I was nine and a half when Kennedy died, and in the third grade. I remember the teacher, the white-haired but tall and sturdy Mrs. Geraldine Perry, in her typical peasant blouse and Mexican skirt, gathering the class around her that morning, and telling us that the president had been killed. One little girl burst out crying, and a few of the more churlish class members laughed at her. They got a very severe talking to, as I imagine Mrs. Perry, tough as she was, was probably close to tears herself.
As the grim spectacle unrolled on TV over the next few days, from the killing of Oswald through the long funeral proceedings, I was, I think, more concerned with the Kennedys' daughter Caroline, on whom I had rather a crush despite the fact that she was three years younger than I. In fact I had written a sort of cryptic paean to her just that summer, in the guise of a chapter of The Adventures of French Mouse. This was a project that I and my father had been working on for some months. Once a week or so we would sequester ourselves, and alternately he or I would dictate a story to the other, which I would then illustrate. The stories revolved around Pierre Souris, the French Mouse, with a supporting cast of my other Steiff animals, as well as a large sock monkey, named Uncle Monkey.
I now present for your Sepia pleasure the chapter in question.
|"Queek, Caroline, open the you-know what!"|
|The cat looked terrible.|
|He made a death-defying leap.|
|He landed in the fountain.|
|French Mouse was peeking down the laundry chute when something struck him full-force in the nose!|
|A pink and blue sign on the door: No Mice Allowed.|
|The illustrations were dawn on the backs of class handouts for my father's Bible As Literature class at the University of Washington.|
|The text was written on the backs of a handout for his Intro To Poetry class.|