JFK 50 Years Later: A story

I went to the library today and I heard a story from a stranger today.  She works in the Friend’s bookstore at my local library. We were talking books, I showed her my copy of Mrs. Kennedy and Me and said she should read it too. She said, “Oh I remember that day.” And this is what she told me.
montgomery ward honer plaza 1961 pleasantfamilyshopping

She said she was working at Montgomery Wards in New York State in November of 1963. She came down the stairs to buy coffee for the girls and walked into the room full of TVs.  You never saw so many people crying she said. Everyone was crying. I cried too. One of my co-workers said, what should we do? What can we do?

“Pour some coffee,” I said.  “Give everyone that asks a cup of coffee.”

I went to the large urn and poured coffee after coffee. No one paid. How could we take money? We could not take their money, we gave away coffee and everyone cried. The next day I was called in by my manager and he said “What did you do? What did you do that?” I said, “It was the only thing to do, everyone was crying.”

He said, you can’t give it all away, someone has to pay for it.

“At the time I was living,”  she put her fingers to her teeth “So close to the bone, I had nothing.” She paused.

I told him,”take it out of my paycheck! I am not sorry!”


The next day I was called to the executive office. They asked me, how much coffee did you give away? I told them, “I filled the large urn twice, by the time I left it was the 3rd urn. I don’t know how many after that. It was quite a bit.”

“You did the right thing” he said.

“The phones have been ringing that morning. The people that were here yesterday called. They said how wonderful you were, how wonderful it was, to be given a drink and offered comfort.”

“It was the only thing to do,” I said. “There was nothing to do, but we were together.”

In my next paycheck I found a fifty dollar bonus. It was a good place to work.

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