John Muir faculty, 1963

John Muir faculty, 1963

When asked where we were on Nov. 22, 1963 when we heard the news about President Kennedy’s assassination, almost fifty years ago, a bunch of us Burbank High Class of 1968 grads could say, “At John Muir Junior High.” So it was after Kenda Vaughan posted this picture of the John Muir faculty on FaceBook that our classmates joined in the conversation. I for one was in Mrs. Pearle Rankin’s eighth-grade English class when I remember that an office monitor came in and handed her a piece of paper. She took off her classes and put her head in her hands, then read the announcement.

From the Los Angeles Times

From the Los Angeles Times

Laurie Eisenberg said that she had few memories of junior high, but receiving the news of JFK’s assassination is still haunting. Jodi Tillotson Huddleston says she was in 8th grade social studies with Mr. Beeton. Betsey Nash said she was in science class. Kenda Vaughan has a vivid visual memory of the classroom she was in when she heard the news. Jan DeJaegher was in the cafeteria.

Seeing these photos of the faculty brought back a flood of memories, though. Jan recalled that the orchestra teacher, Mr. Manning, was her favorite, and led her to play the french horn, which she is still playing 52 years later. Karen Walther Berg remembered Wendy Wright, the PE teacher as her favorite. A number of us also remember Dr. Theodore Twitchell, English teacher, and Jan says that she went to dinner with him when she was in her 30s. She writes, “A great guy. He was writing a symphony when he was teaching us. He had the score at his desk and worked on it when we were doing assignments. I never got to (play) any of his works, sadly.”

Merrily Thorne Prescott is still in contact with Neala Yde, the clothing teacher. Wow, do they even teach sewing anymore in public school?

Kenda summed it all up this way:  Thanks for everyone’s wonderful comments. They certainly remind us that we as students experience the essence of our teachers when they instruct us as youngsters. And that essence, those feelings stick with us throughout our entire lives.

P.S. I remember going with several other students to visit Mrs. Rankin in a nursing home a few years later.

About Katherine Crosier

I am an organist in Honolulu—a rare breed of folks who play the King of Instruments! Through stories, photos, and videos, this blog is a diary of my musical journey ... and my family just groans!

3 responses »

  1. Les Heller says:

    I remember Mrs. Rankin drove a Lavender 57 Chevy…….She and I went Head to
    Head over a book report on “Call It Courage”. I stood my ground, and took the
    failing grade with pride…needless to say, I might not have been to bright back
    then….funyy, might have carried forward a bit….why I remember that I have no idea,

  2. Steven Lester says:

    There is a teacher that is neither listed nor shown on your display above. She was a brand new teacher at John Muir named Mrs. Gleason. She taught both Art and Social Studies, and it was to the latter class that the kid with the note came. She read the note to herself, stifled her tears, which immediately quieted the room (since she had class control difficulties) and I remember her voice broke halfway through the reading of the notification. We then had a four-day vacation during which, I suspect, the news was on every television for hours during every day. Never again, I think, has a death so paralyzed a nation as did Kennedy’s.

  3. Tonia "Toni" Szilagyi Mapston says:

    I still have vivid memories of school years from tiny tots (pre-school) at McCambridge Park thru college grad in Oregon. On “that” sad day, Joyce Mulder Ferguson and I were heading upstairs to sewing class. Another female student was running down the staircase shouting what had occurred. Frankly, we did not believe her … Until we entered class and witnessed the shock and gloom that had settled over the class and then our teacher shared the sad news. After school, I walked home as always along Kenneth Road north towards Hampton Road, where mom and dad and I lived from 1952-1965, until, we moved to Paseo Redondo in SE Burbank. You are so right Steven Lester! When I walked in the house, dad was in a darkened livingroom, staring sadly at the television.

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