins were in circulation. No, we didn't know them like family or neighbors, but knew them as news items.

No end to writing about the Kennedy family. American Royalty and all that. But really, an American family that's just been in the paper. A lot.

And yet, the link is there. Eunice was born three years after my mother. Her brother John was born two years after my father. Eunice's generation is my parents' generation. And it's getting smaller.

Neither of my parents are alive. They passed away some time ago, six years apart. Eunice's 88 years puts her out there for longevity. Born in 1921, she saw plenty between then and now. But now there is one less person who can directly tell you where they were when Pearl Harbor was bombed, or what they did during "The War." Or how they celebrated the end of it.

But we all hold some piece of news, feeling, or trivia that stays with us until we leave. Woodstock is getting a good deal of attention because it was 40 years ago. People are writing about it, playing the music, re-reviewing it, telling you where they were (if they remember) during the festival.

My own piece of memory is like a good deal of my life, tied to the daily paper. If you were to view microfilm of New York's papers for, I think the Monday after the concert, you should be taken by all the ads that were taken out by bus companies, and others telling everyone that they were proud of the people at Woodstock and how well everything went. In a sense, that there was no violence, or trouble. How the 1968 Democratic convention generation behaved itself. Imagine, newspaper ads after a concert praising the audience.

I'm sure Eunice had plenty of such remembrances. Things that no one is writing about but are as clear as the day they happened. From a family that size, at the the levels they lived at, you hold a lot.

A link recedes. Another one gets closer.

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