Chicano Poet

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Where Were You?

I had been diagnosed with tuberculosis. Got sent to live in
the San Antonio Chest Hospital. Don’t remember its real
name. It was 1963. I spent a year and half or thereabouts
there. The day before Kennedy was killed he visited Brooke
Army Medical Hospital or, again, whatever it was at the time.
It was almost directly across from the Chest Hospital. We
patients lined the low fence along Military Highway to catch
a glimpse of the President. There was a huge flag draped
over the front of the building where he spoke, and we could
hear his voice on the loudspeaker. Next day just after lunch,
there was a commotion in the TV room in my tubercular
ward. President Kennedy had been assassinated. It had a
devastating effect on most of us. For weeks we watched
TV for as long as we were allowed. In the next six months
I recovered and healed from my illness, but not until the
doctors had removed part of my left lung. I remember one
of my aunts visiting me in the recovery room, later telling
me that I didn’t look like I was going to make it. In June of
1964, I left the hospital at the age of sixteen. Committed to
being a poet.


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